coworker won’t stop talking about the end times, is it ever OK to lose it on a colleague, and more

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

1. My coworker won’t stop talking about the bible and the end times

I have a coworker, Loretta, who is an older and very religious woman. I only know this because she talks about church and uses what I consider “religious language” in her speech. She often says things like “praise the lord” and “his will” and such. I’m an atheist and our company has nothing to do with religion, but Loretta’s comments have never bothered me. I know she talks like that because it’s what she believes, and she’s not hurting anyone (plus I live in a religious region and am one of the few people who is not religious, so I imagine others feel similarly to her).

That said, over the past couple of months, Loretta has continuously talked about the “end times” and “what the bible says about this.” This is due to everything that’s happening in the world, including the coronavirus, the racial injustices that are being exposed, police brutality, etc. Loretta swears that this was all prophesied in Revelation, and that it “won’t be long now before we go home.”

I…have gotten to the point where I’m very uncomfortable with her comments. Obviously there are a lot of tragedies happening right now, but I don’t believe it has anything to do with any religious prophecies or the end of the world. I’m definitely in the minority here, as my coworkers seem to mostly agree with Loretta (although none of them are nearly as vocal about it).

The last thing I want to do is get into a religious argument with Loretta. I have never told her that I’m an atheist (because I didn’t feel like I needed to), so she often talks to me like I’m just as religious as she is. Is there a way I can ask her to tone down all the mumbo jumbo about the “end times” when she’s around me? Or is that crossing a line? Or should I just suck it up because she really isn’t hurting anyone?

It’s not crossing a line. In fact, Loretta is the one crossing a line by pushing this level of religious talk on a captive audience at work. And really, there’s a difference between someone saying “praise the lord” (which is their own expression of religious beliefs) versus urging religious prophecies on you (which asks for some sort of conversational engagement from you).

The next time Loretta talks about end times, you could say, “I’m not one for religious talk at work — thanks for understanding!” or “You couldn’t have known, but I try not to discuss religion with coworkers — thanks for understanding.” Say it warmly and/or matter-of-factly (two highly effective tones for delivering slightly uncomfortable messages), and then follow it up with an immediate subject change.

You don’t need to declare your atheism if you don’t want to (although you can if you want). And keep in mind that lots of people who aren’t atheists would feel the same way you do … and for all Loretta knows, you might consider your spiritual beliefs so deeply personal that you don’t want to casually chat about them at work.

2. Is it ever okay to lose it with an annoying coworker?

Some years when I was a contractor on a several-month assignment, one of the client company’s direct employees was engaging in some extremely irrational, exasperating behavior. I was having to use a great deal of will power not to start shouting at her. If I had, I suspect the onus would have been on me for losing it, not on her for provoking me, even if we had had the same amount of capital. Is it ever okay to lose it with an annoying peer?

Nope. You’re expected to exert some control over your emotions when you’re at work, and losing it and yelling at someone — no matter how annoying they’re being — isn’t okay, and will overshadow whatever annoying thing they were doing (unless they’re, like, physically assaulting you or setting the room on fire, both of which are well beyond the “annoying” category).

If someone is testing your patience to the point that you’re genuinely worried you might lose it, excuse yourself from the situation before that happens.

3. How do I decline a promotion because I’d be managing someone I’m dating?

I have been romantically involved with Fergus, my peer who does the same job on a different team within our section. We keep our personal lives away from work and, as far as I know, no one knows. However, the leadership position on Fergus’ team is likely to open soon due to some very unexpected events, and I am likely to be asked to take it and would then be Fergus’ direct supervisor and responsible for his performance evaluations.

These leadership promotions are internal decisions that often occur without application by the promotee. They are also not an opportunity that comes along often.

I do not see a way to accept the position ethically (asking for Fergus to be moved off of that team is not an option). However, I am also concerned about the optics of declining the position, or if I could even do so without getting into my personal life. I am concerned that I will appear uninterested in professional growth or timid about accepting more responsibility (not true!)

I am hoping there is a graceful way to handle this while minimizing the negative impact on my career. When things began between me and Fergus, the possibility of this situation was vanishingly small. It has been a very unusual sequence of events that pushed me into a promotion fast track I had not planned on.

Have a discreet conversation with your manager and explain the situation. Say you’d normally hope to be considered for the promotion, but in this case it’s not possible because of your relationship with someone on the team. You can say you don’t want to be presumptuous by assuming you’d be the pick, but you also want to avoid the awkwardness of explaining this if it turns out you are. She’ll either be able to handle it herself from there or tell you how to. (Alternately, if you have a decent rapport with whoever is heading up the selection process, you could speak with them instead.)

I know you’d rather not have to disclose the relationship at all, but it sounds like now the situation is such that you can’t really avoid it. The other option would be waiting until someone is selected and then turning it down if it’s you — but that’s likely to make it a bigger deal than if you take yourself out of consideration earlier on.

4. Emailing on the weekend when you don’t expect a response before Monday

I’m wondering if there’s a good way to signal that you don’t expect a response to a communication on the weekend when you’re communicating with your boss. For example, I’m a teacher, and as I write this email, it’s a Sunday and I’m working on entering grades for summer school. Attendance and enrollment have been inconsistent (because it’s summer school and it’s remote), so I need to communicate with my principal to verify who is supposed to be enrolled and who is not. She has a young child and has previously indicated that she wants boundaries around working/not working time to be respected, but she also set today as an explicit deadline for grades for the week to be entered.

I typed an email. Then I added a statement saying, “Don’t worry about responding today; it’s not urgent.” Then I wondered if that sounded like I was giving her directions on how to use her time (obviously not my business). I took a couple more passes but kept not being satisfied that the tone and message were appropriate. Am I overthinking this? Is there good language to use? Should I just send it and not worry about it, or else save it as a draft and send it in the morning?

To some extent, it depends on your office culture; in some cultures, it would go without saying that of course you didn’t expect a response until your recipient was back at work. In others, it wouldn’t.

If you want to make sure it’s clear, you can open your email with, “For whenever you have time” or “For when you’re back at work” or “No need to answer over the weekend” or “For Monday…” Or in your specific case, if you need an answer from your boss before you can complete work that she asked to have submitted today, you can be explicit about that — like, “Normally I wouldn’t email over the weekend, but I know you wanted grades submitted today. I have everything taken care of except X, which I need Y from you on first.”

5. New job wants us to pay for COVID-19 test to be hired

My husband has been interviewing at a company and is at the final stages of the hiring process. The job involves working with seniors and the company is requiring everyone to have Covid-19 tests. The hiring manager has been getting the test every few weeks just to be sure that, along with standard precautions, he is creating the safest environment possible.

While my husband is happy that the company is taking this crisis seriously, it is assumed that we will pay for the Covid-19 test to be eligible for hire. The hiring manager said, “Your insurance will pay for it, no problem.” But it appears that our insurance will only cover tests for symptomatic patients, not for patients returning to work.

I am hoping that this will go in a different direction once he talks to someone in HR, but if the company really does assume he should pay for the Covid-19 tests himself, how should he move forward? Get the tests and ask if the company will pay for it if insurance does not cover the expense? Tell the company that they need to pay for it up front and risk not getting the job? Fake a cough to get our GP to order a test?

Normally, I’d say to walk away because the company must be shady, but I really believe that this is a smaller company that simply hasn’t had the time to catch-up with the crisis and how it impacts hiring. Normally, the company is a pillar in the community, but they seem frazzled by needing to operate during the crisis

This legal interpretation says employers need to pay the costs of COVID-19 tests they require. Your husband should say, “It turns out my insurance won’t cover the cost of the test unless I have symptoms, and it will cost $X. Since the law says employers should pay for any medical tests they require employees to get, how would you like me to proceed as far as covering the payment?”

{ 519 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Hey all, I thought I’d have time today to moderate this (a likely need given the religious element but my day unexpectedly got in the way). So if you see problematic comments that violate the commenting rules, I’d be grateful if you would flag them for me (reply to them with a note to me and a link in your response; links all go through moderation) and I’ll take a look.

  2. AnotherSarah*

    For OP5–I’d also check your area to make sure that the GP can’t just order a test for whatever reason they deem appropriate–in my town, we need an MD order for a test, but I know that most docs are giving them out to anyone who wants, no symptoms necessary, just a valid reason (which could be “attended a protest” or “had to fly on a plane” or “elderly relative wants to see me soon.”)

    1. Esme*

      Also do you have any provision for essential workers?

      Might be a stupid / irrelevant question (given I’m writing from a country where tests are free) but we have priority testing that would include people working with seniors.

    2. Chc34*

      Just want to say to be really careful with telling a doctor you were at a protest: a lot of insurance fine-print says that coverage can be denied for conditions related to participating in “riots and civil disobedience,” which, depending on where you are and who’s making the decisions, could be risky ground. I have not heard of anyone being denied coverage for COVID because of this, but be aware of what your plan says.

      1. Lovely Day in the Pandemic*

        Protesting is a constitutional right, this should not be a problem unless a person was arrested.

        1. Kares*

          Peaceful assembly and protest is. If there was any physical damage or injured persons then it may kick it into the “riots and civil disobedience” area. My son participated in a protest where a group broke into a store. He and his friends carefully documented that they remained on Main St. for the protest when the break-in happened on Broad St.

        2. Your morning constitutional*

          Constitutional rights apply vis-a-vis the government, not private actors.

    3. Nip It In The Bud*

      Our local health department is doing the tests for free. Unless the test has to come from a physician, you might want to check that out. You do have to make an appointment, so if you are in a larger area, the wait time might be prohibitive.

      1. MCL*

        My Midwest county has free drive thru testing through at least mid-August. No insurance or ID required. I assume OP has nothing like that available, though!

          1. Katrinka*

            This. The employer should provide a list of places where employees can get tests and who to call to schedule them. Just like they would for fingerprints (I’ve had to go to the local police department for one employer, to a third party for another, and to an in-house department for couple). This includes payment instructions. For the third-party ones, I had to pay, but I was reimbursed as soon as I took the receipt in to the employer (and there were instructions on who to contact if the candidate couldn’t afford to pay up front).

        1. MCL*

          I also did this free drive-thru test one time earlier this summer, and received my results in a phone call (negative, thankfully). I did not receive any formal documentation other than a phone call, and I’m not sure I would have been able to request it. So if the company needs a test done with documented results (like a medical document that they can read!), I’m not sure this would fit the bill. In any case yes, they should pay for COVID tests if they are requiring it for employment.

      2. BookLady*

        Yup, my county health department has free testing, too. It takes a couple of days to get results, but maybe that could be an option.

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      The problem is not getting the test, the OP can get one through their doctor, but the insurance won’t pay for it so the OP could have very high out of pocket costs. There was an article about 2 friends who got tested the same day, one had a $250 bill, the other had a $3,000 plus bill.

      1. WellRed*

        Saw that! OP, nice of the hiring mgr to make assumptions about your husbands insurance.

        1. Annony*

          I think sometimes people with good insurance don’t realize how expensive these things can be with lower tier plans (or no insurance at all). I hope he honestly didn’t realize that not all insurance will cover a test just because you want one and not that he doesn’t care.

          1. EDinTX*

            Sorry! Hit submit too soon. Cost without insurance where I am is between $99 and $199, but most places have stopped doing it unless you are symptomatic.

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        Wow! I am so lucky my state made it a rule that there can be no charge to the patient for COVID testing or treatment.

    5. Mama Bear*

      I think OP just needs to be direct and tell them the out of pocket cost. It’s like getting a drug test before employment. I’ve always had that handled by the prospective employer and never paid for it myself.

  3. Heidi*

    Loretta is basically telling everyone that they’re all going to die soon, which in itself seems inappropriate for work regardless of the religious context. Maybe the LW could broach the subject that way, as in, “Please stop talking about us all dying.”

    1. A mask is a hug for your face*

      Well Loretta is telling people SHE thinks every one will die soon.

      The OP could turn it back. Depending on how far to take it… (but this is what I call levity).

      Loretta: “blah blah end times blah blah.”
      OP (grinning, giving two thumbs up): “Any day now Loretta. Any day.”

      Loretta: “blah blah end times blah blah.”
      OP: “Are we talking about this happening in the next week, month, year? I’ve got subscriptions to renew so an accurate timeline would be really useful.”

      Loretta: “blah blah end times blah blah.”
      OP (grinning, giving two thumbs up): “Yes, and I’ve got my eye on your stapler/window seat/parking spot, Loretta.”

      But I could be confusing end time and the Rapture.

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        I mean, OP probably wants to maintain some level of respect especially regarding religious discussions. But she has gone way too far.

          1. Not A Girl Boss*

            I like this approach.

            I’ve experienced far too many times when “I don’t talk religion at work” is read reallllyyyy far into and assumptions are made about who I am as a person and whether I’m secretly asking to be invited to Bible circle.

            But, regardless of whether you’re a believer or not, talking about the end of time can be really upsetting and not something you want to do at work. And hopefully she can respect that.

            1. Mama Bear*

              Revelation is not my favorite book. I would be annoyed, no matter how much I might share her overall beliefs. I would tell her that I don’t want to talk about it and change the subject.

              1. tangerineRose*

                I am Christian, and I’d be having a tough time with constant end times talk. Especially at work.

              2. Kares*

                As a Christian I’d probably comment that I’m a pan-millennialist. It’s all going to pan out in G-d’s own time.

              3. KayDeeAye*

                Another Christian here who would be made WILDLY uncomfortable by all the end times talk. The main reason is, ye gods, it’s *work*, for cryin’ out loud. For another, people have been seeing their own particular world appear to be heading straight down the toilet for literally millennia, so predicting the end time yet again is just not helpful. And for a third, I honestly consider too much end time speculation to be of extremely questionable value, spiritually speaking. I would never say that last point to Loretta, of course, because, you know, WORK, and I wouldn’t say the second one either because it would simply invite discussion, which is the very thing you want to avoid.

                But you can absolutely say the first one.

                OP, I get that you feel alone in finding this uncomfortable, but odds are, you have plenty of company. Without knowing anything more about your coworkers than you’ve told us here, I am sure there are a number in addition to you who really, really, really want Loretta to stop talking about this stuff at WORK.

            2. Realist*

              If OP lives in the Bible Belt (outside the largest cities, at least), she should not disclose that she is an atheist. Regardless of what formal protections are in place, she will be ostracized socially.

            3. Crooked Bird*

              Yeah, I agree here. Don’t say you prefer not to talk religion at work! I know it doesn’t seem like that would be outing yourself, but it’s very likely to be enough. In the kind of atmosphere that’s being conveyed here (I’ve been in it too), you don’t have to explicitly say you disagree–any small negativity directed toward the source of all agreement can easily trigger the We Have A Stranger In Our Midst chilling effect. Followed by the sorts of interactions I’m sure OP is looking to avoid.
              Whereas if they take Sue’s suggestion, they still sound like they agree but have an actual reason they need her to stop. Very good.

      2. Lady Meyneth*

        For the record, I know several people like Loretta, and this would absolutely not work on any of them. In fact, some of them would interpret your first suggestion as agreement and the others as a “cry for help”.

        OP, I’m religious myself, and I’m thouroughly annoyed at people who see end of times in everything, or say they do, and it’s really amped up this year. Alison’s script is IMO the best possible option, since it lets Loretta thinks you’re just a private person as opposed to someone she needs to double down on trying to convert.

        1. Stormy Weather*

          I haven’t read Revelations in a long time, but I thought the Rapture came before the plague and locusts and such.

          Maybe it’s already happened and Loretta didn’t get to go?

          Meanwhile, my comment about the end of the world is typically, “I’m not sure what to wear. Is basic black okay?”

          1. Sleepless*

            I used to be pretty religious. If I remember right, at what point in the end times the Rapture comes is a point of debate. Before, during, or after, also known as pre-trib, mid-trib, and post-trib. I’ve heard lengthy arguments for each.

            1. HBJ*

              This is true. Additionally, the Bible talks about signs that the Rapture is coming, which is that things start getting worse and worse in the world. Theoretically, if we are approaching the end times, what’s happening now could be the worsening that happens before that takes place, meaning this is mild in comparison to what will be coming along later.

            2. Alli525*

              You’re correct. If I remember correctly (it’s been almost 20 years since I read them), the most popular fictional Christian series on the end times, Left Behind, placed the first, primary Rapture directly before all the plagues and horrors started, but there’s a second Rapture at the very end of everything where everyone who managed to be “saved” during the tribulations is caught up to heaven. Everyone else goes to the lake of fire/eternal damnation.

              I used to love eschatology, and then I became Catholic and no one in this faith tradition really seems to care about it.

              1. Kares*

                No, as a Catholic once told me, “Jesus said no one knows the hour. The focus should be on service not looking to the heavens.”

                1. Tiny Soprano*

                  Yeah I always lean on this one. If someone’s claiming they know when it’s going to happen (even vaguely), it’s a pretty sure-fire sign it’s not going to happen then. It also has the added advantage of keeping LW’s atheism under the radar, given that there’s a high correlation between people who like to bang on about the Rapture and people who think they need to ‘save’ you, especially if you’re an atheist. (Hell, I’d feel pretty skeeved out if I was working with someone like Loretta and I was raised Catholic.)

          2. Penny*

            The Rapture isn’t biblical. The roots of the belief are 19th century. The New Testament scholar Barbara Rossing has some good work on this. Not that that helps the OP.

            Signed, religion PhD

            1. LITJess*

              Thank you! My mom was freaking out a little about the rapture a few years ago. I had to remind her that we’re Catholic and don’t believe in it.

            2. Crabapple*

              Thank you! I have an M.Div. and have even had to argue with my own parents that the Rapture is not biblical. Not even in Revelation (which not coincidentally does not have an s), thank you very much. ;)

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            This. It’s less important to tease Loretta about her beliefs and more important to get her to stop a problematic behavior. She can believe the world’s coming to an end all she wants. What she can’t do is make her coworkers anxious and uncomfortable in their workplace.

            I’d probably stick with Alison’s scripts, and talk with a manager if Loretta keeps doing what she’s doing.

        2. Lissa*

          Not gonna lie, this is how I feel about most of the “Clever” answers suggested online in cases like this. They sound good and are funny, but they don’t ever actually work the way it’s intended.

      3. Anonymous for this one*

        Snarking at Loretta isn’t going to improve the situation. LW said that they’re in the minority as an atheist, so I think there’s a very real chance that making fun of Loretta’s beliefs as you suggest would land them in hot water.

        Alison’s script has the best chance of shutting Loretta down politely, but I’m not optimistic. LW, I’d be asking myself what I could do to make the job more tolerable assuming that Loretta never stops with the end times stuff. Can you minimize time spent with her, or redirect her to work topics? If she can’t be redirected or avoided, is there enough else good about this job to keep you there, or is it time to start looking?

        I personally would be turned off enough by so much overt religiousness that I’d be applying elsewhere.

        1. IRV*

          Lol. My 92 year old mother renewed her passport recently. Given the option of a 5 or 10 year expiration date, she went with the 10. Gotta love her optimism.

      4. Karo*

        I don’t see how this is turning it around on her…it’s agreeing with her that the rapture is coming, and encouraging her to keep talking about it. The best case scenario with this is that Loretta reads into it and takes offense.

      5. Beth*

        I think the Rapture is one of the things that happens in the course of the End Times, but not being Christian, I could well be muddled about it.

        I mostly just wanted to say how much I adore your user name.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I’m a Christian, and I’m muddled by it.
          My sect is pretty thorough in its Christian education and is very strictly Bible-based (hymns don’t make it into the main hymnal unless there are Bible verses you can point to, to back up the lyrics).

          We never talk about the end times. We say Revelation was a vision for a specific time, not a prediction about the end of the world.

          We also point to the words of Jesus when he says, “you don’t know when the end will be. There will be wars and rumors of wars, but that’s not it.”

          1. Tidewater 4-1009*

            As a non-Christian I read Revelations from curiosity. To me they seem like the writer had PTS-inspired nightmares. I don’t know how anyone takes them literally.

      6. sofar*

        “Yes, and I’ve got my eye on your stapler/window seat/parking spot, Loretta.”

        This made me LOL.

      7. Ben*

        If you wanted to fight fire with fire, I’d recommend Matthew 24:36 – ‘But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.’

        On the other hand, the Loretta’s of the world are likely to take a biblical quote as encouragement to engage further.

    2. Avasarala*

      I agree. I would be uncomfortable with religious talk regardless, but endless secular talk along the lines of “I knew this bad thing was going to happen” and “it will all be over soon, when we’re dead from coronavirus” would be pretty awful to listen to.

      “Can we not talk about the world ending? I want to focus on the here and now.”
      “Regardless, I still gotta get this done by the end of the day, so let’s get back on task.”
      “Let’s not discuss the end of the world. I’m trying to focus on the work I still have to do.” (This can mean literally “work” or more broadly, what you want to do with your life)
      “Can we not talk about how everything sucks and the world is ending? I’m trying to stay positive for my mental health/I’m trying to keep an open mind and light heart.” (To use more broadly when people get doom-and-gloomy about how everything is wrong and it’s never going to get better–if there is one thing we’ve learned from 2020, it’s that we don’t know what will happen. We never did. We thought we did, but we don’t. We never will. Uncertainty is a part of life, and we have to live with it.)

      1. The Grey Lady*

        The thing is, Christian people don’t see the end of the world as a bad thing. To them, it’s positive news and it’s what they’ve been waiting for.

          1. Clisby*

            My lifelong-Methodist mother once referred to Revelations as “just somebody’s hallucinations.”

          2. Alli525*

            Thank you for pointing this out. I mentioned in a comment above that I was surprised when I converted from evangelicalism to Catholicism 15 years ago that no one in my new faith tradition seemed to care at all about the end times. I’m not sure how, like, Methodists feel about eschatology… but the more “high-church” traditions don’t really focus on the end times very much, so it seems to be primarily an evangelical thing.

            1. ThursdaysGeek*

              And as someone who attends an evangelical church, a lot of us don’t talk or think much about it either, at least partly because it’s not well supported in scripture. There’s just a very vocal subset. But then, I also believe evolution happened, and …um… not to get into politics, but you’ll find me agreeing with the majority of the commentariat here. Even evangelicals are individuals.

            2. UKDancer*

              I grew up Methodist (became atheist in my teens) and it’s never come up or been seriously considered or discussed. The preaching I grew up with tended to focus more on how to be a good person and why we should do more about tackling poverty and helping our neighbours. They tended to say that things like Revelation were figurative and put them in to the historical context rather than ever saying they should be taken literally. I also visited my grandmother’s Anglican church which had a similar approach but with duller sermons and more incense. How typical that is of Methodism elsewhere I couldn’t say.

              The first I heard of end times was when those Left Behind books came out and I perceived it (perhaps incorrectly) as a very American thing.

        1. Avasarala*

          Even if you were right, which others are pointing out you’re not, OP could still push back on a coworker talking on an on about negative things that are a sign of something positive [for her]. “Everyone’s salaries have been cut and morale is low! That means I can retire soon and spend the rest of my days on the beach!” “OK Loretta, can you not remind me how our salaries have been cut, I still gotta work!”

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        “Can we not talk about the world ending? I want to focus on the here and now.”

        I like that one!

      3. Miss Dove*


        It doesn’t matter that this is coming from a religious angle. It would be annoying from a secular point of view also. I love these scripts.

        1. Frustrated*

          All you need to politely but firmly say is “Excuse me but this conversation is distracting me from work.” Then continue with whatever else you were doing. This works for religious, political or just annoying conversations. Works better if you have headphones you can turn up immediately after you say this.

      4. Lucy P*

        I like Alison’s script. In fact I might use it myself.

        Last week I had to sit through a random, 10 minute long, anti-gun rant from a coworker. I don’t share his beliefs, but just politely smiled and listened to him anyway. If he starts again though, I might take the suggestion and replace the word “religion” with “politics”.

    3. Vina*

      Oh, and that they may all be going to hell. Cause, if you aren’t the same faith as her, where does she think your are going?

      1. Channelling Sartre*

        I have a standard thought process and response to this – if she’s going to one place, I’ll go to the other because an eternity with her and her ilk would be double hockey sticks to me anyway.

      2. Littorally*

        I think that’s putting a lot of words in Loretta’s mouth that she isn’t saying, and it’s unnecessary. Her comments about the end times are enough to engage with.

    4. Lady Meyneth*

      The thing is, this is the kind of statement where the religious context is very significant. For many deeply religious people, the end of times is about life eternal and an end to suffering, so Loretta could very well mean this to comfort those around her, and is just assuming her coworkers are in a similar faith level as hers.

      What she’s doing is absolutely innapropriate for a workplace, and would be innapropriate even at most churches, but it’s probably not malicious. Annoying, sure, malicious no. Anyway, in her mind she’s not talking about them dying at all, and to have someone say so could spark in her a need to convert them sooner rather than later, specially if she truly believes the end of times is coming.

      I truly think Alison’s script or something close is the best bet here.

      1. Anonymous for this one*

        Seconding! Unless Loretta is a flavor of Christian with which I’m unfamiliar, she’s expecting all of the faithful to go directly to heaven and all of the not-faithful to get left behind on earth to be tormented eternally. Technically, no one’s dying.

        1. Lady Meyneth*

          Off topic but, in the christian faith at least, those left behind on earth are to be given another chance to become believers for a few centuries; after that, those who don’t convert go to actual hell for eternity.

          1. Gray Lady*

            It depends on the flavor. This is far from unanimous in Christianity. In fact large swaths of Christianity do not buy into this “end times” stuff at all, other than believing that the end will come at some unspecified time.

            1. The Grey Lady*

              I agree. Christianity beliefs differ wildly on this, depending on denomination and individual thought. Also, sorry I stole your username lol.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Some flavor of Christianity maybe, but that’s nothing I learned growing up. (Congregationalist branch of the United Church of Christ.)

      2. Eillah*

        I mean this as kindly as I can, but as a non-religious person this is a distinction without a difference, and I don’t want to hear it at work.

        1. CG*

          I think that’s basically Lady Meyneth’s point. Responding to Loretta by asking her not to talk about death has a good chance of prompting her to launch into explaining why she’s not talking about death, which is not the desired outcome.

      3. Aquawoman*

        I am struggling with this comment. The context is not religious, it’s work — it’s secular unless she works for a religious organization. I also think we (broadly “we” as a society) need to be very careful about who gets the benefit of the doubt around their “intentions,” and how. I find that if someone is doing something harmful due to a neurological condition, eg, they are expected to just fix their behavior and adhere to neurotypical standards. And yet when someone is doing something harmful because they’re choosing ignorance, they need to be cut some slack.

        For me, the religious talk would be annoying but I really wouldn’t want to be in the vicinity of someone who thought covid was going to bring on paradise; that just doesn’t seem safe.

        1. Lady Meyneth*

          I’m sorry, I think I probably wasn’t very clear. My comment was mostly pushing back on the notion that Loretta was just telling her coworkers “they’re all going to die soon”.

          But I don’t think her behavior needs to be tiptoed around, and she absolutely needs to stop. What she’s doing is inappropriate and annoying and just plain wrong, no matter how yo interpret her intentions.

        2. WhisperingPines*

          “if someone is doing something harmful due to a neurological condition, eg, they are expected to just fix their behavior and adhere to neurotypical standards. And yet when someone is doing something harmful because they’re choosing ignorance, they need to be cut some slack”

          You have put into words what was vaguely forming in my mind as I read the comments. Yes, very well put! I agree!

      4. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        I agree, with one small caveat: I would NOT tell Loretta “I’m an atheist.” This would very likely be the equivalent of waving a piece of fresh meat before a hungry lion – Loretta would almost certainly take The Conversion of the Poor Lost Soul upon herself as a Project, and the LW would have no peace from then on! If they’re exasperated by Loretta’s obsession with the end times now, that would be nothing compared to what they’d endure as the target of Loretta’s nonstop evangelizing. And given the local culture that they described – as an atheist, they’re very much in the minority – they’d probably get very little support from their colleagues. Best to leave THEIR personal views on religion out of this, and stick to what Alison and most of the commentariat have suggested; just tell Loretta that you don’t discuss religion at work and change the subject whenever she starts in again.

        1. Tisiphone*

          True. I made that mistake once several jobs ago. Never again.

          Treat the topic like graphic medical discussions at the dinner table and change the subject immediately.

    5. Hey Nonnie*

      Agh. Loretta would grate on me. Not even about the religious aspect, but she has some seriously unexamined racism going on in what she’s saying.

      POC protesting police brutality and demanding justice are a sign of the end times? *Really?* Not just people who are tired of being terrorized and murdered with impunity?

      Also, by saying that the end is near, it neatly abdicates any responsibility for, you know… DOING SOMETHING about racial injustice. Instead of putting in some work, however minimal, she declares she can just flap her hands and be helpless cuz we’re all gonna die soon anyway.

      For this reason, if talking to Loretta doesn’t get her to dial it WAY down, I’d consider bringing it to HR (presuming HR is not, in itself, a giant mess that wouldn’t realize/care about the legal implications of a racially hostile work environment).

      1. stephistication1*

        OMG no, you are reaching a bit. Her religious beliefs does not auto equate to her “just flapping her hands and being helpless cuz we’re all gonna die soon anyway..”

        I have similar beliefs that I make no apology for but you best believe a lot of my time is spent volunteering wherever needed, donating and being available. I also teach my child that life is deeper than talking and thinking about making a difference, we have to work towards it and be accountable for our actions and inactions.

        Please don’t assume we’re all helpless lambs shivering in the corner. Just, no.

        1. Bee in a bonnet*

          +1. And I am so over Whispering Pines belittling reliiiiiigion. No one is forcing her to be a believer but she should respect our believes too!!!

  4. nnn*

    #1: If you get push-back on your stated policy of not discussing religion, a script that I find often works is “I was raised to believe that faith is a private matter.” My experience has been that aggressively religious people tend to find the “I was raised to believe” argument compelling.

    (I have no idea how truthful this statement may or may not be for you, and how comfortable you may or may not be with it, but that’s a determination you can make for yourself.)

    1. MissGirl*

      I actually like this better. I think she might respect the answer more because it implies sacredness of beliefs, which Loretta may be more apt to listen to. It doesn’t matter what beliefs you actually have, that’s not her business.

      The only problem is if she’s talking at you, which I suspect she might be. If so, it won’t matter what YOU don’t want to talk about; she’ll keep going.

      Maybe you could say something along the lines of how hearing about all the turmoil right now makes it hard to focus. “And if you wouldn’t mind, could we change the subject something to something a bit more light-hearted? How are your grand babies?”

      I’m usually more direct than this, but I have a feeling direct may make the situation worse if you’re in the minority.

    2. Temperance*

      If Loretta is this kind of evangelical, she’ll take this as a sign to push harder.

      1. Beth*

        I agree–Loretta could go the other way with this. Don’t hide your lamp under a bushel* etc. OP will have to gauge based on what she knows of Loretta. (*a proverb often quoted to mean Christians shouldn’t hide their faith.)

      2. Aquawoman*

        That may be, but actively disrespecting/disregarding someone’s religious beliefs is harassment.

    3. Vina*

      Matthew 6:5 usually works for me.

      “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites
      are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and
      in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.
      Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”

      Plain language version here:

      “When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for
      they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the
      corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most
      certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward.”

      I make it clear that I view engaging in public religious talk like this in a work or social forum to be a violation of this Biblical exhortation.

      Of course, it also helps that I went to 6 different Vacation Bible Schools one summer* and can deeply quote a lot of the more uncomfortable passages of the Bible. One advantage of having those verses in one’s head is that it makes it easier to push back on the talking points a lot of people throw out.

      I have no issue with Xtianity in general, just those people who use God to reinforce their own prejudices and to make themselves feel superior to others. Religion should be a shield, not a sword. I absolutely detest people who don’t really know the Bible, yet use passages – particularly misread/misquoted ones – as a cudgel against others.

      *There were some major issues in the family that summer, so my mother’s solution was to send me to every non-Catholic VBS in the county. So I’ve seen what the Baptists thought, the Presbyterians, the Methodists, the Christian Church, The Church of God. Whooo Boy do I wish I would have kept a diary back then. Some of what I observed would have made Peyton Place look staid.

      1. Vina*

        It also sometimes works to ask the person what they think of the story of Jacob, Dinah, and the Shechem.

        This is a deeply, profoundly disturbing part of the Bible.

        I ask what God’s lesson was in this. Was it that women should marry the man who assaults them? That deceit and mutilation and violence is ok if the men were not of the same faith? That violence against women is not as important as family honor? What?

        Most Bible scholars are dishonest on this one and dodge as being “just history” and “background.” Or try to allege Dinah was willing, but too young or something something. But it’s clear to me that it isn’t and that there’s supposed to be some moral lesson there…but darned if I can figure out a positive one.

        Or, I ask them about the sexual parts of the Song of Solomon. Particularly the parts about reciprocal oral between two unmarried Persons of different races (which likely would have meant different faiths as well)

        You know, I’ve never once heard that portion of the Bible preached from the pulpit….

        And, yes, with people like this coworker, I could bait them all day if I were a cruel person. I only do so with people who don’t back down when asked politely first, firmly second, and outright told the third time.

        1. curly sue*

          I don;t know all that much about how evangelical Christianity deals with these things, but I can assure you that Judaism has millennia of history of grappling with these texts. Shir hashirim (Song of Songs, which the Christian Bible calls Song of Solomon) is publicly read every year in Synagogues on Pesach (Passover) and discussed extensively.

          Your “baiting” is the kind of “gotcha” that often reads as deeply antisemitic – same with the whole ‘Gd hates shrimp’ business, which is based on the assumptions that no-one follows kashrut anymore, or that observant Jews are inevitably homophobic, because observance of dietary laws and intolerance are somehow linked??

          Please stop using one faith stream’s approach to widely shared texts as attacks on people. There’s collateral damage you may not be aware of.

          1. You might not realize you’re being a little antisemitic but*

            +1 Yes thank you
            Judaism is basically the art of interpretation. We know there’s weird stuff. We grapple with it. We have some pretty cool interpretations that probably aren’t what you’d expect, given what’s only in the text. We don’t need you to tell us.

            1. Miss Dove*

              Yes, thank you. And it’s not just Judaism that’s being slammed here. All religions grapple with these kinds of verses. It’s not helpful to throw a bunch of problematic stuff at people and say, “see?” Being religious does not automatically make one an object of ridicule.

      2. Vina*

        PS there are some people who try to claim I those two were married, but there’s also a lot of counter-argument they weren’t.

        Like with Zipporah, there’s a lot of whitewashing of the more, um, racy parts of the Bible.

      3. Kayla!*

        In this particular scenario, the OP could just say, “Oh Loretta, you know no one knows the day or the hour the Lord will come” – an allusion to Matthew 24:36 & 42.

        Many Christians consider it *wrong* to speculate on when Jesus will return, since the Bible says we can’t know.

        Not that the OP needs to pretend to be religious. I suspect it’s better to shut this down on “I don’t discuss religion at work” grounds, but if the OP feels that might make things worse… it can sometimes work to imply that the discussion itself is unfaithful.

        I am a Christian, so this how I would handle it if it was an issue. But my coworkers tend towards conspiracy theories and pseudo science – often combined.

      4. SunnySideUp*

        If a coworker of mine quoted scripture to me at work, I’d tell them to knock it off. If they persisted, I’d go to HR with a complaint.

        Religion is NOT a work-appropriate topic, no matter how many ways you slice it.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          It really depends on where you’re located and the culture of your organization. My employer with a diverse, 500+ person office in an urban area would share your sentiment; the small (or even mid-sized) company in the rural, Bible Belt town where my spouse would raised would find the idea that religion is not work-appropriate odd and someone holding that belief would be the odd one out – the population is also more homogeneous and almost entirely Christian (and mostly evangelical, where they see sharing the good word of the lord as an obligation). OP#1 has described their area as more the latter, so insisting people not discuss religion at work is more likely to be the outlier view.

          I’m not saying it’s right or it wouldn’t make me deeply uncomfortable, too, but what OP#1 describes is not unusual in a lot of the country and, technically correct or not, would set OP#1 apart and draw unwanted attention.

          1. schnauzerfan*

            The more I think about this situation the more I think OPs office needs my Uncle Frank. UF is a lapsed Christian who lives for the knock on the door. The Mormons, Christian Scientists, whoever is out trying to save the worlds unbelievers. When they show up at his place he offers a cold drink and sits down to discuss their beliefs at great length. They aren’t going to make their quota of visits today, not now that UF has them in his sights. He’s polite interested and respectful, but manages to get them so focused on how many angels can dance on the head of a pin for so long that they leave exhausted and doubting what they’ve been taught. Most never come back. UF could send a Loretta scurrying back to her cube after one of UFs in depth discussions of times people thought the rapture was at hand and why things were much worse, back then. “After all the black death didn’t have NetFlix” and so on. She might well be afraid to mention that the end is nigh for fear of hearing about 1492 again.

            1. SweetFancyPancakes*

              Just wanted to pop on and say that as a former Mormon missionary (almost 30 years ago, now), I would have enjoyed chatting with your Uncle Frank. We didn’t have a daily quota of visits, and since we weren’t really out there to “save the world’s unbelievers” but just to share what we had, this kind of visit with a respectful, cold-drink-offering individual would have made our day. Sure would have beat the ones who would turn the sprinklers on us, spit on us, yell at us, or otherwise express their disinterest (when a simple “no, thanks” would have sufficed).

      5. Another Atheist*

        Perhaps this approach would work for someone who also has a deep background in scripture (as many ex-Christian atheists seem to), but I didn’t get that impression from the letter writer.

        As an atheist who has no interest whatsoever in knowing more about the Bible, the (I’m sure well-meaning!) advice to fight scripture with more scripture has always sounded like…getting tedious homework and being asked to recognize the primacy of an old document that has no relevance to my personal beliefs.

    4. AKchic*

      Much as I’d like to say it will work, it doesn’t always. Especially since Loretta is older than OP1 and could say “well *I* was raised to believe that faith should be shared” and also has the added cultural/regional standing to say “I was also raised to believe we respect our elders” with a reproving look, as if her age and her own personal upbringing gives her any kind of jurisdiction over the workplace topics of discussion.

  5. Nip It In The Bud*

    LW1 – When asking your coworker to self censor her religious beliefs around you, I would strongly encourage you to not refer to them as “mumbo jumbo.”

    1. Observer*

      While I agree that the OP should not call CW’s beliefs mumbo jumbo, I think you are really being harsh in saying that they are asking her to “self censor”. Normal, functional adults should be able to to figure out how to calibrate their discussion topics to the environment they are in. Getting into the kind of religious / theological discussions or rants described, with people who have not clearly signaled their like minded interest is just not appropriate.

      1. Catherine*

        Yeah, I feel this is more a matter of manners than religion. If the building is not on fire, we don’t have a gas leak, etc, , it’s not my coworkers’ place to tell me I’m going to die. It’s just plain rude to call attention to my mortality.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          I can assure you, from Loretta’s perspective, this is not what she’s doing. She views the end times as the start of her reward for belief, and, not knowing OP#1 is atheist (which may actual ramp up the religious talk to ensure she’s “saved” before the end times), Loretta doesn’t view this as death but as a her ascension to heaven.

          My mother belongs to a religion in which I was not raised and with which I deeply, deeply disagree (ditto but different faith for my MIL, but that’s my spouse’s to deal with). They are both very concerned about my spouses and my (and our kids’) souls and being separated from us for eternity if we don’t repent/convert/whatever. Doesn’t matter if I find it crazypants, it’s what they believe, and their concern comes from a place of love and concern. They don’t understand our lack of belief any more than we understand their belief.

          1. Littorally*

            How can you assure anyone about Loretta’s exact beliefs? Are you Loretta? Can you read her mind?

            Even if Loretta happens to belong to the exact same church your mother does, that doesn’t mean they share the exact same beliefs. And you have no knowledge of what church she does or does not attend.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              Well, this took a turn for the hyperbolic. We can’t put ourselves exactly in the head of anyone who writes in to Alison nor the people that they describe in their letters, but that has hardly held the comment sections back from prolific discussion based on the information available. Loretta’s comments have all the hallmarks of some brand of evangelical faith that sees the rapture as “going home” and her increased commentary about it lines up with a belief she needs to corral the nonbelievers so they don’t suffer eternal damnation when the foretold events of Revelation occur. And she’s speaking about the end times publicly, which further pigeonholes her. So, without knowing that she goes to the Second Church of Christ on Branch Avenue in East Pemberton, it’s not hard to figure out.

              I don’t think Loretta is of the same faith as my mother (the language around the end times that OP describes is not the same, and my mother’s faith uses very specific terms and phrasing that are easily identifiable). It’s closer to my MIL’s beliefs.

              And, really, the point was that presenting this to Loretta as not discussing her coworkers’ “mortality” was not going to be effective because she’s talking about eternal life, not death.

          2. Librarian of SHIELD*

            It doesn’t really matter what Loretta believes she’s doing. What matters is the impact her behavior is having on her coworkers. I don’t think OP really wants to investigate Loretta’s religious beliefs or intentions, they just want her to stop talking about the end of the world. “Can we please talk about something other than the world coming to an end?” is a really, really reasonable thing to expect in a workplace. If Loretta is reasonable, she’ll naturally feel bad about causing her coworkers to feel anxious and she’ll stop. If she doesn’t, OP can talk to their manager about it.

            What Loretta believes and why is not the point here. OP’s not going to reason her out of any of her beliefs, and it’s not really an important goal in all this. The goal is that she stops talking about the apocalypse.

        2. Nobby Nobbs*

          I’d feel uncomfortable if she were harping on about the end times in a church. Doing it in the workplace is an extra level of ick.

      2. Catherine*

        Yeah, I feel this is more a matter of manners than religion. If the building is not on fire, we don’t have a gas leak, etc, , it’s not my coworkers’ place to tell me I’m going to die. It’s just plain rude to call attention to my mortality.

      3. Vina*

        We self-censor a lot of things in the workplace. As we should.

        LW’s co-worker is waaaaaay out of line by brining the topic of the end of days up repeatedly. She shouldn’t have to be told to knock-it-off. As a functional adult, she should already know it’s wrong.

        Either she does, but doesn’t care b/c her religion is more important than social manners and workplace norms or she’s somehow managed to make it to adulthood and not learn that politics, religion and graphic sexual items are not discussed in the workplace.

        Something in the OP’s tone makes it seem like the LW is imposing on the religious woman by asking her to censor herself. In fact, it’s the other way around. The evangelical proselytizer is the one who is imposing.

        She’s not being asked to self-censor. She’s being asked to not impose her beliefs on others.

        Funny how reframing the issue and looking at squarely who the wrong-doer is makes choice of terms like “self-censorship” seem a bit, well, something.

        Man, American culture is soooo good at DARVO. Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender.

        The person behaving inappropriately here is not the LW, but the religious zealot.

        1. Kayla!*

          I suspect that Loretta has just always worked in places where no one minded talking about religion.

          I worked for a long time at a company where religion was just part of the culture. When I was hired it was just a few people and we were all Christians, so we casually talked about it.

          As the company grew we had more religious diversity, but most people didn’t acknowledge that.

        2. Just no*

          Yes to all of Vina’s comment. Loretta’s *obligation* is to “self censor” because it is a *workplace*, and her behavior flouts professional norms in the vast majority of workplaces. LW isn’t the one doing anything wrong.

    2. Homo neanderthalensis*

      Isn’t there a rule on this site not to nitpick the OP’s language? They appear to be using that term to Alison, not Loretta. Also from the question it appears she’s not calling the coworkers religious beliefs all mumbo jumbo- just the new, terrifying stuff about the end times. Which frankly quite a lot of us who are religious- including quite a lot of Christians *Do* consider as such- Revelations was not well written and seems to many to have been tacked on to the end of the new testament as an afterthought by a secondary author- if you look at the OG texts when compared to the other bits. Finally, it is hardly “censorship” to ask someone (politely) to keep their prophecies of doom and death to themselves, regardless of their religious origins.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes, I don’t imagine the OP would call it mumbo jumbo when speaking to Loretta.

        I’ve a colleague who believes deeply in spiritualism and goes to seances regularly and tells me about the results at length. I would consider this to be mumbo jumbo myself but I would never say as much to her because it would upset her. My own inner dialogue is a different matter from what I would say to her, because I know that she does believe in this and would never insult or belittle her beliefs.

        Despite being an atheist now, I spent a lot of time with my godmother, a Methodist lay preacher, and she had a fairly low opinion of Revelations. One of my favourite memories of her was when we were on a bus going into London to the Sunday service at Methodist Central Hall and a guy got on and started addressing the commuters about how the end of the world was coming. She got into a lengthy theological debate with him about how he was wrong which lasted from Brixton up to Westminster.

      2. BethDH*

        I think this goes back to the point that Loretta probably doesn’t see end of days as doom and death. If she’s a believer in that way, it’s a comfort and something hoped for. This STILL doesn’t make it appropriate for work, but taking this angle will probably just make her think that OP needs to have the Good News explained in full detail. And going with “Revelation is by a secondary author” won’t get you anywhere when the first four books of the NT are already celebrated as written by different authors and that changing voice is supposed to be part of it being divine speech channeled through human understanding.
        OP needs to stick to “religious talk is not appropriate at work” and not engage Loretta on any specifics of the content or she will undermine the idea that the discussion itself is the problem and not Loretta’s specific beliefs. If you get into “this aspect of your belief is the problem” you’ve lost the issue.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This whole thread is going off the rails in more than just language choice.

      4. JSPA*

        Indeed. The religion aspect is a complicating factor because religion is a sensitive spot and a cultural identifier, but it’s and also something of a red herring.

        If someone repeatedly circled back at work to talking about the doomsday clock / minutes to midnight (assuming the workplace wasn’t a nonprofit working on limiting nuclear proliferation) or about prepping and imminent societal breakdown (and you’re not in the prepper supply business) or about [insert doomsday or large scale death and destruction scenario of choice] and [workplace not working on anything particularly related to said scenario], “Please don’t talk about impending doom and destruction while we’re trying to have a workday” would be completely normal. It’s normal here, too.

        I’ve gotten, “please stop talking about supervolcanos and earthquakes; they’re science to you, but they’re scary to me.” I’ve done it to others when they talk about tsunamis. One person’s conversational topic can be another person’s nightmare, and the only right answer to “you couldn’t know, but this is bad (and not work related), please stop” is…to stop.

    3. Willis*

      You must have read a different letter than I did, if you seriously got the impression that’s the wording the OP was considering saying to Loretta. She sounds to me like she’s been respectful of the religious comments in her office (to the point that she avoids mentioning she’s atheist) and specifically says in the letter she doesn’t want to argue religion with Loretta. But being able to work without hearing frequent, extended religious talk about end times, etc. is a totally reasonable request. To the extent that that represents the “self censoring” you purport, I think it’s quite reasonable censorship for a secular work environment.

      1. Lady Meyneth*


        Thank you for this! And honestly, many churches in my country ask their members not to discuss Revelations except in closed groups, since it can be both terrifying and easy to misinterpret for many people even in the same faith group. So talking about it at work seems unthinkable to me, on several levels.

    4. bunniferous*

      I happen to be Christian and the truth is (because there are at least 4 main interpretations of end times plus other sub-interpretations and so forth) I would really rather not discuss them at work. It would be perfectly fine for OP to tell her to knock off the end times discussion. That’s not infringing on her rights, and honestly everybody else might be happy to think about something else besides that as well, religious or not. No need for OP to disclose their atheism, since that is kinda immaterial-if I was in that office I myself might ask her to change the subject.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        Yes, there are plenty of things that I would prefer we not discuss at the workplace. Your sex life, your bowel movements, a 45-minute analysis of a 3-second football tackle….it’s hardly 1987-censorship if we ask people to limit chatter on certain topics.

        And religious/spirtual beliefs are particularly sensitive, because they often run up against each other and the office isn’t really the place to be that vulnerable with other people.

        I certainly hope Loretta has places where she is able to be open about her beliefs.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          When I left the Peace Corps, the exit training explicitly included “Do not talk about your latest bowel movements. That becomes normal when you’re waiting around to ask the doc about giarddhia, but it really doesn’t fly when you get out of this context.”

          Also the husbando letter: If you are in love with your body pillow and think it might propose, you should self-censor the heck out of that sentiment at work.

          1. Texan In Exile*

            But my stool test story is such a good story!

            And my friend Drew’s giardia story from when he was in Paraguay – THESE ARE GREAT STORIES!

    5. Avasarala*

      If you think asking a prophesying coworker to tone it down is “self censoring her religious beliefs”, then you may need to recalibrate your sense of what is acceptable and respectful in most workplaces.

    6. Nudge*

      It’s not “self censor her religious beliefs around you”, it’s asking them to zip it in conversation with the OP. Her religious beliefs remain intact.

      “I would strongly encourage you to not refer to them as “mumbo jumbo.” ” Would ‘gibberish’ be okay? Or is ‘jibber-jabber’ better?

      1. Nip It In The Bud*

        I’m not saying that LW should not ask Loretta to tone it down. I’m simply suggesting that she should treat Loretta’s view with the same respect that she is asking from Loretta in return. “Mumbo jumbo” is just dripping with disdain. And yes, your suggestions would be equally disdainful.

        1. Dodo Calling*

          What in the letter gives you the impression she is NOT treating her colleague’s religious beliefs with respect? You are focusing on one phrase which you’ve taken offence at, instead of considering the letter as while which clearly demonstrates that the OP has gone above and beyond to be respectful of this person’s views, despite them being clearly unacceptable for the workplace. This is not acting in good faith towards the OP, who deserves more kindness and consideration that you have bothered to show.

          You are being unfair and unkind. Please stop.

          1. Nip It In The Bud*

            LW’s own wording suggests she is not respectful of Loretta’s view. Think of something that you strongly believe and hold dear. I dismiss it as being mumbo jumbo. Is that respectful? I don’t think so. (Of course, not every view is worthy of respect, but nothing in the letter suggests Loretta is being hateful in any way.) Again, I don’t think LW is out of line in asking Loretta to refrain from the end times discussion. I just think she should choose her words more carefully.

            1. MayLou*

              Since LW didn’t use the words mumbo jumbo when speaking to Loretta but just included then in this post, I feel as though you are actually objecting to the wording being used in the letter, rather than truly thinking that LW would call it mumbo jumbo to Loretta’s face and advising against it. Would that be a fair interpretation?

            2. ThatGirl*

              The OP is allowed to believe that Loretta’s beliefs are mumbo-jumbo, but there’s no indication that she’s said ANYTHING rude or disrespectful *to* Loretta or anyone else. If Loretta’s allowed her beliefs, isn’t the OP also?

            3. Annony*

              The OP is being much more respectful of Loretta’s view than Loretta is being to the OP. No one likes to constantly hear about the prophesy of the end of the world coming true. Loretta is not being hateful, but she is being rude. Nothing in the letter indicates that the OP would be at all unkind when talking to Loretta.

            4. SunnySideUp*

              You’re creating an issue where there is none. You’re expressing outrage over a supposition.

              Oh, and “not every view is worthy of respect”? Talk about choosing one’s words carefully….


              1. Nip It In The Bud*

                Surely, you are not saying that you think every person’s viewpoint is worthy of respect. There are plenty of people who have views that are racist, sexist, misogynistic, anti-semitic, the list goes on and on. Do you think the people who hold those views are worthy of your respect?

                1. The Grey Lady*

                  So, to get this straight, you believe that those racist, misogynistic, anti-semitic viewpoints are not worthy of respect, unless they are based on a religious foundation, which then suddenly makes them worthy?

                2. JSPA*

                  People have an absolute right to believe that I or anyone else is “less than,” in the space between their own two ears.

                  Once it comes out of their mouths or otherwise affects me, the calculus changes.

            5. NotAnotherManager!*

              You’re merging OP’s internal thoughts (or your interpretation of them) about Loretta’s views with her behavior toward Loretta. Those are two different things. OP is welcome to think in her own head that Loretta’s beliefs are, indeed, mumbo jumbo or absurd or anything else she’d like. What OP would not be wise to do is to display that disdain to Loretta, which there is no indication that she has done and is only writing for advice now (on how to professionally and politely address it, even) that Loretta’s talk has gotten apocalyptic.

              I am not religious. I have very disdainful views of my mother’s chosen religion, particularly because they are antithetical to how I was raised. I do not tell my mother I think that her religion is a cult and that it incenses me that she tithes them 10% of her income when she has months it’s tough to afford her basic living expenses. But I can both hold those thoughts in my head and behave respectfully toward her.

            6. Bananers*

              The letter-writer isn’t actually required to hold any respect for Loretta’s views in her own mind, or frankly in this letter. I think it’s quite clear from context and the overall tone of the letter that she’s not going to use the phrase mumbo-jumbo when she talks to Loretta, and you’re reading intention into her future actions that isn’t even there. Not to mention the fact that the LW has been very, even unnecessarily, respectful of Loretta’s beliefs and actions up to this point, and Loretta is being incredibly DISrespectful — so there are limits to the respect she can reasonably expect in return.

            7. Falling Diphthong*

              Statistically speaking, it’s quite likely that there is a belief I hold dear that you dismiss as mumbo jumbo.

              At work, I don’t bend your ear about that thing, and you don’t tell me it’s mumbo jumbo, and how you feel about my fervent belief isn’t a topic we ever need to address at work.

        2. hbc*

          Oy. The OP has been tolerating Loretta’s overt religiosity in the workplace for months, if not years. The idea that the person in the minority group has to be reminded to tiptoe even more carefully around the majority bulldozer is just so tiresome. Is this really a time when you want to throw in with the “you didn’t ask for your basic human rights in just the right way, so you don’t deserve them” crowd?

          1. SunnySideUp*

            Indeed. People in the majority religious group seem to think that any comment about buttoning it at work is persecution. No, it’s just inappropriate.

          2. Just no*

            “Is this really a time when you want to throw in with the “you didn’t ask for your basic human rights in just the right way, so you don’t deserve them” crowd?”


            Not to mention the fact that OP can fully be expected to ask for them politely because she has been doing so all along…

          3. Autistic AF*

            Thank you. This comes up for me a lot – in the workplace, from allies in so-called safe spaces, etc. I hear so many complaints about “free speech” and I wish that the burden on marginalized people was given equal air time.

        3. Leah K*

          OP should treat Loretta with respect,which OP has been. OP should respect the fact that Loretta is entitled to have whatever religious beliefs she wants to have. OP absolutely does not need to have respect for Loretta’s views themselves and is entitled to think of them as “mumbo jumbo” as long as OP does not convey this message to Loretta.

        4. Observer*

          Pot, meet kettle. You worry about the OP not being respectful, although it’s clear that till now their behavior HAS been respectful.

          You, on the other hand, have explicitly stated that the very reasonable expectation of not inflicting multiple discussion of her religious beliefs on others is a major imposition (” self censor her religious beliefs around you”). How is that respectful?

          I suggest that before lecture people about being respectful you make a minimal effort to actually behave respectfully.

          1. Penny Parker*

            “I suggest that before lecture people about being respectful you make a minimal effort to actually behave respectfully.” — PLUS 100
            Nip It in the Bud’s comments are extremely disrespectful and based upon assumptions which are not in the original letter at all.

    7. Sunset Maple*

      It’s interesting that your first instinct was to correct the language of the person complaining that her colleague keeps ranting about the end of the world.

      There’s a lot of “sections of the Bible” comments and suggestions throughout the comments, too. The LW doesn’t need a researched monologue with footnotes in order to rightfully request that Loretta zip it. Suggesting otherwise shifts the burden of appropriate behavior to LW in a way that’s both incorrect and distasteful.

    8. Black Horse Dancing*

      Preach at me all day long without my permission and I’d call it mumbo jumbo–because to many people it is. If you want respect for your beliefs, respect others may not appreciate hearing about it daily at work.

      1. The Grey Lady*

        Like I say, I’ll respect your belief if you respect my lack of belief. Don’t try to change my mind and I won’t try to change yours. It goes both ways.

    9. Just no*

      We have to “self censor” at work all the time. It’s part of being a professional. Yesterday, there were close to 1k comments on a letter telling the LW she needed to “self censor” her highly inappropriate comments to her intern.

      And it was fairly obvious from the letter that she wasn’t going to use the term “mumbo jumbo” to Loretta’s face. We take LWs at their word here, and LW has said she has been respectful about Loretta’s religious beliefs. There’s no reason to think she will behave otherwise.

    10. Another Atheist*

      As others have pointed out, it sounds like the letter writer has been very tolerant of a coworker talking to her frequently about her beliefs. End-times believers often think that people who don’t share their beliefs are doomed to hell, which personally seems far more offensive than privately considering another’s beliefs “mumbo-jumbo.”

      Perhaps you also might consider extending a little thought to the self censorship the letter writer has been doing the entire time at work in never once mentioning her own (lack of) religious beliefs.

      1. Observer*

        As others have pointed out, it sounds like the letter writer has been very tolerant of a coworker talking to her frequently about her beliefs

        And a lot of the people who are pointing this out are actually religious – some identifying as Christians. Which is to say that this is not about believers vs unbelievers or some “war on Christianity” nonsense. It’s a matter of Loretta and her brand of religion vs reasonable people of all stripes.

    11. Joielle*

      Obviously the LW is not going to say that to Loretta’s face…? Not sure where you’re getting that from. If anything, the LW is perhaps being OVERLY polite to Loretta at this point, putting up with her proselytizing and asking for advice on whether to say anything at all. The LW is perfectly entitled to consider Loretta’s beliefs to be mumbo jumbo as long as she’s polite to Loretta, which she clearly is.

  6. Observer*

    #1 – This is not necessarily religion vs no religion. Not all religions have this particular kind of end of times narrative, and not all religions / religious people see this particular set of world events as the coming of the end of times, in any case.

    1. Womanaroundtown*

      Does it really matter, though? Loretta is using the language of her religious beliefs to discuss “end times” and that is upsetting to OP. Sometimes when one is expressing a deep held belief like religion, the best option is to acknowledge and sympathize and then suggest that your response is due to your own beliefs – aka “I don’t like to speak about religion at work,” or something about believing religion to be deeply private and preferring not to discuss. But honestly, if I were OP, I would say anything to end this talk. I’d personally find it deeply triggering.

      1. jules*

        I would find it triggering too–and thats exactly what I’d say! “Loretta, you’ve brought this up a lot lately and I’d appreciate it if we could change the subject. I’m feeling a lot of anxiety right now around recent events, and dwelling on the topic is making it hard for me to focus on work. It would mean a lot to me if you could move away from this subject while I’m around.”

        1. Crabapple*

          I like this wording, too. I’m religious and have a Masters of Divinity to prove it (yep, that’s a real degree ;)), but I would object to this kind of talk for multiple reasons, theological and personal and work related. (It’s work!) Plus, it occurred to me this is probably Loretta’s overcompensation for her own anxiety about the world right now. It’s fine for her to have anxiety right now— almost everyone does — but it’s not okay for her use this outlet for it at work. I think she’s self-soothing her own anxiety, but it’s really inappropriate. This is a friends/family/church discussion, not work discussion. My guess is OP is not the only person who doesn’t like it.

      2. Observer*

        It does and it doesn’t matter.

        It doesn’t matter in that it doesn’t change whether Loretta needs to stop it – she most definitely DOES need to knock it off.

        It does matter in the sense that it can inform how the OP approaches it. As others have noted, there may very well be others in the office who are not too happy with Loretta either. So, if the OP approaches this NOT as something the religious folks are doing but something that LORETTA is doing, they are likely to have much more support in the office.

    2. Esme*

      Right, but the suggested solutions are potentially likely to work, so what’s your point?

      1. Observer*

        Partly a general informational comment to the OP as they seemed to think that this is something that religious people in general believe rather than something that SOME religious people believe.

        Mostly, it’s a pragmatic point. Going in with the attitude that this is a Loretta thing rather than a religious people thing will probably be useful if the conversation needs to go past Allison’s suggestions. And let’s face it, there is a decent chance that the conversation will not end with the first request.

        1. Mystery Bookworm*

          I hear you that it’s sensible to keep the conversation focused on the invidiauals and not make it bigger than it is. That said, I definitely had a different read of OP’s letter – in fact, if they live in an area with a large religious population, they’re probably very aware of variety in people’s belief systems.

          We as a culture do tend to treat religious beliefs with more gravity than other personal preferences and beliefs, so I think it’s reasonable for OP to be clear on that.

        2. hbc*

          I think the fact that it’s religious means that OP has greater standing to object and to insist on the topic being dropped, though. If Loretta was ranting about Russians nuking us off the map, there’d be less ground to stand on (no pun intended.) It would still be *nice* if Loretta stopped discussing our annihilation, but there’s no legal basis for requiring a workplace free of political discrimination or pressure.

          I don’t see why Loretta’s beliefs not being the majority religious view makes it less about religion. It doesn’t matter if she’s saying that Baal demands a sacrifice or that this is the beginning of Ragnarok, it’s still religious talk. It’s not about All Religious People, but it’s not just about Loretta Being Generally Annoying either.

          1. Observer*

            You are right – it is religious talk and it’s not just about “Loretta Being Generally Annoying.”

            I just think that there is some standing here to approach it from the point of view that “Just because this depressing and distracting that you are going about is your religious belief is religious does not mean that I need to be subjected to this all the time.” Also, as I said, Knowing that they are not the only ones who might be uncomfortable with the whole thing can be useful and help them garner support.

        3. Quattro*

          “as they seemed to think that this is something that religious people in general believe rather than something that SOME religious people believe.”

          There’s nothing in the letter to support is interpretation. She specifically talks about Loretta’s views, and mentions that most of their colleagues seem to agree, which we should trust her on. There is no mention of other religious believers outside that context and what they might believe.

          It feels like you are getting unnecessarily defensive on this point, and it’s not relevant to the question.

          1. allathian*

            Their coworkers seem to agree, yes. It doesn’t mean they actually want to hear Loretta going on and on and on about it at work, however. For lack of a better term, I’m a secular humanist, and I would find it exhausting to spend any time at all with a person like Loretta.

            1. Uranus Wars*

              This is kind of where I fall about most things, and this. I think the OP has been respectful, but its time to shut it down. I agree with a lot of things I hear – politics, faith, what the best topping on pizza is – but that doesn’t mean I want to hear them over, and over, and over.

    3. Beth*

      Excellent point. Imagine how annoying it would be to hear about Ragnarok every single day . . .

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      No one has suggested all religions or religious people believe what Loretta does. But the question and answer are specific to Loretta, so what other people believe isn’t relevant.

      1. Observer*

        As I said up-thread, you are right about the essential issue. It’s just useful for the OP to consider if (or more likely when) Loretta refuses to cut it out. Because Loretta does not exist in a vacuum – she exists in a workplace that has a lot of other religious people in it and that’s almost certainly affecting her behavior.

    5. Another Atheist*

      There is certainly a diversity of religious beliefs out in the world. The impression I got from this letter writer is that there is not a diversity of religious beliefs *in her workplace,* at least on this topic.

  7. Teapot Unionist*

    For number 2, I work with members of the teapot union, and right now, everyone is losing it with everyone as they sort through some tremendous pressure from teapot aficionados to reopen the teapot factories even though social distancing is impossible and there is no money for enough staff or PPE. A lot of people think that because teapots don’t get super sick from COVID, it doesnt really matter that the people who work with them everyday can and will get very sick. While it isnt OK to lose it, there are times when human beings are messy and emotional and I prefer a good losing it to petty passive aggressive behavior. As long as the losing it is a one off, and everyone apologizes, it’s all good–says the woman who was in tears today after a zoom because a teapot superintendent engaged in petty crap with me when I backed him into a corner. I’d rather he just lose it.

    1. Esme*

      Well, you get to prefer that, but it doesn’t mean it’s actually acceptable at work, or that these are the only options.

      I prefer assertiveness (not aggressiveness) and maturity to losing it or being passive aggressive, and as I don’t work with toddlers, I think that’s reasonable.

      1. Amy Dancepants*

        What about when your teapot principal is losing it and screaming at the little teapots? Like make-the-six-year-old-teapot-cry kind of screaming? I tried reporting him to my teapot supervisor but I don’t think anything happened.

          1. Amy Dancepants*

            He’s my supervisor so that’s not really an option. Also, he gets very defensive when I calmly and gently push back on anything. I just try to intervene before he does with my little teapots and don’t report any teapot issues to him so they aren’t subjected to his screaming.

            1. Avasarala*

              Well the question is what does “losing it” look like to you then?
              It seems like you’re arguing that you should be able to “lose it” back at your principal?

              But maybe your point is that “losing it” is bad regardless? Which is what I think most people would agree with.

              1. Ace in the Hole*

                “What does ‘losing it’ look like to you” is perhaps the most critical part of this.

                If “losing it” means bunt but relevant criticism delivered with a harsher-than normal tone/language, there are times that’s called for. If it means shouting someone’s name and asking them what they think they’re doing, that might be called for.

                If “losing it” means going on an angry tirade of insults, shouting (other than briefly to get someone’s attention), sarcasm, physical intimidation like shaking fists/fingers or getting in someone’s, etc… that’s never okay. If there are extenuating circumstances it might be something people will overlook, but it’s not okay.

      2. Cheluzal*

        It’s wonderful that you can react perfectly every time but listen… Humans. Yes there’s a way we should be at work but sometimes emotions take over.

        1. hbc*

          Well, the question is whether it’s acceptable. If you take that to mean “fire at first offense,” then yeah, it’s often considered acceptable on a once-off, extreme situation basis. If it’s “we accept that it happens occasionally, Sally just blows her top every six weeks or so, whaddya gonna do”, most people don’t think it’s acceptable.

        2. Washi*

          I don’t really get this argument. “Losing it” at work is a mistake. Of course, humans make mistakes, but they should be avoided as much as possible, taken seriously, and apologized for when it does happen. Don’t lose your temper at work is still a good rule of thumb (other than the edge cases Alison mentioned where someone is actively endangering others).

          Honestly, the people who I know who are like “sometimes a person just can’t help it!!” tend to be a little cavalier about how they affect other people and make excuses after the fact rather than sincerely apologizing.

    2. Malarkey01*

      Just a big thank you to all teapot factory workers right now trying to balance unrealistic expectations against science and against their commitment to making the best teapots possible.

  8. Roja*

    Ah, LW1, I feel you. I’ve been fending off (and I do use that language on purpose!) a former coworker who has been following me through social media messages to convince that COVID is fake, a sign of the end times, and a fulfillment of all biblical prophecy, and also masks are the mark of the beast (with a nice side of telling me I’m going to hell when I don’t agree, sigh), despite me repeatedly shutting the conversation down. I wish I could tell you that if you’re clear and refuse to engage in conversation, she’ll stop, but that may well not be the case. The pandemic has really brought out the, um, fringer aspects of Christianity, and I say that as a Christian myself. You might up having to do the “mmmm” and conversation redirect strategy, or blatantly ignore strategy and wait until the pandemic eventually winds down. I hope you have better luck than I have.

      1. Roja*

        I might wind up doing so, but so far a handful of reasons for not blocking are outweighing the obvious temptation.

    1. Lena Carabina*

      Wow, no this is not ok! You’re being told you’re going to hell?! Block her.

      1. Lena Carabina*

        I’m sorry, I don’t mean to tell you what to do! I should say – what I would do is block her.

        1. Roja*

          Ha, no worries, I get it. I might well end up having to do that but I have a couple of reasons for not doing so that are so far still outweighing the temptation.

    2. MK*

      I realise that looking for logic in such people is pointless, but how it can be both fake and a fulfillment of biblical prophecy?

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, this. Many people are able to hold conflicting opinions on any number of subjects, this is nothing new, and it’s not limited to religious people, either.

      1. Roja*

        Ha! I did double-take at that when I typed it out, but it’s still true–basically, it’s a plot by the government to bring on one-world government and usher in the end times, and *that* is the fulfillment of prophecy.

      2. Littorally*

        The disease itself – a lie

        The lie – predicted by prophecy.

        It’s not difficult. I don’t believe it myself, but it doesn’t require cognitive dissonance to square it.

  9. Drew*

    There are several email packages or add-ons (I use Boomerang, for one example) that allow you to queue a completed email and save it at a later time. I’ve used it many times when working late hours and don’t want to get into a conversation with another night owl.

  10. Erstewhile lurker*

    #1 – You can mention that its not something you want to talk about if she is addressing you personally, and I’m sure she will respect your wishes.

    You mentioned however that these are conversations as part of a group, at the end of the day you can’t police conversations that go on around you, unless they breach guidelines in some way.

    This works the same way when for example someone who doesn’t drink alcohol for religious reasons can stop their colleagues all talking about going out to bars/clubs at the weekend. Or when someone who is surrounded by people who have differing political opinions and converse openly about them.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Interesting perspective. As someone who doesn’t drink for religious reasons, I have never minded anyone else who does or discusses it. I was taught it’s taboo for work in case there are those there recovering from alcoholism and don’t wish to be triggered. I’d love some more perspectives on this workplace standard.

      1. Utah*

        In my experience all over the United States, I’ve never worked where it would be considered inappropriate to mention alcohol at work. Maybe not in extreme detail (IE a rager or a hangover), but you could mention you had a beer.

        I’m currently in Utah and not LDS. Even here, it’s generally understood that non-LDS people drink. I’d imagine people if the same faith might hold each other to different standards, though.

    2. Observer*

      This is true – but there is a limit to that. The OP can’t ask that there never be any discussion of end times. Polite and reasonable people do try not to carry on and on about a topic that is making someone who is stuck listening to the conversation uncomfortable.

      So if the general conversations get too wearing, the OP can say something like “I’m finding this constant discussion a bit depressing and distracting. Could we cut back a bit.” Most reasonable people would do that. Just as, I would hope, they would avoid constant ongoing discussions of their keggers and pub crawls in front of someone who doesn’t drink for whatever reason.

      1. MayLou*

        Why can’t OP ask for there to be no discussion of the end times? I can’t think of a single reason why it would be necessary to discuss the end times at work unless your workplace was in fact a church (in which case I suspect OP would choose to work somewhere else).

        1. Flair Pen*

          You can ask as a company to not have a meeting about the end of times, and you can ask for people to not talk to you about end of times. But you really can’t tell people not to converse together about something.

          1. Metadata minion*

            I mean…yes, you can? I doubt it’s legally actionable or anything, but if my coworker said, “Hey, could you please not talk about X around me; it’s really upsetting”, and X wasn’t something work-relevant, I’d stop talking about it. That seems like basic respect in a situation where the other person usually doesn’t have the option of just going somewhere else.

            1. UKDancer*

              Yes quite. One of my former colleagues lost a close friend in the 2005 London tube bombings. She asked if we would please not talk about it in her presence because it upset her. Because we are mostly pleasant people and don’t want to upset her we didn’t talk about it when she was around.

              I mean there’s no law saying we had to stop and we could have ignored her request but why would we? There are enough other topics to talk about in life without upsetting a valued colleague. You don’t have to formally ban something for people to just agree not to talk about it at work.

              1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                Yes, there’s a reason why WWI became known as the Great Unmentionable – soldiers suffering what was then called shell shock just couldn’t bear being triggered (and probably plenty of civilians who suffered too).

            2. LPUK*

              Yup. I am extremely squeamish, so really can’t take people talking about their most exciting injuries or accidents… and once one person starts talking about that time they drove a nail through their hand, the conversation can quickly spiral. But I have rarely suffered any pushback when I’ve said ‘can you please not discuss this sort of thing around me cos I really can’t take it’ ( I start rocking backwards and forwards in my chair, clutching equivalent body parts to check mine are still OK and occasionally whimpering) because most people are decent and its an easy thing to avoid discussing ( in my earshot). My Dad however…. sigh.

        2. Observer*

          Just because something is not necessary does not mean that you can or should full out ban it. That’s a good way to create a fairly unhealthy workplace.

          1. MayLou*

            I didn’t suggest banning it. I said that the LW could ask for people not to discuss it.

        3. Annie Moose*

          No sociable talk is “necessary” at work; whether or not it’s “necessary” is not the matter at hand. What matters is that I can’t legislate what private conversations my coworkers are having. If they’re being annoying about it–being loud and distracting, trying to draw me into it when I don’t want to participate, being overtly offensive–then I’d have grounds to say something, but if they’re simply having a conversation about a topic I don’t believe or enjoy, I can’t just insist they stop talking about it.

          I agree with others that LW can tell her coworker she’d rather not talk religion at work, and if they’re always going on about it in a distracting way she can ask them to cut back a bit or redirect the topic, but she can’t tell them to never talk about the end times amongst themselves.

      2. Colette*

        I’m pretty sure she can in fact as that there be talk about religious beliefs at work.

        1. Jackalope*

          “I’m pretty sure she can in fact as that there be talk about religious beliefs at work.”

          The fact that they’re talking about religion doesn’t mean she can automatically tell them they must stop, or at least not in the US. Freedom of religion doesn’t mean you aren’t ever allowed to have conversations about religion in your workspace; if her co-workers want to discuss the end times together they legally have the right to do so. OP1 can request that Loretta not discuss this with HER, as she obviously isn’t enjoying these conversations (the OP isn’t enjoying them, I mean) but she can’t make everyone else stop having the discussion with each other if they want to.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            If others talking amongst themselves prevent OP from concentrating on her work, I think she’s perfectly entitled to speak up.

  11. Womanaroundtown*

    Oh, OP1, I feel for you. Honestly, I would actually find this kind of talk deeply triggering and upsetting. As someone with anxiety/intrusive thoughts, these kinds of comments can be devastating for me, and I am have a therapist and psychiatrist to help me figure out how to deal. But even with treatment, this would be really difficult for me to handle regularly. You are essentially being told daily by a coworker that she believes you are all going to die soon and should welcome it. That’s beyond a polite discussion of religious differences (when asking her to stop), but it sounds like you don’t believe HR (if you have one) would sympathize. Even so, many religious folks don’t believe those messages, so it might be helpful to check around to see if anyone else is uncomfortable and can help discuss a script to get her to stop. I seriously feel for you (and anyone else in that office that might be struggling).

    1. ihatelogins*

      Came here to say something like this. Listening to prophecies of imminent mass death at work could be deeply traumatizing some people. It’s almost an act of violence to push that on people who (presumably) have set aside their concerns about mortality for the day so they can get through their darn inbox.

      1. Alice*

        A lot of people like this solution but I hate it.
        Email is asynchronous. If OP sends it now, OP’s boss can read it on Monday.
        If OP saves the draft, she has to remember to send it on Monday. Extra hassle for OP.
        Yes I am aware that some email programs on some devices offer delayed delivery, but some don’t.

        1. SweetestCin*

          I’ve found a lot depends on the situation.

          My boss knows if he gets something tagged as “low priority” over the weekend, its because he needs to know come Monday morning and if I don’t sent it, the thought will fly out of my head into the nether, never to be heard from again! We’ve worked together long enough that unless its flagged as “IMPORTANT”, he doesn’t get worked up over it. Likewise, he does the same with me – I usually have a few emails on Monday that are things that need to be done and considered, and its not that I needed it over the weekend, just a case of “while I’m thinking about it”.

        2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I agree with Alice; the biggest values of emails (and texts, imho) is that I can send it when it’s convenient for me and you can read it at your earliest convenience, or vice versa, and that it’s a written paper trail.

        3. Triumphant Fox*

          Not really, Gmail and Outlook both let you schedule the email for later. I just schedule it for early on Monday (though then I run into the issue of them thinking I’m available at 7, when I start work much later).

      2. LW #4*

        I could, but it’s annoying for the reasons Alice pointed out. But if that’s the best option I’d go with it, sure.

        1. Gingercat*

          Have you got a delay delivery option? I know outlook and gmail both have one and it is really helpful. I quite often work late evenings and weekends and set everything to deliver at 9am on Monday. Pretty sure everyone hates getting 29 emails in a row from me at 9am but otherwise people feel under pressure to reply and then we get into conversations about work when it should be their free time (I’m only working because I have terrible insomnia so sometimes work odd patterns so I can get stuff done when I actually feel awake!).

          1. Alice*

            Outlook doesn’t have that feature on the phone and tablet app. It’s not available in Outlook webmail from my company either. Even on the desktop app, it won’t just send itself when the appointed time arrives — it’s client side, not server side, so the sender still has to make sure her computer is on.
            If people feel pressure to reply, why can’t you articulate “Email is asynchronous and you should not feel under pressure to reply or otherwise work in your free time”? In fact, why are these easily-pressurable people checking their email at all, assuming they are not on call and monitoring their email for emergencies?
            I can’t say all this at my company because we have a performative work-life balance culture, where people make snide comments about anyone who sends an email after 6pm. So, dear internet commentors, you are getting what I’d like to say to my HR department. :)

        2. ihatelogins*

          I just put “For Monday: [task/issue]” in the email header when I don’t want to jump through the hoops of a delayed email for whatever reason, but I also don’t want someone to think she has to read or answer it right away.

        3. Just Me*

          Using the subject line can be quite helpful in guiding others on this – “Not urgent”, “Action Required/Requested”, “Please Review”, etc. Obviously this isn’t required on all emails, but if it’s something in the evening or over the weekend, I might add “Not urgent” so they know I’m just working at a weird time and my work schedule doesn’t dictate their work schedule :)

    1. Picard*

      Outlook has a delayed delivery function that I use QUITE often both for emails TO my higher ups and to my reports.

      1. GalFriday*

        I was just coming here to say this. You can schedule emails to send at a later date/time in Outlook. Sometimes I like to catch up on work outside of normal hours, but it is occasional and I don’t want anyone thinking they can reach me for a response at that time regularly, so I schedule all my emails to go out during regular business hours for our office.

    2. Uranus Wars*

      If this were a boss sending to a subordinate on the weekend, I might agree so that they don’t think that expectation is for everyone.

      In this case, though, it’s not necessarily up to the OP to manage her bosses boundaries. If boss has said “I want better balance and won’t be checking email on the weekend” then just don’t check email and get back to the person on Monday. She’s set the expectation up front that “hey, if you send I can’t answer” and I think that is ok. It’s kind of like vacation – when I got out of town I tell my team I’ll be offline but if they need me to text or call in an emergency. There has never been an emergency.

      1. Katrinka*

        A lot of managers who need to do this also don’t. I once sent an email later at night and cc’d my boss. They replied, almost immediately, that I should wait until working hours to send it. They re the only person I know of in the entire department who does not turn off their notifications when they don’t want to be disturbed (we’re all quite used to be emailed at all hours by parents, a lot of whom work in shifts).

  12. Erstewhile lurker*

    #2 I’ve ‘lost it’ with one colleague before, one basically got his kicks by needling other staff members, and since my boss seemed to think I had the thickest skin (and everyone else refused to work with him) I was stuck with him for years.

    The problem was my boss refused to deal with the situation and it escalated until I ended up yelling at him, twice in two weeks in fact. It wasn’t my proudest moment.

    I would say if its something like an annoying habit then you are just going to have to chalk it up to the perils of working with other people, or move desk/onto another project etc.

    If the person is trying to wind you up deliberately then that is an act of aggression and you should raise it with your boss, perhaps repeatedly. Don’t let it get to the point that I did.

    1. Nope Nope Nope*

      I also had a horrible boss who refused to deal with situations. I worked for a small company and the owner expected me to act as a manager to others, but never explicitly gave me the title of manager or any real authority. I could give people instructions, but there were no real consequences if everyone ignored me. My boss was pretty absent during all of this, but when I would see him I would ask to discuss it. I told him several times the “system” wasn’t working (because no system actually existed) and he would brush me off.

      Then one day I got very frustrated with a warehouse employee who had repeatedly ignored my instructions and an incident happened because he wasn’t adhering to safety protocols. No one was hurt, thank goodness, but it could have been very dangerous. I was stressed, overwhelmed with projects, and then doubly stressed when the incident happened…and I lost it on this guy. I raised my voice, asked him if he could hear me now, and told him he was probably going to get someone either seriously injured or killed someday.

      When my boss found out about the situation he was unhappy with me and told me he wasn’t sure how to “deal” with me and my anger. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I quit on the spot, which felt sooooooo satisfying. I later found out that a big chunk of my clients stopped using that company when I left, because their projects were poorly handled without me, and the business suffered. Most of the employees were laid off a couple of months after I left…which I felt bad about, because there were a couple who were good employees.

      Long story short – I also had a boss who refused to be a real leader. In the end, his business basically imploded. So, managers out there, don’t be so conflict-avoidant that the situations become nuclear!

    2. Smithy*

      I think that a huge marker of feeling in a place where “losing it” is an inevitable, then at best it can serve as an indication to ask for help/support from your boss/management, seek help in finding better work/life balance, or it’s time to leave a job.

      I used to work somewhere where angry verbal outbursts were “normal”. The place had far greater issues of dysfunction, but it’s also such a clear marker of unprofessional behavior unlike more passive aggressive issues that might be harder to pinpoint. It’s not that people don’t make mistakes and it’s an immediate firing offense – but if every day you leave work and think “wow, it’s amazing I didn’t scream at anyone today” – use that to your benefit to understand that the situation is not a good one.

  13. Physics Teacher*

    LW #4, if I were you I’d just send it. If your principal gave you a deadline on a Sunday when your regular workdays are presumably M-F (I’m a teacher too, I know school is a little different in that you often do planning/grading stuff on the weekends, but still that’s at least theoretically by personal choice), she can deal with being emailed on a Sunday.

    This is probably not the most politically expedient solution, but if you want me to respect your working hours, you need to respect mine.

    1. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

      Yes, if someone sets a weekend deadline, they can’t complain about receiving submissions at the weekend!

    2. Bluesboy*

      I think normally, when a deadline is Sunday (assuming a Mon-Fri job) the deadline setter is roughly saying “manage your time how you choose, but I want to be able to deal with it first thing Monday morning.

      So I don’t think any kind of ‘leave it till Monday comment’ is necessary. It’s different when something is unexpected: my boss sent me a mail on a Saturday morning recently with something ‘urgent’ – I would have appreciated clarification as to how urgent. Do it now urgent, or get it done first thing Monday morning urgent??

    3. Usually calm*

      I put in the subject line For Monday..list of students. I don’t want someone to think they need to even open the message.

    4. LW #4*

      Yeah, I think part of what inspired the question was I wondered if my judgment was clouded by being slightly annoyed that there gets to be a “deadline is Sunday” rule and also a “don’t bother me about work on the weekends” rule …

      1. PhysicsTeacher*

        Also 1) part of being a principal is dealing with problems when they arise (my AP has to go walk the building to make sure things are fine if the alarm goes off in the middle of the night) and 2) the solution to not wanting to bother with work on the weekends is not to check your email. Guarantee she’s receiving other work email on the weekends, even if it’s only stuff from the ed companies that are constantly sending me emails.

  14. Aglaia761*

    OP#4. I’m that person. The one who’s the late owl up at all hours of the night. Since your principal gave an explicit date to respond. You’re fine with meeting that.

    However, I use delayed/scheduled responses A LOT. If you have Outlook there is a delayed response add on that allows you to schedule your send. If you have Gmail. Boomerang is a fantastic add-on and is free for 10 emails a month. Personally I use Airmail for Mac which has a scheduled send option in the free version.

    So I blithely work at all hours of the day and night and send emails to hit inboxes when I’m ready for them to do so.

  15. Aglaia761*

    OP#4. I’m that person. The one who’s the night owl up at all hours of the night. Since your principal gave an explicit date to respond, I think you’re fine to send it outside of office hours.

    I highly recommend delayed/scheduled responses. If you have Outlook365 there is a delayed response add on that allows you to schedule your send time.

    If you have Gmail. Boomerang is a fantastic add-on and is free for 10 emails a month.

    Personally I use Airmail for Mac which has a scheduled send option in the free version.

    So I blithely work at all hours of the day and night and send emails to hit inboxes when I’m ready for them to do so.

  16. Teyra*

    #1 No advice from me, but you have my deepest sympathies. I volunteer at a secular organisation that had huge local ties to another secular one that happened to have a load of religious members. They recruited through, and did a lot of work with, local churches. I was the only person from my organisation in the room, and therefore the only one that wasn’t deeply religious.

    One of the ladies there sometimes ranted (I do not use the term lightly) with genuine delight about the rapture and the end of days, clearly happy about how she could ‘feel it coming!’. Super uncomfortable and awkward. Combined with the ‘subtle’ hints of homophobia, constantly bringing up religion and the church in conversation (no true issue with that in general, but by constant I do mean constant), and the random assumption that as someone who volunteered for a charity I had to be religious too, it was a really uncomfortable environment for me, a gay atheist. It was also really weird. That’s never happened to me before here in the U.K. and I’m pretty sure it was down to a generation gap – I’m in my twenties, everyone else was probably 60+ at least. In my previous role in the same organisation, we had a very inclusive and diverse environment that slanted a lot younger, and I honestly took it for granted much more than I should have.

    Happily I’ve moved to a different city now, and am able to volunteer for the same organisation (remotely) in a much more inclusive and accepting environment.

    1. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      I can imagine how uncomfortable that was for you Teyra. But the massive taboos against discussing the faithful practice of and belief in a religion in almost any setting in the UK, often even in front of friends, was probably leading your fellow volunteers to simply be relieved that they were somewhere outside church and private gatherings where they didn’t have to conceal what was almost certainly the most important thing in their lives. The mistake, of course, was in assuming that everyone (even you, who they didn’t know from their own church and therefore had no good reason for the assumption) was in agreement. I’m glad you’re not there any more, but I have some sympathy for your fellows. Obviously, I’m less sympathetic about the homophobia .

      1. Fish*

        I feel the taboos against going on and on about your religion at work in the UK is entirely positive, myself. *shrug*

        1. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

          Lol, if the taboos were only against ‘going on and on’ I would agree! But since a single (earnest) ‘thank God!’ results in the same shuffle of discomfort they’d get from a graphic but non-humerous description of a collenoscopy, I think it’s a bit much.

  17. IndoMex*

    OP3: I want to gently suggest that you consider the impact turning down a promotion because of a relationship could have on your career trajectory. Maybe you could wait until you’re offered (if you’re offered) and then state that you’re interested in the promotion but you want to be upfront that you have a relationship with one of the team members. Since you do the same job but on different teams, perhaps a compromise would be that he moves to your newly vacant role on your current team, assuming they’d intend on backfilling it anyways. If they truly want you in the management position, that seems like a good compromise.

    In the words of Michael Scott, “win-win-win”.

    1. SAS*

      Yeeeeessss!! My heart sank when I read this letter. It sounds like an amazing opportunity for the LW- has her partner considered any lateral moves or other opportunities he could pursue in this apparent time of flux within the organisation that would allow her to take the position on his team?

      1. mreasy*

        I dated a coworker in the same department once, and if I had had to get a new job to keep dating him, I would have, and he would have done the same. The job where we worked together is long in the past for both of us, and my former coworker and I have been happily married four years. Why is it sad that a relationship is more important to someone than their career?

          1. MK*

            Given that you don’t know these people, that’s pure speculation. And the OP isn’t turning down a promotion for Fergus. She is turning it down because she is dating a prospective employee. It’s not as if her breaking up with him will make it OK for her to be his boss.

          2. Lady Meyneth*

            We have literally no information about Fergus to make that kind of claim. And considering the situation, I highly hope Fergus would turn down this promotion, not for OP, but because it’s the *ethical* thing to do.

            There’s nothing wrong with putting a relationsip before career growth as long as it’s a concious choice. And that seems to be the case for OP, so it’s not a big sacrifice or a social injustice agaist her, it’s their choice.

          3. IndoMex*

            Yes, I’d stay away from speculating what Fergus would or would not do in this situation.

          4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

            Bitter much? Completely unnecessary comment and there’s nothing in the letter to indicate that’s the case. And if OP chooses her relationship over a promotion, that’s perfectly okay.

          5. MCMonkeyBean*

            Based on what? Career progression is important, but relationships are too and it’s extremely normal for a couple to make these kinds of choices if their relationship is serious enough. There is literally nothing in the letter to indicate Fergus wouldn’t do the same–it just sounds like he’s not currently on track for that to even come up right now.

            Yes, the world is sexist and it is unfortunate that women more often have to make career sacrifices than men, but there is no reason to speak to how willing Fergus would be to make the same choice. I’m certain OP has a better grasp on that than any of us would.

            If they have been in a relationship for a long time then I think this is probably the right call for OP to make, if there is no option to have her be a manager but not manage Fergus. Not just for her own relationship, but because even if they broke up so she could take the promotion it would be very difficult to separate the emotions from their previous relationship and unfair to the rest of her team. So I applaud her for being respectful of everyone else that would be affected by the situation.

            But I agree with the previous commenter that it’s worth discreetly disclosing the relationship to someone and discussing whether there are any options that would allow her to take the promotion.

          6. Marthooh*

            OP is not turning down the (possible) promotion for Fergus, they’re turning down because of ethical necessity. It’s not a question of job vs. boyfriend.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I think the sad part is that she seems to have assumed 1) there’s no way she can have both the relationship and the promotion, and b) if a sacrifice has to be made, she’s the one who has to make it.

          1. tangerineRose*

            Since they’ve been dating, even if they break up now, it’s probably not a good idea for either of them to be a supervisor to the other.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              But there might be other options. For example, if she’s a strong enough candidate, they might move another manager onto Fergus’s team and put her in that manager’s previous team.

          2. Katrinka*

            It’s never a good idea to manage someone with whom you have a personal relationship, unless it’s been in the very distant past. And LW said that Fergus moving to another team was not possible. The LW has considered other options, and is making the right choice here for this particular situation.

        2. SAS*

          I don’t think we’re disagreeing! I totally agree as you said, if what it takes to stay together is finding a new job, then LWs partner should strongly consider doing that for the LW to take this great opportunity.

          There are a million factors in the LWs life and relationship that might mean the best choice for her is not to take this promotion if offered- I only hope the LW is in a partnership as equal as yours that will allow them to have an open discussion about her career progression, even if (on this occasion) it may require a compromise or sacrifice from her partner in relation to his current position.

        3. IndoMex*

          Not all relationships result in long term commitments/marriage. Most don’t, actually. I don’t know the details of their relationship (how long they’ve been together, etc.) but I do know that women tend to sacrifice more in their careers. This person seems willing to turn down the promotion for the relationship without exploring opportunities to have both. My thought is that if she is offered the promotion, she should can see if there’s a way to take it and still keep the relationship. If not, then she can make her decision about which to pass up on. That’s her decision to make, but at least she’s trying for both.

    2. WS*

      Yes! Why should OP turn down this opportunity upfront when it’s possible that there would be other options? Unless it’s a very small business, which it doesn’t sound like it is, there’s probably lateral moves available to Fergus, even if the OP isn’t in a position to see them right now.

      1. MK*

        Because she said that Fergus moving off his present team is not an option? Because she she made a choice when she started dating a coworker?

        1. Clisby*

          Yes, I’m taking her at her word that this isn’t an option. We don’t know why it’s not an option (although I can think of possibilities) but if Fergus isn’t moving from his team then she can’t take the promotion. It doesn’t matter if they stay together, if she breaks up with Fergus, or if he breaks up with her – she can’t take the promotion.

      2. CSmithy*

        I think people here forget often that there are many jobs at companies where you’re part of a team, but you’re the only one of your kind at that company. I’ve been the only designer more than a few times, and moving laterally would NOT be possible. I can’t imagine designers are the only people in this situation.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          *waves* I am the only me. I tend to be the only me, and based on previous experience, there doesn’t tend to be more than one environmental compliance person at a facility. I would have nowhere to move to at *either* facility I cover if my spouse (for some reason) became my superior.

        2. Ace in the Hole*

          Yup. I’m the only safety coordinator at my job… the health and safety division is the only team that has a position for that. Before this I was one of three technicians, but all of us were on the same team because we were in a weird, specialized little niche. I’ve only worked for small employers, so perhaps larger organizations have more options for lateral movement.

    3. MK*

      The time for considering her career trajectory was before the OP started dating a coworker. And she has stated that Fergus moving is not an option; while, yes, maybe the OP should examine how sure she is about that and possibly sound off her partner about this, I don’t think it is helpful to go all “There must be something to be done about this!”. Maybe I am heartless, but I have to say that if a man I was dating asked me to move teams so that he can get a promotion, I would consider it crossing a very serious line. There is reason to suppose Fergus can easily transfer to another position, in fact the OP says it wouldn’t be; and cavalierly suggesting a lateral move, as if he shouldn’t care what he does, is incredibly tonedeaf. Also, if I was a manager and approached about rearranging teams to accommodate one person’s promotion and dating life, I would think it an overreach (and unless the person was above and beyond the best person for the job, I wouldn’t think any reason not to give the job to someone else).

      1. Lady Meyneth*

        I agree with everything you said. It’s not on Fergus to move aside so OP can have their promotion, and it’s not on management to move a team member to make room for OP can have a promotion. There’s a carreer risk involved when you date coworkers, and OP seems to accept that.

        Though I would wait until the promotion is actually offered before saying anything. Up to that point, it’s nobody’s business, and I woulnd’t want to risk coming across as either presumptuous or as more focused on my relationship than my carreer.

      2. On a pale mouse*

        It’s just something Fergus and LW need to talk about. If they’re hoping to be together long term, then LW’s career progression is important to their financial situation, and maybe they decide together that it’s worth it for Fergus to change jobs, even if that means outside the company. Or maybe the relationship isn’t at that point, but is important enough to LW to pass up the promotion. I agree it’s something LW should consider explicitly if they haven’t, but it sounds like they already have.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        Of course she shouldn’t just ask him to move teams so she can take the promotion, but if this were a situation where him moving teams *was* an option she (and anyone in a similar position) should certainly have a discussion about it at the very least! If they are in a serious enough relationship that it can influence her career decisions, then it’s possible they are envisioning this as a very long-term/permanent thing. For one thing, he (or someone in his position) may want to make that change just to support their partner. And if they share a home and share expenses, or plan to in the near future, then it might also be in his best interest if the promotion significantly increases their joint budget.

        Again, I recognize that OP says that this is likely not an option. But I wanted to respond to the idea that even asking him about it would be crossing a line.

    4. Read the room*

      I cannot believe how far I had to scroll down to see a comment along these lines, and frankly I’m really disappointed Alison didn’t include this in her response!

      OP 3: Why would you turn down a promotion that appears to be very rare in this economy?! Ask yourself if Fergus would turn this down for you?

      In other words — LEAN IN

      1. MK*

        What does “LEAN IN” mean in this situation? Pressure your parnter to change jobs, so that you can have a promotion? As for why anyone would turn down a promotion in this economy, eh, because it wouldn’t be ethical to supervise your parnter, maybe? And because it wouldn’t be ethical to try to force him off his team so that you can have a promotion?

        How can people not realise how gross this advice is?

        1. Read the room*

          I think you’re fully misunderstanding what I’m saying. I’m basically saying: if you’re just dating casually, consider breaking up or putting your relationship on pause in order to take the promotion. I’m certainly not saying “take the promotion and keep your relationship under wraps so you can lie to the company” — weird that you would assume that, tbh. I *am* saying – if you take your career seriously, you should consider making this move, relationship be damned.

          “Lean in” in this situation means — consider making your career a priority instead of what seems to be a casual relationship. (I consider it casual because no one at works knows about it!) We’re in a global pandemic that will affect the world economy for literal years to come; I am shocked that someone would consider turning that down right now, all things considered.

          Also enough women sacrifice their work for their relationships, it’s time to turn those tides.

          1. Eliza*

            I don’t see how breaking up would help things much. Managing your ex isn’t really any better than managing your partner.

          2. pancakes*

            I don’t see any particular reason why other people at work knowing or not knowing about a relationship should be a measure of seriousness. That seems like an arbitrary metric to me.

            I also don’t see any reason why turning the tides of sexism should require anyone, male or female, to prioritize their career. Not everyone wants career success above all else, and not everyone wants to closely link their sense of self and their career. I think it would be for the best if fewer people did.

    5. JSPA*

      If Fergus is in a one of a kind role, in which case there’s less risk of Fergus being favored over “the other X’s in the role,” I wonder if there’s really no room for Fergus to (e.g.) be reviewed and rated and have promotions approved by someone in another department.

      Or for there to be a three way switch, where someone does a lateral move to supervise Fergus, and OP gets promoted into that person’s opening.

      Or for OP to have the job on a temporary basis (if they need someone from in-house to hit the ground running right now) but with the explicit intention to move OP out and sideways or out and up within (say) 6 months, to limit the implications of OP managing Fergus.

      Right now, with all the things that would normally be prohibitive, but people are making do, temporarily, a few months of someone with really good privacy boundaries managing an S.O. may have shifted from, “this is never OK” to “this is far from ideal, but we may choose to live with it in the short-term.”

      Basically, if there’s disclosure and an exit strategy in place, it might be worth it for OP to have the role on her Resume for a few months. “They needed me in the role badly, but it was envisioned as temporary from the start, because of a pre-existing personal relationship” isn’t going to count as garden variety “job hopping.”

      1. MK*

        I am assuning that the OP has considered many options before deciding that her accepting the position is not possible and writing to Alison about how to do this gracefully.

        That being said, all your suggestions are reasonable, but they also all involve making changes in the company’s operations (reporting structure or team composition or making a temporary assignment) only so that the OP can get the job. Unless they specifically very much want her in the position, most companies wouldn’t be falling over themselves to make it happen. And, no offense to the OP, this is a place that promotes internally without any hiring process whatsoever (maybe based on seniority?), so I doubt it.

  18. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    OP1: I would go to HR and ask for a blanket mandate on religious discussions. I grew up in a deeply religious family, and ended up on medication as a kid because frequent discussions of the “Second Coming” sent me into panic attacks. Loretta has definitely crossed a line because in making everyone else see things through her lens. She’s preaching fear, and besides being inherently anti-Christian anyway, is serving what purposes? She’s a water-cooler Prophet, and I sure as hell wouldn’t want every bad thing guaranteed to be in the news anyway to be fed to me each morning at work as “You’ve confessed? Got your doomsday kit ready? Are you all squared away with God?”.

    1. Dancing Otter*

      To put it in Loretta’s own terms, Jesus warned his followers to “beware of false prophets.” Sounds to me as though she’s getting into that territory.

      Then again, I’m one of those Christians who want to go to Heaven, just not yet.

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        Right? How could people disagree with her without opening up an unwanted discussion? I wonder if they are at all customer facing in OP’s company? My grandfather has spent the last 6 decades as a hoarder, preparing for the Second Coming. He has been taken advantage of multiple times by salespeople who tell him he will be glad he bought 2,000 pounds of rice, a shipping container, etc. when Jesus comes. Word gets passed around there’s an elderly man who will spend his SS checks on anything if you tell him he will be ahead in the Last Days, and boom, they call him incessantly under the guise of trying to save a fellow believer. I’m still an active Christian, but this is infuriating and reminds me of the post a little while back (it was either here or on Slate) about the nurse who thought she could heal people by touch.

    2. JSPA*

      You don’t even need HR to say,

      “I prefer to focus on work, at work. Beyond that–when times are tough, doing our best for each other matters more, not less. Throwing up our hands and saying “end times” makes me feel like the people I trust and care for are giving up on our basic human duty to do right by each other. That makes me deeply uncomfortable, or even despairing. I understand that the thought of this all being part of God’s plan is giving you comfort in these difficult times. I would never take that from you. I assume you’re bringing the topic up repeatedly with good intentions. Nevertheless, it is causing me pain. With all respect, I need to totally opt out of hearing about the End Times and His Plan. Whatever happens in the big picture, we’re responsible, for now, for doing our work while being gentle and professional with each other. Let’s take a deep breath and focus on that.”

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        This is the best, most diplomatic script I have ever read!! Not to mention, most decent. I’m screenshotting this. Thank you!!!!

  19. Coverage Associate*

    For #4, I like to make the non urgency clear without even opening the email, because in my work people are usually getting email on their phone if it’s outside of work hours. So I put “not urgent” in the subject or “on Monday” in the first line.

  20. Aggretsuko*

    Can you try saying that the end times talk is really scaring you/making you depressed because you’re not ready for the world to end yet? Even if I was deeply into Jesus, I wouldn’t want to listen to that all day at work for that reason.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Well, she *could*. I mean, I’m assuming she has full control of her vocal cords and her brain.

      2. Kayla!*

        Somehow people whom talk about the end times never are talking about good news. They are saying, “This is how broken our world is. God’s just done with it now”

        In any case, it is a touchy subject even in Christian circles, so it’s total fine to ask not to talk about it at work.

    1. SunnySideUp*

      It’s better to be honest and straightforward. “I’d rather not be preached to at work, Loretta, so I need you to stop talking End Times in my presence.”

    2. CheeryO*

      That’s kind of what I was thinking. LW has already let Loretta talk about religion with her, seemingly quite often, so I’m not sure that a sudden 180 to “I don’t talk about religion at work” is really going to be effective. I’d probably try a firm, “I have to ask you to stop with all the end-times talk. It’s really bumming me out.” Then the next time, you could get a bit firmer (“I asked you to stop talking about this with me. Please don’t bring it up again.” etc.)

    3. Stormy Weather*

      I wouldn’t use this phrasing. I think it would encourage Loretta to bring LW to Jesus and bring about more preaching.

    4. Roja*

      That phrasing will just make her dial it up, trust me, except that now she’ll add in a lot of persuasion to get LW to convert ASAP. She’ll see it as a golden opportunity (and in fact, I can pretty much guarantee that’s how her church is framing it also).

  21. Keymaster of Gozer*

    I’m really really not fond of forceful religious talk at work, and apocalyptic talk is just not for the workplace at all.

    I’d be saying “can we have a bit less of the ‘end of the world’ stuff please? It really makes people feel depressed and like there’s no point to anything so why bother?”

    Full credit to the strength of OP for withstanding this! I’d be off on stress leave if it happened to me and wouldn’t stop.

    1. cmcinnyc*

      Directing back to work at hand is good, too. “Loretta, I know this is on your mind, but I have teapot orders coming in and I need to move along.” Or, “Let me just interrupt for a sec–do you have the fiscal year accruals for me, because that’s what I really need to talk to you about right now.” You want to talk about end times endlessly on the job? Get a job where that’s part of the deal.

      I’m also an atheist, and where I work now I’m out about it, but with some people, nope. It’s not worth the attacks and the perpetual hassle. I would never engage Loretta on religion in any way. It’s clearly her kryptonite. I don’t think she could rest until she “saved” you.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I’m glad I’m no longer at a firm that I worked at about 5 years ago. Apparently one of the coworkers is going around telling everyone that the virus is ‘the will of *deity*’ (I’m not naming the religion deliberately).

        Asked my friend who still works there if the guy has shut up yet. She said yes, for a week, after a senior manager said if he wants to proclaim his views he can go get a placard and toddle off to shout off the rooftop of Big Ben, but that it’s not to be done in the office.

        (I’d not have been as nice as she was – the manager – I think I’d have made references to how much this was p*ssing off my goddess…)

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Your idea of directing everything back to work is a good one :) kinda like going “so anyway, back to neutral subject x….”

  22. Owler*

    #4: see if your email program has an option to schedule when your mail gets sent. Gmail and Outlook both have this option (although it’s possible your school district email program is more limited). I use it frequently since I like to write email late at night, but I want to avoid having my recipients’ phones beeping when they get my replies at 1am.

  23. Moi*

    For the email question, could they use delayed send? Then they could choose for the email to be delivered Monday morning.

    1. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

      Ordinarily that’s what I would suggest, but if the request is for them to be submitted by Sunday, the OP may be penalised for a delayed delivery.

    2. Beth Jacobs*

      Also, while delayed send is server side on gmail (ie. you can schedule the email, turn off your computer and it will still send), it’s client side in Outlook. That means if I schedule it for Monday morning, it will only send if I’m logged into my work computer on Monday morning with Outlook up and running. That makes the feature pretty useless to me.

  24. Bluesboy*

    #5 While I agree that the company should pay fof the test, I am not sure I have understood the relevance of Allison’s link. That link seems to cover employers requiring tests for employees, but OPs husband is not currently an employee – this test is necessary to make him eligible to hire.

    So I think personally I would suck it up for the initial test (assuming you can afford it) and then use Allison’s script for any subsequent required tests.

    1. No Name Yet*

      Well, but it’s typical/expected for companies to cover required pre-employment medical tests. I work at a hospital, and before I started I was required to have a full physical, lab work, and because I have a history of a positive TB skin test, a chest x-ray. They paid for all of it, and frankly I would have been pretty upset if I had gotten a bill – these were all in addition to my usual care, and were for the benefit of the hospital, not myself. If something had shown up, would it have been to my benefit to know that? Sure, but it doesn’t mean I would have chosen to spend money on that if my insurance hadn’t covered it.

      1. Bluesboy*

        Oh, I agree completely. I just think that going to the company saying that they have to cover employee health expenses when he isn’t an employee might not be effective. I certainly agree that they SHOULD offer to pay. But where I live the test is from €40-70, I think for many people it isn’t going to be worth a confrontation before you even start.

        Obviously if the test costs significantly more where OP is, or if it’s in any case outside their budget then that changes things. I understand that it is probably more expensive in the US.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          The price of the test varies greatly in the US. Like, by hundreds of dollars. And as others have said, pre-employment medical tests are covered by the employer. This shouldn’t even be an issue.

    2. Geek*

      Maybe it would be more appropriate to think of this as a marketing expense.

      You’re wanting the company to hire you. Should they be paying? Sure. I’ve never paid for a pre-employment drug screen test.

      I can see from their point of view that having a Covid diagnosis might be a deal breaker. The armed services in the US are going one step further and denying applicants who have *ever* had a positive diagnosis.

      Ideally, you’d have enough other opportunities that you could afford to pass on this.

      If this isn’t an ideal situation for you, you may be better off taking a more pragmatic approach. If your insurance won’t cover it, can you ask you defer the test until you have an offer?

      “I’ll be happy to spend $XXX out of my own pocket, but until I have a firm offer, I’m not in a financial position to do this” sounds a lot better than, “You’re breaking the law by making me pay, so I will not take the test.”

    3. Anons for these*

      Suck it up with hundreds of dollars they might not have to spare? You do realize how bank breaking expensive any medical test in the us is right?

  25. Blue Eagle*

    #3 This question makes me sad. Mostly because I wonder what Fergus would do if he were the one who was in line for the promotion. Would he give up the promotion for you? Or would he take the promotion and leave you to deal with the fallout?
    Please think about this. And maybe ask Fergus what he would do if this situation arose (but as a hypothetical situation as in something that might happen to a male friend – so it doesn’t seem so close to home) and see what his response is. This may be important information for you to have, not only for this decision but for other life decisions going forward with this relationship.

    1. MK*

      Oh, for heaven’s shake, this is not something that happened to the OP or an injustice perpetrated against her, it’s the result of a choice she made! And she doesn’t sound particularly regretfull about losing the opportunity, I might add. And she is not refusing the position to avoid fallout for Fergus, she is refusing it because it is the ethical thing to do and accepting this position, while secretly dating a team member, would likely be bad for her career in the long term. If Fergus would had behaved differently in similar circumstances, the OP should have disclosed the relationship herself, not passively accept any fallout.

      You want to gender-flip? Ok. If a man I was dating posed a hypothetical question to me about what a woman should do in the case of her male partner having to refuse a promotion to supervisor of her team because of their relationship, and then revealed he was talking about us, I would call out the transparent attempt at emotional blackmail and dump the manipulative jerk.

      1. Generic Name*

        You’re ignoring the very real cultural backdrop where women have historically been expected to put their husband’s career first, to give up their own name, and even give up their entire career to stay home with children. Yes, OP did choose to date a coworker, just like millions of women choose to be stay at home moms and change their last names, but don’t pretend that what the majority of women choose today just so happens to align with thousands of years of patriarchy.

        1. Lady Meyneth*

          Seriously, this line of thinking drives me crazy. This isn’t gendered, if Fergus was up to a promotion to lead OP’s team, he would be equally obligated to turn it down before managing his girlfriend. And if he demanded his girlfriend change teams so he could get a promotion, there’d be so much (very fair) outcry that a woman’s carreer shouldn’t be decided by their partner’s advancement. Equality should mean the other way applies too.

          This was a risk both parties took when they started dating, and OP seems to be ok with it. Why are so many people trying to see misogyny here?

          1. tangerineRose*

            “if Fergus was up to a promotion to lead OP’s team, he would be equally obligated to turn it down before managing his girlfriend.” This!

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Here in France political journalists are not allowed to cover any kind of politics that their politician partner might be involved in, and quite right too. However, the way this has panned out *every time*, it’s the male politician striding ahead in his career while his female journalist partner gets relegated to the celebrities page of the newspaper.
            So yes it is very heavily gendered.

            1. Lady Meyneth*

              It’s not though. The female journalist would have the option of covering science, hard news, sports, etc, same as a man would. Or the celebrity pages if that’s her preference. Or she could choose to just not date politicians if that’s her chosen area.

              But when the dating starts, her options in politics are limited, as they should be, and exactly as a man would be. So it’s still absolutely not gendered.

        2. MK*

          I really don’t understand how what you say (which is true) applies in this situation. The OP not being eligible for a position as the boss of her partner is not an unfair consequence of patriarchy; it’s basic ethics.

          1. MicroManagered*

            I actually think the people urging OP3 to reconsider, ask Fergus to change jobs/find some way for her to take the promotion are being a little sexist in a way.

            Can we take OP3 at her word, that Fergus can’t easily move to another position, and that she accepts being ineligible for this promotion because of the relationship (and, as you said, factored that into her decision to date a coworker), and is *only* asking for the graceful way to decline?

            1. PhysicsTeacher*

              Yes, this.

              It feels a little icky to act like she needs to be persuaded into making “more responsible” life choices, like how you might talk to/about a particularly irresponsible teenager. She’s an adult in an adult relationship.

              I get the temptation, you know? Women do sacrifice their career for their relationships at a much higher rate than men. But that doesn’t mean any of us have any authority over LW#3’s life or the capacity to make a better decision than her for her individual circumstances. She asked about turning down the promotion. That’s it.

              1. Lady Meyneth*

                This. You’ve just described exactly what’s been bothering me so much about some responses here, OP is being treated like an irresponsible child who doesn’t know what’s best for her and needs to be taught self-preservation. It’s absolutely sexist and demeaning to women, while demonizing men at the same time.

        3. kittymommy*

          I’m sorry, maybe I missed something in the letter, but did the LW actually say they are female (or male)? I know the general default pronoun here is her/she with LW’s but sometimes that may present an issue. We have no indication that this is a heterosexual relationship.

          1. PhysicsTeacher*

            I don’t think you missed anything. I went back and looked at the letter again and you’re right. They never say their gender or pronouns.

          2. Lady Meyneth*

            You’re right, and I hadn’t noticed. Thank you for pointing it out. I wonder if people would still be saying OP needs to accept the promotion no matter what if OP really is a dude.

      2. Read the room*

        You seem to be taking this scenario very personally. You cannot deny the systemic pressure women face to sacrifice their careers for their partners.

    2. MK*

      That said, I don’t know whether the OP has discussed the matter with her partner; if not, there is no reason she shouldn’t do so, but openly and honestly.

      Also, it’s not clear to me whether there is an actual company rule against fraternisation; if there is, the OP literally has no option but to withdraw.

    3. AthenaC*

      That’s definitely a valid question. From the outside, this situation seems to be part of a broader cultural pattern where women sacrifice personal accomplishment for relationships, but men don’t do the same. OP only says that she is dating Fergus (as opposed to engaged or married), and to me that relationship doesn’t sound like it’s at a level where it’s wise change the course of your life around it.

      1. MK*

        The OP is already dating a member of the team where the supervisor position might open. Would dumping him make it ethical for her to accept the job? No. The only way it would be OK is if he leaves the team. I don’t see this situation as her having to make a sacrifice, it’s just her not asking him to make one.

    4. Not Australian*

      I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but this sort of thing is *always* going to go against the female participant – because men are generally assumed – by other men – (a) not to be able to help it and (b) to just be taking advantage of something offered to them on a plate and who can blame them for that? What Fergus might or might not do is therefore irrelevant; the odds are stacked in his favour anyway.

      The OP here needs to concentrate on self-preservation, and has so far not done a great job of that. Giving it all up for love is an idea that works in books and movies, not in real life; it really isn’t something to contemplate without a heck of a lot more reason than this.

      1. MK*

        What would the OP’s self-preservation look like in this situation? She is already dating him. Dumping him would not solve the conflict of interests. Accepting the job and keep it a secret is unlikely to go well for her. Demanding that he be transferred also risky, not to mention that she said it’s not an option, which might mean it’s not possible even if he is willing.

        I really don’t understand why commenter are talking as if the OP is making a choice, her relationship over her career. Once she started dating a coworker her options are limited.

        1. MicroManagered*

          You make a great point. Even if OP3 decided she wanted to choose her career over the relationship, she still can’t take a promotion where she’d be Fergus’s boss, even if they broke up.

      2. Marthooh*

        This sounds really condescending. The OP is not asking whether they should “give it all up for love”, they’re asking how to handle the necessity of turning down a promotion for ethical reasons.

        For the record, I think they’ll have to disclose the relationship with Fergus at some point, but they don’t need to do so proactively.

        1. MicroManagered*

          I agree. I think, if their jobs are related-enough that there’s even a remote possibility OP3 could be Fergus’s supervisor, she’d have to disclose when accepting any management position, really.

      3. Chai town*

        My gut reaction is to agree with Not Australian. I’ve seen so many college women, who were equal to or more qualified than their boyfriends, make decisions on grad school or career based on what the guy is doing. Too many women. And these are college grads. It’s been detrimental to the women (not following their field of study or taking the job opportunity which would have furthered their career). Women are conditioned to do this from every book, movie, and social media post. So yeah, I would encourage a real brain check as to whether she should give up an opportunity for a man.
        I would also encourage her to have a very up front and deep discussion with the boyfriend. If it turns out this is her dream job, if he loves her and values her happiness then he should be willing to find something else so that she can fulfill her dream (I had a relationship like this). If she’s the only one who needs to sacrifice for the sake of the relationship that’s a problem for me (also had a relationship like this and it didn’t end well).

        1. MicroManagered*

          There is no indication in the post that this is OP’s dream job. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be a strong indicator that she really really wants THIS promotion… more that she’s recognized she cannot take it. (If she broke up with her boyfriend, she still could not take over being his boss.)

    5. Koala dreams*

      I see what you mean. This isolated question is just one in a sea of similar situations, and after hearing too many such stories it’s hard to keep hopeful. The advice is good, and would be equally good if the boyfriend where a girlfriend instead. It’s the right thing to do. Still, so often the right thing in the moment is not good enough in an unjust world.

      Your advice is also good, career and life decisions are important and it’s good to know that the two of you are on the same page.

  26. Corporate Goth*

    OP 3 – make sure whoever you tell is explicitly clear on “Fergus doesn’t want to move” and “Fergus controls his own career.” Even if you think it doesn’t need to be said.

    You never know when someone will want to be helpful.

    Good luck.

    1. MK*

      It’s not clear from the letter that Fergus doesn’t want to move. The OP says it’s not an option, but there could be bussiness reasons why a transfer for him can’t be considered, or it might not be possible for him to make the change for personal reasons.

    2. Colette*

      Those two contradict each other – if Fergus controls his own career, she can’t speak for whether he wants to move or not.

      1. On a pale mouse*

        How about, “I don’t (or do, if that’s the case) think Fergus is willing to change position, but if that turns out to be an option, you should take it up with him”?

        1. Colette*

          Leave options for him out of it altogether. “I wanted to let you know that I cannot be in a position to manage Fergus, as we have a personal relationship.”

          1. Littorally*

            This is the best approach imo. It focuses on the actual impediment, and leaves the door open for options the OP may not be aware of.

  27. eeniemeenie*

    LW2: My coworker and I were in the midst of a disagreement when she suddenly lost her cool and screamed at me. Although she apologised the same day, it didn’t undo the damage. She was severely reprimanded by our boss, any valid argument she had about the original topic of debate was nullified by her extreme reaction, and our professional relationship became irreparably damaged. She was so embarrassed she didn’t greet me or meet my eye for months afterwards. While I didn’t discuss this with any of our other coworkers, I could have easily gossiped about it and embarrass her further.

    When you shout at a coworker you immediately become the “loser” in the argument. As Alison said, unless you are responding to physical assault or a fire, there is no justification for shouting at anyone at work. No matter how provoked you are this will only reflect badly on you.

    1. Washi*

      Yeah, I’ve had otherwise lovely people get a little snippy and then apologize, and that was pretty easy to move on from. But there’s a certain level where the relationship is permanently damaged, and that level is in different places for different people.

      I once asked our IT person for help with something (by correctly submitting a ticket, of course!) and the first thing he said to me, in a very rude tone, when he came over was “Can you read?” I actually still don’t know what he was referring to because in my years working there I never saw a manual for the particular piece of equipment. But anyway, I always felt like I was walking on eggshells around him after that. He didn’t apologize, but I don’t think even if he had, it would have erased what it felt like in the moment to be addressed like that.

      Better to pretend you suddenly have to go to the bathroom and excuse yourself than to let something slip that you can’t take back.

  28. Bookworm*

    #4: Agree it can depend on your office culture. It can help if you put something in the title like “NOT URGENT” or “for Monday” or something of that nature.

    Any chance you can “schedule” your emails ahead? I know you wrote about waiting until it was time or just sending it anyway but if there’s any concern on your end that you might forget to send this email (vs. boundaries which I know what your question is asking), maybe schedule the email to send at like 9AM or a little earlier that morning? Then you have the email ready to go while not adding to your colleague’s inbox.

    Still, I think the answer is correct. It may depend and your co-worker *may* feel pressure to answer anyway (some office cultures are like this–I had one) but writing something like “this can wait until Monday” or some similar language should work. Good luck!

  29. Slinky*

    #4: My personal practice (recommended by my employer) is to put “For Monday” in the subject line, followed by the actual subject. I also tend to start the email with a quick line along the lines of: “No rush; I just wanted to send this out before it slips my mind.” I work in a pretty casual environment, but if you don’t, you might want to make the language a little more formal.

    1. Dagny*

      This is what I do as well. “For Monday – Clay Supplier Negotiation.”

      Alternately, the body of the email will ask for a response by a certain date. If someone wants to work on the weekend to take some of the stress of their workday (which might involve non-stop meetings followed by a kid’s big baseball game), they have the choice.

  30. Liz*

    #4. Just ‘delay the email delivery’. You can send the email on Sunday right after composing, but in the email options, specify the delivery date and time the recipient receives the email in their inbox, say Monday at 7:00 AM.

    For Google Gmail in a desktop web browser, follow these steps:
    – Compose a new email
    – Click the triangle next to the blue “Send” button
    – Select one of the suggested times, or click “Pick date & time” to customize when exactly you want the message to go out
    – Click “Schedule send”

    For Microsoft Outlook for Windows:
    – In the message, click the ‘Options’ tab.
    – In the ‘More Options’ group, click ‘Delay Delivery’.
    – Under Delivery options, check the box for ‘Do not deliver before’, and select a date and time.
    – After you click Send, the message remains in the Outbox folder until the delivery time.

    For Microsoft Office365 web outlook:
    – After composing your message, select the drop down little arrow menu next to the ‘Send’ button at the bottom of the screen. (not the paper airplane at the top)
    – Select ‘Send later’
    – Choose the date and time you’d like the email to be delivered and click ‘Send’.

    1. Cheluzal*

      If she’s an education she’s going to be using the school don’t work. I don’t know any school district that uses Gmail or Outlook to send messages.

      1. curly sue*

        My kids’ schools use a gmail-based educational network. The domain is specialized for the school system, but it’s created by, managed by, and on the same infrastructure as gmail.

      2. Generic Name*

        The largest school district in Colorado uses google classroom/google infrastructure.

    2. DKMA*

      In this case this isn’t a great option. If she delays sending she misses her deadline.

      In general, I’m not a fan of delayed sending, I think it adds an unnecessary level of artifice. There are only two scenarios where it makes sense: 1) You are defusing a potential power dynamic and don’t want to set a bad precedent for more junior employees; 2) You are drowning for non-work related reasons and it’s better for your mental health to hide it from your coworkers.

      Otherwise it’s better to just use language like Alison suggests. If you are working at times you shouldn’t need to that should be communicated. If you are hourly, you need to get paid. If you are salaried, work times and burden should be part of the conversation. I guess if you have a bad boss it could be worth avoiding the hassle, but I don’t think you’re doing yourself any favors by implying that you can accomplish your work in less time than it actually takes you. You are setting yourself up to be piled on a fail.

  31. Beth Jacobs*

    As I posted above, delayed send is server side on gmail (ie. you can schedule the email, turn off your computer and it will still send), it’s client side in Outlook. That means if I schedule it for Monday morning, it will only send if I’m logged into my work computer on Monday morning with Outlook up and running. That makes the feature pretty useless to me.

  32. Jennifer*

    #5 Why are they assuming that everyone has medical insurance? Either way, the company should pay. I don’t know where you are, but most places in my area are doing tests free of charge anyway.

    1. Rebecca*

      That’s a good point, especially here in the US where medical insurance is often tied to employment. It’s totally possible because you are applying for a job, you don’t have a job, and thus may not have insurance.

      1. Jennifer*

        That’s what I was thinking. I was laid off and have no insurance. To me this is as ridiculous as asking someone to pay for their own drug test or background check. It’s part of the cost of hiring.

  33. Jennifer*

    #1 Lord have mercy. I’d really have a hard time not messing with Loretta. I’m a religious person as well, but this is just annoying. “Loretta, are you sure you should be so excited about end times? I know what you did last summer….” add a mysterious look and walk away.

  34. Liz*

    The school might have a named domain, so the email itself will something like: or, but it actually has a major email host behind it.

    Google Gsuite and Microsoft Office365 are examples of hosts for the email. All email hosts do have the capability to delay or schedule email delivery, it is just a matter of searching how to do it for the particular client. I provided those examples specifically as they show the similarity in steps across different email types, and are the two most common hosts for education here in the UK, where I am based.

  35. Not So NewReader*

    For OP 1.

    For me, the doomsday stuff would do me in. I would have two choices, say something now before I lose my cool OR say something later after my cool got up and left. Either way, I am going to end up saying something. Like you show here, it’s better to plan these things out rather than leave them to chance.

    If anyone is following the Vallow-Daybell case– this type of talk (the mix of doomsday and religion) is at the very core of the case. It’s a really strong example of how this type of talk is NOT productive and can actually lead to other problems…. SERIOUS, SERIOUS problems.

    I might consider going to the boss and letting her know that this daily doomsday stuff is pulling everyone down. It’s counter productive to the goals of the company. And it’s in the best interest of the company to encourage people to keep the conversation lighter. (And of course, this would tend to go into the preaching that is going on here, also.)

    In my own personal life a couple people had started to get to fixated on end times. My approach that seemed to work for me (YMMV) is to say, “This is not news. We were told as kids that the world is coming to an end. Nothing new there. But until it happens, HERE we are. And we still have to do our best each day. ” Then I would add, “If we sincerely believe this is end times, that only raises our obligation to be kind to each other and take care of each other. We are better off focusing on these practical and actionable activities as opposed to sitting around and discussing how awful everything is.”

    I am saying this as a church person myself, her mix of religion and doomsday talk would creep me right out. Seriously creep me out. In part because it’s one of the basic things cults hammer on to manipulate, even brain wash people. But there are other parts that really bother me also. She is fueling her own fires by continuously talking about this, the more she talks the more she goes deeper into her worries here. So unless she stops, I believe that her talk will just keep getting worse and worse. She found a run-away train for herself. And I also believe that if she truly understood this matter then she would be trying to lift people UP in the ways that are meaningful TO THEM.

    I just spend an hour this morning talking with my elderly friend about her insurance. She was near tears. They have sent her so much paper work. Since she is not used to handling it (late hubby handled it), the paper work and problems are overwhelming to her. We hammered out a plan of action steps. In the end, my friend said, “You actually comforted me.” This is what we should be doing, in my opinion. To your cohort I would be tempted to say, “Well as of today we are still HERE, so life goes on and we have daily obligations that need tending. Speaking of which, how about the XYZ report? When you have it lined up, I am ready to add my numbers to the report.” I would say things like this to draw her back into today’s reality.

    1. Observer*

      Come on! The Vallow case is NOT a good example of the dangers of religious talk. The woman CLEARLY had mental issues. And her first husband tried to get her help / get protection from her, and it just didn’t work. I mean she thought that he was actually someone else walking in her husband’s body. That was NOT a result of “this kind of talk”.

      It’s important to understand that while a lot of pathologist show up in religious or religious seeming behavior, it’s generally the pathology that comes first and religious (seeming) behavior is just an expression of that pathology.

      On the other hand, I do like action focused approach.

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        The action focused approach is what I use with my students with overwhelming anxiety who can’t cognitively break down big tasks. It works in all cases.

        As for Vallow- Daybell… I’d have to agree with you, but it is the extreme case because it was the perfect blend of mental fragility with a fringe belief system that fed it. (Must note that it was way far off mainstream LDS teachings, Daybell created the majority of the system he believed himself). Either way, it has to stay out of the office, because people can’t be overwhelmed by bad news all day.

        1. Observer*

          Either way, it has to stay out of the office, because people can’t be overwhelmed by bad news all day.

          Oh, sure! The Vallow case is really not relevant here and that kind of thing is not the reason to shut it down.

          It needs to stop because it’s wearing and disrespectful.

    2. virago*

      Providing aid and comfort to the worried and overwhelmed is always the best thing to do, and no more so than right now. Thank you for putting your faith into action.

    3. Batgirl*

      “Well as of today we are still HERE, so life goes on and we have daily obligations that need tending. Speaking of which, how about the XYZ report?”
      I really like this. It’s basically the same so…..anyway move you’d pull if someone was talking endlessly about Crossfit.

  36. Delta Delta*

    #1 – One thing I haven’t seen discussed much is how to deal with this given the fact it’s been going on for some time. Likely nobody has said anything for a long time for whatever reason. The way this will probably come across to Loretta is that this has all been fine until now, and suddenly this is terrible. She’ll probably be confused, because nobody has complained before (to her, that she knows of, likely), she’ll be upset because everyone knows she’s religious, and she’ll be hurt because it’ll dawn on her that apparently this has been a problem and for years her coworkers have either lied to her or played her for a fool by letting her go on and on.

    So I think part of this is also figuring out how to tell Loretta to tone it down while allowing her to keep some dignity about it. I also think it’ll be helpful to gauge (if possible) if other coworkers and/or management will support this kind of discussion. OP says this is a religious area – it may be that the local community culture is such that a request to tone it down will actually fall flat. That isn’t to say it’s the right stance by management, but it might be the one they take.

    1. SunnySideUp*

      How is it dignified to preach religion to coworkers on a daily basis?

      Also, just because I was “okay” with something yesterday doesn’t mean I have to be okay with it today.

      “You know, Loretta, it didn’t used to bother me so much to hear you discuss religion, but now it does, and I’m asking you not to talk to me about it anymore.”

    2. Batgirl*

      It’s never too late to address a long running bugbear. You’re right though that you want to avoid anything that suggests ‘You’ve been driving me crazy for years’. I like starting those kind of sentences with ‘I just realised’ or ‘y’know lately I’ve preferred’ or ‘I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this’. Something like “I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this but I really don’t discuss religion at work. I only realised recently that I seem to prefer focusing on the here and now in these stressful times”. Just keep it light and like you’re asking for a different radio station.

    3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      That’s tantamount to saying that a woman can’t change her mind about having sex with someone.

      Loretta might have just come across as slightly crazy before, but looking at the covid crisis, climate crisis, and impending economic crisis, what was a bit wacky in 2019 may hit a raw nerve in 2020. Times change and our ability to focus can too.

  37. Exvie*

    Regarding letter #1 – in 2018, after 22 years, I left a fundamentalist Christian church organization (that I now consider a cult) that was hyper focused on the endtimes, rapture, hell, etc. I’m recovering and dismantling a lot of the brainwashing, but endtime talk is still severely triggering for me. I’ve been hiding and blocking people on social media like crazy because with coronavirus, racial tension, etc., the Christians on my newsfeed just will. not. stop. talking about it. Having a coworker like Loretta would be a major, major problem for me.

    I disagree with other commenters that this is harmless and coming from a good place. While Loretta may think she’s being kind and helpful, it sounds like she has no shame talking non-stop about her beliefs (even the horrific, extreme parts of it) and she assumes everyone around her agrees with her. This makes her sound aggressively evangelical to me. Subtlety won’t work, nor will offering up excuses. She’ll view claims of atheism as “you’re hurt and need Jesus to heal you.” If you say you’re triggered by her comments, she’ll assume you’re “under conviction” and she’ll think her “witnessing” is having an effect, which might spur her on to try harder. If you report her to HR, she’ll think she’s being persecuted for her religion, which will also probably embolden her. Loretta believes that her religion is the end-all, be-all, and anyone who disagrees with her is automatically wrong, because her belief system can never be wrong. In her mind, her message is life or death, heaven or hell, so it trumps workplace etiquette and she’s obligated by God to keep it up, even at the expense of her job. You need what she has, you just don’t know it yet.

    The OP should tell her firmly and in no uncertain terms that the conversation is not welcome, then follow up with HR/management as needed. My other suggestion would be to counter each “endtime” comment with a thought-provoking question that exposes the unreliability of the Bible, lack of evidence for a god, etc. I have a feeling this would panic her enough that she would eventually steer clear of you.

    1. CrapIForgotMyAwesomeUserName*

      I’m Pentecostal (and believe the end times are near – relatively speaking), but yes, all of this. Me (or anyone, really) shoving my religion down your throat isn’t helping anyone and sure as heck isn’t bringing you (or anyone) closer to God. I hate hate HATE when “Christians” try to do this.

      I’m sorry for your experience, and hope you are/are coming to a place of peace.

    2. Altair*

      Do I ever hear you. I’m another ex-evangelical.

      But because of that I don’t think I agree with your advice ” to counter each “endtime” comment with a thought-provoking question that exposes the unreliability of the Bible, lack of evidence for a god, etc. ” I think Loretta would take that as being Oppressed For Her Faith and/or as a Challenge To Defend Her Faith And Save LW’s Soul. Did you have the experience of being taught that we were Oppressed as Christians because this world Belongs To The Devil, with the existence and public acceptance of other religions and atheism presented as ‘evidence’? I worry that anything that makes Loretta feel like LW is challenging her faith will evoke that ridiculous concept and get Loretta to gear up as a Christian Soldier for what she’ll see as Righteous Battle. And that is the LAST thing LW needs.

      (Also, despite my small cavil on this point, I so hear you. Hugs offered from one apostate to another.)

  38. IndustriousLabRat*

    To LW#2, I agree with Alison’s advise to remove yourself when things get dicey. I work in manufacturing, and, while arguments on the shop floor aren’t exactly RARE, they become the subject of gossip for weeks, with whoever lost his cool bearing the brunt of the mockery. If it’s really bad, it’s not unusual to see the offender put on an unpaid suspension. Our management are pretty serious about keeping things civil and our HR folks have a great sixth sense to appear magically and invite an angry employee to just go for a walk and chat for a bit. They use the cool down separation pretty effectively.

    On the flip side, the folks who have a reputation for gracefully dealing with crabby coworkers get a lot of respect!
    You can make a script for yourself to politely exit a conversation that you see is escalating, because the next worst thing is to be seen storming off in a rage.
    “Fergus, can I stop you there; I think I’d like to go review the xyz data some more before continuing this conversation; do you mind if we reconnect in [however long it takes to cool off]?” or whatever you might use to buy a few minutes away from the source of your frustrations.
    If you have to take an early lunch, use the loo, or just grab some paperwork/laptop charger/etc you need that is conveniently in another part of the building… I’ve found that in a lot of cases it doesn’t take long to hit that conversation reset button!

    I’ve struggled with this myself and yes, I’ve snapped at a coworker before. And have promptly regretted it. The coworker may have deserved a big ol verbal smack to the forehead, but I was the one who ended up looking like a jerk. It’s embarrassing once it happens! Not a good feeling, and of course I went back and apologized within minutes. Now every time I feel frustrated with someone doing something totally boneheaded, I remind myself to take a breath and think of how bad it felt in that moment of mortification, and try to tell myself it’s better to be frustrated in the moment than it is to be up at 2am beating myself up over something I blurted out in anger :)

    Good luck!

    1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      I just want to add there’s a difference between losing it toward some annoying or small thing (sounds like what you are talking about and the OP was writing about) and losing it vert rarely because of something seriously important.

      The latter can be OK if the person has a reputation for being level headed and in control, and the blow up is over something really important. And doesn’t involve insults to another person. The gossip becomes “Did you hear? PACR totally lost it last week because of the situation at ABCD. I guess the problems there must be really serious – I never heard him lose his temper before.”

      1. IndustriousLabRat*

        Oh totally… be like Teflon 99.9999999% of the time and save your ‘clap-back capital’ for the REALLY important stuff! Just in case…

  39. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    Wondering if that’s a US thing re: Letter #5 about having the employer cover those costs.

    Years ago, I was re-entering the job market and was applying to many a sector. To apply to school boards as support staff (not teacher), they wanted staff to have first aid (costs up to $120 per three-year renewal), a clean police records check (not free if not volunteering) and a recent (less than six months) TB test before you would be considered for the role. To top it off, there was a new site just for ppl to apply to school boards and to belong to it and upload your documents – resume, transcripts, etc. – it cost $10 for membership. As someone starting over, these were expenses I couldn’t cover and there was no indication these would be reimbursed if I was hired.

    I was definitely of the opinion that if the employer wanted such things (except for the website to apply to school boards), they should cover the cost for successful candidates. I said this on a parent messaging board and several didn’t agree.

    I agree with Alison: employer should pay for that COVID test!

      1. Anononon*

        No, this is actually a positive US thing – the employer (not employee) is required to pay for those costs, generally.

        1. virago*

          Clarification: It sucks that there would be any question that the employer would cover the cost of an employer-required COVID test.

    1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      I can sorta see the applicant paying for the first aid training. The rest, no.

      1. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        I’ve had two employers pay or offer to pay for it because they needed ppl on staff to be trained.

  40. pieska boryska*

    Maybe I’m cynical, but I bet the promotion gets offered to Fergus instead and he accepts. OP should wait to see if she even gets the promotion and then disclose, instead of just turning out down. Maybe there are ways to deal with the power differential that she hadn’t considered.

    1. Colette*

      I’m not sure why that’s cynical. If the OP turns it down (as she should, if Fergus is on the team), then it has to go to someone else. And the OP is not on the team, so there would be no issue with Fergus taking it.

      But if Fergus is on the team, there is no way the OP can take it, both ethically and practically.

  41. Lexi Kate*

    #1 I am religious so take this for what you what it is. I agree with Alison’s advice that you need to talk to your manager or her manager because she shouldn’t be pressuring you with her religion. But also because in the past month we have had several people (mainly older) within my religious community have some big health scares from the stress they are putting on themselves about the Rapture coming soon. The world is a scary place right now for a lot of people (especially older people) and the multitude of new stressors every month (C-19, Quarantine, lack of supplies, the Rapture, Murder hornets) may be pushing your co-worker over the edge, so please let someone know so that someone is watching her closer or at least paying attention. I’m not asking you to watch her closer just to let her management know.

    1. The Grey Lady*

      No, that is in no way OP’s responsibility. If Loretta feels like she needs that, then she can talk to management herself.

  42. Eillah*

    LW3- No man is *ever* worth stalling your career. Disclose, go for the promotion, see if Fergus can take the spot you’d be vacating on your team.

    I very much doubt that Fergus would turn down a promotion for you (and he shouldn’t).

  43. Anonymous at a University*

    Wow, so of course it’s LW 1 who gets jumped on by commenters despite saying that she hasn’t said anything about being an atheist, she lets Loretta talk about whatever she wants, and she is only now thinking about pushing back on it.Because religion is delicate and special and needs to be protected and let’s nitpick LW’s weird choices and also she’s anti-Semitic.

    Time to take a vacation from these comments for a while.

    1. Carbondale*

      I only see one comment that could possibly be considered “jumping on OP.” Everyone else seems to agree that Loretta is out of line. The comment about anti-semitism wasn’t about the OP. If you can’t handle one comment that you disagree with, maybe you should consider a permanent vacation from the internet.

      1. Anonymous at a University*

        Now that I’ve reread it, you’re right, so I apologize for that part. However, I am still annoyed about the comment that says the OP has to let Loretta “keep some dignity,” as if the OP is at fault for trying to be respectful of Loretta’s religious beliefs AND for now wanting to tell her to stop talking about the end times, and Observer’s comment that the OP seems to not be nuanced enough about religious beliefs, as well as the comments nitpicking the OP’s language. Because, of course, it’s always on the nonreligious person to be respectful and nuanced and, of course, not really talk about their non-religion at all, but not talking about their non-religion at all is also wrong as it will upset the religious person and make her feel like she’s “played for a fool.”

        It’s so tiring.

        1. Observer*

          Whew! You really need to take a chill pill.

          I didn’t say that the OP wasn’t nuanced enough. I said that it happens to be useful information for them, if they are not aware of the variety of approach to this issue.

          Keep in mind that according to Loretta, I’m one of the people who won’t get to heaven…

          1. Anonymous at a University*

            I mean, why can’t they be aware of a variety of approaches to the issue and still not want to listen to talk about the end times at work? Even in a letter that says they’re being respectful and that’s why they haven’t spoken up so far, they still have to be “aware of the variety of approaches to the issue”?

            I am well aware that a variety of Christian denominations exist. It doesn’t make me feel any kinder toward the people who say that I’m going to hell or that I shouldn’t exist (because I’m gay). especially when other Christians come up to tell me, “Well, I don’t feel that way, and #NotAllChristians.” Sure, but that doesn’t solve the problem of my anger, frustration, and sadness about the first people.

            1. Observer*

              I don’t understand what you are asking. Knowing about the different approaches and wanting Loretta to quit her behavior are not mutually exclusive. Why are you acting as though it is?

              It is pragmatically useful to the OP to be aware of this, because there is a very good chance that Loretta is not going to shut up just because the OP asks her to. So, having support from other coworkers is likely going to be useful. This information could be useful in getting that support. Nothing to do with feeling “kind” towards Loretta and this particular belief.

              Simply put, you are not reading what I wrote – otherwise you would have seen that I am also among the people who are definitely going to hell. I have absolutely ZERO interest in defending this stuff or in getting into #NotAllChristians or the like. I’m also not a Christian.

        2. Anononon*

          I think it’s the sign of a successful/engaged comment section. As someone who generally does agree with your position on the matter, I find it more interesting to read the comments when there is ongoing debate, and it’s not always an echo chamber.

          1. Anonymous at a University*

            I suppose. I’m feel like there’s an echo chamber the other way, though, where of course Christian beliefs should be respected no matter how anxiety-inducing or outright nasty they are, but the minute I say, “No, I’m an atheist,” people want to tell me all about the one time an atheist called them a nasty name online. (And, of course, I need to take a chill pill if I disagree). Because, of course, Christians are unique individuals at all times, we can’t forget that.

              1. Anonymous at a University*

                I’m thinking of the post where Christian people were upset that someone might say “goddamn” at work, and that was a lot more important than that the letter-writer’s company seemed to be going in an anti-LGBT direction.

                It doesn’t happen here all the time, but it happens. And it doesn’t matter how much respect OP shows in this letter, there’s still people who feel that she’s not being respectful enough/not aware enough that other Christian beliefs exist.

                1. Altair*

                  That was a hellacious discussion. FWIW, It was referenced in the comments on an update from the OP where several people said how terrible the opinion was that you rightfully call out above, and how derailing the discussion of it, and no one came back to defend it. Fortunately.

                2. Avasarala*

                  I agree with your larger point. Even here people are more protective of Christianity (and to a lesser extent Judaism) than they are of other religions and atheism, and of women over men or other genders or nonbinary people, of straight people over LGBT+, and of older workers over younger perspectives, of childfree over parents. Generally there’s a “everyone’s equal/OK but just not at work” mindset but certain beliefs don’t get pushed as hard for, or pointed out so frequently. That’s just the biases of the commentariat/frequent readers.

                  I do think it’s better than reddit and other sites that can be violently anti-worker, anti-women, anti-Black, etc. though

                3. V8 Fiend*

                  Ugh, I remember that discussion. It was an absolute dumpster fire! It’s weird – I think for the most part, this blog has the best comment section on the internet. But the second religion, specifically the different flavors of Christianity, get brought up, it gets kind of messy.

            1. The Grey Lady*

              I share your frustration. A lot of people (and I don’t mean commentators here, but just people in general) are so quick to defend religious beliefs, but the ones who lack religious beliefs tend to be the ones told to hush up and be respectful. As if respect doesn’t go both ways.

              1. Anonymous at a University*

                Thanks. I’ve been told that I need to be respectful of the beliefs of people who wish me dead for a long, long time, and that if I complain about them I’m not being “aware” of other Christians who believe differently. Given that those Christians who believe differently are still telling me I need to be respectful instead of confronting the people with the bigoted beliefs, I have a perhaps too-quick reaction to the notion that “But remember all the variety!”

                1. The Grey Lady*

                  Honestly, I hate it when people say “Not all Christians believe that!”
                  There is a movement about this–I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but it’s called the NALT (Not All Like That) Project. They have a website where Christians make short videos talking about how they support gay marriage, women in power, and other things that Christianity would traditionally forbid.

                  That’s all well and good…but it does nothing about the overwhelming large institution of Christianity that is working every single to day to take away people’s basic human rights. For every Christian who supports gay marriage, there are a hundred more that do not.

                  I’m glad that there are some Christians who can think for themselves and realize that some of the tenets of their religion may be wrong. But that honestly doesn’t give much comfort.

                2. Dust Bunny*

                  I hate it, too. Good for you, but that doesn’t actually negate everyone else who is, does it?

                  I also hate, “That’s not true Christianity!”. Well . . . maybe it is. Maybe Christianity can’t be your Mary Sue religion where it’s endlessly openhearted and loving but still retains its righteousness and status, and maybe people need to be more willing to make the choice between feeling good about their chosen path and accepting that it’s judgmental and deeply flawed (as are most belief systems, but the rest of them get much less of a pass).

  44. Dust Bunny*

    LW1 I’m also an atheist in a pretty religious region and I couldn’t take this simply because I’m hitting my limit with . . . everything.

    So, I don’t think you need to tell her you’re not religious–I think telling her that all this is on your mind a lot and you can’t take any more disaster-talk is an entirely reasonable way to respond without creating a religion-based conflict.

  45. Unpopular Opinion*

    While I value being cool and collected, I don’t like the idea that the general theme of this site is always, “you’re not allowed to have emotions at work.” This always seems to be aimed towards women, as well. You should be able to express that you’re annoyed in a calm manner.

    1. Carbondale*

      I don’t think I’ve every seen a conversation here where the consensus was that “you’re not allowed to have emotions at work.” Do you have an example? What I have seen Alison advise and many commenters agree with is that you should control your emotions in a professional way at work. And I think any reasonable person would agree that you should be able to express that you’re annoyed in a calm manner.

      1. Unpopular Opinion*

        Every time someone writes in about a woman who cries when getting feedback. The onus is always on the person who is crying to change their behavior. I have never seen anyone suggest the manager even look at their behavior an see if maybe they are triggering an intense reaction.

        1. Lisa*

          “Every time”? – I think there have been 2 of those letters, 1 from each side. The “onus” isn’t on the crier, the advice is always for the person writing in. Only you can control your actions – you can have all the feelings you want, and they are valid, but you don’t have to *act* on them. The onus is on you to control your behavior, which is *separate* from your feelings. Also, Alison tells people all the time to look at their own behavior if the letter indicates they may be part of the problem.

          Think about the coworkers – I don’t want to deal with my colleagues screaming at each other, or crying, or punching walls. All of those are bad situations and I don’t care what the person’s feelings are, they need to rein it in. You seem to think that your feelings=your actions, but they can be separated.

        2. Observer*

          That is actually totally not true. But it’s a lot easier to push back on a straw man than to actually address whatever issue is being addressed.

        3. Altair*

          Maybe we’re reading a comments section from a different dimension than some of the other commenters, but I’ve seen what you have. Sometimes I get the impression that yelling at people is more acceptable to the commentariat here than crying is.

          1. Carbondale*

            I think the general consensus is that both yelling and crying are almost always inappropriate at work. Some people have more tolerance for one than the other and maybe those comments stand out to you, but I don’t get the impression that one is generally more acceptable than the other.

    2. Not Australian*

      I don’t think anybody disputes that. The discussion was about “losing it”, i.e. one’s temper, towards a colleague, and that’s not at all the same thing.

    3. DKMA*

      Three things:
      1) You should be allowed to feel you feelings. You should also, within reasonable human capabilities, not allow your feelings to impact your professional comportment. But yes, expressing you are annoyed ina calm manner is a professional way of handling that emotion, so that should be fine. There is also a range of things here: Occassionally getting emotionally overwhelmed and crying shouldn’t impact someone (unless it becomes a pattern of behavior used to avoid taking responsibility); even one time snapping and expressing anger in an inappropriate manner at someone should, it’s not fair to burden your coworkers with your inability to manage your emotions.
      2) It would be terrible advice to tell someone not to worry about something that will in our current reality cause them professional harm just because it shouldn’t cause them professional harm.
      3) I think this lens would be important if the advice was to a manager (or coworker) of someone who was being described as emotionally over-reacting. I think it’s a fair push to ask whether behavior was really out of line, or whether it would be ignored if a man had done it.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      Nothing here says you can’t have emotions at work, you just can’t let them run away from you.

    5. Anonymous at a University*

      People don’t react to your feelings, though. They react to your actions. If you’re screaming insults at me (as a colleague has done), I don’t care whether what you’re feeling is stress or anger or panic or frustration. I care that you’re screaming insults at me. And I care that you need to shut it down and not make excuses with “let me feel my feelings.”

      1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        I also want to point out there is a difference between screaming insults at a person and screaming about the work they’re doing or not doing.

        Never do the former.

        Rare situations – particularly about safety – can make the latter appropriate.

    6. Jennifer Thneed*

      It is completely okay, always, to say “I am annoyed by xyz”. It is not okay to get snippy or snarky. It is okay to say “This makes me really angry” but it’s never okay to yell or hit things.

      It is always, always okay to have emotions. What’s not okay is to have big *reactions*. It’s like we tell little kids: Use your words. SAY the emotion you are feeling. But don’t act out the emotion.

  46. OP #5*

    OP #5 here. After his Zoom interviews and clearing the background check, my husband has his first in-person interview next week. So I’m hoping he will talk with someone in HR that handles hiring and they will have a straightforward answer. I’m betting the hiring manager just goes to get his tests done and assumes it is the same for everyone.
    My area does have drive-thu testing and I’m fairly certain we could get the active Covid-19 test, but I don’t think we can get the antibody test.
    At the same time, I just changed jobs and have new insurance. (my insurance covers both of us) And my new employer is changing insurance so I will have another insurance provider in a few weeks. And of course, there is the fear that insurance will tell me that it is covered but it really won’t be covered. We could handle spending $100 for the test, but I’m in the US, so ya just never know what that bill will be when it arrives.

    1. Health Insurance Nerd*

      Coverage of Covid testing- both for antibodies and active cases, typically hinges on medical necessity, which is not defined by the insurance company, but by the doctor. The majority of insurers will not cover testing that is required by a 3rd party (employers, sports camps, summer camps, etc…) as it is not considered medically necessary. In your husbands case, where the testing is being required by a 3rd party as a condition of employment, the employer should be footing the bill- regardless of the fact that he does not yet work there.

    2. Jessica*

      They’re requiring an antibody test as well? Those are kind of sketchy and expensive, and I can’t think of any good reason why an employer would need to know if you’ve had COVID in the past (especially because that doesn’t seem to be guarantee that you’re immune from it).

    3. Cakezilla*

      I vaguely remember reading a news article where the EEOC said that employers could require tests for an active covid infection (like the swab), but they couldn’t require an antibody test. So they may not even be allowed to make him get an antibody test. (But disclaimer: I didn’t really look into it that much and I was reading fast, so you may want to check it out instead of believing me.)

      1. Mama Bear*

        I don’t know if it’s still being offered but at one time the Red Cross was offering an antibody test for anyone who donated. Might be worth investigating.

    4. Amy*

      I’ve had three regular Covid tests and one antibody test.

      My first Covid test was March 9th and it was a nightmare. You had to prove you’d traveled to 3-4 countries such as China or have documentation that you’d been in close contact with an infected person. I clearly had symptoms and the doctor still had to jump through a variety of hoops to get me one. (I was positive)

      Since then I’ve needed to get one for two other similar reasons as the spouse getting a new job. Everyone’s state and insurance works differently but for me, I just needed a prescription from the doctor. I got the prescription by calling a doctor (I don’t have a specific GP, I just called the local large medical group) and stating I needed one for work. The old requirements of symptoms, traveling etc had long been discarded. It was straight-forward and for 2 out of 3, they did not even bother with insurance info. It was free. For the 3rd they did and it was fully covered.

      For the antibody test, they took my insurance it. I can’t remember if it was covered or not but the total cost was $25.

    5. Eleaner*

      Cakezilla is correct. Cannot require an antibody test. See the EEOC’s “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws” question A7

  47. Sled dog mama*

    The closest I’ve ever come to completely “losing it” with a coworkers was because coworker had created a problem, supervisor decided on the solution and coworker continued to argue.
    There was a disagreement about who should control the level of lighting in the treatment room, the patient or the staff member who had their hand on the stop button (patient is inside and visible on cameras, staff is outside in the control area, cameras are visible light only so not enough light means you can’t see the patient).
    One staff member argued so loud and long that the patient’s comfort should control the light level over everyone else saying that the ability to see a patient was more important that the supervisor decided the solution was to write an actual policy stating that the person who is “driving” the machine and watching the patient on the monitor controls the level of light. This person continued to argue the point.
    I happened to walk past during one of these lengthy arguments and she appealed to me. I don’t know why she thought I would agree with her since I had made it clear that my job is patient safety and I’m always going to be on the side of safety over comfort.
    For some reason I engaged, which led to me saying “this is a dictatorship not a democracy, your supervisor has dictated the policy, you don’t have to like it but you do have to follow it.” Apparently that was the end of that argument.

  48. Southern Gentleman*

    We have a co-worker who is not only openly talking about End Times, but actually paid $678 to take a course from “Endtime Ministries-Jerusalem Prophecy College” and is telling people they need to take the course. Her motivation is to “dissipate a spirit of fear and replace it with hope and excitement for what’s about to come.”
    We don’t know how to deal with it except to imagine patting her on the head and saying “There, there. Enjoy your prophecy. I wish you had used that $678 in some other way.” But, really, you just kind of walk away…I guess?

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      If it brought her comfort, than I suppose it wasn’t misspent money. However, I would probably simply use some of Alison’s scripts. I used to for for a Christian organization and, as one of the only non-Christians in the place, I got very good at saying variations of, “My faith is pretty personal and I’m not big on discussing it at work.”

      And you know, people really did respect that.

  49. Minocho*

    Another option for OP #1 would be to avoid the religion aspect by saying something along the lines of “I am trying to reduce my stress levels by avoiding conversation about everything that’s happening right now unless it’s necessary. Could I ask you to leave me out of these discussions? Thanks!”

    I am only willing to talk about these things with certain people (who are lower stress) at certain times (when I’m feeling more zen than not) right now, myself!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is what I’ve been doing in regards to political baiting I’ve had tossed at me lately. It’s worked decently with very difficult people, to my relief.

  50. need a new screen name and have no imagination*

    wrt #2:
    One of my bosses used his temper to control employees. If someone disagreed with him, he’d pound on his desk and raise his voice in ways that were clearly meant to intimidate…and they usually worked, because most of the staff were younger and women. So in general, I don’t think people should yell in the workplace.

    That said, I’ve done it twice. Once when an employee was flat-out lying to my face about abusing their staff and blaming other staffers for things I knew they had done wrong. I’d been documenting these and other issues for months in order to build a case for this employee’s termination, and at my manager’s request, was offering them the chance to resign. I was just furious that this person had wasted so much time and money and caused so many problems for my company and would not leave, and I lost it. I’m not in HR, but our boss didn’t want HR involved (yes, the boss was dysfunctional), so I had to do the work and have the conversation. After that failed, the boss went to HR and the employee was terminated.

    The other time was when an older man was endlessly defending another man who had been accused of being a serial sexual harasser in the workplace (this was years ago, before #MeToo). I just couldn’t put up with the mealy-mouthed defenses for another minute, and was furious on behalf of the women who had complained, risking their own jobs, only to have this man brush aside their reports as if they were meaningless, because he liked the accused person. So I raised my voice and told the man not to talk to me about this ever again because I believed the women and I was sorry he did not.

  51. Dora*

    For OP#4, my organization operates across 30+ countries, some with Friday-Saturday weekends where their workweeks start on Sundays, so we face this problem as well. One small solution has been to put the following in our email signatures “At XYZ Organization, we work flexibly and across time zones — so while it suits me to email you now, I don’t expect any response or action outside of your own working hours.”

    We also have a norm now to include a deadline or note in the subject of an email that this is not urgent. This has helped a lot of teams/individuals take greater control of how they respond without feeling overwhelmed to respond on off-hours.
    For example:
    SUBJ: Working group feedback,
    SUBJ: Key Learnings from survey
    SUBJ: Example of pre-conference email

    Hope this helps!

    1. Dora*

      Oops, my subject examples did not post properly because I put them in brackets which apparently disappear!! Trying again here:
      For example:
      SUBJ: [Action by Jul 19] Working group feedback,
      SUBJ: [For Review] Key Learnings from survey
      SUBJ: [FYI] Example of pre-conference email

  52. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Ah Armageddon talk.

    I look these folks in the eye, them knowing full well I’m not atheist and say “I’m not egotistical enough to think he’s coming back in my lifetime. My family has been waiting for centuries now, I’m not any more special than my grandparents. *shrug*” and move on. You’re supposed to be ready. If you’re ready you need not be flapping your gums, Loretta.

    But this is work so that’s a bit much if you can just tell her that it’s not the place to discuss religion.

    1. Clisby*

      I once worked for a small newspaper where the editor met with me (a reporter) and the news editor to admonish us about too-big type in a headline.

      Editor: No 72-point type unless it’s the Second Coming!
      (Jewish) news editor: What about the First Coming?
      Editor: OK, OK, the First Coming, too!

  53. That Girl from Quinn's House*

    Every time Loretta starts talking about end times, give her a look like she’s a nutball, then wait a beat or two with that look on your face before you say something. “Uh, so, as I was saying about the TPS reports…”

  54. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #1 – use Alison’s softer language in the beginning and if she still brings it up, it’s 100% okay to say “I need you to stop talking about this at work”, and then walk away. This person has no boundaries and it’s completely okay to put her in her place. And it honestly has nothing to do with you be an atheist. I’m Catholic and it would bother me too. I CAN NOT STAND people at work who try and push their religious beliefs onto others. Unless you’re working for a religious organization, it has no place at work.
    #4 – if you need to work on weekends or later at night more than occasionally, it may be worth a conversation with the principal. Let her know that unless otherwise stated (in case of an emergency), you don’t expect a response if you send an email after normal business hours. That way you’ve set expectations and if she chooses to respond, the onus is on her and you shouldn’t feel bad. There are people that will ignore your expectations, but if you’ve been clear, there’s no need for you to feel guilty about it. Signed, someone who can’t not check the notifications on my phone and has to turn them off when I take vacation to avoid the temptation.

  55. Persephone Underground*

    Haven’t read all the comments, but just my two cents: If it’s the end times, that’s an awfully convenient excuse to not do anything about the current problems in the world, isn’t it? Sheesh. If you’re a religious person, it’s important to consider if God will thank you for helping your fellow humans or ask why you didn’t. I suppose end times talk could come from general disgust and still come from people fighting the good fight, but it looks a lot like ducking responsibility for our own roles in fixing this mess.

    1. Quill*

      I believe that if I posted much more than you did I would be taking this off topic, but yes. That’s a huge part of the problem and has been for well over a generation…

  56. Senor Montoya*

    OP #4
    I would not use a delayed send since the grades are due on Sunday
    Send the grades when they are done (and before the deadline). If that’s on the weekend, so be it. Your supervisor can read it or not. An email is not the same as a phone call or stopping by in person. It can easily be ignored.
    In the subject header, put “Grades for ZZZ class”

    Also, if you send and the supervisor responds right away asking questions and you don’t want to answer? Remember, it’s email….you don’t have to open it. You don’t have to read it. You don’t have to respond to it right away.

    1. JustMyImagination*

      Parts of Africa and the Middle east have been dealing with locust storms all year

    2. SAS*

      Not to be a downer but there have been devastating locust plagues this year that are causing significant food shortages across multiple East African countries. Even with Covid, it has rated up there with the saddest and scariest news of the year.

      Whatever happened to the Murder hornets?

    3. SyFyScientist*

      Fun Fact – if you are in the U.S. (and I assume you are because of the murder hornets), we don’t have the species of grasshoppers that can turn into locusts (swarming stage)! We have had introductions of other species on occasion but those were eradicated.

  57. Jaybeetee*

    LW2: Like, no? Maybe I’m missing something here, but how is this a serious question? Is it ever okay, anywhere, to “lose it” on someone? At work, at home, at the grocery store? Is that the only tool in your arsenal for dealing with problems? Do people “lose it” on you on a regular basis? Do you “lose it” on a regular basis?

    Okay, one caveat for some instances mentioned above where someone is being abusive or dangerous. But regular workplace conflict, you should have so many methods of dealing with that.

    1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      Not on a regular basis, but I totally lost it about three years ago with the head of another team in my organization, when my team was doing something for them and as far as we could tell a person from my team may have been walking into danger. We asked many times for assurances/evidence that the situation was not dangerous, and that other team kept saying, basically, “chill.” Not good enough, and we said that many times over several weeks in different way, and kept getting the same weak responses.

      So a few days before my person was supposed to get on the plane we had yet another call and I got sick of their runaround and started yelling. My person really appreciated this, and the other team promised to sort things out, which they did.

      At my workplace I have a general reputation for being level-headed. They took the anger very seriously. I’m not sure I “lost it” – I was not insulting them as people, but I was yelling angrily about their actions. I think the yelling was appropriate.

      The head of the other team was forced out of the organization some time afterwards due, in part, to not being responsive to other teams needs.

      Regular loud conflict is bad. Very rarely it can happen and might even be appropriate.

    2. OP2*

      No, I don’t lose it regularly, and most people don’t lose it on me regularly. As I said, I didn’t lose it in this case, but this was a case of extreme provocation.

      I’m retirement age (not actually retired), and I’ve lost it on coworkers maybe 2 or 3 times in all those years. I think that’s a pretty good average. To have never lost it even once, I’d have to be a saint. If I lost it often on minor provocation, that would be another matter.

      I’m not criticizing Alison for telling it like it is, but I think the way it is stinks. The idea seems to be, “Your peer’s provoking you was wrong, but hey, it’s not a perfect world. Your losing it was not just wrong, but outright unacceptable.”

  58. HailRobonia*

    The “end times” comments reminds me of one of my friends who is a flight attendant (well, in casual conversation he normally refers to himself as a stewardess..) – he has a coworker who believes she has psychic abilities and is regularly having bad premonitions about the flight. I said he really needs to get her to stop… the last thing people on a flight need to hear is the flight staff talking about “I had a dream this plane will crash.”

  59. Koala dreams*

    #1 You’ve already got many suggestions on what to say to Loretta, so I want to instead talk about the assumption that everybody else likes to talk about the end times, and would disapprove if you didn’t participate. I don’t think that’s true. Even if all the other employees belong to the same religion, believe in the same things, and love talking about the end times, it doesn’t mean they want to talk about it at work if they knew you were uncomfortable. Maybe they participate in the end times discussions because they want to be social with co-workers, and would be equally willing to talk about other, less fraught things, such as cooking tips or tv shows. Maybe they love talking about the end times but prefer to do it on their own time, when they won’t be interrupted by work issues. Maybe they are humouring Loretta even though they aren’t interested in discussing the topic themselves, and would be equally happy to humour you if you wanted to change the topic. I suggest in addition to talking to Loretta, you also talk with the other co-workers and see if they could help you steer the discussion away from the end times and religion in general. You can use similar language as those suggested to use with Loretta. Many people want to be kind but are oblivious to how their words come across, when you tell people what you need you also give them the chance to be kind to you.

  60. moneypenny*

    Re: 1. Biblical scholars wiser and more learned than 99.9% of the population don’t understand Revelation. Most of it is presumed to be metaphorical and reflect the times rather than the future times. There is no way the coworker can speak with certainty about end times or the antichrist without simply parroting what she hears other say. That’s not anything that has to be brought to her directly, but armed with that info and a bit of extra bolstering through study, that could shut her up. However, if she’s anything like some of the church-goers I know and am related to, she could come back with “it’s what I choose to believe”, in which case the LW has no recourse but to slap on some headphones.

    1. Observer*

      You’re expecting too much work from the OP. And, really none of this matters. The OP most definitely has standing to push back regardless of whether her theology is “correct” or not or whether it’s widely accepted or not. None of that is relevant.

      And just because “it’s what she believes” is not enough to give Loretta license to subject everyone to her rants all the time. OP totally has standing to insist that Loretta stop discussing this with them because the OP has absolutely zero obligation to engage in this discussion because some “believes” something.

      And the OP even has standing to ask that people cut down the discussion around them, because Loretta’s “belief” doesn’t outweigh everyone else’s ability to function in the workplace.

  61. LogicalOne*

    #4.) I would check with the labor laws of your state. In my state, it was made illegal last year to be doing any unpaid work on your off-days. This is assuming you are not exempt and are an hourly worker. If you’re salaried, then of course that’s a whole other ball game because then your workplace can make you work on your off-days. But if you’re hourly and aren’t getting paid to check and respond to your emails outside of work, that could be legal trouble for your workplace. Again, this is assuming your state has such a law and you are an hourly employee.

    1. Nanani*

      They’re a teacher. Unpaid work that is ~theoretically~ on their own time is practically the definition of teaching.

      1. fposte*

        Teachers are also by definition exempt, so the restriction against working unpaid hours (which is federal, so it applies in all states) wouldn’t apply.

        1. LW #4*

          True, but I have wondered if the law is different for additional hourly work that’s not part of the normal teacher’s salary (which is the case here). I think this is clearer in cases where there’s a teacher’s union contract to be followed, but I don’t have that in my current position.

  62. TX Lizard*

    Respectfully, it’s not that teachers don’t feel safe. Teachers (and students, and cafeteria workers, and bus drivers, and families of students) are not safe. This is an incredibly difficult time for parents and teachers both, but minimizing the very real risks to teachers and families does no one any good.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      And it’s not like the virus would spread to the teachers and then just stop there. Minimizing risk to teachers and students minimizes the risk to everyone.

  63. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

    You and I haven’t had locusts yet, but they’re a real problem right now in East Africa and the Middle East.

  64. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

    #4 – I know I’m repeating, but use the “schedule send” feature of your email. Gmail certainly has it and I imagine other email apps do too. It avoids having people think you need an answer now, and also avoids giving the impression of “look at me, I’m working after hours…” I’m a teacher too and working evenings and weekends is a given. No need to call attention to it.

  65. CrapIForgotMyAwesomeUserName*

    #1 – for the record, I believe the end times are near, too (I’m Pentecostal), but I’m not going around blasting everyone about it.

    Furthermore, WE DON’T KNOW when the end times will happen because we’re not God. And really, “soon” is REALLY relative because He doesn’t run on human-time and so “soon” could be tomorrow or it could be in 50 years or it could be in 500 years. The people that run around acting like their heads are cut off aren’t doing themselves (or any of us who associate with the same denomination or religion or theologies) any favors.

    You can tell her I said so. So there. ;)

  66. Steveo*

    LW4: I am especially careful about this with people who report to me and in those cases, I used the scheduled send option, the email then goes out at 7am Monday morning. That way I’ve removed the mental interrupt that I would need to keep all weekend (don’t forget to send the email) and at the same time not make my team think they need to work all weekend. This is a standard option in Outlook and I’m sure other platforms also offer it.

  67. AndreaC*

    Re: #4 – am I naive to think it’s really the boss’s responsibility to manage her own work-life balance? It’s one thing to expect your employees not to call on off hours, but she can choose not to check her email/turn off notifications and let people know that urgent matters shouldn’t be sent via email in the evenings or on weekends.

  68. Eleaner*

    Thank you Alison! 1. The JDSUPRA link was just in time for me to forward to HR when they had questions today about something similar! 2. Thank you for moderating, this comments section has been super helpful to me, when kept on track :)

  69. Ciela*

    #2 You mean I’m not the only one who had a co-worker set the room on fire? Well, just the microwave, but still. Do NOT put a metal spoon in a bowl of soup in the microwave. Just don’t.

    I believe my quote was “Oh my God! What are you doing?!?! You’re going to burn down the kitchen!!!”

  70. RoseBud*

    Can anyone link to the law that requires employers to cover required medical testing? I can’t find any language on it.

  71. Glo Zumba*

    I become so allergic to religions, and to religious people that are trying to showvel their faith on my throat. So many people are using religions as a cover up for their evilness its absolutely disgustin, l do not want nothing to do with anyone who call themselves christians. Look what is happening all over the world; racism, bigotry, hatred, intolerance, ignorance, immorality….oftentimes, these things are coming from people who are christians seriously, how could these people can even use the name of god when they are doing things that are dispecable.

  72. Database Developer Dude*

    I would say with respect to #2, if someone at work is making you lose it, they WANT you to lose it in order to invalidate your side of whatever dispute is going on. The more you can keep your cool, the more you win.

    I’m in a new project, but in my previous one, I had this nemesis where I would regularly dream of winning crazy Powerball money so I could pay for him to take taekwondo lessons in order to become a black belt… because then once he was a black belt, I could meet him in a tournament someday and LEGALLY beat the crap out of him…..and I never once lost my cool on him…because that’s exactly what he wanted.

    Now, that project is suffering because I got to leave, and they don’t have the benefit of my expertise. Oh, my heart bleeds for them, I think I’ll swallow a bandaid.

    …and my blood pressure lowered itself by 10 points each (systolic and diastolic).

  73. Anonymousness*

    I had a coworker scream at me once. We were on the same level but I had been around longer and was reviewing her work. I apparently made a mistake and gave her back something to correct when it wasnt wrong (I had just placed it on her desk with instructions for correction, so this wasn’t me being rude and her screaming in response). She brought the item to my desk and was irate and next thing I know she was hollering about her work wasn’t wrong. Which, if I made a mistake, fine. But I was absolutely infuriated that she was standing there yelling at me. And all I could think was, if I respond in kind, they will fire me in a hot second. So I told her, calmly, to put the papers on my desk and walk away and I would look over them later. She continued screeching and I reiterated to put the papers down and walk away, at which point she did. A coworker at the next desk told me later that I sounded like I was about to throttle the lady and she was scared things were going to get physical (perhaps I was not quite as calm sounding as I thought). Which, yeah no, wasn’t happening. She got fired not too long after that incident. Not just for the screaming thing, but I am sure that didn’t help her case any.

    Long story short, don’t yell at your coworkers. There is no way to come out of that looking good. And if the coworker responds calmly, you will just look that much more unreasonable and out of control.

  74. Judy Parker*

    I read the headline as “A colleague of mine brings up religion when we are about to end our meetings” and I thought, “What a clever idea to do.” Then I read the letter. End times of meetings are not end times!

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