grad student sends rude emails, photos with job applications, and more

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

1. Grad student sends me rude emails

A grad student I manage writes rude emails. He will send three emails in 15 minutes, and then respond rudely when I answer the first one, as I haven’t gotten around to the other two or hadn’t seen them in my inbox yet. He’ll respond quoting his previous emails I haven’t had time to look at yet. Or if I responded, he will ignore the answer and resend it, again quoting himself. Every email is condescending and liable to ramble. He will tell me to do things quite often, which is also odd to me.

I asked another person to look at our email conversations, and they agreed that they’re widely rude. A lot of his emails, however, contain misspellings and odd grammar so I’m thinking it might be a lack of comfort with the nuances of the English language? On the other hand, I was warned before I started that he was a difficult personality to work with, and I think that might be coloring my perception as we have never met in person.

Should I talk to him about this? If so what’s the best way to explain that some of his email habits could be considered rude when he graduates in three years? (If they even are. Maybe I’m too picky?)

It doesn’t sound like you’re being too picky. What you’ve described is rude, or at the very least annoying. Someone else reviewed the emails and also agreed; I don’t think you need to keep second-guessing yourself!

But rather than getting into a whole explanation of why he’s coming across rudely, why not just tell him, clearly and matter-of-factly what you’d like him to do differently? (That will also help if the problem is his English skills.) For example, you could say, “Please save up your questions for a single email rather than sending multiple emails in quick succession. Or, if you can’t avoid that, please wait for me to to finish responding to each email rather that repeating your questions after I’ve only had a chance to respond to one of them.” When he ignores an answer, you could respond, “I answered this previously; please see the email I sent you this morning.”

If he inappropriately instructs you do things, the way to respond depends on exactly what he’s doing, but this post and this post lay out some options that might work.

You manage him so you have authority here. Use it by calmly and directly telling him what you want to see him doing differently.

2. Getting out of a team celebration during COVID

I work at a university, in an area of the country that has seen a huge decline in COVID cases for the past several weeks. The college has been so good to our department during the COVID crisis: we have all kept our hours and pay, have been able to work from home with a lot of flexibility, and overall we’ve actually seen an increase in productivity these past few months. Additionally, independent of COVID, our specific area has increased revenue to the university by nearly 40% in the past fiscal year.

Now, my boss’s boss, a top executive/VP, would like to have a “socially distant celebration” later this month with the departments he oversees to congratulate us for the increase in revenue. We have been told this will be an outdoor, casual, socially distant lunch.

A few of us at the “lower levels” have expressed discomfort about attending and brought this to our director, who in turn brought this to her boss, the VP. She told us she conveyed our discomfort, but the VP is still insisting on the celebration. We even sent along other ideas like getting a swap bag from the university or expensing our own lunches for a remote luncheon on Zoom (so we could order from our own homes). He is of an older generation, and my guess is that he feels that we may not feel “appreciated enough” in a remote celebration, or that just sending everyone a “swag bag” of collegiate wear is a cheap way out of celebrating the important milestones in our office.

However, it doesn’t really seem optional for us to attend, more like mandatory — especially since we have communicated our discomfort and the VP is still pushing the event anyway. I am just starting to see my own family again and am not comfortable in sharing food with tens of other people whom I have no need to see in-person. I know others in the department feel the same way. Is it rude for me to just blow the event off, or should I attend and just, like, stand far away in order to show thanks? I think the VP would be upset if no one came … but it seems like a stupid risk to take when there are a variety of other options to celebrate that would make everyone more comfortable.

Don’t attend an event that you don’t feel safe attending. Outside events aren’t risk-free (here’s a backyard event that’s become notorious here in the D.C. area after a number of guests contracted the virus).

Has the VP asked for RSVPs? If so, RSVP that you appreciate the invitation but don’t feel comfortable attending events right now because of the pandemic so will need to decline. If there’s no mechanism for RSVPs, you can relay that same message though your boss, or directly to the VP by email if that feels appropriate for the relationship. Or a group of you can explain this to your boss and ask her to relay it. That has the benefit of presenting a more united front and carrying more weight. (It also has the potential to make it more of A Thing, but frankly it should be A Thing. Employees’ health concerns should be respected, especially when something is so clearly non-essential and especially when it’s intended to thank/reward you.)

I know you’re concerned this isn’t really optional, but given what’s at stake here, you should proceed as if of course it’s optional — which sometimes can jar people into realizing how weird it would be if they required it.

3. Employers requiring a photo when you apply for a job

I have been reading your blog on and off for years now, enough to know that including a headshot is common in some countries and I’ve always found it kind of weird. Well, now I find myself as a job seeker in the Los Angeles area and every other job post on Craigslist is asking for a photo along with a resume! I have been browsing job posts on Craigslist (in the same area) for 5+ years off and on, depending on how happy I am at work, and have never noticed this before.

Do you think this is a weird, invasive thing employers/ recruiters are trying to get away with during these desperate times for job seekers? I noticed in only one (of about eight) job post they mentioned there would be no in-person interviews and the work was remote so I can kind of understand wanting a photo in this case but still … Is this as weird as I think it is?

Yes, this is weird. While it’s true that submitting a photo with your job application is common in some countries, it’s not normal in the U.S.

With an exception of a small number of fields like acting and modeling, there’s no reason an employer needs to know what you look like at the application stage (for that matter, it’s rarely necessary at any stage, although it usually happens because you eventually meet in-person). Asking for a photo implies it will factor into their consideration of your candidacy, and it opens the door to several different types of illegal discrimination (not only racial discrimination, but some jurisdictions prohibit making employment decisions on the basis of appearance as well).

Maybe they figure it’s helpful to put a face to a name, especially if they’re not doing in-person interviews, but that’s trumped by the potential discrimination issues and the fact that it will weird candidates out because it seems so skeevy.

4. Do I have to repay my employer for a refund on a reimbursed expense?

I have somewhat of a moral question about expense reports. My company is great about paying for classes you take in relation to your job. I submitted an expense report for a class and it should pay out this upcoming paycheck. The class originally included a $120 “technology fee” for being an online class, which I paid and submitted for reimbursement. But because of COVID, I just received notice that they’re waiving the fee this quarter and I’ll be refunded. What obligation to I have to my employer to repay that? They approved the cost because I had the receipt to back I up, but should I let them know I got the money back?

If it’s relevant, my company has a $100 a quarter wellness reimbursement that my manager has suggested I just submit a friend’s receipts for just to “not miss out on free money” so I’m sure she’s going to think I’m crazy if I tell her about this.

You should repay that — or at least alert them to the situation and ask how you should handle it. Otherwise you’re accepting money from your employer under false pretenses. If they don’t care, let them tell you that; don’t decide for them.

Also, your manager suggested you submit a friend’s receipts as your own? Your manager has a serious ethics deficit, and I would not use her as your model! Ideally you’d direct the question about how to handle the refund to someone who’s not her, but if you have to go through her and she again tells you not to miss out on free money, you could say, “I don’t feel right about that, since it’s not my money.”

5. Will applying for a bunch of positions earlier hurt me now?

I am considering applying for a position for a local public sector organization. About six years ago, I believe I committed a sin in applying. The department had been entirely re-created to make workers in-house employees rather than contracted through a different company. So there were five different job titles posted in the department (everything but the director, who had just started and created these job descriptions), all slightly different in terms of responsibilities and pay grades. My sin: I applied for all of them. I know now that this made me seem desperate (and, to be honest, I kind of was). Naturally I was not called back for any of them.

Might I have been fully blacklisted? Rumor has it the department’s director is changing jobs to another organization, and so either the director position (which I do not feel qualified for) or perhaps one of the other positions beneath the director may become available (if they promote from within). Should I apply, or even bother? Definitely only one application! For what it’s worth, I have spent the last six years still in the industry and completed a relevant bachelor’s degree, so I feel that my worth/hire-ability has also increased.

Go ahead and apply!

It’s really not a big deal that you applied for all five positions last time. If you were obviously not the right match for some of them, it did probably make you look like you were taking a scattershot approach / weren’t really invested in any of them / didn’t pay attention to what you were applying for. That could have taken you out of the running at the time, but it’s not the kind of thing people get blacklisted over. If you did that over and over — like if in the last six years you’d applied dozens of times and obviously weren’t paying attention to how qualified you were for any given role — that could potentially mean you’d be taken less seriously now. But it’s highly unlikely that one time six years ago is on anyone’s radar at all.

And to be clear, if you were a plausible candidate for all five roles last time, then you didn’t even do anything wrong then. It’s still better to narrow down your interest, especially when the jobs are all on the same team, but it’s not the kind of thing people will care much about.

{ 398 comments… read them below }

  1. BuildMeUp*

    I’m in the film/tv industry (although not in LA), and my understanding is that there are so many hopefuls in LA working other jobs to get by that industry norms have sort of bled into the general population. Not to say that it’s normal or acceptable, but I believe that’s the cause of this.

    1. Lena Carabina*

      So, what would you do?
      If it’s for, say, an office job, would you just not send the photo and then risk not getting an interview becsuse you didn’t follow instructions at the selection stage?
      I would be flummoxed as to how to proceed with something like this.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        I know I definitely wouldn’t submit a photo with my application unless I was desperate for a job and just apply as usual pretending they didn’t ask for that, but I do wonder how much it would affect my chances.

        1. Do As I Say, Not As I Do*

          Actually, I wonder if she could do something like you’ve done with your icon Zombeyonce — a partial artsy face shot.

      2. Taniwha Girl*

        I’m in a country where photos are normal, but often we don’t have to submit them on very first contact with an employer. Like I click to send in an application that just has my very basic resume, and they might ask for my full resume in the proper country format that includes a spot for the photo. I would compare it to applying via LinkedIn and then when the company responds, you send them a PDF of your actual resume in all its beautiful formatting.

        I guess I would approach it that way.
        I would be very surprised if there were sticklers in HR looking to see how closely applicants followed the rules, but who didn’t know it’s abnormal to ask for photos. I’m sure they exist but that is a weird oxymoron of a person.

        1. joss*

          Since this is in California where photos are not standard as part of submitting a job application I wonder whether this requirement is a new, not too subtle, form of (age,race, whatever) discrimination? The photo could be a way to eliminate “undesirables” from the interviewing process.

          1. Anonapots*

            Precisely this, which is why even in parts of the world where this is standard practice, it’s still problematic AF.

      3. my dog is snoring*

        I would be tempted to do what I do with all social media–including LinkedIn–send in a picture of my dog. He’s delightful.

        1. BeesKneeReplacement*

          I’d be tempted to do the same. Maybe some Ansel Adams as I’m itching to be in the great outdoors.

        2. Do As I Say, Not As I Do*

          This is a fantastic idea! I bet it would make the HR person smile and reflect positively on the applicant, hopefully avoiding gross weeding out based on looks.

        3. Quill*

          My social media photos are either insects or me posing with a nonhuman thing that has a face (usually a stuffed animal rather than a living one, because I like to make life difficult for facial recognition software.)

    2. Anonys*

      I have to say I always assumed it was illegal to ask for photos with the job application in the US, because it’s so uncommon to format a resume that way over there.

      In my country, it’s actually explicitly not legal to require and yet, the absolute norm is to include a picture (it’s just never explicitly asked for). As I used to live abroad and always operated under the standard: “This opens the door to discrimination and is outdated and will potentially make you look weird as an applicant” I was shocked when I returned to my home country and found out this actually WASN’T just wacky outdated advice my parents were giving me. Honestly, I think many photographers here would go out of business if people stopped including photos on their resumes – “resume pictures” are one of the main things many of them advertise and getting a good set of pics is common job application advice.

      I’m still not a fan of the photo thing, but I’ve often heard people make the argument that most people nowadays are visible online and have a photo on their linkedin anyway, so having a photo on the resume also doesn’t massively increase odds of discrimination.

      1. Jennifer Juniper*

        Out of curiosity, does the photo thing make it harder for older women, plain women, and fat women to find employment?

        1. Jaybeetee*

          That’s what I was wondering. Indelicately, what if you’re uglier than a bucket of rattlesnakes? But I suppose if someone was going to screen you out over your appearance, that would happen at the interview stage anyway.

          I’m incredibly unphotogenic (minor facial assymmetry that isn’t particularly noticeable IRL that tends to be VERY apparent in some photographs), so personally, this would be a nightmare scenario.

          1. Jennifer Juniper*

            I always look I’m about to barf when I try to smile on command for a photo.

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            It is a running joke how poorly I photograph. I’m on my third corporate directory photo, and someone I’ve worked with for a while flat out told me that the photo was so unflattering it that they didn’t realize it was me. I’m not winning any beauty pageants, but I look much better than my photos in real life. Every great once in a while I take a good one and tend to use that for anything that requires a photo until it’s too outdated.

            1. Texan In Exile*

              * wishes she could still use her second-grade school photo because it’s the only photo of herself ever she has liked *

            2. Cam*

              yup i have exactly the same problem. I look horrendous in photos, always have. My last job they put everyone’s photos up on a wall – when I gave notice, 10 minutes later mine was removed. I live in country where my employers (including non-natives in HR) will excluded resumes without a pic…

            3. Librarian of SHIELD*

              I’ve been using the same photo on my employee ID since I was hired 10 years ago. I don’t look super different, but it’s actually a flattering photo and I don’t want to risk getting stuck with a bad one!

          3. Anne Elliot*

            I have large eyes, which I hope are attractive in real life, but in photos they make me look like Marty Feldman.

          4. PhyllisB*

            Jaybeetee, you just gave me my laugh for the day, plus a new phrase to use. Here in the South two common ways to convey that are. “Ugly as a mud fence” or. “They look like they eat corn cobs for breakfast.” To be honest, that last one always puzzled me, but older people say it a lot.

            1. Nanc*

              Pigs eat corn cobs! Source: visits to Grandma’s farm. Although as a kid I thought nothing was curter than a pig just washed and primped for the country fair.

            2. NotAnotherManager!*

              The latter is a reference to livestock that will eat food castoffs – pigs, as Nanc noted, or goats or scavengers like raccoons are most likely. It’s basically a thinly veiled way of comparing someone’s appearance to that of an animal.

          5. JM60*

            But I suppose if someone was going to screen you out over your appearance, that would happen at the interview stage anyway.

            I think it’s easier to quickly exclude a candidate when initially going through applications, and people discriminating based off of appearance are usually making snap decisions based on appearances without realizing it. I suspect it’s somewhat like how hiding a candidate’s name may reduce racial discrimination. Sure, you’ll see the candidate eventually (assuming you don’t do all audio-only interviews), but withholding information that can signal race until later may help reduce discrimination.

        2. WorkingGirl*

          I’m a fat woman and think I’m very pretty and “clean up well”, but most of my photos of myself are goofy selfies on the beach or at a concert. Uh…. does an employer want to see that??

          1. Anonys*

            I think in most countries where this is common, it’s also common to get “application pictures” professionally done. It’s a whole separate category for photographers here “Think we do portraits, weddings and application pictures!”. I actually paid close to 100 Euros for mine (including some retouching). You can deduct it from your taxes but honestly I feel like this is what keeps many photographers in business.

        3. Amy Sly*

          According to a study reported at recruitingtimes.org titled, “Attractive women shouldn’t include photo in CV, research finds,” it’s actually the opposite.

          The Canadian and Israeli researchers submitted pairs of CVs to over 2,500 advertised jobs in an 18 month period.

          Details included fictional personal data and were designed to make the potential candidates appealing through good qualifications and work experience. One CV from the pair sent contained a photo of a person who research judged to be either attractive or plain – with the ‘attractive candidates unmistakably better looking’

          Previous research has shown a ‘beauty premium’ with attractive people judged to be brainier, more trustworthy and tend to hold more prestigious jobs and be paid more.

          In this study however, for female candidates with CVs that didn’t include photos were more likely to lead to an interview, with applications of photos of ‘plain’ women the next most successful. The applications with beautiful women fared worst…

          Attractive men fared better from the research, with CVs that included pictures of handsome males being the most successful, while CVs without a photo did next best and plain males fared worst.

          Dr Ruffle said: ‘A plain male needs to send over twice as many CVs as an attractive male for an equal chance at a call back.’

          Granted, given the number of crap studies in the social sciences, I would want to see duplication before really trusting this one, but it is interesting.

          1. Lizzy May*

            I’m so curious as to what constitutes “beautiful” and “plain” in this study.

            1. Mystery Bookworm*

              Don’t know about this study in particular, but often they’ll find a ‘represenative’ group (like, ~15 university students who need credit, probably) and have them rate a bunch of pictures on a scale.

              1. Amy Sly*

                The number of psychological and sociological studies based on the thoughts and behaviors of college students is gobsmacking. It reminds me of the drunk looking for his car keys under the lamp instead of where he may have dropped them because that was where the light was.

            2. AWarmPairOfSocks*

              Agreed. I’m specifically wondering about the comparative ages of the “plain” and “attractive” women. Conventional attractiveness in women is tied to youth in a way that it isn’t for men, and youth is tied to inexperience. Even if the resumes are the same, that could color how they’re being read.

              1. Wednesday of this week*

                Great point. Meanwhile, if all the subjects were the same general age (as in a college student sample, which is common) then age might be totally lost as a factor in the study.

          2. Littorally*

            I wonder if it’s the rise of awareness of catfishing, where the prospective interviewers are assuming that the resumes with photos of beautiful women are more likely to be fake or at least using a fake picture.

            1. Amy Sly*

              Possibly. The article (from 2015) suggests that it may be the result of women in HR wanting to work with attractive guys and not wanting to work with women more attractive than they are. I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened on occasion, as women are just as capable of asshole behavior as men, but that can’t be the only or even the main reason.

              My guess is the result of the study is caused by a subconscious assumption that women who are too attractive isn’t qualified (dumb blonde stereotype, anyone?) and that the presence of a photo suggests that the attractive woman is trying to use her looks as a qualification.

              1. Amaranth*

                So the “journalist” assumes that women just work for the ultimate goal of finding a man? That is such a mid-century secretary-to-wife stereotype.

          3. mf*

            The conclusion of this study makes complete sense to me: people often have a hard time believing that attractive women are also smart or super competent. Attractive men don’t face the same bias, so their looks work in their favor.

          4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            I remember reading about this, and the reason behind the fact that looks can help a man and not a woman is simply because most HR people are women.

        4. OpsAmanda*

          I know in some countries where photographs are common on resumes (like South Korea) that a lot of work can go into the photo. Like going to a professional photographer, getting hair and makeup professionally done, and then the photos are airbrushed at the end. So when they call the candidate in for an interview, the person can look quite different from their photo.

      2. BeesKneeReplacement*

        Someone has to interested enough in a resume to look someone up. My guess is a lot of employers wouldn’t bother at the until screening stage. People who wouldn’t otherwise bother would now be subject to their own unconscious biases.

        1. Anonys*

          Yeah, I agree 100%. This is my issue with the “everyone has pictures online” argument. Most people don’t know they have prejudices. We are visual creatures. If a picture is the first thing you see of someone, it’s more likely to then base your reading of the CV on your prejudices associated with what the person looks like. Whereas if you are already impressed by the CV and then see someone’s photo on linkedin later, I think that is less likely to change your opinion about the candidate.

      3. TK*

        It’s definitely not illegal to ask for photos in a job interview in the US. Just very, very weird. Actually, there’s no such thing as “illegal interview questions.” As AAM has noted many times, it’s just illegal to base your hiring decision on certain factors, such as sex, race, etc. So obviously, asking about those things isn’t a good idea as it could open you up to charges of illegal discrimination. But it’s not illegal per se.

        1. Anonys*

          It’s so weird how countries differ with regards to hiring norms. Where I am, it’s also the norm to include date of birth on your CV and I recently looked over my aunt’s resume and she still had her marital status (I’m sure that is outdated her as well, but I couldn’t convince her to take it off).

          1. Alex*

            It was pretty common here until a few years ago to include your martial status, the name (and job) of your spouse…and even the names AND jobs of your PARENTS on your CV.

            I still remember vividly that I had that kind of information in there for at least the first 5 or so years of my professional career – now the parent stuff is not on there anymore, but my marital status is (even though not the name/job of the spouse).

            Oh, and picture: you get weird looks if you don’t have one. That is one thing that won’t change soon I presume..

            1. Anonys*

              Is this Germany too by any chance? I think listing parents on the resume is the worst – it’s so irrelevant and classist, but I remember getting that advice from a teacher in school when we had “job application writing” as our topic in like grade 8 (honestly why?). I do think it’s defo outdated now and not something that anyone expects.

      4. zradradradcek*

        LinkedIn used to ping me incessantly because my profile had no picture. They would send me questionnaires about it, and I would respond that putting a photo on a professional site contributes to discriminatory systems and unconscious bias. I finally gave up and uploaded a blank image.

    3. Ellen N.*

      I have lived all my life in Los Angeles. I’ve never been asked for a photo when applying for a job.

      1. ThePear8*

        I wonder if this has something to do with the platform? The LW specifically mentioned Craigslist, so maybe it’s more common to job postings on there? But might it be less of a thing on sites like LinkedIn, GlassDoor, etc? I’m not based in LA but I browse jobs on LinkedIn a lot and have never seen it on there

      2. ainnnymouse*

        I live in the same are and I see a request for a picture all the time and I do not apply for things like modeling jobs. It’s been the norm since the recession of 2008. I personally don’t submit a picture.

    4. JamieG*

      This is possible, but I also know that there are many ads on Craigslist in the LA area where they are trolling for potential candidates for adult entertainment. You come in for an interview and are offered money for another sort of job altogether. Even if you refuse and walk out, some places will still ask you to sign a release and post that video, because apparently that’s a thing too. (See Rule 34.) I would be very wary. If it were me, I would just apply without the photo, and then gauge the response to see if they ask for one.

    5. OP3*

      I’m OP #3:
      I noticed that I forgot to mention that I am casting a wide net and looking for assistant (administrative, executive, personal) or receptionist positions and these jobs are not in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, or just LA itself where I can see image being important.

      And to answer someone else’s question, I am deciding not to apply to those places. I don’t want to be the candidate who didn’t follow directions and if they let it slide, I don’t want to consider working for a company where someone thought it was a good idea to have a line up of candidate photos to pick from. I find it super invasive.

  2. Dan*

    #1

    A few things… but first, let me be explicit that I’m not defending this dude. Rude is rude.

    First, what’s this guy like in person? I’ve known people who were absolutely fine to speak to in person, but their emails were atrocious. If he’s just as rude in person, that tells you one thing. If he’s just fine, and the only problem is his emails, that’s a different approach.

    Second, when it comes to ESL, I’m always willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. For any given exchange, “language barrier” may always be an appropriate excuse. But when you look at the totality of the communications, *that* tells you what you need to know.

    In writing, short sentences can come cross as terse, and it may be difficult to properly soften language with nuance. If he were speaking the same words to you, hypothetically, his body language and tone may be showing hesitation and what not.

    I think, though, it’s just fine to say, “the phrase [phrase]” comes across as rude and demanding in writing. This is a better way to ask for what you want, and then tell him the phrase.

    This is a stupid example, but it’s what comes to the top of my head. I speak a tiny amount of German. There are some customs and what not in that language that don’t exist in English. For one thing, there’s a formal and informal way of addressing people with pronouns and verbs that English has no equivalence for. Second, Germans like to tack on a variation of “please” to pretty much everything they say. I’ve found it awkward when some people are addressing me in English, because they use “please” in ways we don’t, but then I realize there are some languages where that’s expected, and I’m probably going to offend people if I forget that. Yes, they teach this stuff, but least one forget, an “I’m sorry, but when you address the professor, it is appropriate to use the formal verbs” is an appropriate reminder. I *should* be reminded of that if it’s custom and I forget. Same is true in your case.

    1. Taniwha Girl*

      One coworker at an old job was the sweetest person in the world and such a harsh, horrible person over email. It was like Jekyll and Hyde. “Sure, I’ll let everyone know this is beyond the scope of what we can help them with!” she said, and wrote, “You all need to figure this out yourselves. You’re the reason the last guy quit.”

      As far as language barriers, I think that is even MORE reason to speak up. It’s like how we often discuss with autism and other neurodivergence/people who work in different ways: people would be horrified to find out they’re offending everyone, and PREFER to know that they’re doing something wrong, so they can correct it! Also if someone is good enough at English to be in grad school working with native speakers and getting their point across, they are good enough at English to know general expectations for politeness. Everyone makes mistakes with spelling and grammar but every language has politeness standards and these are taught early on.

      Here is what I look at for the “is this the language barrier or are they being a jerk” test:
      – Is it nicer if I replace statements with questions? (“Send me this information.” to “Could you send me this info?”) This is probably a language/culture/personal style thing.
      – Is it nicer if I add “please” and other polite language? (“Send me this.” to “Please send me this.”) This is probably a language thing, unless I see in person that they’re generally impolite.
      – Can I reword the sentence to make it nicer? For example, I don’t know what kind of grammar gymnastics you can do to remove condescension and implying that you’re an idiot/slow/other rude thoughts.
      – Are they like this with everyone? Just you? Just women? Just juniors/people beneath them? In ways that are culturally inappropriate for where they work? (Because international protocol doesn’t really care if certain groups are lower status in your home country :) )
      – Is their behavior otherwise polite and just their language is brusque? This guy sounds like he’s jerky in his expectations for your interactions overall. And others have told you this guy has a difficult personality.

      I’m leaning towards “this guy is a difficult person and you’re justified in clearly telling him how he needs to be more polite to you.”

      1. Lw#1*

        I’m pretty sure they’re like this with everyone, as I was warned. The example I was given wasn’t even related to their language, but rather that they ignored some pretty specific administrative guidance and created a headache for someone else. In their defense they do do what I asked them to do in terms of student communication!

        It’s really only been a few emails, but this is the sort of thing I’d rather get out ahead of, especially as I was struggling to pinpoint why the emails feel condescending. I’m mostly concerned that it’s not just me, that it could be student’s as well but we will see.

        Everyone is so helpful though!

      2. JSPA*

        Excellent analysis “how to.”

        I’d add,

        Is the tone constant and consistent throughout the message and from message to message? (If it’s a grammar thing, it’s more likely to be consistently insistent, consistently brusque, consistently unusually declarative, etc)

        It might help to ask, “when you send multiple emails, is it because you didn’t collect your thoughts into a single email before hitting send, or is it a way you express frustration with response times?” Some people treat emails and chats the same way…and if you use an email program that shows emails from the same person threaded together (as many, perhaps most, do), it can be hard to understand how someone would have seen your older emails, but not the newer ones.

        Along those lines, it’s worth looking at whether your email technology of choice is serving you well. Having used threaded email for 15+ years, I would also be surprised if someone responded to an email sent 6 hours ago, without noticing the update from 5.5 hours ago. They’d automatically be together, staring the person in the face.

        Person A:
        5 AM: I’m having second thoughts about our current data analysis process. I wanted to check how we handled a similar case last year. I can’t find the file on my computer or the shared drive. It should be titled something like, “analysis 2019 version 2.” I can’t find the entire folder for past analysis either. Tell me you didn’t retitle or delete a bunch of files recently!

        5:20 AM: OK, I realized I was connecting through an account that can’t view that particular data (permissions). It’s all there, and I have the files. But now I’m not only worried about the current analysis, but about the 2019 data, also. What was the rationale for removing the outliers? As you of course know, removing outliers merely because they are outliers is not ethical.

        5:50 AM: I looked up notes from the discussions in 2019, and am clear on why those outliers were removed or corrected (three of them for being entry errors which were corrected, one of them for having been mis-typed based on independent criteria). But neither of those apply to my data.

        Person B:
        11 AM: No, I didn’t delete or move any files. What was the nature of your second thoughts?

        IMO, this response is legitimately irritating for person A.

        Granted, it’s also not great for person B. Person A could have waited longer to try and resolve the situation before firing off the first and second email. It’s a bit irritating that they didn’t, in the same way it’s irritating when a family member “loses” their glasses, keys or wallet in one of the same few places, repeatedly, and always asks before checking those places.

        But person B is wasting both their own time and Person A’s time by not handling their email effectively.

        1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

          My boss doesn’t thread her emails, and she will very often reply to an earlier email in a conversation without the context of the rest of it. It drives me up a wall, but I don’t think she’ll ever change.

          I definitely think of emails as more like a chat. Most of the time I’ll send it all off, but sometimes I add something later, and I assume that it’ll all just be threaded and read in the appropriate order.

          1. Maria*

            Just have to say – I love your username! The Arm of the Starfish was one of my favorite books when I was younger! (Probably still would be – I need to dig up my copy!)

          2. Kelly L.*

            This is such a thing in my life! I also have a boss who must not thread, because what she does is log on, start at the oldest message, and then start replying to everything in that order without having read to see if there’s already been a response. I know it adds to her stress level, because a lot of times she works herself up about something that’s already been dealt with for hours, but unfortunately I just don’t have mind control powers to convince her to read her *whole* inbox before freaking out. LOL!

    2. andy*

      The thing that I took as a primary sign of rudeness and not just bad English is the ” He’ll respond quoting his previous emails I haven’t had time to look at yet. Or if I responded, he will ignore the answer and resend it, again quoting himself.”

      Bad English does not explain this. He sent 3 mails, she responded to first and he is complaining she did not read all three before answering first. It may point out on his inability to put himself into other peoples shoes etc etc etc. But overall, that is selfish and rude way to communicate.

      The other thing is condescending. Condescension nor rambling are not result of bad English. Coming across as too short, terse, angry to Americans, yes that can be cultural misunderstanding. Americans are quite indirect and require fluff around whatever is said. But, that is not the case with condescension.

      1. Liane*

        Also, being rude & condescending to your manager (whether it’s in email or not) plus *telling your manager what to do* aren’t symptoms of Bad Language Skills. Those are obvious Lack of Respect and Stupidity.

        1. Works in IT*

          My coworkers and I routinely run into situations that require our boss’s Managerial Hammer Of Authority to resolve (people don’t want to take no from us underlings, having boss tell them no helps them accept that no means no. Sometimes even his boss is needed). Everyone in the department is aware that he NEEDS to do this in these situations. But we still don’t TELL him to do anything. We just say hey, boss, could you please reply to this person and tell them no because what they’re asking us to do is illegal/an ethics violation/an unnecessary expense?

          1. andy*

            Then again, polite managers say what to do with please and thank you too. And in plenty situation I could refuse or object and would. We had one manager who was TELLING us what to do and she also generally rude person anyway.

            But other then that, not even our ceo is TELLING me what to do.

            1. andy*

              It was supposed to be: even our ceo is not TELLING me what to do.

              I would also point out that those polite managers have more respect then the rude one.

          2. Lw#1*

            Okay I’m glad to hear I’m not being too picky. When I say new manager I mean like 2 weeks in.

      2. Hazel*

        I laughed when I read this: “Americans are quite indirect and require fluff around whatever is said.” I’m certain that’s true for some people, but not at all for me. Like most generalizations, it only applies to some of us.

        1. Aquawoman*

          Well, if you read it as “EVERY American is quite indirect…” yeah, but it seems to me that the better reading is “Americans in general are quite indirect…” and I think that that is true. There are actual widespread cultural norms whether you adhere to them or not. I write emails and then go back and add things to try to address the generally expected niceties, etc.

        2. TL -*

          I actually think Americans are in the middle of the road here – lots of very direct cultures think we’re indirect, but the more indirect cultures tell us we’re quite/overly direct. I’ve heard this from multiple viewpoints on both ends, so I genuinely think we’re middle of the road here.

          1. Sacred Ground*

            Right? After having spent time in Japan, I was surprised to read that Americans are overly indirect from an excess of politeness.

      3. Genny*

        In my experience, it tends to be pretty easy to see the difference between ESL mistakes and bad/lazy grammar mistakes and general rudeness. ESL mistakes tend to be overly formal/stiff language, directly translated phrases that aren’t how those phrases are said in English, poor punctuation, subject/verb disagreement, and incorrect definite/indefinite article usage.

        Sending three emails in 15 minutes, demanding things, not paying attention to the response, replying with a copy/paste from an original email, etc. is all pretty clearly just rude. With spell check, frequent spelling mistakes is just lazy. The fact that he’s sending multiple emails in such a short timeframe indicate he’s writing a stream of consciousness and not being thoughtful about what he’s writing.

    3. Myrin*

      You make good points in general but I think almost none of them are relevant in this case.

      Regarding your first point, OP has never met the guy in person so she can’t gauge whether this is that weird thing you mention where people write completely differently from how they talk (I encounter that relatively often – it’s such a strange disconnent to receive an email with a million exclamation marks from one of the biggest sleeping pills I know; conversely, I was friends with a very upbeat, chipper young woman who… wrote emails…… like that… and it was so jarring). That doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t indeed come across better if she knew what he’s like face-to-face but as it stands, it’s a bit of a moot point because OP simply doesn’t know and probably won’t find out in the immediate future.

      Secondly, the way he comes across as rude – and keep in mind that OP had been warned by others that he’s a “difficult personality” before she even started working with him! – can basically in no way be explained by some kind of language barrier/different structures and expectations in one language vs. another. Your example with the “please” is easily explicable as a linguistic phenomenon people transfer from one language to another (although, side note, as a German I’m not 100% sure what you mean – I think I get it, but not quite; might be one of the cases where something is so ingrained in me that I simply don’t recognise it/deem it noteworthy) but that doesn’t really work when it’s about someone’s sending “three emails sin 15 minutes” and then being annoyed when OP answers the first email first – that’s behaviour that transcends language, as does being condescending and especially telling your supervisor what to do (!). True, those last two points could theoretically be attributed to a difference in language but, like someone else mentioned, if you’re good enough at English to be a grad student in an English-speaking country, you likely have a good enough grasp of the English language to at least differentiate between an order and a clumsily asked question (“Could you help me with this?” vs. “Do this for me!” – I can see a beginner making that mistake but not a grad student).

      Personally, OP, it sounds to me like the biggest problem is that he sends multiple emails in rapid succession, all apparently building on one another (since the answer to your reply to his first email seems to be present in one of the later emails, as he quotes them). As such, I think the most important part of Alison’s answer is this one: “Please save up your questions for a single email rather than sending multiple emails in quick succession.” It sounds like he might be kinda stream-of-consciousness-ing his thoughts and sending you an email with his initial thoughts and then afterwards coming to a conclusion by himself and then sending you his new thoughts and so on, and it seems most efficient to me to try and break that cycle.

      1. Washi*

        “If you’re good enough at English to be a grad student in an English-speaking country, you likely have a good enough grasp of the English language to at least differentiate between an order and a clumsily asked question.”

        Not necessarily, in my experience! When I worked at a bilingual office, there were absolutely staff who had been educated in the US but still sent emails that seem kind of terse and demanding if you don’t know the person. In this particular language, exclamation points were traditionally seen as demanding, and softening language was not as common.

        I agree that it doesn’t ultimately matter too much – if you manage a student who sends rude emails, you’re doing them a big favor by letting them know and alerting them to email norms. I’ve seen some comments that seem to indicate that if it’s “just a culture thing” that you shouldn’t say anything, but that seems like depriving someone of feedback that could really help them in the future! Obviously you shouldn’t phrase it as “you are so rude” but “you would typically want to phrase a request like that as a question, or include please” seems very appropriate to me.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          Same here – the department I worked in as a grad student had a ton of international students working as well, and it was 50/50 if they had a fantastic grasp of English and “technically could read/speak English, but were absolutely horrendous with sentence structure”. This was unfortunate because that department required all PhDs to teach at least 2 semesters and we ended up with certain sections that had significantly lower grades than the rest of the lecture. Often these particular grad students would come off as very, very, very abrupt and gruff. Some were legitimately like that in person, and some weren’t.

          1. Lw#1*

            It’s not that surprising, in my experience, for grad students to actually not be super great at English! In a few cases I know they shared a common language with their advisor, or at least one other member of their team.

            Which is fine, I used to really like working with this one grad student who stumbles over his words a lot and speaks slowly, but is just very, very kind to the students. If they have the science skills the english skills are usually not as important.

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              Half of the problem (in my experience) was that they didn’t want to teach. It was a well-known problem throughout the department/campus, to be honest – you have someone who is incredibly smart, came to the campus to do research, glossed over the requirement that they’d have to teach (and these are 100 level classes), and then I ended up with double the amount of students I was supposed to have, because the professor/TA wrangler wouldn’t sit the person down and tell them they still had to adhere to department standards. I’m sure they overall were great in their research group, or even teaching the advanced classes, but not so much teaching freshmen.

              Some were my absolute favorite people and I miss them to this day. Some (looking at you, plays-opera-at-full-volume-in-open-office guy) I’m very happy I never have to interact with them again.

              1. Lw#1*

                Do you have a sense of what the TA wrangler didn’t tell the other grad student (or how they messed up)? Was it an issue of not checking in enough, or not making grading // office hour expectations clear?

                On your note though, it is amazing to me in this day and age that teaching is considered very secondary in grad school. I know a lot of students are there for the science, but if you want to be a professor you almost NEED good teaching evaluations now (is my impression).

                If you don’t want to be a professor that’s fine! But it’s so interesting to me that a lot of grad students I worked with who were AMAZING at teaching left academia!

                1. Environmental Compliance*

                  Basically, the Wrangler left it all up to the Professor, who was incredibly conflict-avoidant and told them to “play nice”. The expectations were pretty clear – we had a 2 week training session prior to, required attendance, and there were small-group breakout sessions with experienced TAs. Lots of complaints from students that emails weren’t responded to, office hours were ignored, etc. For office hours, for example, we all had to sign up for a certain number of hours and the schedule was posted in each TA office, and it was in our TA requirements packet that we physically be there, in our office space, to answer questions. Those of us that were consistent and showed up often would be directed to by the Wrangler/Professor for students instead.

                  However, I did work for professors that were the exact opposite, and checked in frequently with the TAs, and would get involved quickly if the same type of complaints were coming through. We were supposed to have weekly check-in meetings anyway, and you could tell when a Professor was going to be a blast to work with or let everything run rampant.

                  As another example – we had a grad student literally drop off the face of the planet. No joke. Somehow, it took Wrangler 3 *weeks* of missed labs, where students would show up, and no one was there – and they complained, we had to get a sub TA, everyone suffered – for them to sit down Missing TA. Then at least the TA would go to labs…. but wasn’t showing up for classroom at all. It took another *month* of complaints for anything to be done, and the thing to be done was put all the grading (a half semester’s worth of weekly assignments, quizzes, & lab reports) and teaching onto the rest of us who could squeeze out time. Those students also got extra classroom time from two of us that felt awful in how behind they were. That grad student was hired on again the next semester with the same professor. From TA friends that stayed (I finished my degree), the person did the same thing again. Professor was nowhere to be found in any of this. Compare this to the professor who was doing weekly checkins in the grading software to make sure we were entering in appropriately, nothing weird going on with grading, had weekly checkins to discuss the upcoming week’s lectures & workloads, etc.

                2. Environmental Compliance*

                  FWIW – I came in, out of department, from a very tiny undergrad who didn’t have TAs at all. The training & guidance we had was in my opinion very clear – this department had 70 TAs per semester just for the 103/104, and with only 2 semesters being required for the in-department PhDs, we would cycle through relatively quickly. The entire training & manuals were designed to bring you up to speed on what you needed to do and give you the resources to do it. The Wrangler was supposed to manage all of us as far as those requirements go (show up to lectures, actually teach your classes/labs, make sure grading is in on time, etc.), as well as handle any disagreements, schedule coverage, that kind of thing.

                  I think there were more than a few PhD students that didn’t take the teaching requirement seriously as they were applying, or thought they could get a waiver or something. Too many of them (who didn’t want to teach) were surprised that no, you legitimately would get kicked out of your research lab if you failed to complete your teaching requirement.

                3. mgguy*

                  I’m from a department(both as a graduate student and as full time staff) that is a heavy mix of students from all over the world, and very few from America. There are language barriers, although many can speak and communicate just fine even if their phrasing/sentence structure is a bit “off” from someone whose native/primary language is English.

                  With that said, rude is rude and lazy is lazy, and we seem to have a few who are that way every semester. Like the rest of our grad student population, the rude and/or lazy ones come from all over the world. I have an ongoing issue with one particular one who is fond of walking into my office, saying “I need (some impossible to find item or something that takes a lot of prep work) in 5 minutes. Bring it” and then walking out. I’ve even put “doing the impossible” on my self evaluations before because of this student and being able to pull off what he demanded(like the time he demanded a liter of liquid helium, and I pulled out every favor I had in the bank with our NMR manager to get it for him, since that stuff doesn’t come cheaply).

                  I came to graduate school knowing that I wanted to teach after, so took every opportunity I could to better my teaching skills and consistently got good evaluations. Others, that wasn’t the case, and many were somewhere in the middle.

                  As it is now, though, we have some senior instructors who are really good about checking their TAs, and some who don’t care. One particular one is someone who I have a whole lot of personality conflicts with in my work, but I do admire the fact that he legitimately does keep his TAs in line as best as he can-like checking to make sure they’re doing their office hours or visiting every section of their lab to check on things and ask the students if they understand what’s going on. This instructor also makes every TA do each experiment themselves before teaching it, so the TAs(in theory) have some idea of how it’s supposed to work.

                  Somehow or another, though, I’ve ended up wearing the hat of “person other people come to when a TA screws up and the senior instructor isn’t around.” I don’t know how that happened, but I’ve fallen in to doing things like teaching a lab section for a no-show TA or doing work that is very plainly spelled out that the TA should do. The TA committee did finally develop something of an accountability system that can escalate to the point of a TA losing their department funding(a big deal). I worked with them to develop it, and because of what I do and how much interaction I have with them, I’m one of the non-faculty members who has the ability to formally submit a write-up against one particular one. I don’t do that lightly, but rarely does a semester go by where I don’t do it.

                  I’m actually glad to soon be moving on to “greener pastures” where I will be a faculty member at a small school and will directly teach my students in lab without having to worry about managing TAs. Yes, it’s more work directly on me, but as the instructor of a TA-taught lab I often felt more like just a TA manager than an actual teacher. I’m looking forward to not having to hope that there’s that one hour in a week that 8 peoples’ schedules line up, finding sections, and keeping the TAs accountable. In other words, I’m glad to just teach and not supervise.

      2. Lw#1*

        I think the multiple email is the easiest thing to pinpoint as rude, but really the telling me to do things I was already going to do and super long, condescending emails that boil down to “I think you messed up” (even though last time he sent one he messed up!) are the strangest thing.
        I have a hard time pinpointing what language is rude vs not, and I appreciate the discussion of it!

        1. Observer*

          Well, you really need to tell him to stop telling you to do things, whether or not you were going to do them. That’s even worse than the multiple emails, and quite clear and concrete. Even in academia that’s likely to be a problem I suspect. It CERTAINLY will be a problem anywhere else.

      3. TL -*

        I actually think the ESL matters more than you’re giving it credit for. I work with a lot of ESL speakers and many of them struggle with the subtleties of cultural norms, like professional writing, and English proficiency levels can interact with that in a really weird way. (particularly in academia, where the writing style can be difficult anyways.)

        In person, I can use uptalk to make a statement into a question and soften it considerably. The same statement in a written conversation, though, might be incredibly off-putting and demanding. However, someone might listen to patterns of conversation and intuit, “ah, here a statement can be the same as a question” and then translate that into writing without realizing how it comes off.

        Or he could just be rude; the answer is the same either way – lay out your expectations clearly and ask for the changes you want.

        1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          I’ve had colleagues who came to North America as international students 20+ years ago whose semantic (if not pragmatic) use of English still isn’t quite there. Having been able to get through undergrad/graduate school here and a career thereafter means that most of us don’t immediately think of them as ESL speakers, and it’s easy to overestimate the extent of their English proficiency. With a couple of these people, what gets written off as being an off-putting communicator probably has a lot to do with them simply not having near-native fluency, which is really unfair to them.

          The other thing that I have less insight into is that some of these people probably learned English as EFL students in their home country rather than ESL students here, which might mean that they picked up a lot of English without good opportunities to get the nuances of the language.

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      Is he ESL? I wasn’t sure, reading the OP. A lot of native speakers aren’t that great with the nuances, especially in written English. And, at the risk of buying into a stereotype, this wouldn’t be particularly surprising in a grad student if he is a STEM guy.

      1. Lw#1*

        I’m really not sure, we have a lot of ESL in our department, but I don’t truly know where he is from. It’s just that our department is so multi-national, and the written language was odd that it seems possible.
        And yes it is STEM.

    5. linger*

      The domain in which LW1 “manages” the grad student is not entirely clear from the letter. If LW1 is an academic advisor, then that dynamic can be very different from being a “boss” (and isn’t about “setting workplace norms”). Some students assume that their course fees “pay the advisor’s salary” and therefore the student has some prior call over the advisor’s time — which would fit with the observed pattern of the student asserting their own priorities and ordering LW1 to do things. That is something that needs to be pushed back on, by re-delegating anything the student should be doing for himself back to him, or by referring him to other university services where appropriate, or by limiting email responses to what is manageable for LW1 (which may mean, one response per day).
      [N.B. the underlying assumption is largely mistaken: grad supervision is often extra work for little or no extra pay. Broadly speaking, the course fee does pay for some access to expertise, including a supervisor; but generally not at a very high priority, so the supervisor gets to set some personal limits.]

      Possibly there is also some contribution from language difficulties (going beyond the obvious vocabulary and grammar problems, into communicative competence and “tone”), and if so then feedback on that is warranted.

      There may also be a gender bias at work in this specific case, as others note below: but if this student is generally “difficult” with everyone regardless of gender, the other two factors are probably more important. (And/or he could just be an arrogant asshole. Which sometimes goes with believing you’re an expert in a research topic.)

      1. linger*

        LW1’s comments upthread indicate this is something more like managing TA/RA work, with LW1 acting as administrative manager for that. But even in this situation, the student may be operating with an attitude that they are “paying” university staff, including LW1, and so seeing staff as subordinate, even despite the fact that, if the student is being paid for, or having their fees offset by, their work for the department, then the student is also “staff”, in a workplace interaction subject to workplace norms. If this might be the root cause of the observed rudeness, it may be worth addressing explicitly; and LW1 has the authority to deal with it alone (though looping in the student’s supervisor as well might carry more weight if the student’s [continued] placement in that work depends on a recommendation from their supervisor).

        1. mgguy*

          That’s not to mention that at least in my department, in an advisor-TA/RA relationship, the advisor actually DOES pay the student’s salary. Sometimes it’s direct(they have a grant that covers an RA position that pays that student) while sometimes its more indirect(facilitating the students progress toward completing their degree, which also allows them to stay in good standing as a TA where the department funds the student in exchange for teaching). BTW, at least at my university, which is a largeish R1, supervising your graduate students as progress toward getting their degree IS a significant part of the professors job, probably just behind writing grants and publishing papers(and graduate students progressing toward their degree are generally what generate preliminary data to write the grant, generate results to keep the grant issuer happy, and generate research that is published in papers). So yeah, graduate students really are a cornerstone of what is expected of faculty at least in my R1 experience.

    6. Junior Assistant Peon*

      The rules of normal polite behavior don’t apply in the toxic, sadistic environment of grad school. This guy sounds pretty typical for a grad student, and bigshot research professors are even worse.

      1. Quill*

        Sorry you’ve got those in your grad school. All I hear from my brother about grad school is that he keeps taking the physics and history people out to catch lizards for his work because they complain about never leaving their apartments. Then again, some departments are more collaborative than others.

  3. Old Cynic*

    It wouldn’t surprise me if people were asking for a photo so they could identify social media profiles.

    1. Oh Fiddlesticks*

      Instead of just searching by name? Or looking on LinkedIn, where almost everyone has a photo anyway?

    2. WorkingGirl*

      Yeah, there could be six “Bob Smith from Boston” profiles. But that being said, I’ve seen plenty of apps that ask for your social media links…

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      This wouldn’t help them with me. While I am unusual in that I routinely post under my real name, I don’t use a photo of myself, even on social media, and I tend not to hang out with people who obsessively photograph their lives, posting on social media and tagging everyone in the photo. Frankly, I would find that very off-putting behavior, though it seems to be widespread.

    4. Junior Assistant Peon*

      I suspect you’re right. LinkedIn keeps prompting me to upload a photo, and this is exactly why I don’t want to – some HR jerk is going to get a feather in their cap for finding my Facebook, digging up a 20-year-old photo of me holding a beer, and torpedoing my hire.

  4. I coulda been a lawyer*

    OP #3 – Please know that work from home jobs advertised in places like Craigslist are one of the largest scams going on right now. When they have your application information and a photo they can impersonate you all over the internet, especially after they photoshop that new passport and drivers license. Be careful out there.

    1. Magenta Sky*

      That was my first thought, too. There’s a ton of scammy uses for photos, from identity theft (made easier by not having to create an entire online presence) to pictures on fake dating web sites to fake social media accounts.

      And you’re certainly right about Craigslist. Most sections, the scammers have completely driven out legitimate users.

    2. Willis*

      This. One of my friends was scammed over CL, although not related to a job. I kind of think: any odd request + Craigslist = scam. Unless these ads have a company name you can Google and website you can visit to verify if it’s legit, I would assume this isn’t above board and move on.

      1. Anonariffic*

        Even confirming that the company really exists doesn’t mean that the CL job posting is legit though, not unless the company website lists the same opening with the same application/contact info. A scammer setting up a fake listing to steal the identities of individuals could easily have stolen the name of a hiring company first.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          I’ve had a fake interview for a job where the scammer stole the identity of a specific real person at a real company. I contacted the real person, and he had no idea what was going on. It’s definitely a thing.

        2. Lady Heather*

          Would a legitimate company advertise on Craigslist? I haven’t ever used the site, but any time I’ve seen it mentioned it was either to buy/sell an old TV or sex work.

          1. Miki*

            They do! Especially if you’re in hospitality. But actually, even my entry level academic research job advertises there (unusually for our type of work), I think to get a more diverse range of candidates than we would just posting on university job boards.

          2. Aphrodite*

            Oh yes, Before the virus began to affect hiring, the local University of California campus used to advertise their part-time and/or hourly positions there a lot. Plus, I’d see ads from well-known local firms like retirement communities. Most of them were in the admin/office section though you could find them in other sections as well but what they all had in common were that they were upfront about who they were.

          3. Generic Name*

            I got my current job from an ad on Craigslist, it that was like 10 years ago. I don’t think we even advertise on there anymore actually.

          4. Jennifer Thneed*

            Absolutely yes! I’ve applied to companies that make it clear that they hope to get local applicants and that’s why they’re using CL rather than Indeed or DICE or whatever. I also post my resume on CL when I’m looking for contracts, and have gotten work that way.

    3. Miki*

      I did a casual browse on the LA craigslist after reading this letter and saw an ad that straight up asked for a photo of your driver’s license! So sketchy.

      I’ve found both jobs and housing on craigslist before, so I’m not down on craigslist in general, but I filter very carefully and stay away from generic-seeming ads on there. I would assume any new weird thing I saw on there to be “new scam trend” rather than “new job trend.”

      I also wonder if they just ripped off an ad from a job site in another country where photos are the norm, since scammers often copy+paste (and clumsily mash together) ads that someone else had already written.

      1. Moonbeam Malone*

        Yikes! Don’t some people still put their social security numbers on their licenses? This screams “identity theft!” to me.

        1. Gumby*

          Not in California, though I’m sure someone can do enough damage with just your date of birth, home address, and license number. (Also height, weight, eye and hair color. Though, frankly, my weight is no longer the same as it was when I last updated the license info.)

          1. Moonbeam Malone*

            Yeah, I did some googling and as of 2019 there were only 13 states that don’t put the SSN on there at all. In MO it’s an opt-out system, which I always do because aaaaah.

        2. Junior Assistant Peon*

          Wow, I didn’t know some states still did that. This sounds like an excellent reason to push back on getting carded when you’re obviously a few decades over 21. You know damn well I’m old enough to buy booze/cigarettes, and my SSN is none of your business.

    4. Dennis Feinstein*

      Definitely sounds dodgy.
      OP3 – why not send a photo of yourself wearing a mask?
      Show them you’re taking COVID seriously + prevent them from stealing your identity! :)

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      OP4, don’t break rules at manager’s instruction or you could both go down together.
      I knew someone whose manager instructed them to charge business trip expenses in a way that violated some company guidelines*. Manager got caught in an audit. He *and all his reports* were fired.
      (*Subtracting alcohol from meal receipts is the only one I remember, apparently the extra math to do that was ‘too time consuming’ for him?!)

  5. Lena Carabina*

    4. It isn’t “free money”!
    It’s there for a purpose and I would think it is closer to fraud if you claim it when it’s not used for its intended purpose, no?
    And your manager sounds dubious in this area!

    I would definitely alert your company through payroll, or however you get paid your expenses, as to what you do about the refund.

    1. MassMatt*

      I get it that this seems like free $ to the OP, and it sounds like that is a lot of money to them, but yikes don’t keep it, let the company know and ask how to readjust/reimburse them etc. They will appreciate the honesty, vs: if you keep it and they find out later you could easily be fired. Do you want to worry about your job for weeks, months, years? It’s not worth it.

      $120 is not much compared to months or years of earning potential, AND giving it back is the right thing to do. Integrity means doing the right thing.

      1. OP #4*

        I actually don’t think of it as free money but a lot of people in my company do – the wellness credit has a very loose guideline to it, so people use it for stuff that probably doesn’t fall into a ‘wellness’ category. I think that’s why my manager (and to be fair, everyone on my team!) thought it was super weird that I didn’t have anything to get reimbursed on.

        But also in the grand scheme of things – I am not worried about this affecting my job status. Its more of a moral question than anything else. This company does not follow up on the classes whatsoever – I’ve been taking these classes for a year and they haven’t even asked if I’ve passed any of them.

        1. MassMatt*

          Ok if this is purely a morals question then my answer still stands. Good morals are how you act even when nobody’s looking.

          Your company is oddly lax about accounting for these benefits, but whatever.

          1. OP #4*

            When I found out there was zero follow up on the classes or a tuition payback program, I was flummoxed. But they’re big on ‘look at how great it is to work here’ and have a serious start up vibe, so I think its just bad or incomplete policies in place. At some point, I assume someone will take advantage of it and they’ll have to change the system.

    2. UKDancer*

      Yes. I think you definitely have to give them the money back.

      My company has a benefit where it will give people an interest free loan to allow them to buy a season ticket (rail fares to London being quite expensive). This is then deducted from your salary each month. A number of people cashed in their season tickets when lockdown started because we were all told to work from home. The company was very clear with us that if we did that we needed to repay the outstanding balance.

      Anyone who decided to trouser the money would be in serious trouble. In my case the company said we could either do a BACS payment or they would take it from the salary as a lump sum the next month.

      Fortunately, enough of us were doing it that everything ran very smoothly.

    3. Jennifer Juniper*

      I would not be surprised if the manager used this down the road to get rid of OP4 – or if another higher-up did so. Be careful, OP4. It’s an employer’s market out there. You cannot afford to make any mistakes, much less commit fraud!

      1. EPLawyer*

        that’s a bit of a stretch. Especially since the manager thinks any reimbursement from the company is “free money.”
        You shouldn’t commit fraud at any time, whether people are begging for jobs or companies are begging for employees.

      2. OP #4*

        That’s not a concern – she’s more ‘I want to be the cool boss’ than the ‘trick you into getting yourself in trouble’ kind of boss.

        1. Observer*

          On the other hand, if someone decides they don’t like you, odds are they will use it against you.

    4. On Fire*

      My employer paid for a recent professional development course. After I successfully completed the course and exam, the licensing organization sent a $100 rebate, made out to me. This was just a fraction of the cost of the course, but the company had paid for the entire thing. I asked my manager, who chased it up the line. They decided, due to the nature of our business, there was really no way for me to transfer the money back to the company. They told me to keep it, but that didn’t feel right. My team had been discussing buying an item for our breakroom, so I used the money to pay for that item.

      I certainly think OP4 should be honest with the employer, but this might be an option if the company still reimburses and OP feels weird about keeping the money.

      Also, OP? Your manager has some seriously twisted ethics. Watch your back and keep your nose clean.

    5. OP #4*

      To be clear, I don’t see it as free money and didn’t take her up on it. I just said I didn’t need the money that badly and we left it at that. The whole attitude towards money is a company defect rather than just my individual manager though – everyone here feels entitled to more than they get. The wellness credit and expense reports are always a source of ‘am I getting enough back’, and I think that comes from a higher level than just my manager.

      I personally am the type of person that would go back to a store to let them know they forgot to ring me up for something.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Thanks for the additional detail.

        It reminds me of the culture at a previous employer. Expense reports were never questioned, and employees totally splurged while traveling. Employees felt entitled to it, and it was part of the culture to get as much additional compensation out of the employer as possible.

        That said, I think there is an ethical difference between getting reimbursed for actual expenses (even if frivolous), and keeping reimbursement for a cost that was refunded.

        1. OP #4*

          Yes – this is the same culture. Pre-covid, we were having large going away happy hours/late-lunch-leave-early/parties for every employee that quit! Fully expensed!

          This place is run by loons. But they’re paying for very expensive classes so I’m sticking around lol.

    6. mgguy*

      Cursorily related story:

      Back when I was hourly, I had a minor change in my work hours(going from 35.5 to 37.5) and it took Payroll a while to straighten it out. Basically they’d usually end up paying me an extra 2.5 hours I didn’t actually work per week, or 5 hours per paycheck. It happened about 4 checks in a row.

      On EVERY SINGLE ONE I contacted my supervisor, who at the time was worse than useless(she actively derailed a lot of my opportunities to advance in the department, but that’s another story). In any case, for hourly employees(who are paid bi-weekly), the stubs generally post mid-day Tuesday and payment is the following Friday. In every case, I notified within a few hours of the stub being posted. I finally got an answer from higher up that said “Our mistake, won’t happen again, thanks for letting us know, don’t worry about that.”

      After it happened twice, my supervisor point blank said “Don’t bother me about this anymore. It’s free money for you and they’ve told you it’s fine.” I continued to go over her head, though, to the person higher up to make sure I had an email showing I’d made them aware and they had said not to worry about that. Before it was fixed, it amounted to ~$500, and I didn’t want to get bit with having to pay that back in lump sum when payroll was audited.

      BTW, I still have those emails not just saved but also flagged even though it was several years ago just in case it gets caught. I’d still pay it back if they asked(it’s right but also I realize legally required) but want solid backing to show that I not only was aware but made sure to inform higher ups that I was being overpaid.

    7. Amaranth*

      It sounds as though asking the manager would be an automatic “keep it!” but would probably also include language like “what the company doesn’t know won’t hurt them.” I’d definitely contact accounting and keep an email trail on the off chance they say to keep any part of it or the reimbursement doesnt get logged correctly.

  6. GammaGirl1908*

    I feel for LW2 so hard. I’ve been an employee in a number of offices where the employee appreciation chosen is nothing that would make employees feel appreciated or that employees want. Some higher-ups get an idea for a thing to do, and then charge ahead with it full tilt, even when employees are saying that they would vastly prefer something else.

    In my current office, we joke that employee appreciation is now a thing they do to us, not a thing they do for us.

    1. Magenta Sky*

      Perhaps “employee appreciation” means “employees had *better* appreciate that we let them work here.”

      1. Junger*

        Or “employees” means “permanent managers”, and everyone else is a full-time temporary contractor.

    2. gsa*

      I agree.

      If I am invited or even volun-told to anything and I can’t or don’t want to go, I will say so. If you ask me why, I will tell you.

    3. Zombeyonce*

      I am and always will fully be in the camp of appreciation = money and/or time off. I don’t want food I didn’t pick out, I don’t want to spend more time with the lovely people I already spend hours with every week, I don’t want events I may or may not enjoy. Just give me time back. A day off with pay is one of the sweetest things to experience even if I just spend the whole thing lying on the couch. Extra money also helps.

      No one dislikes either of these things from their job and they are universally appreciated, unlike an appreciation event where it’s impossible to please everyone (especially during a pandemic).

      1. Caroline Bowman*

        Preach it!

        I have nothing against an end-of-year party *assuming it is easy to attend and cost-free and will not involve my own personal free time, as in, a nice lunch during work hours or similar, but otherwise, I want money and / or paid leave. Even if it’s an afternoon off at a time of my choosing, I’d love that.

      2. beanie gee*

        YES! Especially if it’s an appreciation of MAKING THE COMPANY/ORGANIZATION MONEY.

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      These events typically are about making the higher-ups feel good about themselves. Hence the self-congratulatory speechifying typical of the genre. The fact that they so often are mandatory, whether explicitly or tacitly, is the big tip-off. I can sort of see the problem from the higher-ups’ perspective. They want to do something nice for their employees. They specifically want it to be performatively nice. Time off most definitely is not that. Bonuses could be, but it gets expensive to give a bonus large enough to provoke the effusive displays of gratitude that the higher-ups want. So they plan a fun event. But different people have different ideas of fun. It clearly isn’t possible to come up with something everyone will consider fun. So what to do? Plan something the higher-up considers fun. And make it mandatory, since a poorly attended fun event wouldn’t lead to the higher-up basking in the gratitude of his lessers. Hence the gruesome “appreciation” event.

      The situation LW2 describes is the logical conclusion of this. Not only will standing around, six feet from anyone else, while listening to the higher-up congratulate himself not be in the least bit fun, it will be positively dangerous. But the needs and desires of the people putatively being appreciated don’t enter in.

      1. Paulina*

        It’ll also be even worse (more dangerous and more tedious) because everyone will have to travel to get there.

        SMH. These events are tedious already, to do them during a pandemic (with distancing!) just makes them all the more inane. “You have to all come together so I can publicly demonstrate appreciation,” without actual appreciation.

  7. Beth*

    OP1: Are you seeing this requirement on jobs posted in other, non-Craigslist places? I’m wondering if it’s at least in part people trying to take advantage of the current unemployment crisis to be a bit sleazy, and Craigslist being unmonitored (and known for a slightly sleazy edge) enough that it’s getting the bulk of it. This isn’t an unusual requirement for things like acting or modeling jobs, but it would put me off for a job listing where appearance isn’t part of the official requirements.

    1. Archaeopteryx*

      Yeah, I would recommend being extremely careful about anything you see it advertised jobwise on Craigslist; and it probably shouldn’t be the primary site you’re searching on. It’s kind of a roll of the dice as far as sleaziness or scamminess.

  8. Heidi*

    Letter 2 is disheartening in that it seemed like the bosses understood how contagious this disease is, and then they pulled the rug out from under everyone with this party idea. I didn’t get a clear sense of how punitive the bosses might be towards no-shows, but if you’ve got some capital or forbearance or indulgences or some other good will built up, I’d spend it on this. Tell him you have plans (aside: to not get sick).

    1. Zombeyonce*

      “Tell him you have plans”

      And if the event is during work hours so people can attend and you can’t get out of it, maybe your hard-to-schedule doctor just had an appointment open up during that time. I don’t generally advocate lying, but during a pandemic when someone’s trying to get you to be around people, I say do what you have to do to keep yourself safe, OP.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I’m very much on the side of not telling lies to get out of things. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and I would 100% tell my boss that I wasn’t comfortable socializing outside of my inner circle right now.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        “I have plans” is never a lie. My plan might be to spend that time honing my video game skills, but that is a plan.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I do have plans. My plan is to isolate and socially distance, and a mandatory work party presents a conflict with these plans that I have. If it’s during work hours, though, then I might just tell it like it is.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          Until they ask for specifics and you have to make more stuff up.

      2. Super Ann-nonymous*

        I just told my boss I would not be attending a fundraiser for a local group that are our clients. She was a bit taken aback even though I said “um, we are in the middle of a pandemic and our county is spiking in cases. Hell no, I’m not attending any gatherings. What are these people thinking anyway?” She couldn’t argue with that reasoning. She has since told the rest of her employees that our company wouldn’t be participating. My coworkers were visibly relieved. Why is this even a question?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes. A lot of the suggestions here are dancing around this, when the OP and her coworkers can just come out and say it. Really. It doesn’t require a bunch of subterfuge and delicacy. “I’m being really careful right now so I can’t attend.” That’s it.

    3. Lady Heather*

      Ooh, this has such potential for great passive-agressiveness.

      “Sorry, I have plans.”
      “Plans? What plans could you possibly have in this pandemic?”
      “I’m celebrating my nephew’s birthday via Zoom.”
      “Can’t you go to the Zoom celebration later?”
      “My nephew’s birthday is two weeks from now! But if I catch covid at your party, I’ll be in the hopsital by the time my nephew’s party comes around.”
      “Lady Heather, don’t exag-”
      *continues, pretending not to hear the interruption* “And in four weeks I’m celebrating my niece’s birthday! If I catch covid at your party, I might be dead by then. I’ve got such a great gift too – it’d be a pity to spoil it by dying.”
      “Lady Hea-”
      “And I’m planning on meeting someone, falling in love, and getting married in a few years. If I’m dead, I won’t be able to do that.”
      “Lady -”
      “I plan to retire someday, that’s why I contribute to my 401(k) every month. Your party seriously lessens the chances of that happening.”

      (I’m not a passive-agressive person at all, but I love to fantasize about ‘what ifs’.)

    4. Senor Montoya*

      I would not say I have plans. I would straight up say, Thank you, but I don’t feel safe in the middle of a pandemic attending an in-person event.

      They need to know why people are not attending. (OK, they should know since the message already went up, but saying it again and no-showing may actually get the message across.)

  9. Zombeyonce*

    Alison, the article you linked to in the second letter is behind a paywall. Is there a different place to read about the story you’re talking about?

      1. EPLawyer*

        To summarize even more — the socialite KNEW she was having symptoms but didn’t want to let anything interfere with her “Big Night.” She didn’t warn anyone, she even tried to keep her positive test secret because she didn’t want people mad at her. Guess what happened?

    1. Lady Heather*

      The Washington Post appears to have changed its payroll structure – before, it was five free articles a month, now it is nothing unless you subscribe.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Maybe it’s just certain articles? I’m not a subscriber but can still access some, but not all of their articles.

      2. garretwriter*

        WaPo is providing all COVID-19 related information free; other information requires a subscription. It’s certainly been worth it to me to support fact-based journalism.

  10. Carasynthia Dune*

    I’m in a similar situation to LW#2 – there’s a team social coming up, and I don’t really want to go. Not sure what to say to avoid attending as not all of my colleagues take COVID-19 seriously, and I haven’t been in my current position for very long…

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Truly, it’s OK to say, “I’m being very cautious about the virus so I won’t be attending.” It’s OK to say that even though you’re new. It’s OK to say that even though your coworkers aren’t taking it seriously. Say you have loved ones you need to protect if that makes it easier.

      1. alanna of trebond*

        More than that, I think being clear that you’re declining gatherings because you’re personally uncomfortable doing X or Y in a pandemic is a positive social good right now. People take cues from those around them. Some will probably roll their eyes and dismiss you as paranoid, but there’s also generally a lot of confusion about what’s allowed vs. what’s safe. Hearing that someone else is saying “No, I’m not OK with this for me right now” may empower others to do the same, or even to reconsider whether the gathering is a good idea at all.

    2. Caroline Bowman*

      One should always be able to be strictly honest, but I do understand how tricky this is with being new and so on, so ”I just can’t, a close relative is very immune-compromised and I have been advised to avoid anything like this for a while yet, such a shame!”

      No one could argue with that.

      1. Threeve*

        Oh, people will argue with that.
        “But it’s outdoors!”
        “But everybody will be careful!”
        “It’s only this once, this should be a special exception!”
        “Could you just put in a brief appearance?”

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          Here are some I’ve heard:

          “Stop living in fear!”
          “You have to live your life.”
          “I got tested last week and it came back negative! We’re good!”

          Remember, “no” is a complete sentence. Offering reasons gives an opening to argue why those reasons are actually invalid. Sometimes you have to provide an initial reason to smooth the social interaction, but after that firmly and politely keep repeating “no.”

          1. Lady Heather*

            Yes. No one can make you go.
            It’s like the ‘my boyfriend won’t let me break up with him!’ pseudo-problem. You goal isn’t to get the other person to accept that you are breaking up; your goal is to inform the other person you are breaking up, and after that, your goal (and the action you are taking) is to no longer be in the relationship.

            No one can make you attend an event. They can not accept your reasons for not going, but they can’t make you go.

            *disclaimer: this is assuming there is no ‘if you break up with me I’ll become violent’ or ‘if you don’t go to the corona party I’ll fire you’. (In which case I advise contacting the police and the media, respectively.)

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          And then you hold firm and say no. People can argue with you, you can say no, and that’s almost certainly the end of it. This is a one-time party, not an ongoing work responsibility. It’s almost definitely going to be fine. Maybe a slight pain in the ass, but not a huge deal. If it’s anything more than that, there are serious problems with her job.

        3. mf*

          My standard response to this kind of arguing is repeating as necessary, “No, I’m not comfortable with that.” If I’m feeling really magnanimous, I’ll say, “Everyone is dealing with the risk of this pandemic differently. For me and my family, this is beyond my comfort level so I am opting out.”

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Honestly you’re not going to keep people from judging you if that’s what they do. I’ve learned that the only thing I can do right now is protect myself and my family. If other people think I’m nutty or being ridiculous, so be it. If you don’t want to go, say no and tell them why. I was supposed to go to a good friend’s houses this past weekend for her son’s graduation party. I’ve known the kid since birth and we’re all very close. I found out 2 hours before the party that my friend’s niece may have been exposed to the virus and she wasn’t going to come to the party, but that the graduate had been with her a few days prior. So my husband and I decided not to go. I’m sure some of the people at the party thought we were being unnecessarily cautious but I don’t care. I was protecting myself and my people.

    4. Lb87*

      I’ve had a couple things come up, and I’ve honestly just told a little white lie. “I’ve been feeling slightly under the weather, and I don’t think it’s worth the risk to the other attendees for me to go. While I don’t think it’s Covid, with the wide array of symptoms out there, I’d rather not risk getting anyone sick in the event it’s more than just allergies/mild cold”.

      It has shut down any continued discussion, and I feel people out there are still having a hard time hearing no on social gathers, work appreciations, and celebrations. Side note: I do not generally promote lying, but it does get the point across in this instance and shut it down.

      1. boo bot*

        I have a non-lying version of this, actually: “I’ve been careful, but I can’t 100% guarantee that I haven’t been exposed just going to the grocery store. I’m not willing to put others at risk if there’s even a tiny chance that I could be an asymptomatic carrier.”

        I think it might depend where you live, whether people push back against that – I’m in an area that was an early hot spot, so almost everybody is on board with minimizing risk, but if you think people will scoff at the idea that you can’t get it if you can’t pinpoint a source of exposure, I think lying is all to the good.

    5. Triumphant Fox*

      We just announced an in-person executive meeting over lunch next week and I don’t know what to do about it. It’s 10 people and it is work, this isn’t a social event, but I don’t understand why this can’t be done over Teams and why do we need to be eating?!

      1. Triumphant Fox*

        I just contacted the organizer to ask about what protocols they will have in place to protect people and found out it is not an important meeting – it really is just social. No one will be social distancing or wearing masks. There are no important announcements. I declined, but I’m concerned others won’t feel that’s an option.

  11. Courtney*

    LW#3, this is only a related anecdote rather than advice. Last year my boss pulled me into a conference room, told me he was very ill and had decided to sell the company. Most employees had kept their jobs, I was one of 2 who didn’t – so I started applying for jobs everywhere. I found a job which looked quite fun, reception/admin for a gym and it came with a free gym membership as well as above-average pay! I looked through the application requirements, was ready to send off my resume, and then I noticed they wanted a video cover letter. I thought that was weird, and I was put off, but I kept reading. The owner not only wanted a video cover letter, but he wanted it sent to his PRIVATE facebook account! Not even a business facebook account!

    I turned away then and there because that was a BRIGHT SCARLET flag to me.

    1. TechWorker*

      So I think you’re well within your rights to treat any application going via Facebook as a red flag (it’s just.. weird..) – but Facebook is really bizarre in how they treat business vs personal accounts. You *have* to have a personal account to admin a business account (so a business account is run by a set of personal accounts). Cos of that sending to a personal account is more like ‘email me directly’.

      1. Courtney*

        It was weird – the job was posted on a legitimate job search website, which was also the portal to upload your resume through.

        You’re probably right, but it was just a bit too much for me so I noped on out of there. I just had a look on facebook and I couldn’t actually see a page for the business but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there (and I am missing something obvious). Even his perosnal email address would have felt less skeevy – maybe he hadn’t had a chance to set up a business domain yet, it was a brand new gym opening after all *shrug*.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I would have advised Courtney to nope out in exactly the manner that she did. Once you upload a video to a personal Facebook account, you have exactly zero control over what happens to it after that. While a business Facebook account is just as true, it’s directly associated with the business and you could impose consequences for improper use; with a personal account, it’s like handing it to a stranger panhandling at a stoplight.

    2. Ana Maus*

      To a Facebook account? That skips hell no and goes right to f*** no.

      I’ve had to do video screenings and I hate them. I’m not what you’d call conventionally pretty, not to mention fat, and I feel it works against me.

  12. stranger danger!*

    For LW3, if ur applying for jobs on Craigslist in LA, be cautious- especially if it’s an admin position or a service industry position. Ever since they took down the “personals/men seeking women” section of CL, a lot of the people who used to post there have migrated to the job boards (and housing boards). They’ll post ads for “assistants” or “secretaries” or “house manager” where everything looks gucci and above board, except they also want a photo. They want that photo so they can reach out to young women and try and skeeze them into providing “massages” or meeting them for a dinner date “interview”, etc. It’s so skuzzy and predatory, and super common. Idk why NYC and LA have these- i haven’t noticed in it any other cities I’ve lived in.

    Before I caught on, I applied for a couple of these jobs (never with a photo bc I’ve watched too much true crime) but based on my resume/dates its apparent that I’m young/female. I could always tell they were a creep right away, bc they’d be super demanding of a picture, or they’d send a selfie of themselves as well (like why would I need a selfie to be ur assistant sir???) so luckily never went to an actual interview. But I have other friends in the city with the same experience, and friends who went to starbucks interviews where the guys just straight up perved them (and then didn’t even pay for the coffee, how rude!). so TL:DR::: if a CL job post asks for a photo and isn’t for modeling/acting AND doesn’t state the name of the company, it’s one hundo percent a fake ad posted by a pervert in the basement who wants to wear ur skin (or suck your toes!!!!). don’t do it.

    :)

    1. 867-5309*

      When did “gucci” because a common phrase? Have I gotten old? :) One of my co-workers uses it quite often and it always makes me pause to make sure I heard correctly.

      1. stranger danger!*

        haha oh i feel like that ones not new? it was bigger when i was in high school, so it might be regional! but it does seems to have a *italian chef’s kiss* je ne sais quoi to it, so maybe it’s picking back up!

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        My high-school-age sister uses it. I understand approximately 20% of the slang that she uses, and I’m not yet 30. *sigh*

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          You are at the awkward intermediate stage of aging, where you still think of yourself as being of the young generation, but in fact no longer have your finger on the pulse of youth culture. My advice is to embrace aging, and do it gracefully. The alternatives are to anxiously do nothing, which is stressful and pointless, or to desperately race to keep up with the kids, turning into that oldster trying to be hip, and failing. It was liberating the first time I found myself in a supermarket checkout line, looked at the covers of the magazines on display, realized I had no idea who any of these people were, and (and this is the crucial part) that I was OK with that.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            I’m happy with having far too much fun embarrassing her when I can. She has far too much fun attempting to embarrass me and failing. I wasn’t good at keeping up with what was “cool” when *I* was in high school, and I’ve already spent this morning being far too excited about an SDS management tool, lol.

            For me it’s weird too because I’m close to being in the middle age-wise between my sisters and my parents, so I’m in a weird in-between of big sister and aunt, and daughter and friend.

            1. Quill*

              I can cause ten points of psychic damage instantly by talking about “Billie Eyelash” to my decade younger cousins, but they still want to talk to me about politics and fandom.

      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I saw “hundo” for the first time in my life two days ago, in my Criminal Case game. This is the first I’m hearing of “gucci”. My millennial, mid-20s kids have been utterly unhelpful when it comes to teaching me the new slang. I’m so behind the times now.

      4. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        “Gucci” has been slang like that for at least 15 years – there’s an entry in the Urban Dictionary from 2004 about it. Gucci Mane was performing under that name 10 years ago.

        1. stranger danger!*

          yeah, i’m in my mid-20s! It was popular when I was in high school, so about a decade ago. I had no it was coming back, i thought it was old head slang like dude and bet. very good to know that slang is cyclical and i am once again Hip & Cool™

    2. Diatryma*

      The hookup section seems to have migrated several different places depending on the region. Some have it in Missed Connections, some in Free.

    3. Gazebo Slayer*

      So, so gross. We’ve had letters here about people who use LinkedIn as a dating site, but posting actual job listings as a way to hit on the women who apply is so much worse. Especially if you dangle the possibility of employment as a means of getting sexual favors (the massage, ewww).

    4. Rexish*

      Not CL, but in my area the traditional first job for youngsters is picking berries at different berry farms. When I was around 18 I applied for jobs and one listing said “looking for berry pickers. Women aged 16-25. Attach a photo in application”…nope. not applying.

      1. stranger danger!*

        that is so predatory!! that makes me so mad- like literally how vile. (also, 16????? extra gross cherry on top)

        1. Quill*

          I saw a few of those scams around town when I was 17-18 and I remember my mom informing a local store that they had BETTER police their notice boards for those types of things.

  13. staceyizme*

    Who on earth sends three emails in fifteen minutes and then quotes the prior ones? It’s so odd and provocative. If you add in the strange instructions telling you to do things, it really takes the cake. I’d answer ONE email. Wait a day or two. Answer ONE email. Etc… Don’t feed the beast. If your student complains, ask that they keep their communication to once weekly and keep things brief, to give you time to reply. All of these ways of constricting the flow of words should create some practical stress towards compliance with norms.

    1. PollyQ*

      No reason to pussyfoot around, though. The student works for the OP, so straightforward feedback is entirely appropriate here.

      1. anonymous 5*

        THIS. Also, the student is *a student*. Presumably in the grad program to develop for a professional career of some sort. And in the event that this is a field where the norms are similar to what andy described below (topic emails as the norm–which, by the way, I kinda think is genius) then I’d say it’s even *more* important to set the expectations firmly.

    2. andy*

      It is completely different situation, but we do send topical emails in work. Basically, we send multiple emails, each having one question or topic. The reason is that when I sent multiple questions on one mail, many people tended to answer only some of them and ignored the others.

      It is as if multi question email empowered people to pick which questions they like and dont like. Once they answered those they like, it is already looks like answer, so there is no need to answer the other questions.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        Yep, this! I don’t like sending multiple topics in one email because the questions won’t all be answered! Also, sometimes someone can answer one of those topics quickly, but with the others they might have to do so research and then get back to me. Keeping the separate is better for multiple reasons!

    3. Asenath*

      I had a co-worker who did this sort of thing all of the time, although she was polite in person. I put it down to disorganization. Although I prided myself on prompt responses, for her, I gave it a few hours before I responded at all, skimmed through the emails, and sent one reply. If she phoned to find out why I hadn’t answered, I said blandly that I hadn’t gotten to them yet, but would soon. That process annoyed me far less than getting one, working on it, getting another changing or correcting the information before I finished, starting on another response, getting an email asking if I’d started on the request (usually with the request below). With major projects, she would sometimes ask if I would like all the sub-requests combined (yes, please, so I can prioritize them my way) or each sent individually, and she’d try to do as I wished. But eventually, we’d be back to the serial emails.

    4. Caroline Bowman*

      Yeah, in this case I’d be forthright. ”Please don’t send three separate emails if you want 1 response to all three questions. My workload doesn’t allow me to read and reply to every single email immediately. It’s also quite unprofessional and discourteous”.

      The grad student is being rude. Flat-out rude. I realise culture and language differences can make that worse and you are empathetic and kind to be giving the benefit of that doubt, but that aside, this person is rude and needs to be courteously corrected. Brook no nonsense.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Yes, in addition to the scripting suggestions above, I would firmly explain that emails normally do not warrant immediate replies. In fact, it’s standard business practice to allow the recipient time to read the email, research the answer, and only then respond with the correct information. OP can provide a timeframe which might help; allow a day or two for normal business, half a day for urgent items.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          I think this is important to emphasize, too, especially when grad school is also learning professional norms in many cases. There are a lot of people who expect an immediate reply but…what if you are at lunch, or in the bathroom, or in a meeting, or teaching…I mean, there are so many reasons for not replying immediately, even if a question doesn’t require tons of research.

          1. The Rural Juror*

            Exactly. The grad student should learn that the OP isn’t sitting at their desk eagerly awaiting his emails.

      2. LCH*

        “Please don’t send three separate emails if you want 1 response to all three questions. My workload doesn’t allow me to read and reply to every single email immediately. It’s also quite unprofessional and discourteous.”

        perfect

    5. RobotWithHumanHair*

      I had a boss that did this. That’s exactly what made me think that there could be a cultural element at play with the grad student that we’re just not used to here.

    6. Colette*

      In many businesses, asking someone who reports to you to communicate once per week would be wildly inappropriate – especially with a student who is there to learn and needs more oversight. And there is no need to dole out answers daily since the OP is in a position to manage the student and explain how she wants him to communicate.

      1. Paulina*

        If the LW is a lab manager or similar (outside of the academic ranks, so not the student’s research supervisor or PI), then the student may be making a bad assumption about the LW’s role in managing them. I’ve seen multiple grad students treat lab managers as lab assistants, someone they consider is supposed to be helping them as they want them to and can be treated rudely while they suck up to their PI. In these situations you need to set them straight that you won’t put up with being treated that way, especially since reticence can be interpreted as deference. I’ve seen some persist until their PI intervened, though it’s better for an ongoing situation if that isn’t resorted to unless necessary.

        1. Quill*

          They’re DEEPLY out of their depth going up against a lab manager then. When I did undergrad research and many of my friends were lab assistants, it was well known that like the school secretaries in high school, the lab manager was the last person whose bad side you wanted to be on. They made things happen.

    7. Senor Montoya*

      Haha, you’d be surprised! Lots of people do this, especially students and people who are new to professional employment.

      Particularly since it’s a grad student, OP, you have even more standing to correct them. Alison’s advice is good. Be matter of fact and polite, but direct. Send one email that outlines how you want them to communicate, and talk to them in person about it if that’s possible.

      After that, I would respond to every rude email the same way: Answer the question, then state that this is an example of discourteous communication. If it continues, I’d start slow-boating my responses to that person. Save them up and answer them all at once in a single email, near the end of the day or end of the week, again with a statement about the rudeness. (Unless there is some reason that you must respond immediately.)

  14. dev*

    #3 sounds like identify theft waiting to happen. I highly doubt any of those jobs are real….apply and see what happens :)

  15. MassMatt*

    #1 you need to stop doubting yourself and trust your instincts more. Your giving someone this rude so many benefits of the doubt is not helping him, if anything it’s perpetuating the problem.

    A grad student (or anyone) being this rude should not have to rein it in because it “could be considered rude in a few years”; it’s rude NOW, and it needs to stop. This interaction is harder when you have never met in person, but stop making excuses. Tell him what the problems are and what changes he must make, and what consequences there will be for failure.

    1. J.B.*

      This! Plus the letter writer was warned coming in. It does help to tell explicitly what you want the emails to look like. Then when you get the second and third emails respond explicitly to one saying “this is the problem we talked about”.

      1. MCL*

        Yeah the fact that this student already has a reputation as “difficult” might seriously impact his career. Please talk to him, both to save your sanity and help him learn.

        1. Lw#1*

          I hope it doesn’t, and in truth they have a job at a prestigious university earlier this summer. What’s also annoying though is I used to work there (like two weeks ago!), but they never took a breath to speak so I couldn’t ask who they were working with!

    2. EventPlannerGal*

      This! OP, for your own sake please stop overthinking this. I feel like this is one of those situations where a rude person continues to be rude because everyone else is too worried about being rude to tell them they are being rude.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I feel like this is one of those situations where a rude person continues to be rude because everyone else is too worried about being rude to tell them they are being rude.

        If he’s a grad student, especially if he’s a grad student who went straight from K-12 to undergrad to grad, it may also have a flavor of immature continues to be immature because no one is willing to encourage him to grow up.

        1. bleh*

          Straight through-ers can be the absolute worst, especially if they’ve never had a job except for lifeguarding in the summer. I’m looking at you former colleagues at last university.

          They have skewed ideas about actually working for a living, and they believe the institution is there to fund their research, not that they *work* for the institution.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I barely made it through undergrad; it took a change of major and an extra semester. But when I look back at emails and documentation I composed before my 23rd birthday,* all I can do is shake my head at my own immaturity.

            *There’s nothing magical about the 23rd birthday; that just happened to correspond to my first stable post-collegiate job, and a lot of my growing up happened in the previous and following 3 months.

        2. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          You know, it’s interesting in that even the idea that straight-through types are at a maturity disadvantage is kind of culture-bound to begin with. I don’t know where OP’s student is from, but there are countries where it’s far less common for students to have part-time jobs and moreso for someone who goes on to university or grad school. In that context, he may not “get it” in large part because his peers didn’t and no one expected it of them.

    3. Ellllle*

      When I was an admin assistant at a nursing college, I would book rooms for students to practice in and they were supposed to give me 48 hours notice (it required special equipment to be set up). One man emailed at 7pm the night before for a spot the next morning. When I got into work I said unfortunately we can’t turn this around in time and he responded with “Well if you actually checked your email I would have been able to have time to practice. In the future please be more attentive to emails”
      You should have seen my eyebrows haha. With this request, I knew he was a non-native English speaker so I wanted to make sure I was being fair and not misconstruing anything. But you can always just examine the content. Was there a polite way to tell me I should have been checking my email off the clock? No! So in the end it wasn’t the tone, but the content we could focus on.
      My boss was so upset when she read the email that she worked with the students advisor to make him apologise to me in person. Honestly it was a little embarrassing for all parties involved but I do think he was careful to never send a rude email again!

  16. 867-5309*

    Our team has gone 100% remote and that includes people we’ve hired without ever meeting in person.

    We do a once a month-ish, social distance, mask-required outdoor gathering. The rules are you bring your own drink, sit 10 feet apart on your own blanket/chair/whatever, and the company purchases individual sandwiches from a local deli. It’s optional and since I am the most senior person in the this office, I verbally reinforce that when the invite goes out. We’ve found some folks appreciate the chance to get together.

    It works well for people who want it a bit of social interaction, while not forcing it on those who are taking caution. We also cancel if/as cases spike and didn’t start until our state and county flattened completely.

    1. Lena Carabina*

      A person in our organisation asked about something like this, and the response we got was “no”.
      It sounds like your org is doing things quite safely, but I’m really grateful to mine for being super cautious.
      No contact is safer than social distancing.

      Lockdown is easing here, as it is everywhere, and I have covid-19 for the 2nd time – this time I have the breathlessness. I’m absolutely terrified.

    2. Retail not Retail*

      What I find in my outdoor job is people don’t stay as far away as they think they do, and if they try to, well work is fluid and you move around!

      My HR manager came by to calm my fears about our response to positive cases, and first he was like well we’re over 6 feet apart, do I need a mask? Yes. And then a few minutes later he wanted to move to the one spot with air circulating which meant getting closer together!

      Also, I don’t know how it goes in the professional world, but every appreciation lunch has little gossip break offs. I feel that habit would be hard to break.

      1. 867-5309*

        I definitely think you are correct that people are not as far apart as they think they are.

  17. 867-5309*

    OP3, We are currently hiring for sales and marketing positions in the Midwest and I would say about 10% of the applicants have a photo on their resume. It’s enough that I’m noticing it, and it also strikes me as odd.

  18. 867-5309*

    For once I have something to contribute to several letter writers.

    OP4, I was just reimbursed $12.10 for something that the company previously paid for and I gave it back to them. For me, it is not only ethically the right thing to do but makes me feel good for doing the right thing “when no one is watching.”

  19. Anono-me*

    OP 2. The situation you are in would be ridiculous if it weren’t so scary. (It feels like one of your institutional leaders is saying ‘We’re so happy that nobody got run over, that we’re going to take you to the freeway and let you play in traffic as a reward.)

    If this luncheon turns out to be mandatory , have you asked about the logistics about how this socially distant outdoor luncheon appreciation party is going to work?

    Transportation is going to be an issue.
    As you’re working from home, how are you going to get to the picnic site if you don’t have drivable vehichle? Not everybody drives, people have parked their vehicle for the duration of the pandemic, some people used to take mass transit, ect. Will mileage, or a taxi be reimbursed? ( As a last resort, maybe car trouble?)

    Is the University’s Insurance set up to cover people driving under these conditions? ( I know it seems like an odd thing to worry about, but it might be the logistical roadblock that you’re hoping for.)

    Also if you are an hourly worker ; how is the transit time going to work? I bet more than a few people live quite a ways away and it’s also possible that some people have temporarily relocated a little further away. So some people could be looking at several hours or more drive or taxi ride each way to attend this luncheon. Is transit time paid?

    Is the actual luncheon time paid time? If it’s mandatory, it seems like it should be.

    1. Lena Carabina*

      We’re so happy that nobody got run over, that we’re going to take you to the freeway and let you play in traffic as a reward.

      That’s such a good analogy!

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        The whole reopening trend of June was “What we have been doing has been working. Yay! So now we are going to stop!”

    2. mf*

      This is an interesting point: “Is the University’s Insurance set up to cover people driving under these conditions?”

      If this “party” is not optional and you went and contracted COVID, is the university going to pay for your medical costs? It’s worth asking about.

    3. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      I wouldn’t ask all these questions – I might not like the answers.

      I’d just decline to go. If an RSVP comes, I’d decline. If no RSVP, I’d simply say “Sorry, I won’t be there” in an email.

  20. KeysToTheKingdom*

    LW1 – this may be a big assumption but I’d be curious to know if you might be a woman? I know that sounds so insanely presumptuous but based on the information and the level of rudeness you’re seeing from a *grad student* that *reports into you*, there’s a bit of a smell that, to me, smells a bit like toxic masculinity on his part. I could be entirely wrong, but we’ve seen it on AAM before where male subordinates have had an attitude problem with their female managers and some of these cues are reflected in your letter. I especially dislike the “ignoring/not acknowledging your response and then highlighting the other questions” thing.

    ((Alternatively, I also appreciate he might not have English as a first language. In my experience, non-native English speakers have cultural differences in terms of email etiquette. It doesn’t explain the rudeness (nothing does!), but it might explain the onslaught on emails in your inbox from him.))

    1. blackcat*

      Yes, as a female person who used to manage lots of first year male graduate students, I got SO MUCH RUDENESS.
      I would shut it down firmly, but it often required a male faculty member to intervene. I also found that being a bit of an academic show-off in public helped, too (ex: asking visiting speakers high level, detailed questions during the Q&A) because it helped establish that I am Very Good At Science. Of course, that feels pretty gross, and isn’t possible if you’re not well versed in the field the obnoxious graduate student is in.
      It drove me bonkers. I also found it to be generally worse with individuals from certain types of educational and cultural backgrounds and better with others.

      My advice is to be firm, state what is unacceptable, and get back up if you need it.

  21. Atlantis*

    For OP #1, you are absolutely justified in saying something to him. As a graduate student, I can’t imagine complaining that my supervisor didn’t answer three emails I sent back to back in their first response. I generally tend to think of separate emails as separate conversations. If I have one email thread about my schedule for the week, and another on a project I’m working on, then those are two separate lines of conversation, even if I send them back to back. I don’t necessarily expect my supervisor to respond to both in a single response, in fact we both prefer not to as it makes it harder to find and review those emails later for reference.

    If he is sending separate emails on the same topic, that is definitely something Alison’s advice can cover. He needs to wait longer before sending emails if he regularly has multiple questions on the topic so that he’s not getting parts of answers. He really has no justification in complaining there, and the way he’s dealing with it is quite rude, and you should really shut that down as soon as possible. I would agree with other commenters in that you should look at his pattern of behavior as a whole too – is he normally this rude in in-person conversation as well, or is it just in emails that this pops up? If it really is just in emails, then I don’t think an excuse of “language barrier” is justifiable here. A language barrier might explain grammar mistakes or some weird word choices, not “I sent multiple emails and now I’m annoyed you didn’t respond to all of them at once/I didn’t like the answer you gave so I’m going to say it again (quoting himself) so you actually answer” kind of behavior. That just seems really off. You say he graduates in 3 years, so that is plenty of time that he has to fix this. In my opinion, you’d actually be doing him a huge favor by addressing this, as I can think of a number of people who would see this as a reason not to work with him at all, on anything. His behavior indicates that he doesn’t respect your time or the answers you have to give. That’s a big problem.

    Something else that possibly comes to mind, OP is that there might be a gender issue in play. I don’t know if you’re male or female OP, but if he is this way just with female supervisors and coworkers, that’s another big issue. That may not be the case, but it’s worth considering.

    1. Atlantis*

      Now I see that you have yet to meet in person, which just solidifies my opinion that you need to shut this down ASAP now that you’re managing him. You’ve been warned he’s “a difficult personality to work with” but that’s frankly unacceptable as a graduate student who is going to have to most likely reach out to other academics and industry experts at some point in his work, or have students that he supervises or teaches as part of graduate teaching assistantships. No other professor or industry expert is going to tolerate this kind of attitude when he’s asking for their help/expertise. His best foot forward should be his email communications with people he hasn’t met yet. You can and absolutely should coach him in a supportive manner, especially considering there may be cultural/language things that may be contributing, but that doesn’t mean you should just let it slide.

      1. blackcat*

        Ah, yes, then this is a Young Graduate Student Who Knows More Than Anyone Unless They Have A PhD.
        They are the cousin of Young Resident Doctor Who Knows More Than Veteran Nurses.

        You need to be firm. Really firm. If there are ELL issues at play, short sentences are a must. Staff–both academic (ex: lab managers) and support (ex: department managers & administrative assistants) are key personnel in departments. They are the people who make things actually go. Someone–likely a faculty member–needs to make this very clear to this graduate student.

        I’ve also seen more than one TT job candidate get sunk by being rude to the support staff. Either young grad student learns this now, or their career WILL be hurt by it.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          “Young Graduate Student Who Knows More Than Anyone Unless They Have A PhD”
          +1000

          I ran into those a lot as a lowly MS student working in a department different than my program in a sea of PhDs. It would irritate them more when I was the senior TA and they weren’t – when I had been in the department for 2+ years and they had been there 2 days. Same ones that were confused when the support staff were super nice to me, and would help me out a lot more than they would the Grumpy TA. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  22. London Lass*

    OP1, you mention you have never met this grad student in person, so I’m wondering what kind of relationship you have with him outside of your email exchanges? In my experience it is easy for differences in style or outright misunderstandings to escalate quickly into conflict if you just keep writing back and forth. I’m not saying that is all that’s going on here, but it may well be contributing based on his lack of experience and poor English.

    It will be much easier to suss out what it going on in his head, and to have the potentially difficult conversation with him about what needs to change, if you have a strong relationship in which you regularly speak directly, even if that is remote. This is the type of situation video calls are important for, so you can pick up on those non-verbal cues.

    Sorry if you’re already doing that but it’s not clear from the letter. I have been recruiting new team members during lockdown and it is definitely possible to build these relationships and get to know people without meeting in person, if you are proactive about it.

  23. JM in England*

    Re #3

    In the UK we have a saying “If your face fits, you’ll go far!”. Perhaps the employer wants to check this from the get-go.
    Job ads asking for photos are extremely rare over here. Like the US, the only industries that do ask for them are acting, modelling and entertainment in general.

    However, I do agree with those who say it’s probably some sort of scam.

    1. Lena Carabina*

      Hmm that’s a very old-fashioned saying though, and only serves to highlight how discriminatory the practice of attaching a photo to a CV is – if the person thinks you’ll ‘fit in’ before they’ve even read your application then that’s a pretty shitty way to recruit, and it’s why laws were introduced to help prevent discrimination in the first place.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Had to laugh, last time I spoke to the job centre lot around here (unemployment in the UK sucks) the person there gave me some ‘recommendations’ on how to proceed, all of which were total BS but the worst was:

      ‘Send a photo with your CV, but you’ll need to edit it so you don’t look like you’re fat or have grey hair. People don’t want to hire high risk groups’

      Had to laugh, because there I am, with a visible disability, and this twit is going on about weight loss. No, I’m not including a photo!

      1. Lena Carabina*

        Ugh. That’s very poor indeed! It’s been over 10 years since I’ve been unemployed and they were useless and out-of-date then. I see they’ve not improved any.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Worth noting they’re still better than the disabilities benefits lot…ye gods!

      2. JM in England*

        Plus there’s another downside to sending such an edited photo. If it does help land you an in-person interview, when they see the real you vs the edited photo, the employer will immediately doubt your honesty and integrity.
        An analogy to the above, which I can attest to from firsthand experience, is meeting up with someone from a dating website and finding that they look nothing like their profile pictures.

      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Wow the job search advice has gotten really wild in the last few years, it seems. And this is coming from someone whose job-search caseworker, while setting me up with an interview for what ended up being my first US job, and giving me advice on how to interview, suddenly took my hand and examined my fingernails for cleanliness. Sounds like somehow things got worse from there, which I hadn’t thought possible.

    3. Kelly L.*

      Does…that just mean you’ll get more opportunities if you’re pretty? Because that’s how it reads from here. It might be true, but shouldn’t be.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        There are a lot of meanings I can read into this old saying, and none of them are good. Like AAM said, that’s just every kind of discrimination under the sun waiting to happen.

  24. Keymaster of Gozer*

    #2: feel free to use any excuse you can to get out of this. What they are doing is dangerous, highly dangerous in fact. They’ve got no idea if any of the staff would suffer extreme reactions or death from this virus.

    Some of my favourite reasons to get out of social stuff:

    ‘Can’t do that day, sorry, I’ve got an appointment elsewhere’

    ‘Sorry, I’ve got back pain and can’t go’
    (note: I do have a spinal injury but I’ve used this even when the pain wasn’t that bad. I don’t have an issue with anyone else using that excuse)

    ‘Got an upset stomach so I’d better stay here/home with easy access to a bathroom’
    (This one I love, nobody wants you at their social event if they think you’ll spontaneously puke/crap all over them)

    Or, go for:

    ‘I can’t put my life at risk, nor can the company order me to’
    (Which is the risky option. I can quote chapter and verse of various regulations and my own health issues to get across that they can’t push me on this or face discrimination issues. You’d need that kind of heavy artillery though I think to make this one work)

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      If you want to be humorous, tell the VP that you can’t go for the same reason you can’t take the same flight they do; business continuity.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Also a v good one. I love to approach difficult situations with as much humour as I can :)

        (That’s however, a weakness of mine. Not to be emulated constantly)

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Mortality jokes are phenomenal when they land, but it’s one of those times where you must know your audience and well.

  25. EvilQueenRegina*

    #5, if it was six years ago, it’s entirely possible that whoever would have dealt with the applications at the time isn’t even there any more and any application now would be dealt with by someone else who wouldn’t have known about it anyway. I doubt it would blacklist you.

    1. Aeryn Sun*

      I do hiring and I honestly don’t remember the names or anything else about applicants who had generic applications. I remember the hilarious bad ones like the guy who wrote, “In my last job, they told me I was too arrogant” or the person who has applied every single time we have hired over the last four years with the same cover letter (and I only remember that because the cover letter has an unusual phrase in it- I don’t remember the name of the person). Unless you have some very unusual details in your resume, the odds that the hiring person even remembers that they have seen your materials before are low and, if you have a good resume and cover letter for this position, even if I recognized it, I’d just assume you had applied for something before and not think twice about it.

      1. Quill*

        At pig lab from hell I once got a fax filled with misspellings that insisted a resume was “attachéd” (it wasn’t) and ended with “sent from my iphone.”

    2. Senor Montoya*

      Last time I chaired a search committee, one member of the committee and the hiring officer both remembered that one of our candidates had applied in the past and bombed the phone screen.

      Fortunately, I was the chair. I pointed out that not everyone is good on the phone, we were not phone screening on this search, this person was judged one of our top candidates from the application by everyone on the committee (except the one who remembered the candidate), and we were going to interview this person because the process put them in our “should interview” list.

      We hired that candidate. (Hiring officer thanked me for insisting.)

  26. Creamsiclecati*

    For #2, the idea of a socially distant party sounds nice, but it can quickly turn into NOT socially distant when someone find it’s hard to carry on a conversation with multiple people from 6 feet away, or when more than one person wants to refill their beverage at the same table at the same time, or when you momentarily forget you’re not supposed to be close to someone and gradually end up closer than 6 feet while you’re walking back to the parking lot chatting. I mention these examples because at every “social distancing” event I’ve been to, work related or personal, these types of things end up happening by accident. Even when things start out with the best intentions of staying distant, they often don’t. I’d be very wary of attending an event like this, because even areas with a decline are not necessarily completely safe yet.

    1. Sam.*

      Yeah, I haven’t been around people enough to develop ingrained covid-influenced habits in public. So if I’m grocery shopping, etc. it’s too easy to accidentally slip into my “normal” habits without thinking and only realize afterwards that I had gotten far too close to someone. I guarantee that would happen at a social gathering, too, so it’s better to just avoid that entirely. (But I’ve also been apartment hunting, which means interacting with way, way more people than I’ve seen in the last four months combined. Masks are always involved and I use hand sanitizer before and after entering each building, but I’m still very nervous and stressed about it. I would definitely decline to add to that stress for “celebratory” reasons.) I think Alison’s suggestion to treat it as a rsvp, whether he meant it that way or not, is a good one.

      1. alanna of trebond*

        Yeah, the only Covid habit I’ve been able to fully ingrain, in a “going to take awhile to unlearn this” way, is dodging people on the sidewalk (since I’ve spent far more time walking around outside in the last 4 months than doing all other things combined). I don’t worry overmuch about super-brief (<1 min) distancing lapses while masked, though of course I try to avoid them, but a party is a whole other story.

  27. DieTrying*

    OP1, I’m unsure what it means that you “manage” this student. I assume you are not that student’s doctoral supervisor, if only because you mention having never met him in person — but given the current pandemic, that may be a mistake on my part.

    In addition to the fine advice you’ve received here, and if directly addressing the student’s rudeness does not result in a swift change of attitude, I would suggest you consider reaching out to the student’s advisor. I serve in that capacity for graduate students in both MA and PhD programs, and I would want to know if one of my students were routinely treating a professional contact rudely — whatever the reasons.

    It’s to a very large extent the advisor’s job to make sure that students are prepared to enter the job market ready to be good citizens and desirable colleagues. Given the pervasiveness of e-mail contact, a lack of etiquette (to put it delicately) would place them at a considerable disadvantage. IF your addressing this with him does not yield results, do not hesitate to punt to someone who is better positioned to do so. You won’t get the student in trouble by “tattling” — but he *will* get in trouble if he keeps up this MO.

    1. DieTrying*

      Addendum: I’m both first gen and not a native speaker of English. Everyone’s comments surrounding the challenges students with one or both of these profiles face are apt and well-taken. That doesn’t mean, however, that students’ actions and inactions should not be addressed: in fact, doing so is a kindness and a show of respect to the student. There are great resources for students in these situations online, but little beats a direct and clear communication from a manager or supervisor.

      1. cncx*

        i agree with you completely. he could be rude, or it could really be fixed with a headsup about how Things Are Done. Not everyone who is a first gen student knows the codes. It is definitely a kindness to address this now rather than when they’re a post doc or in their first job (I had a friend who was coddled in his Phd and coasted a bit on his research, and fell flat on his face in his post doc because he didn’t know how to act).

        1. Lw#1*

          I think I would rather work through their advisor on this, it seems like it would be a political misstep to try and swing the hammer down too hard without talking to other’s, at least for academia, is my impression.

          1. Lw#1*

            Additionally I’m super grateful to their thread, because I’ve been trying to work on ‘training’ documents for students about this sort of unwritten code that often get’s left out of professional training.

          2. Sam.*

            I think it very much depends on your role in academia! Unless their advisor is particularly overbearing or sensitive to people “overstepping,” I don’t think you would need permission or back up to say, “Please compile all your questions on a topic into a single email. It becomes hard to keep track of the most up-to-date information when you send several separate messages, and I don’t want to miss anything critical,” and suggest that he either sit on an email draft for an hour so he can add any follow-up questions that occur to him or that, in most cases, he refrain from sending additional emails on a particular topic until you reply to previous ones. Personally, I don’t think this would count as “swing[ing] the hammer too hard,” and if he can’t respond rationally to these very reasonable requests, that’s good information to have. If you have to escalate beyond this, then I’d at least consult with the advisor before proceeding.

            1. Lw#1*

              Thank you so much! I’m afraid my first impulse is to assume faculty are going to be protective of their power, but you’re right this doesn’t have to be A Big Thing.

            2. Cassie*

              Agreed – you don’t need to go to their advisor first. In fact, going to the advisor might make it seem like an even bigger deal than it needs to be.

              I think you can simply say “please send me one email on the topic instead of three emails in succession”. This will help him in the long run – no one wants multiple emails in short succession and you can bet his advisor doesn’t either! Also, I’d probably wait a little bit before responding (assuming it isn’t time-sensitive). And if he follows-up too quickly (e.g. within an hour), tell him you’ll review his email and get back to him by X time (or day).

              I interacted w/ a grad student before who would always expect me to drop everything and take care of his request. I remember him saying (at least once) “can you do this now so I can make sure you do it?” Most of the time I did, just to get him to go away, but I finally did tell him “I’m working on something else right now, I’ll take care of it before lunch and let you know you when it’s done”. After that, he never did the “drop everything now” routine.

          3. TL -*

            I would suggest addressing it with him first and then going to the advisor if it doesn’t work out. Going to the advisor is a bigger step than requesting for yourself and most advisors are going to ask, “well, what steps have you taken?” first.

            Do you not have the same boss? I was assuming you were working in the same research group, but if not, I definitely wouldn’t go to their advisor before trying to address it yourself. It’s not being too authoritative to ask to be treated respectfully and politely, and specifically outlining the improvements they need to make in that regard. If you don’t have the same boss, I would go to your boss first, who hopefully will contact the advisor (if you know they won’t, you can just let your boss know you’re going to chat with the advisor beforehand.)

  28. Jennifer Juniper*

    OP1: Your intern is an entitled little glass bowl. HE is telling YOU, his MANAGER, what to do??? Wow. That’s insubordination – and a fireable offense at most places, if I understand correctly.

    OP2: Nothing says “thank you” like sending you all to the hospital or the morgue. What the hell?

    1. BethDH*

      I’m projecting a lot here based on what I’ve seen, but I’m wondering if OP is in a role that the student perceives as lesser than their career role?
      At a lot of places the person managing interns is not directly in an intern’s specialized field. I have seen grad students acting as though their future role being higher in a hierarchy means they should act that way now. Also true if they see the supervisor as being in a “service” role like HR. Seeing things from the world of the PhD can really screw up your sense of norms.
      Another possibility is simple myopic focus on his own issues. Grad students are typically doing a deep dive on something (and he’s presumably not just doing a masters given the length of the program) and it’s easy for them to think that because it’s the most important thing in their own lives, it’s the most important thing to others as well.
      Either way, it needs to be stopped, But how OP begins the conversation might be different if there’s evidence of one reason more than another.

      1. Lw#1*

        You have a point! It’s quite possible! My career is very different from most grad student’s, it’s fair to say. I think Alison was right though, I should just ignore the reasons Why, and focus on the What. The why might change how the student responds, but I cannot control the students and should just address them if they do respond badly!

        1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          Yeah, I wonder if there’s a cultural component here as well, like if the student is from a place where a “non-traditional” grad student in your discipline is less common than in North America.

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      OP2: Nothing says “thank you” like sending you all to the hospital or the morgue. What the hell?

      When you put it that way, it *does* sound more like an RIF than a celebration…

  29. Bookworm*

    #1: Your letter indicates you think the student’s first language may not be English.

    Is this this an international/first generation student? I’ll agree on the face of it this behavior certainly sounds VERY rude but I wonder if there’s a also a cultural barrier alongside with a language one. Not everyone understands or knows the nuances of things like email etiquette or how academia operates, etc.

    Only you know but I also wanted to throw out other possibilities. The person also might be just plain rude. In any case: good luck!

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Regardless of why the student is this way, OP needs to use their words and talk to them. If it’s a cultural thing, then OP would be doing them a favor by explaining the norms here. And if they’re just a rude person, they need to be told what’s acceptable and enforce consequences if things don’t change.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        And if they’re just a rude person, they need to be told what’s acceptable and enforce consequences if things don’t change.

        Even a rude individual can pass for polite if the stakes are there and behaviors to avoid are well defined and communicated. It’s also worth considering salving over the last 20% if the individual can achieve 80% of the improvement.

  30. cncx*

    RE Op1, I work in a european company and one of the big complaints here is that they think americans are too brisk in their emails. i have an american coworker based in america who will just reply with the requested info and the coworkers here are offended that they didn’t do an opening, a closing, complete sentences, etc. So of course i, another american, make sure my emails are more fluffy. it’s funny because they complain that we are too fluffy when we talk but not fluffy enough in emails and it’s like make up your minds or just be aware. anyway.

    So i do think there could be some cultural norms at play in how the emails are worded, but that doesn’t really excuse the disorganized multiple emails in short succession expecting full reading and immediate response and snark otherwise. I do think OP is in a good position to coach here like “this is how grown-ups write emails in academe” and “i need you to put all your thoughts into one email barring [emergent situation] and give me a reasonable time to balance this against my other priorities”

    I also have done a lot of work with people for whom it was their first professional experience in a western country /international company and one of the things that struck out to me was the kind of cavalier attitude towards deadlines (which can be explained by coming from places where deadlines aren’t always hard deadlines, or turning in a rough draft on what was supposed to be the hard close deadline) and what a finished work product looks like (e.g. they would send reports with inconsistent formatting and weird capitalization typos, just messy stuff that had nothing to do with language mastery), and i’m wondering if the finished work product part could explain part of it, or the feeling stressed about a deadline could explain the forty different emails. But again, this is something OP is in a great place to mentor out of or try to flesh out.

    I agree that there’s an emotional labor component to this but i also think in a grad student supervisor position a little bit of professional mentoring is part of the job. If the student isn’t receptive to how to be a big boy in academe, then he won’t get very far either, but giving him the chance to cut it out is a kindness

    1. Jaybeetee*

      It is something to think about that email is the sort of thing most of us aren’t “taught”, but seem to be expected to intuit in context of other cultural norms (I’m not saying this to let this dude off the hook – LW is already bending over backwards trying to rationalize his behaviour and another colleague also thinks he’s rude).

      I cringe thinking of some of the emails I sent earlier in my career – ADHD word vomit ahoy! I had this idea I had to anticipate any potential questions and provide a ton of info and explanation, leading to, well, long-ass emails. A few times I wrote these novellas and managers responded with, like, a single sentence. I eventually realized it was better to be succinct, and if people had any questions, they’d ask.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        I had to anticipate any potential questions and provide a ton of info and explanation, leading to, well, long-ass emails. Solidarity sister!

      2. Lw#1*

        Thank you! That’s especially why I wanted to write in because while I think I have a decent handle on American cultural norms, emails and written tone are still one of those things that I struggle to explain why it’s one way or the other.

  31. windowround*

    I’m surprised people haven’t taken up the cultural element of LW1 more. You really, really need to know if they are foreign/ESL. You could get yourself into cultural trouble if you don’t approach it the right way.

    Other cultures are often more direct, even considered rude by Western standards. I’ve worked with people from other cultures who find it frustrating how overly polite you have to be, saying please and thank you for literally every quest. I am Western born and bred but even I see their point, even I’ve often worked with people whose exaggerated requirements for politeness are annoying.

    Just tread carefully if this is a cultural gap. In a university setting a student can raise a discrimination case.

    1. Doc in a Box*

      Even if their first language is English, cultural differences could be at play. I once heard the US and the UK described as “two countries separated by a common language.”

      1. anonymous 5*

        That can be true even within the US! There’s plenty of cultural difference in how people are expected to convey politeness over different communication modes; and, in the event of a language barrier, there’s plenty of “the translation of this phrase ends up not being considered polite in the new language.” But the expectation that someone will adapt to the culture they’re in is part of the deal, especially for a student. Plenty of schools have in-house resources for non-native-speaker students to learn how to refine not just their raw language skills, but also their communication styles, to fit the expectations of the culture/profession.

        Also, I don’t know if there’s a culture in which it would be considered appropriate to demand instantaneous responses to email, or to send multiple emails in the span of a few minutes and then criticize the recipient when they respond to the first before the recipient could have had a chance to respond to the remaining ones. Regardless of the “source” of the problem, OP1’s grad student is behaving rudely, and OP1 is fully justified in making the expectations clear (and then sticking to them, e.g. not responding to rude emails). A student could certainly try to make a discrimination case, but it probably wouldn’t get very far here.

      2. windowround*

        There are also often gender issues. I’m a young woman but I’m kind of blunt. I’ve noticed a lot of other young women require some kind of elaborate politeness grovelling ritual in their communications or their get their back up.

        “Hi, would you mind please having a look at this document for me, I’d really appreciate it, thanks so much sooo much appreciated! Only if you have the time and don’t mind! Thanks a bundle!”

        Versus

        “Could you take a look at this document? Thanks.”

        If you don’t talk like the first example some young women get annoyed. While it sounds like the grad student may be annoying, multiple emails isn’t cool, OP needs to make sure they are not applying some arbitrary standard.

        1. SGP*

          I’m detecting internalized misogyny here. “i’M noT LiKe OtHeR wOmEn!!”

          Lots of young women I know, including myself, are also blunt. For you to comment on this and call it gendered without commenting on the patriarchy that has built the expectation of women being emotional laborers for other people is pretty crappy of you.

          1. windowround*

            No, what is crappy is for women in the workplace to be ultra sensitive and cry when someone doesn’t overly pander to their fragility in emails.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              That’s not what’s happening in this situation. The behavior described is rude, and your comments are coming across as misogynistic. Leave this here, please.

            2. SGP*

              You just proved my point! Haha. The internalized misogyny factor went up by 100.

              Alison, I will leave this here now.

          2. Lw#1*

            I think you can consider yourself blunt and still use please and thank you, and that’s enough. I’d say terse is not quite rude, if that makes sense?

            But it is interesting to me that you’re pointing to this as a ‘women are too sensitive’ issue? Or rather windowround is.

    2. J.B.*

      Letting it passed without addressing the behavior is going to make the behavior worse. Organizations that are terrified of lawsuits and softpedal lead to other problems. You describe the behavior and set limits around it, make sure you document and move on.

    3. Myrin*

      Your first and last paragraph seem unnecessarily alarmist to me – I find it hard to envision someone raising a discrimination case (and actually having a leg to stand on) because their supervisor told them to consolidate all their thoughts into one email instead of three different ones with changing/conflicting information.

      1. windowround*

        Consolidating emails is fine. Criticising someone’s English or making them adhere to what may be female (?) Western standards of communication may not go down as well.

        1. EPLawyer*

          IF this person is a non-native English speaker how are they supposed to improve if they don’t get feedback? Letting someone know that they come across as rude in emails to their supervisor is a kindness that will help them in the future. Letting it go because of a fear of a longshot discrimination suit (which are harder to bring and even harder to win than you would think) is just kicking the can down the road. Because someone WILL call them on it eventually, threat of lawsuit or no. You cannot be rude to your supervisor no matter how much you think they deserve it.

          1. Washi*

            Yes, this is all the more clear cut in my mind because OP1 is this person’s manager and the employee in question is a student. Depriving this person of feedback that they need to succeed is way worse for the student!

          2. windowround*

            It depends in what context you are giving feedback. Things like consolidate your questions into one email is fine.

            Comments about spelling, grammar and tone may be crossing into cultural issues. Who else looked at these emails? I’d be concerned if it was two women of the same age how decided a man from another culture was being rude. They may be applying their own specific norms.

            Fact is in this political climate we are more culturally plural in the work place. Some people, especially men from certain cultures, often speak in a way that is not entirely cool with western women. They are just more direct. OP can address it but my suggestion is to tread lightly and be aware of whose standards they are applying.

            1. BethDH*

              Yeah, Except that cultural sensitivity does not mean letting people be rude by the standards of the culture they are training in.
              This is all the more true if it is, as you suggest, a gender issue. Why are you expecting that the presumed-female OP and her imagined female friend have personal standards that are somehow not the norm for their culture, but the student is somehow merely a product of his culture with no ability to adapt or choose how to implement the standards of his culture? It’s rather patronizing toward him, actually.
              Cultural background is a reason not to fire or fail or whatever. It is NOT a reason to avoid correction.
              On the lawsuit front, I was a grad teaching assistant at a school with a large number of foreign students who the school was anxious to keep (they paid the most tuition by far). There were some significant differences in how these students had been taught to approach things like citation, “original” research, and paraphrasing. We were explicitly told by the school to be clear about the expectations and give a lot of information about what that looked like in practice, but not to just let it go on the grounds of cultural difference. And believe me, they were very concerned about lawsuits.

              1. windowround*

                Who knows what demographic the letter writer is. They may be a man BIPOC.

                BUT just for a hypothetical say they are a white American woman who showed the letter to another white American woman and they then tell a foreign POC he’s rude. In this political climate it may not play so well, so not saying don’t do it just that if this is situation tread carefully.

                1. Colette*

                  I don’t sign on to the idea that “you can’t tell someone to stop doing something multiple women find offensive because maybe they’re too sensitive”.

                  And the behaviour the OP mentioned (assigning work to your supervisor, replying to a reply to one email with a quote from an email the recipient hasn’t read or replied to) is going to cause problems in a lot of places. The OP would be doing the student a disservice if she didn’t clearly explain what behaviour is acceptable.

            2. FM*

              The perceived tone of the emails should be addressed as it clearly bothers the OP. The issue is how to do so in a manner that gives the grad student a fighting chance of understanding what they need to do to improve. What is considered rude varies hugely between different countries particularly in regards to conflict (e.g. if and how to express disagreement). For someone brought up in a foreign country it is not obvious or easy to comprehend what specifically in the ‘tone’ of the emails creates the perception of rudeness. Addressing ‘send me your paragraph for the report when you’re done’ vs ‘please, could you send me your pragraph when you have a chance’ would require quite direct feedback (e.g. when you say ‘citation’ in the email it feels like an order. In our office/culture etc. people express their questions to the superiors in the following manner ‘two or three examples’). If the OP wants to help out this would be the way to do it.

            3. staceyizme*

              This was wince inducing to read. Two professionals reviewing email chains for perspectives on communication blunders like rudeness or redundancy aren’t disqualified because they share an age or a gender. That actually felt hostile to read.

        2. Myrin*

          The OP doesn’t say anywhere that she plans on criticising his English – the only reason she brings up his “misspellings and odd grammar” is that she deduces from that that he might have some problems with the nuances of English (business) communication in general (if you want my personal two cents, I think the whole language/culture angle is a red herring in this particular case anyway).

          I would also say that it’s generally fine to expect someone working in Country X and in language X-ese to adhere to Country X’s standards of communication at least to some degree.

          (FWIW, I also don’t think that your dichotomy of “Western” – “Other” holds up in this case. I’m German, which is most definitely a western nationality, and yet we’re one of the prime examples Americans tend to bring up about others being curt or too to-the-point; I know several of our neighbours have that reputation as well. On the other hand, Japanese or Koreans, who are definitely not western, are generally much more circumspect and unobtrusive. This is, IMO, a “Country Z vs. Country Y” thing or even an “Industry Z vs. Industry Y” thing much more than it as a “Western vs. Non-Western” thing.)

          1. windowround*

            I guess by Western I mean English speaking, I should have labelled it differently.

            I don’t know the gender of the letter writer but politeness comments often come from women. I would be wary of an American woman telling a man from another country how to communicate. I’m not saying you can’t say anything, just be careful. We live in a very delicate time for cultural, language and race issues.

            I also think some English speaking women need to interrogate their norms for polite communication. English speaking women of a certain age often have an exceptionally high standard that is not shared by many others. I’d be wanting that second pair of eyes to be someone like a man if I’m a woman or someone from another culture.

            It’s just about being careful in what can be an environment with my thorough processes for complaint than a normal company, working in a college, and in a currently highly charged political environment.

            I’m not saying he or she is wrong. Maybe the student is just a rude asshole. But given how delicate things are right now you’d really want to be careful IF you were a couple of American women who decided that some guy from another language was rude.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              But given how delicate things are right now you’d really want to be careful IF you were a couple of American[s] … who decided that some guy from another language was rude.

              I’d drop the gender qualifier; I’ve met and worked with many American men whose standards are just as lofty.

            2. squidarms*

              I really do not understand why you keep trying to advise other people on cultural sensitivity while repeatedly making comments that, in many workplaces, would be considered offensively misogynist.

            3. EPLawyer*

              So basically what you are saying is American women can’t tell a man he is being rude because “cultural differences?” The American woman just has to accept the man being rude to her because well, that’s where he’s from?

              Uh NO. Men do not get to be rude to women just because it’s culturally okay to them. Nor do women get to be rude to men because its culturally okay to them. Rudeness to managers is not accepted anywhere I am aware of — regardless of the genders involved.

            4. EventPlannerGal*

              I think it’s very strange that you are admonishing people about these delicate times and so on while stereotyping very normal standards of workplace politeness as “female” and therefore unreasonable, and using “Western” and “English-speaking” interchangeably. Perhaps these are things that you should get a second pair of eyes on.

          2. FM*

            The best description of how culture impacts our beliefs and behaviours I found here: https://shiftworkplace.com/dont-things-way-practical-strategies-deal-emotions-cultural-clash/
            “Culture is not neutral. When any group of people starts spending time in the same place, over time they develop norms of behaviour. (…) Usually we don’t see either the good or the bad in our own culture because we are immersed in it like fish swimming in a pond. The fish might feel happy and healthy in a clear ecosystem surrounded by water, or the fish might feel unhealthy and sluggish surrounded by toxins and predators, but the fish doesn’t question the pond in which it swims, it just lives there. That is how culture develops everywhere: people fall into certain ways of interacting with each other and anyone who doesn’t conform is considered to be lacking in social skills. Of course there are always thinkers, prophets, artists, poets and politicians in every culture who (as) cultural outliers have the perception, mindfulness or mission to show the culture how it can do better, get out of its difficulties and have happier lives. But the fish of that culture generally can’t even imagine what these outliers are trying to promote because they themselves have never been outside their own pond.
            Let’s say you are one of those fish. Then one day you find yourself transferred to a new pond – maybe a new workplace pond, a new city pond or a new country pond. You realize you have been swimming in different waters than you are now and, to make some sense of the changes, you start to compare. You ask yourself what is identical, what is similar and what is different. Before you know it, you are making moral judgments about the culture of that new pond you now find yourself inhabiting. Fish here are lazier, or they are all suspicious. Maybe they don’t seem to be able to speak their minds, or they are not friendly – certainly not like the fish back home in the old pond.’
            When in a new culture you simply don’t know what you don’t know unless someone kind explains to you the hidden assumptions and values – what is really going on behind the surface. If the student is indeed ESL the LW can be that person for them.

            1. Lw#1*

              Thank you for that resource! I’ll try and keep it in mind when approaching possible cultural differences. I know american-academia cultural norms are not universal norms (like how thank you notes after interviews are still pretty expected (I think)), but I think it’s more helpful for my grad and undergrad students to be aware of them if they plan on staying in american-academia.

              Especially since I might be their first manager, I think the things I need to lay out for them (showing up on time, being showered, responding to student emails within 48 hrs) might be more explicit than in an office. One thing I’m struggling with is not to sound condescending myself. Like do I need to be that explicit?

              I mostly have been resolving that with myself by writing this all down in a long ‘welcome to this job! Here are the expectations’ document that they can read or not, I don’t care.

              All this is to say, thanks!

        3. EventPlannerGal*

          Making them adhere to female standards – what? It sounds like the OP’s standard is “please do not send multiple emails in fifteen minutes then respond rudely when they are answered, condescend, ramble or issue commands to the person who manages you”, which I do not think are particularly unusual standards or indeed female ones.

        4. Senor Montoya*

          Can’t disagree strongly enough.

          This student needs to know what is appropriate, professional, and polite email communication. OP is the manager and has standing to let the student know and to expect the student to comply. As long as OP is not rude, dismissive, unkind — no problem.

          There are all sorts of reasons why the student may be like this. OP does not need to get into reasons — address the action.

    4. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I’ve worked with people from other cultures who find it frustrating how overly polite you have to be, saying please and thank you for literally every quest.

      Wow, that’s the exact opposite of my experience. I thought only the American dialect lacked works for gratitude and appreciation. I get those in Spades from my ESL co-workers.

      1. windowround*

        It varies a lot and is often just personal preference not culture. I have worked with a number of people who expect every request to have a please or thank you and they get their back up if you don’t.

        Like “please pass the stapler” versus “can you pass the stapler”

        Or requiring multiple please “Please can you run this down to level three and while down there can you please pick up x and then can you please….”

        Some people don’t add as many please and thank you’s into their vocab and I’ve seen it cause conflict. It’s not in everyone’s language to say code every request with please and thank you.

        1. Not Australian*

          “I have worked with a number of people who expect every request to have a please or thank you”

          Well, yes. That’s basic good manners, and not something anyone can afford to dispense with; if “it’s not in everyone’s language” I would want to know why not – I can’t imagine considering that sort of thing unnecessary, as it’s part of treating one’s colleagues like human creatures rather than task robots.

          Although FWIW I do think the ‘please’ is heard more clearly when it’s at the end of the sentence.

    5. TL -*

      I work in academia and therefore have always had ~50% foreign and ESL coworkers.

      You don’t actually have to be super careful about this, and you aren’t going to get yourself in cultural trouble. You need to address it directly and simply, without attributing it to malice or to stereotypes. (And I edit papers for ESL speakers a lot, so I have a lot of experience here.)

      As in (real-life examples, names changed)
      “Jane, that’s actually a little racist to say. You shouldn’t use that phrase. [brief history/discussion]”
      “When you write it like that, it actually comes across as rude. English is weird! Why don’t you phrase it like this?”
      “This is grammatically incorrect. Here is the corrected version and the rule.”
      “You need to be polite to So-and-so. You cannot be rude to someone because of their position in the company. Ever. You need to treat her with the respect and courtesy you show me, your coworkers, and your boss.”

      In the LW’s case, ‘It’s actually considered rude here to send multiple emails in a row and it’s extremely rude to quote your own emails back at me. In the future, you either need to send me one email, with all of your thoughts formed, or at least two business days to follow up. Your follow-up should be worded politely, which looks like, “Hi, just following up on Question X. Did you get my email?”‘

      If the LW frames it like, “I notice you’re a young woman, and as such, you may expect more politely worded requests than the norm,” then, yes, they’re going to get in trouble. But that’s not because they asked someone to be polite, it’s because they’re framing their request in a sexist stereotype. Explaining cultural norms is absolutely okay. Being sexist and/or stereotyping is not. There’s a difference.

    6. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

      Just tread carefully if this is a cultural gap. In a university setting a student can raise a discrimination case.

      You know, this is something that really irritates me as someone who works in higher ed. Before we send domestic students overseas on exchange or for internships, we hammer inter-cultural competence into them as best we can. We hold ourselves accountable for taking on the onus of acclimatizing to another culture’s norms when our work takes us to a place where we aren’t members of the dominant culture. The problem is, why do we not get to expect the same of international students who come here? We ultimately end up cheating a lot of our international students (and recent immigrant employees) out of professional growth because we are scared of addressing these issues from a cultural competence standpoint. The alternative is that we either ignore problems that we’re squeamish to deal with because of potential discrimination, or we address them as an attitude or professionalism issue. Neither approach does right by anyone.

      (And FWIW, I’m a PoC second-gen immigrant whose family mostly came here as international students in the 60s and 70s.)

  32. Project Manager*

    LW2 – based on what I’ve been reading, I suspect the transmission path for asymptomatic transmission is fecal-oral (rather than aerosol). (This was a major transmission path for SARS-CoV-1.) Apparently, you can be shedding live coronavirus in your stool while testing negative in both nostrils. So I would definitely not eat anything prepared by other people unless you trust their handwashing.

    In your place, I’d just say you have a conflict. If you have kids, you can’t get childcare, oh what a shame, maybe next time. Otherwise, I’d use the upset stomach excuse (but watch out for people who know GI distress is the first symptom of coronavirus – no need to alarm them unnecessarily).

    1. TL -*

      There’s no evidence of fecal-oral transmission, and they have looked. There’s virus in the stool, but no transmission from it.

  33. Jaybeetee*

    TIL Craigslist still exists, and people still look for jobs on it.

    (Okay, I knew it still existed, but in my region it’s treated like a cesspit of scams, bots, and pervs).

    1. Amy Sly*

      Craigslist is a garage sale, which is to say that it’s full of junk but if you’re willing to dig around you can find the occasional treasure. I’ve gotten a job, a tenant, and a house full of furniture I could never have afforded new thanks to Craigslist. It’s just a matter of being able to hunt for what you want.

      1. JM in England*

        With Craigslist, like any other selling site, it’s always a case of Caveat Emptor…..

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        A garage sale really is the best way to put it.

        I was thrilled to get rid of some stuff that otherwise would have gone in the landfill.

        I’ve also used it to sell construction materials because construction folks looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove them some CL.

    2. Clisby*

      There are plenty of scams/bots on CL in my area, but it’s pretty easy to detect legit jobs – when it says they’re looking for a dishwasher and to apply to a particular address that I know is a restaurant, I’m assuming it’s OK.

  34. Ann*

    #3: Our company is in a professional and conservative field. We look at a candidate’s public social media accounts for red flags, though with the understanding that one’s own private life is their own. Some people with common names or those who share a name with, say a YouTuber known for discriminatory content, benefit by providing their photos to avoid negative mistaken first impressions prior to any face-to-face meetings.

    1. Carbondale*

      I understand the urge to check a candidate’s public social media accounts, but it sounds like you are wading into discrimination territory if candidates who provide photos are given preference over those who don’t. People who fear discrimination based on their race or ethnicity are less likely to submit a photo.

    2. Washi*

      It just seems like the likelihood of unconsciously discriminating against someone would be much greater than the likelihood that they share a name with an offensive social media star and there is no way to distinguish them other than a photograph which must be provided upon application.

      1. Quill*

        You can generally tell that youtuber Johnny Memes isn’t applying for a job as an executive assistant based on the fact that he’s still uploading non-apologies for the racist meme he based a video on and youtubing full time.

    3. Metadata minion*

      Given how likely it is that looking through someone’s social media could end up tripping unconscious biases, why not save that until you actually get to the interview stage with someone?

  35. Blue Eagle*

    #2 – I would send an email to my manager saying “Please let the organizers know that I will have to miss the employee appreciation event because my doctor instructed me not to attend any gathering of more than 10 people”.
    And who, the AAM commentariat may ask, is my doctor? Dr. Fauci – who is paid using taxpayer dollars, some of which were sent to the federal government by me.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I like the sentiment of this, but I can’t shake the feeling that you could face repercussions if your employer digs into it that far. I would just call my normal doctor, or consult a service like The Little Clinic, and obtain a note to that effect from a doctor who will confirm their professional relationship with you if necessary.

      Just my ¢¢, admittedly from someone who does not know the law in this area.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        If it comes to that, sure. But it’s very unlikely that you’re going to need a doctor’s note to opt out of a social gathering meant as a reward. There are outlier cases, of course, but there’s no reason to assume this is one of them. She can just say she’s not taking any risks right now. In most cases (related to a single party, not work stuff in general), that’s all she’ll need.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I hope you’re right (about them not digging that far). I just like to be prepared for what I can be prepared for.

  36. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    OP1, I saw the ‘graduate in 4 years’ part and missed the ‘grad student’ when I first read the question, so I assumed that this was a college freshman in a first job, and my immediate instinct was to say “Yes, absolutely this must be addressed. Right away, over the phone or in person.” This is not professional behavior in any setting.

    The fact that this is a grad student makes that even more urgent.

    And since you were warned up front, did this student attend the same university for undergrad too? Were the people who warned you the ones who hired this student, or the ones who accepted them into the graduate program? Did this brusque personality factor into those decisions, or did the student pull a Jeckyll-and-Hyde routine?

    The student needs to be told that this behavior is jeopardizing their job, their degree, and potentially their entire career.

  37. Hiring Mgr*

    I remember my first time managing and hiring for an international team – I couldn’t believe some of the candidates’ resumes had photos, marital status, kids, etc..

    But yeah if these ads are only on Craigslist and not job boards like LinkedIn or Indeed or others, then there’s a good chance it’s something shady..

  38. Roscoe*

    #3 I don’t know if I’d care. I’d say 75% of jobs now ask for your LinkedIn profile, which usually has a picture anyway. So I don’t really see how its much different than that. I mean, I can see how it can open it up to discrimination, but if they are going to discriminate based on how you look, I’d argue I’d rather them do it before I’m invested enough to come in for an interview. But this is one of those things where you can always wonder about if you don’t get a call back, and you can drive yourself crazy. But, if you go in for an interview, and you think it went well, you could drive yourself just as crazy wondering if your appearance was why you didn’t get it. They will see you eventually, right? So why does it matter when that happens?

  39. LilyMaid*

    I applied to a “customer service representative” ad A couple of years ago. It didn’t list the company but the pay was good. During the phone interview, the interviewer asked for a photo and my measurements. I don’t live in an area where this kind of request would be normal and am not an actor or a model. Lol. I was incredibly confused/weirded out and expressed that to the interviewer. She explained the company was a local gentleman’s club. I very politely declined to send my photo or measurements.

  40. Generic Name*

    #4 this has happened to me a couple of times for work. Each time I contacted the accounting person in charge of reimbursements to ask what I should do. One time, because I had a bunch of other things to be reimbursed for that would cover the refund amount, she had me enter into our software my expenses as normal and enter in the refund with a negative amount. Another time when I wasn’t expecting any reimbursable expenses anytime soon, she had me enter in the refund as a negative and then I wrote a check to the company (which was really weird!).

    You do need to contact someone about what to do. I wouldn’t ask your ethically challenged boss; find someone in accounting and ask what the procedures are. You probably aren’t the first person to be in this dilemma. Trips get cancelled all the time, even pre-Covid.

    1. Uranus Wars*

      The check is weird, but in our company if there was no pending expense report they would ask for a cashier’s check (but the refund you the amount of the check – at my bank it is $2 for a cashier’s check).

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Actually writing the check to the company is not so weird! We used Concur and that was the practice if you had to use your company credit to make a personal purchase.

        When I traveled in Europe on company + personal time, I did have to use the corporate card to purchase (personal leg of trip) train tickets because at the time it was my only card that had the “chip” in it. I was SO worried when I got back I’d be in trouble for using the corporate card, but the rep and my manager said it happened often when abroad and to just mail them a check for the train ticket amounts and indicate that expense was “personal.” That was a good company! I miss it!

        1. Uranus Wars*

          That’s interesting. And pretty awesome that they just said “hey, totally normal, just pay us back”

    2. OP #4*

      Ironically I am in the accounting department :) But thank you for the examples – i wasn’t 100% it was a think that was done and wasn’t sure how people went about reimbursing!

      1. Uranus Wars*

        This makes me eye your manager even harder…she is a manager in accounting and is OK with what amounts to fraudulent claims against the company and stealing money? Yikes!

        1. OP #4*

          The VP of finance paid for our team holiday lunch with a free gift card he had and then expensed it back to himself, so I’m thinking it comes from the top down. We’re not winning any ethics awards here.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            That’s still not the same.

            The gift card was his, regardless of if he was gifted it or found it in the streets. It had cash value, so the reimbursement isn’t unethical.

            Now if he paid for the card with company funds and gave it to himself, then reimbursed himself…that’s getting into the weeds.

            1. Uranus Wars*

              I agree here. My family used to get me Starbucks gift cards all the time because I traveled…but work reimbursed my coffees. So I started submitting expense receipts and our AP said the same – whether its a personal gift card or a personal credit card it’s MY money going out and they have to reimburse for it.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        She… thinks of it as “free money” and she’s in accounting… holy unethical moley. That’s some low level embezzlement and tax fraud. That reimbursement would be taxable since it’s no longer an expense. Same with the wellness program receipts that aren’t tracked to the actual person.

  41. Students Start Clueless*

    #1 – Regardless of rudeness, language facility, gender, or other factors, I wonder to what degree generational norms of communication are at play here? I work at a University and there are a lot of students who literally HATE e-mail. They just don’t/won’t use it. And yes, to their detriment they mess things up a lot as this is the formal means of communication for the school. Social media, texting, etc are their go-to ways of communicating and 3 e-mails in 15 minutes matches that model pretty well. I have a colleague who covers these adult-life-everyday-practices in her teaching – explicitly teaching the “soft skills” that we who are steeped in the professional world take for granted – e-mail norms, checking phone messages and responding to same, fax machines (still required for a lot of government documentation), even how to address and stamp a letter. So I wonder if this is someone who just isn’t aware of e-mail norms, much less best practices.

      1. Lw#1*

        But it could be a generational thing! I’m just not sure! Thank you thought, I didn’t think about it like that.

  42. Khatul Madame*

    Craigslist LW –
    In some tech markets candidate substitution is rampant, meaning one person interviews and another signs up to work for the employer. If the employer has the photo, they can at least tell if it’s the same person in the video interview.
    However, this is Craigslist – sleazy come-ons and identity theft scenarios are more likely than legitimate employers protecting themselves from ringers.

  43. MissDisplaced*

    4. Do I have to repay my employer for a refund on a reimbursed expense?
    Yes, you should at least show them the credit and ask how they would like to handle it. You should always be prepared to refund any credits back to your company. At work, with all money and expenses, the best policy is full transparency and honesty.

    Your manager gave you terrible advice which leads me not to trust their judgment (it’s not “free” money, it’s company money!). If I were you, I would ask Accounting how they would like it handled instead (or whatever department handles your company travel expenses and reimbursements).

    1. OP #4*

      I am in accounting which is the crazy part! Between us and HR, I think everyone has become morally grey when it comes to reimbursements and this company. Its a very weird place to work.

  44. CommanderBanana*

    Ah yes, Ashley Taylor “The Rules Don’t Apply to Me Because I’m Thin, Rich and Blonde” Bronczek.

  45. Waiting to be Future Endeavored*

    #2 – It doesn’t say if this lunch is happening on campus or not, but my university has strict rules on who can be on campus right now. We’re not even allowed to meet in person with anyone. I know this is a VP and university reporting lines can be weird, but I wonder if there’s someone higher up who should know about this. Or innocently contact Health Services, compliance, HR, or whoever about what you need in order to attend. “Oh my department is hosting this event. Do we all need to get tested before or after?”
    Yes to above about “to you” not “for you.” This is all about the VP and not about the staff!

    1. Paulina*

      Yes, and having the lunch outside doesn’t mean people won’t need to access the buildings, eg. to use the washrooms.

  46. hgpot*

    I’m number 5 here. Thanks for clarifying that it isn’t as big of a deal as I feared. Also, thanks for the link to your other post – I had heard that it was a much bigger deal than you’re making it out to be. Worried about nothing, I guess.

  47. VARecruits*

    #3- I had a client that wanted pictures of candidates, suggested it to me multiple times. At first I laughed it off, but by the third time I realized he wasn’t joking…had to explain to him the liability he was opening himself up for and that there was no way I was going to allow that. Luckily the organization wouldn’t have either…but I couldn’t believe he thought that was a good idea.

    #5 – I agree that it shouldn’t matter if people apply to multiple jobs, however, for many clients I’ve had it does. I’m currently fighting about that with a client. I have a handful of qualified individuals who are eager to join their organization, and they get rejected for “applying to everything.” Well…when you apply to Role A and are told you weren’t selected because another applicant was chosen…why wouldn’t you apply to A1 and A2, and maybe even B and B1 considering they same job just with a different department in the organization? It doesn’t always show that people aren’t focused or aren’t “really interested in A.” Drives me nuts…

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      On #5 — my point is that doing that once six years ago isn’t going to be something now. It very well might have gotten them rejected back then. It’s not going to be a thing six years after the fact.

  48. Observer*

    #4 – If you have any other option whatsoever, do NOT ask your manager about this money. She’s clearly not honest. And if she gives you the wrong information which then comes back to bite you, you can be sure she’ll throw you under the bus.

    Also, watch your back. This is NOT someone to trust. But also, if you are not careful, you could get caught up in the line of fire if she ever gets investigated.

    1. OP #4*

      She’s very much in line with the culture at my company – this place is full of lax policies and morally grey people. But I will ask someone else before I ask her, just to be safe.

      1. Observer*

        Get it in writing.

        Also, watch your back in general, not just her. More importantly, please don’t let this skew your sense of what is normal and reasonable. What she told you is more than “lax” or morally grey.

    2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      Yeah – this is crazy: ‘my company has a $100 a quarter wellness reimbursement that my manager has suggested I just submit a friend’s receipts for just to “not miss out on free money”’

  49. RagingADHD*

    OP#3: Craigslist.

    I’m not saying every job listed on CL is skeevy, but it is definitely a place where a lot of bait-n-switch job listings and shady or corner-cutting employers prefer to troll for unwary applicantd.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      It kind of sad. Craigslist used to be a fairly decent place to find local jobs about 10 years ago.
      Mainly, things like wait staff, construction, retail and the like, but I did get some graphic design jobs from listings there back in the day. Now, I never check it.
      Unfortunately, the whole CL site seems to have been taken over by pimps and scammers, has not kept up with technology, and it appears the owner/CEO doesn’t care anymore.

  50. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

    #4 – Is it possible to submit a revised expense report? If so, I would just do that and include the payback with it. It makes the whole thing very matter of fact; “some of my expenses were refunded, I owe you a refund, here it is”. If they let you keep the money, at least you have documented that you tried to return it.

    1. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      Of course this might not work if your manager has to approve your expense report before it goes to accounting.

  51. Moonbeam Malone*

    OP3: fwiw, this is a bit of a craigslist thing. You’d think it’s specific to L.A. but I’ve seen postings like that in Mid-Missouri and I’ve stopped even checking Craigslist job listings for multiple reasons. (Though I think in your area it’s probably still worth at least searching, so I’m not telling you to rule it out!) If it isn’t an acting or modeling job but it’s asking for a headshot that’s super sketchy and a major red flag. If you think this might be something other industries just do in L.A. it might be worth it to reach out to any contact you might have in the area to see if it really is normal but generally in my experience those job listings are scams.

  52. Aquawoman*

    Sometimes the questions give me an AITA moment. Like, for the rude emails, I think that a manager can ask for certain things in their communications because they’re the manager. E.g. I ask that my reports send me deadlines in a specific form because of the way I track deadlines and use my calendar. They each have to track only their own, I have to track all of them. Obviously there’s a balance–what I ask for may be a different thing than what they’d choose to do but it doesn’t add much if any burden. So I feel like the LW could address her preference that employees not send scattershot emails. I mean, people forget things, God knows I’ve sent enough, “oops” or “oh, yeah, one more thing” emails but if it’s consistent, they can be asked to think things through rather than waste their manager’s time. I don’t think ITA for having this approach. I’m considerate of the people I work with, but (1) my job is different from theirs and I have to let them know what works for me and (2) I’m the person who has more authority over priorities.

  53. MJ*

    “Also, your manager suggested you submit a friend’s receipts as your own? Your manager has a serious ethics deficit, and I would not use her as your model!”

    I’m just loving Alison’s no nonsense responses recently. The world is burning and she’s clearly had enough.

  54. Sparkles McFadden*

    1. One of the more interesting things about being a manager is that you learn how some people need guidance in areas you’d never imagined. You have to explain why an employee needs to call when not showing up for work. You need to explain why personal hygiene is important. You have to explain why you cannot tell your coworker that he will burn in eternal damnation if he hasn’t been saved. …and you have to figure out how to teach an adult how to speak to other adults in meetings, and how to write civil emails.

    I had a direct report who insulted people via email and in person, and honestly didn’t know he was doing that. I instructed him to let me review his emails before sending them. We’d sit together in my office, and I’d point out how a certain phrase in his email could be interpreted in an insult and how he could make his point in a more effective way. Fortunately, this employee was very open to constructive criticism. He literally said “Why didn’t anyone tell me all of this before?” *sigh*

    2. This is what I call “enforced socialization.” I would attend one of these per every six invitations…but surely not during a pandemic. Once, my (then) boss actually stopped me on the street to ask why I was walking “the wrong way” and insisted that I change my plans when I replied I was on my way home. I think I said “Well, sometimes plans conflict” in a good-natured way and I kept walking. Bland explanations work best, using Alison’s suggested “Of course this is optional!” tone. (If you don’t have a good “Of course no reasonable person would ask me to do such a thing!” tone, work on it. It’s soooo useful.)

    3. This is just weird

    4. Asking this question shows good judgment…as opposed to your manager’s suggestions. I hope you have a T&E office to contact. They’ll know how to handle it as they do it all of the time.

    5. Six years ago is a long time. No one would even remember. Good luck!

  55. tinybutfierce*

    #2, joining the chorus saying to not go if it’s at all possible.

    My job has been WFH since March, and bout a month ago, one of my teammates organized a get-together at an indoor bar across from our office for those who wanted to join. I opted out and am immensely glad I did; found out afterwards that no one wore masks (“we’re eating and drinking, so it seemed pointless anyway”), and about a week afterwards, one of the folks who went shared that both his parents (who he’d seen recently) just tested positive.

    So yeah, please don’t go if you feel unsafe.

  56. CM*

    For #2, I wonder if you could put together a letter that’s signed by multiple coworkers, or if that would be too confrontational? It could be something like, “We are grateful to the company for being so supportive during this COVID time and allowing the flexibility and stability for us to be productive. To follow public health recommendations and protect vulnerable family members, we want to avoid in-person events that are not strictly necessary, but thank you for wanting to celebrate our team’s milestone in increasing revenue by 40%. We hope that in better times, we will be able to celebrate in person.”

  57. ainnnymouse*

    A couple years ago I applied for a fast food job and the lady next to me had a resume with a small black and white photo of her on the top. Above her name and address. I didn’t think it was too strange since the job was in the suburbs of Los Angeles.

    There is a pretzel restaurant at the local mall that is always asking for photos. Their requirements are; fill out the application, submit a resume, and send a smiling picture of yourself. But they have not been hiring since the covid struck and shut down the mall.

  58. Lw#1*

    Thank you so much Alison for posting my question, and than you for the other commentators for the useful back and forth. I will have to refer to this link if the grad student sends another rude cluster of emails, but I’m glad to know that the best way to deal with it is to frame it as my email preference.

    I also appreciate the discussion on cultural nuances, and am glad I can mine this thread for training documents on academia advice when life calms down enough for me to write them.

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