interns want to break social distancing guidelines, cockroach etiquette, and more

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

1. My fellow interns want to break social distancing guidelines

I am working remotely on a summer internship with a group of about 25 other students. They want to meet up in person, as a group, by the end of the summer. Meeting in such a large group would break local social distancing guidelines and would not be safe. Our employer is not aware of these plans, and company policy is that employees are not allowed to have in-person work meetings. Should I claim to be busy, or should I be frank and tell them it is unsafe? Should I report them to authorities? Our employer? I am worried that speaking out could harm my working relationships, especially because some of the other interns are senior to me.

Speak up and tell them it’s a violation of local health guidelines as well as company policy! You could add something like, “I know we all want to make a good impression on (company) and I think it would reflect badly on us to organize something that’s explicitly against their rules.” If someone tries to tell you company rules are irrelevant since this would be outside of work and on your own time (which someone is almost definitely going to say), you can respond, “I’m pretty sure the company would be concerned about it since it would still be organized as a thing for our work cohort. I think we should check with (manager) to see if that’s right or not.”

And if you do check with your manager, know this isn’t “tattling” (which people sometimes worry about); it’s genuinely asking your manager for advice about how to handle something within your intern cohort, which managers will generally be very glad to advise you on.

And if they go ahead with it anyway, you don’t need to go! You can bow out and explain you’re just being really careful. There’s a good chance one or more other people in the group will feel more comfortable protecting themselves once they see you doing it. And it shouldn’t affect your relationships as long as you’re polite about it (you can still be direct while being polite)!

2. Cockroach etiquette

Some time ago I attended a two-day technical seminar at another company. I was one of the most junior people in attendance and spent the seminar mostly silent while taking copious notes.

During the first day, I went to grab a coffee from the office Keurig during a break — and when I opened the basket to add a pod, a cockroach climbed out. I removed and disposed of the cockroach while internally screaming and avoided the Keurig for the remainder of the seminar. I did not, however, alert anyone else — no one else was in the area, there was no obvious admin or other person I could alert to the invader, and the woman running the seminar was engaged with other participants and I really didn’t want to kick up a fuss since I was so junior compared to others.

In hindsight, I should have said something, but how on earth does one address this without causing a huge interuption or seeming unprofessional? I’m hoping it never comes up again but I’d like to be prepared if it does!

Oh noooo. Although there was no obvious admin around, was there anyone around from the company holding the seminar? I think you could have approached anyone who worked there and said, “I’m sure this isn’t your job, but could you point me to the right person to alert about a problem in the kitchen?”

If there was no one around, your options were more limited — but it even would have been okay to stick a sign on the Keurig saying “do not use — found roach inside.” That would be an alarming sign to come upon, but less alarming than the experience you had.

Read an update to this letter here.

3. Should I pay for a certification from a course on teamwork and communication?

I lost my job, and essentially my career, to Covid. I was a successful costume designer in theater, and since it will be years before I can work at the same level as I was before, I found a job that I can work from home and it uses some of the skills I cultivated as a costume designer, though it is unrelated. It is much more corporate than I am used to, but it pays well and I am enjoying it so far.

They are having us take these online courses through Coursera. The first one is teamwork and communicating effectively in groups. The course is free to audit, but if you pay a fee ($50) you get a certificate that shows you completed the course. We are being paid for the time we use to take it, and I understand why the company doesn’t want to pay to get the certificate, but should I personally pay the fee to get the proper certification? Will it add anything to my hiring appeal? I am thinking that it might be years before I return to theater work, if ever, and I want to make myself as appealing to businesses as possible, as I spent the last decade outside the business world (I am taking online classes to get a business degree). Is it worth it for the certificate, and can I put it on my resume that I have a certificate in this training?

Definitely do not pay the fee. Some certifications are worth paying for, but definitely not one on teamwork and communicating effectively. That’s soft to the point of being utterly mushy as far as weight with employers is concerned. Employers do care about teamwork and communicating effectively, but they won’t care if you’ve taken a class in those things; they’ll only care if you can show evidence of those traits via your actual accomplishments. I wouldn’t bother putting it on your resume for the same reason. (That doesn’t mean you won’t find value in the class, though.)

4. My office is only paying for the time I spend on assignments

I work for a smallish firm, less than 40 people, and have worked here for about 3.5 years. When I started, I worked full-time, but over the last year and a half, I’ve been trying to phase in my retirement. What I really want to do is work three days a week. After many starts and stops, I was just settling into my new schedule when the pandemic hit. I’ve been working from home ever since.

When the pandemic first hit, I told my firm that I would be happy to work five days a week but only report the hours I actually “worked.” This worked pretty well at first as it gave me time to adjust to working from home, which I had never done before. In the office, I sat at my computer for 7.5 hours a day, asking people if they needed any help and waiting for work to come to me. And I billed for 7.5 hours a day. Now, I don’t just sit at my desk, I roam around my house and yard and wait to hear that “ding” that means someone needs my help. So some days, I have one, two, three, whatever hours of work. But I still am on that leash! It’s not like I can leave my house and go to the beach! I’m available when needed. Is there some other way to do this? What’s fair for them and for me?

They shouldn’t be paying you this way, because you’re what the law considers “engaged to wait” — meaning they have hired you to be available during those 7.5 hours and to wait for work to come in, which you’ll then take care of. When you’re “engaged to wait,” your employer is required by law to pay you for that full time (since, as you noted, your time is not your own — you can’t leave and go to the beach, etc.)

Say this: “I’ve just learned that the arrangement I originally proposed, where I’d only log time when I actually performed work, is putting us in violation of the law. It turns out that because I’m what the law calls ‘engaged to wait’ and can’t leave and do other things with my time, we’re required to treat it the same way as when I was in the office, and pay me for a regular workday. I’m sorry I didn’t realize that when I first proposed this!” (You don’t really need to apologize; it’s their job to know labor laws, not yours. But that language will probably make this feel easier to broach — although feel free to remove it if you don’t think you need it.)

Presumably you’d then want to propose that you return to your three-day-a-week schedule so all the work is contained within those days.

5. A job I was interviewing for has re-opened; how do I reconnect with the recruiter?

A few months ago, just as we were working to schedule an final interview, the internal recruiter for the company let me know they were no longer sure when they could hire for that position due to COVID and would not know until after a certain date.

I checked in with the recruiter again after that date and was told there hadn’t been any movement on the position and that they would alert me when they knew more. Fast forward a month to now and I get an alert for the job from Linkedin. I’ve also confirmed that it’s live on their website.

Now I’m in a pickle. I feel like if I bring up the posting to the recruiter, I’m essentially saying “you didn’t do the thing you said you would do” regardless of how polite the wording is. It also seems strange to resubmit my application without a word when I have been in contact with this recruiter and had two interviews for the position already. What is the most skillful and professional way to handle this?

Contact the recruiter again and say, “I saw the X job has been reposted and I’d love to reconnect with you about the role. I’d interviewed with Jane Valentine in February and we were working to schedule a final interview in March, but then Covid put everything on hold. Would it be possible to formally throw my hat back in the ring if things are now moving forward?”

You don’t need to worry about the subtext being “you didn’t do the thing you said you’d do.” Recruiters don’t bother to get back to people all the time; it’s practically an operating norm of the profession. Or she’s just been overloaded but you’re on her list and she’ll be glad you initiated the exchange so she doesn’t have to. Just be matter-of-fact about wanting to move forward and it won’t be weird.

{ 422 comments… read them below }

    1. LGC*

      I imagine they’d have to give her back pay. The problem is that the arrangements she made weren’t acceptable.

      Like, even if you volunteer to work for free, you can’t. (With the exception for nonprofit organizations where you can volunteer for positions that are unpaid to begin with.)

      1. Artemesia*

        The easiest way for the company to deal with all this is to say ‘well this doesn’t really work for us so we will need to lay you off.’ Yes push back on being available and unpaid but don’t ask for back pay, you may get it and then be out of a job.

          1. Ann Nonymous*

            Because in real life you might get one thing (what you’re legally owed) but ultimately be screwed because then you will be let go. LW needs to think of what is best for her overall.

            1. Anonapots*

              Yeah, it’s time not to do stuff like this. This is what so many companies bank on and screw that.

        1. LGC*

          Well, what I mean is that…even if they both agreed to this, LW4 might need to be paid regardless since that’s what the law says.

          Granted, no one might find out (both parties were happy with the setup).

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I’m actually a little confused by the letter. The title indicates that they are not paying her for her “waiting time”, but then she mentions that she bills for the 7.5 hours she’s waiting. But yes if she was available and waiting for work, she should be paid for that time and needs to request back pay.

      1. MeTwoToo*

        I think she’s saying she was billing for 7.5 hours when she was at the office whether she was actively working or not. Now she’s at home and only billing for active work even though she’s waiting to get work.

      2. BethDH*

        That’s when she was in the office — it’s a little buried but she’s drawing a contrast between being in the office waiting and getting paid and being at home doing the same thing and not getting paid.

      3. Saberise*

        To me it’s not clear that they know that is what she is doing. They may just think over all she’s working less hours. Personally I would tell her that if she is billing for 7.5 hours than her butt needs to be at her computer for 7.5 hours. Even if she rushes to her desk when she hears a ding from her backyard there is still a delay.

        1. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

          That’s not really how “engaged to wait” works. At the office, I might get up to go to the bathroom or to chat with a coworker, and during that time get a phone call or email that I can’t answer immediately. I’m still considered to be working in that time, though I don’t bill it to a single case (my office has separate trackers for cases and non-case time).

        2. Parenthetically*

          That’s the opposite of what needs to be done here.

          OP is currently billing only for hours actively working (NOT for 7.5 hours, which she says is what she billed for in the office), but that is against the law if she is expected to be available to assist people whenever she is needed. There is absolutely no need for her to be sitting at her desk so she can answer DMs within seconds, nor for her to be staring at her computer for 6 hours just to await an afternoon “ding.” She is allowed to behave exactly as she would in the office — getting a cup of coffee or a snack, scrolling AAM, checking LinkedIn, updating her resume, stretching her legs, chit-chatting with people in her department, whatever she normally does — while waiting for work to come in. She’s even allowed to do that FROM THE COUCH.

        3. Actual Vampire*

          No. I am not a lawyer, but I understand this is a legal issue. If they expect her to take assignments during a 7.5-hour block of time then they legally need to pay her for the whole 7.5 hours. It doesn’t matter if she happens to be playing with her dog when the assignment comes in. (And it also doesn’t matter if her company knows what she’s doing or not.) It’s the same as it would be if she was working in an office – if she happened to be at the water cooler when an assignment came in, she’d still be paid for the time she spent walking back to her desk.

          If she was a freelancer and they sent her assignments with no expectation that she would respond within the 7.5 hour workday then they would only have to pay her for the hours she actually worked.

        4. Lance*

          As gets covered a lot on this site, butt in seat =/= productivity. We’re humans, we need to occasionally get up and move around, or do something else for a bit (including, say, restroom breaks). It’s not feasible nor reasonable to be in the seat at the computer the entire time, especially so long as work is getting done at a good pace, as it sounds like is the OP’s case.

        5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          Being available to work when it comes in does not equate to never leaving your seat for 8 hours. That’s the kind of toxic attitude that people who can’t understand how working from home actually works because they can’t see you.

        6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          So while in the office, you actively make people sit and only take the required breaks allotted by law?

          Yikes and yuck.

          Everywhere here is free to wander around and are not chained to their desks, so why would they be chained to a computer while working from home. How absurd.

      4. OP 4*

        I’m the letter writer and what I meant was I reported 7.5 hours per day the first week I worked from home because I sat at my computer for 7.5 hours each day (even though I wasn’t technically “working” for the entire 7.5 hours). Before the pandemic, when I went into the office, I worked a 7.5 hour day (and was always busy.)

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I have a bad feeling about the OP’s employer, that they were stupid enough to agree to this crap. So I have a feeling asking for back pay won’t go well.

      Not that she shouldn’t request it…but I get that dreadful feeling.

      Alison’s words of “It’s not your job to know employment law, it’s theirs.” screaming in my head. They failed…so hard. Either they’re really really preciously sweetly innocent, dumb as a pile of bricks or knowingly taking advantage of someone who didn’t know this isn’t acceptable.

  1. Diahann Carroll*

    Recruiters don’t bother to get back to people all the time; it’s practically an operating norm of the profession. Or she’s just been overloaded but you’re on a her list and she’ll be glad you initiated the exchange so she doesn’t have to. Just be matter-of-fact about wanting to move forward and int won’t be weird.

    Or she could be no longer working for the company and that’s why you haven’t heard back from her. So many people are losing their jobs right now, HR reps included. Reaching out could help you find out if that’s the case (if you get a bounced email response for example). I think one email won’t do much harm here.

    1. Triplestep*

      Another possibility is that someone decided to open the job to more applications since more people are looking for work now than were looking back in February. Which sucks for you, LW#5, but it happens even in good economic times. You can prepare for and show up for multiple interviews, be a good fit for the role and feeling positive, and the hiring manager decides to go back to the pond.

      Regarding the operating norm of recruiters not getting back to people, there’s no “practically” about it. Follow-up after an interview is more the exception than the rule so I think we can safely say NOT getting back to candidates is a norm. I actually suggested to both my grown children that they consider work as an in-house recruiter. You can simply not do whole parts of your job and still get to keep it, and be paid very well! (To any skilled and responsive recruiters reading this, I don’t have to tell you that you are in a tiny minority. Just read the thousands of comments to any thread about this on Linkedin. I am sorry the majority of you colleagues make your industry look bad.)

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Sadly, your first paragraph is also true, which is why a follow up in this case doesn’t hurt.

      2. LW#5*

        Absolutely. It sucks but I can see that being the case. At this point, I’d mostly just like an understanding of where I stand with the company, even if that means that they’ve decided to pursue other candidates and have passed on me.

        Also, today I’ve noticed they’ve taken the posting back down again so who knows what is going on. Perhaps I should reach out anyway even though I got the “on no, WE’LL contact YOU” response last time I checked in.

        1. DataTraveller*

          You could reach to the recruiter mentioning that you saw the posting back up and that you are still interested. Then ask if your original application is still in the mix or if you should re-apply. This will phrase it more as a question to the recruiter rather than pointing out that they never contacted you as promised.

  2. Diahann Carroll*

    OP #2, I admire your restraint because I would have thrown that Keurig in the trash if a cockroach crawled up out of it. It is officially contaminated and cannot be saved.

    1. Heidi*

      This will haunt my dreams. As horrible as it would be to find the Keurig cockroach, it would be equally mortifying if someone found a roach in my Keurig. I think that as awkward as it might be, it must be told to someone. The greater wrong would be letting unsuspecting people drink the roach coffee.

      1. CockrOPch*

        yeah I feel bad now about not telling anyone… it was just such a bonkers situation that I froze up.

        That seminar was a rough ride without coffee, too.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*


            I’m not very easily grossed out, but that would have done it to the point I’d have had difficulty forming a coherent thought, much less coming up with a tactful way to tell the host organization that their beverage machine needed an extermination.

          2. Deliliah*

            My ex worked at [very fancy museum] and one day someone took apart their department Keurig to clean it and found a dead cockroach in between where you put the cup in and where the coffee comes out. No idea how long it had been there or how long they’d all been drinking La Cucharacha blend.

            1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

              This is precisely why I do not use a Keurig…
              AAM did a post about all kinds of weird coffee things and someone described this… I have not used a Keurig since. (granted, I do not drink coffee, but I did enjoy the hot chocolate or chai latte blends on occasion)

              1. many bells down*

                I got rid of mine because it was so hard to clean. I kept finding little nooks and crevices that looked suspiciously gross but I couldn’t reach them. I didn’t want to think about how it looked inside where I couldn’t see!

                1. GothicBee*

                  I switched to pour over for pretty much this exact reason. It’s cheap, easy to clean, takes up like no counter space, and as an added bonus, I like the taste better.

                2. whingedrinking*

                  @ GothicBee: I’ve always considered this the curse and the blessing of loose leaf tea: if there’s something suspicious in there, you see it right away.

                1. Pomona Sprout*

                  Omg, I just found the cockroach story over there and read the whole thread! I was both completely grossed and thoroughly entertained.

                  Also, I am never buying a beverage from a vending machine that isn’t prepackaged and factory sealed. Never. Ever.

                2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  cacwgrl I’m sorry but “factory sealed” is no guarantee of anything. Factories where food is processed are simply crawling with much worse stuff than cockroaches

              2. TardyTardis*

                I found an earwig in my toothbrush (even with the cap on) once. Fortunately, it was one with interchangeable heads (ker-FLING!). Now the brush and charger are on top of a largish jar with a flat top lid. The next sucker is going to have to *work* for it.

            2. LizzE*

              Not gonna like, La Cucharacha blend make me spit out my coffee (hope I am not drinking the same blend).

                1. Anonapots*

                  My coffee pot has been used so much more now that I’m WFH, so yes, I think it’s time to do a deep clean.

                  I have such a phobia of roaches, there is absolutely no way people in a 30 foot radius would not have known I found one.

        1. Lena Clare*

          Great username OP!

          Yeah, with hindsight it would have been best practice to put a note on it so no one else got cockroachy coffee, but it’s done now. Hopefully you will never have to ask for cockroach etiquette advice ever again :/ or if you do, you know what to do now!

          1. CockrOPch*

            Thanks :)

            I hope I never have this happen again. Or if it does it’s with a Keurig I can get away with launching into orbit.

        2. M*

          I honestly don’t know how you maintained your composure. I have an intense hatred/fear for roaches, and I probably would have run out and never returned…

          1. merp*

            This is me too. I almost definitely would have screamed. Although I guess that would have eliminated the need to go let someone know, since someone would probably come investigate the screaming junior staff in the kitchen.

            1. whingedrinking*

              “GAH!” *thump* *crash* is the sound bugs make in my house. The thumps and crashes depend on what I’m holding and where the bug is at the time, but it’s usually dead after.

      2. MusicWithRocksIn*

        I wouldn’t have had to alert anyone, because *my* scream would have been external. In general I’m pretty good about being a professional modern women and not freaking out when I see a spider in the office – but a surprise cockroach would have crossed beyond my abilities there. I know for a fact that when I see a cockroach I totally loose my head. People would have come running thinking I had been stabbed. So I dub the OP a stronger person than I am.

        1. The Grey Lady*

          Me too. I definitely would have yelped, unfortunately. I do not like bugs and can usually keep my cool, but one coming out of an unexpected place would get me (plus I HATE cockroaches more than anything else).

        2. TardyTardis*

          And then there was the day I found the earwig in the toe of my pantyhose, with a two-year old in the room, so I couldn’t actually express myself well, since he was good at repeating stuff. Good time to use that Adult Klingon…

          Earwigs are my enemy.

      3. Youngin*

        I hate to tell you this, but you most likely already have roaches in your keurig. Its not a cleanliness thing at all, but they do indeed seek out those machines and other warm machines like gaming systems, computers, cable boxes.

          1. Legal Beagle*

            LOL! I had a roach infestation in a wall clock years ago, it still makes me shudder to think about. (They liked the warm battery compartment!)

    2. JJ*

      Honestly, I’ve heard this is pretty common since usually no one’s in charge of cleaning the interior of the coffee machines…it’s BYOC for me!

      1. somanyquestions*

        I saw a horrifying story about this- those coffee vending machines can become clogged with roaches, and when they clean them out they’re just a lump of roach shells, because water had flowed over them and washed away the rest (into coffee).

        Yep, I have a really nice Japanese thermos that keeps my coffee nice & hot. It’s not that hard to just bring with me.

        1. ampersand*

          This is now the worst (food-related) thing I’ve read on this site. It’s been years since I’ve used a coffee vending machine, and now I won’t be using one ever again. Cannot unread.

        2. Artemesia*

          OMG. that is beyond gross. Roaches are however not a health hazard unless you are allergic to them; they don’t carry disease generally. But of course they are a sign of filthiness when in a machine.

          My grossest machine experience (along with the mold in the coke machine, I posted earlier) was when I was working one weekend along in an old building. I arrived and put my key in the lock and looked down and there was a ribbon of ants flowing under the door. The ribbons was shimmering with motion and about an inch wide. I followed it into the building and up three flights of stairs to the upper landing where they were going into the vending machine filled with donuts, croissants, sandwiches etc all in plastic. The ants were happy dismantling the food and hauling it away.

          1. boop the first*

            When I worked in a restaurant, we were allowed free soda, and one day whenever I poured from the soda gun, it smelled kinda funky. I wasn’t sure if it was that the bar’s dishwasher was running without soap (waaaayyyyy too common) or what, but I just quit drinking the soda for a while.

            Welp, a couple weeks later, a contractor was called in because they thought there was something up with the soda lines, which run under the floor to the storage room. They discovered that a hole developed in the line, and it was sitting in a puddle of rotten standing water/syrup/beer/WHATEVER???, which was getting sucked up whenever anyone poured a drink… for every customer for 2+ weeks.

          2. allathian*

            In my first job as a HS/college student I worked in a small grocery store. It was a part of a chain, but given that there were only two cash registers, it seems odd today that they sold unpacked meat. In my second year, I went on a course to learn to handle and cut it properly. One Saturday morning when I was setting it up, I found a T-bone steak on the floor. As I picked it up to throw it in the trash, I happened to turn it and saw that the bottom was full of maggots! It must have fallen one night when someone was cleaning the counter and they probably kicked it where they couldn’t see it, and then when the maggots hatched, it moved so I could find it. Maggots take a while to hatch, but I’m surprised that steak didn’t stink up the place enough to make anyone investigate. Even now I’m surprised at my professional maturity at 18, I was grossed out but I didn’t scream the place down or throw up on the floor, I just cleaned the floor behind the meat counter before the store opened. I did tell the other person in the store that morning, and later our store manager when she came in. I’m glad hygiene standards are stricter these days…

            I’m so happy to live in a climate that’s too cold for roaches!

          1. Jaid*

            Thermos brand Thermos. Though I do get coffee at Wawa in the morning, but I can see them making it fresh.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Remind me to email the head of the team that is responsible for our kitchens. They clean the insides of the machines weekly (which, nerd that I am, I find fascinating to see how the thing functions – the one fancy coffee machine is a technological wonder on the inside).

      3. MusicWithRocksIn*

        The problem is there is no way to empty them out completely – once you use it there will always be liquid in the line. You are supposed to clean them with vinegar every so often, but it is a pain to do and everything thinks it will affect the taste. I once had a job where we were supposed to use them and then ship them afterwards, and it was a nightmare.

      4. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        I never really thought about it. You’re right, it’s gross. BYOC for me as well!

      1. MayLou*

        Cockroaches aren’t really a thing where I live, although I know what they are. If the roach has been removed, why is it still an issue? Do they lay eggs? I would think one could just clean whatever it is and move on (like I do when I find a spider), but I gather cockroaches are a Big Deal in terms of hygiene, so I’m curious about why.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          They bring germs along on their feet and excrete wherever they are when they need to. They eat things that would make us sick and live in places we can’t reach to clean. And I’m told they’re a serious allergen, one of the reasons inner city asthma rates can be so high. (VERY had to control with shared walls, especially if you’re renting from an absentee landlord.)

          1. MayLou*

            I hadn’t realised they could be an allergen, that makes sense. I guess I felt that all the other stuff also applies to spiders and other insects, which people do get freaked out by but I’ve not heard of as a specific health hazard. Thanks :)

            1. Natalie*

              I believe cockroaches are more of a health hazard simply because they’re more pernicious than other insects. Other bugs might theoretically cause similar problems, but be less likely to live indoors and/or be easier to eradicate. Even being a common allergen could be driven by exposure, since people have to be exposed to something to develop allergies.

              (That said, there’s no reason to throw something cleanable away other than being dramatic – the roaches don’t live in the coffee maker itself.)

              1. Diahann Carroll*

                That said, there’s no reason to throw something cleanable away other than being dramatic – the roaches don’t live in the coffee maker itself.

                There’s also a thing called jokes and hyperbole.

              2. SleeplessKJ*

                Actually, coffee makers are one of their very favorite places to set up housekeeping. Google it – coffee makers have lots of warm, moist books and crannies that they just adore. Yikes

                1. The Grey Lady*

                  Yeah…cockroaches actually DO live in places like that. Thank the heavens I don’t drink coffee.

              3. a clockwork lemon*

                When I was still in school my roommate and I had a Keurig and I can assure you that the roaches do in fact live (and breed) inside the coffee maker. We lived in a third-floor walk up and it was everything in me to slowly remove the Keurig from the apartment and take it downstairs instead of just chucking the whole thing out the window into the alley when we found the roaches.

                1. allathian*

                  Just another reason to use a percolator instead… I have a Moccamaster at home and I love being able to dismantle and clean pretty much everything that comes in contact with water.

                  At the office I either drink instant coffee or buy a cup from the cafe in the lobby of our building.

              4. many bells down*

                Well like spiders, for instance, don’t purposely get into my food. They might be in my house, but they’re usually lurking in a high corner looking for bugs.
                Roaches are there for my food. They’re direct competition.

            2. StrikingFalcon*

              While I am sure the allergy thing is real, I think it has more to do with their association with dirtiness and rotting food. Objectively, yes, you could clean the thing and it would be fine. But emotionally, cockroaches eat rotting food and you find them in the trash and on unwashed dishes. Also, (like house flies) their feet can pick up bacteria and deposit them on food. Spiders of course also excrete wherever they are, but they don’t specifically seek out things that can make us sick to eat. In the northern US, cockroaches usually don’t show up overnight, so if you have an infestation there’s an implication that the kitchen has been very unsanitary for a while (in practice, it could have more to do with the sanitation or age of surrounding buildings, but the association persists). They’re more common in warmer climates like the Southern US, so it can take active pest control to keep them away. Their presence is just generally seen as a sign that people aren’t taking care of the space. Like, if there’s cockroaches, what else is there? When was the last time this thing was cleaned? They’re just gross.

              1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                Thank you for this detailed explanation. Cockroaches are very uncommon in the UK so I’ve never had to give it any thought.

              2. Capsicum*

                I’m an entomology volunteer/hobbyist (I’m the person who sent a photo of my pet Madagascar hissing cockroaches for “pets take over your workspace” day) and I think this is a GREAT explanation.

                The allergy thing is legit, too. In my personal experience, it’s really pernicious since it starts off gradually, only giving you a reaction for large/long exposures, but then ramps up FAST and then you’re desperately trying to reduce the mold/dust/whatever you think is setting off your allergies and it doesn’t work and you don’t know why.

              3. Spearmint*

                As someone who lives in the south, I want to clarify there are two kinds of roaches down here: the German cockroach (smaller, the type of roach you see infesting buildings in big northern cities) and the American cockroach (much larger, lives outdoors in the south).

                If you see a German cockroach indoors, you probably have an infestation. But American cockroaches are different. They often wander in from outside, but they rarely infest homes, and they are not a sign of uncleanliness the same way German cockroaches are. In many parts of the south, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll see an American cockroach indoors a few times during the summer unless you are in a new building and use bug spray frequently.

                (Disclaimer: I’m not an expert on this, but I did research this a fair amount after I moved to a southern state and was worried about bugs!)

            3. Actual Vampire*

              Cockroaches are also much larger than other bugs. They leave large, visible feces. It’s not like when a tiny spider walks over your stuff and leaves no trace.

          2. CockrOPch*

            Yeah, that’s why I felt bad about not saying anything – I know they’re a health hazard. It just felt weirdly rude to point out they had a roach issue, although reading this responses I’m finding Keurig roaches are not an uncommon occuramce and now I’ll be leery of them forever.

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              Yes, this is true. Cockroaches loooove coffee grounds, and often there are grounds or a whole used cup left behind in the machine if it hasn’t been cleaned. Clean your machines and toss your used grounds, folks!

            2. Hotdog not dog*

              I’ve just converted to the BYOC club! Never even imagined this, but now I have an overwhelming urge to scrub the Keurig in my own kitchen (and we’ve never had roaches)!

            3. bluephone*

              I would have definitely been too freaked out/stunned to say anything either, OP! I haven’t encountered that exact situation but there have been times where something similar happened (i.e. a broken coffeepot in the kitchen at a seminar being held somewhere I wasn’t familiar with) and there was *no one* from that space around. No paper to write on, either. So….I kind of just had to walk away and go back to the training or whatever? (and the trainer also didn’t work in that building so it’s not like they knew who to call either).
              Honestly, if there’s one upside to all the remote work/zoom conferences/etc that COVID has forced us into, it might be that I don’t have to waste half my work day going to another site for a training, seminar, etc (that’s usually useless anyway).

            4. Youngin*

              They also love gaming systems, ninja systems, nespressos, cable boxes…etc etc. They like warmth

          3. Miso*

            Fun fact: I read that apparently a lot of people who are allergic to cock roaches are also allergic to coffee because… Well… Do I have to draw the picture?

            1. Metadata minion*

              Yep. There is an official maximum amount of bugs allowed to be in most food and it is definitely not zero, because realistically it will never be zero.

              1. Artemesia*

                I once read an article that claimed that Indians who immigrated to the US sometimes developed anemia from lack of B12 as they were vegetarians and didn’t supplement. In India the rice storage usually guaranteed some weevils or whatever in the rice and so people using the rice got b12 which is only from animal sources. They had to supplement when using hyper cleaned rice.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I tested out allergic to a lot of things but thankfully it’s mammals, pollen, and plant.
              My cockroach aversion is/was due to what they tramp in along with them….I’ve seen the holes they crawl out of. :(

          4. TardyTardis*

            I have unreliable rumors that some have made it to the ISS (apparently vacuum is not a deal-breaker for them).

        2. Martin*

          So what paradise, in general, is this in which you live? I have a serious roach phobia, especially to the large flying variety, and since I live in the American south, that’s a real bummer. I’m not averse to moving.

          1. DrSalty*

            Yeah when I first moved to the South the massive flying cockroaches were a HORRIFYING surprise

          2. The Grey Lady*

            It’s a phobia of mine as well. Cue flashback to me walking into an old bedroom, flipping on the light, and having a cockroach fly at my head.

          3. londonedit*

            Apparently we do have cockroaches in the UK, but I don’t know anyone who’s ever seen one. They might be in some absolutely horrible restaurant kitchen that breaks every single health and safety law going, but they’re not generally in people’s houses.

          4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            I live in Oregon and have never lived or worked someplace with a roach problem that I’ve noticed, even when I lived in rentals with other maintenance issues like mold. I don’t know if I’m just lucky or if they’re less of a thing here.

            Our main indoor pest insect is tiny black ants, and outdoors is yellowjackets.

            1. emmelemm*

              I live in Washington and I have seen a roach or two up here, but they are much less common than in most other places. (I have also lived in NY, so I have seen roaches. Oh, how I have seen roaches.)

            2. TardyTardis*

              Our menaces in Oregon where I live is earwigs and yellowjackets. Why, yes, I am stuck on earwigs. Though we had enormous June Bugs in Arkansas.

          5. Artemesia*

            I went to grad school in southern Indiana and had moved before completing my dissertation. I needed to go back to do the computer analysis of my data (this was the era of the room sized mainframe computer before there were PCs — these days I could do it all on my MAC.). I sublet an efficiency in a student housing apartment building in the summer and traveled with my 11 mos old baby who was still nursing. They were going to spray the building for bugs and I asked them to skip my apartment since I had a crawling baby. They did. And so all the roaches came to our unpoisoned department to die. I returned from the computer center to a floor with dozens of little roaches on their backs with their little legs flailing. Fun times. I was sweeping up dead bugs for a week. And scrambling to keep them out of the baby’s mouth.

        3. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

          The other thing – in addition to what everyone is telling you about their eating habits and so on – is that they are very, very difficult to kill. Mice can get caught in traps, other bugs can be handled with pesticides or repellants, but there’s a reason why cockroaches are associated with a sort of… spiteful immortality.

          1. InsufficientlySubordinate*

            Scrubbing Bubbles sprayed on them in the bathtub accomplishes two things at the same time.

          2. ihatelogins*

            Yeah. There’s a reason a cockroach is Wall-E’s sidekick in the post-apocalyptic hellscape of NYC.

        4. ampersand*

          They’re gross, they carry diseases, and they’ve been in existence for about 300 million years. That last part isn’t really a reason to dislike/fear them, but it does mean they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. They’ll outlive us all.

        5. fhgwhgads*

          The rule of thumb I’ve been told is if you see one, you should assume there are at least 50 you have not seen.

    3. Lucy P*

      Many years back (although it seems like last week) the office building I worked in had a similar incident. We work in the deep south, where during the heat of the summer it is not unusual for a roach or two to get inside a building, no matter how clean it is.
      The office used those large jars of powdered creamer for the coffee service. Unfortunately, my coworkers always left the lid open on the creamer.
      One day a lady came down for coffee, went to pour creamer into her coffee, happened to look inside the bottle and found a very special friend inside of it. She dropped the jar and ran around the office screaming, complaining to anyone who would listen to her.
      After that, people started closing the lid on the jar. And yes, we did throw that jar away.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        I used to work for a company that had a warehouse in an industrial area. We had a finished out office on one side of the warehouse, my office was upstairs in the loft area. I normally left my door open when I left each day since there were some supplies in my office that needed to accessible all the time. One morning I came into work and went upstairs and found little dusty footprints all over my chair. My trash was dumped out and a granola bar that had been on my desk was demolished…the wrapper was in bits and pieces all over the office. RACCOONS!

        We have no idea how they got in. It’s possible someone had accidentally left the door to the warehouse open, but no one ever fessed up to that. I spent that day sanitizing EVERYTHING in my office. One of the warehouse guys was nice enough to take my chair outside and clean it, spray it down with water, then dry it off with the air hose. It seemed like my office was the only one that had been infiltrated, which is odd because other offices downstairs were open. They also didn’t seem to have gone into the kitchenette area, which would have been a real goldmine if they had discovered it. It was so weird! They went upstairs, trashed my office, then left. Those little trash pandas must have had a vendetta against me…

        1. Artemesia*

          my boss worked in a beautiful antique office in an old building that had a fireplace which was beautiful although not in use. He came to work one day and found little footprints all over his desk, papers chewed, general mayhem — the footprints were black. They finally found a frightened squirrel lurking on top of a bookcase — he had apparently fallen or run down the chimney, gotten sooty and then panicked around the office for awhile.

        2. whingedrinking*

          I once went on a camping trip with people who might have vaguely once heard “don’t keep food in the tent” and didn’t realize that that included anything that even remotely smelled like food, such as gum. We came back to find a raccoon had unzipped the tent and had a merry old time rummaging around for the lovely-smelling treats. Having grown up in the Northwest Territories, where bears are not a hypothetical, I was utterly horrified.

        3. TardyTardis*

          Our old ExCorporation had a factory with feral cats. They finally got rid of them, only to now discover they had a feral mice problem. Oops.

    4. Artemesia*

      I worked in a greasy spoon in my youth and I have never ordered a fountain drink when I could avoid it since then. One day while idle I decided to clean the coke machine. When I disassembled the spouts there were huge pads of mold in each of them; I assume it had literally never been cleaned. Roaches are ickier but probably less a risk to health than the mold that infests uncleaned drink machines.

    5. HeyMikeyHeLikesIt*

      When I was younger and worked at a gas station chain, I had to cover for people who called out. So I got sent one store and was told to never use the soda machine (which was free), and just buy bottles–there was a bug problem. Well I saw it first hand when I was cleaning the fountain heads. A whole family of baby cockroaches came swarming out of the fountain head when I dissembled it. I have never gotten a fountain soda since.

    6. Youngin*

      You guys will absolutely hate me for saying this, but I personally feel like I’d want to know so I can make my own decision about whether or not to use coffee machines. I have not used a automatic coffee maker since.

      But roaches in Keurigs (and nespressos and ninja coffee systems) are VERY common…you more than likely have a few hanging out in your coffee system right now. They like the warming mechanisms and always find a way to get to them, especially if you live by a body of water or its cold outside, or raining. Anyone that has cleaned out a gaming system (Xbox, playstation, even your computer) knows what I mean. Im sorry! I was petrified when I found out, and I found out in the EXACT SAME WAY as OP#2, at work. Immediately took my gaming systems to get cleaned and almost died when they brought showed me what was in it. This is a THING.

      If it is any consolation though, they cant access the area that your water is hanging out in, nor the tube that goes from the water container to the coffee. They can however touch the needle that punctures the k-cup, thus infecting your coffee so make sure you sanitize that OFTEN! The only time I have used one of those in desperation I ran vinegar through it and sanitized the pieces that touch the k-cup. I still felt dirty though

  3. For goodness sakes, wash your hands!*

    LW3- Former costume technician here. If you are interested in further coursework to make you more marketable in a corporate climate, can I suggest accounting courses? Very marketable and detail driven and I’ve found a lot of career opportunities. I completed a post bac certificate in a year and a half and had enough credits to sit for the CPA exam. As a bonus, if you consider tax preparation, there are a ton of flexible work arrangements that could enable you to still pick up design work when theatres open again. Best of luck!

    1. BethDH*

      A costume designer I know is also a buyer for our arts-org shop. One of her colleagues also does event planning. I can easily see how there were transferable skills in both those areas. The woman I know is really good with things like materials specifications, dimensions, unit pricing, budgets and contingency, etc. and those skills are useful in other fields.

    2. Firecat*

      Yes I was coming to add that the type of certificates employers care about are typically attached to universities or well know tests such as CPA, Database administration, PMP, Lean Green Belt, etc. There are also certificates offered by lots of companies for new programming tools such as AWS, SAP, etc.

      In 10 years working in a couple of office industries these are the only certificates I’ve seen pull weight.

      Anything along these lines are fluff:
      Email ettituqe
      Change management

      1. Hoya Lawya*

        Organizational behavior is absolutely *not* fluff. (Or more precisely, I suppose it can be, depending on how the subject gets presented, but it is absolutely a real area of research.) I’m surprised anyone reading a blog about what is, largely, organizational behavior would even say this.

        1. Legal Beagle*

          Organizational behavior isn’t fluff, but a Coursera certificate in “leadership” or “communication” is pretty meaningless, as far as adding value to your resume.

        2. Cdn Acct*

          The topic is not fluff, but certificates in it are not useful to put on a resume. Being able to demonstrate knowledge and experience in it is valuable, saying you finished XYZ certificate in the topic isn’t.

    3. CPA with theater daughter*

      And taxes for theater professionals is a very niche area with few practitioners. I have only heard of two in the Chicago market. They are in high demand and can pick and choose their clients. “You harassed my friend’s roommate’s sister-in-law’s nephew? You insulted the female electrician? You act like a privileged b-tch to all the crew? Sorry, too busy to do your return.”

  4. Diatryma*

    A playground guide to tattling vs telling/reporting: if you want the behavior to stop, that’s telling an adult/reporting a problem, and it’s fine. If you want the person to get in trouble, that’s tattling.

    1. Harper the Other One*

      I have always loved that distinction.

      The other one I like is “if you’re trying to protect someone or keep them safe, it’s telling, not tattling.”

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        The one I always use with the kids I work with is “if somebody could be hurt because of what’s happening, you need to find somebody to tell.”

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Because adults come to their boss to tattle to get their peers in trouble versus to solve an actual problem, too. It’s a good bar for whether the problem warrants escalating rather than just making peace with the fact that Janice from Accounting is not your cup of tea nor your responsibility to police.

        1. Hoya Lawya*

          But we are talking about a group of people who *used* to work for a company getting together for a social event outside of work, on their own time. I don’t think the analogy is appropriate.

          There is also a lot we don’t know here: are they planning to get together for a socially-distant, masked drink in a park? (In that case, I’d tell them to break the event into two sub-groups, but otherwise, it can probably be done safely and in a manner consistent with public health guidelines.) Or an evening in a jam-packed night club?

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            There was a letter here a few weeks back from a supervisor who restructured his entire reporting staff when half of them went out to dinner together on their own time after work, to keep the people who *didn’t* go to the dinner safe from people who may have been exposed to the virus. And the response both from Alison and from the comments section was that it was the right thing for that supervisor to do.

            The OP’s supervisor won’t know if any actions need to be taken if they don’t find out about the planned gathering. OP telling their supervisor isn’t about getting anybody in trouble, it’s making sure the supervisor has all the information they need to keep their staff safe. The situation we’re in now due to COVID means that supervisors have to be a little more concerned about their employees’ private lives than usual.

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            Oh, to be clear, I’m not suggesting that the intern should turn her peers in for this, and I actually think this framing is useful for her figuring out if it’s the right thing to do or not. What problem would she be trying to solve by escalating it and what does she want the end result to be? If it’s simply to get the other interns in trouble (which I don’t sense from her letter), then it’s a bad idea. If it’s after the internship ends and there is no risk of them bringing it into the office, there’s no point. If it’s in the middle of the internship and they’re going to increase the risk to others in the office, it may be worth mentioning and letting the manager decide if any office safety precautions are warranted.

      2. Observer*

        What is exactly is unclear here? Your question is only a baby step up from the kind of question that deserves a “what part of no do you not understand.”

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Frankly, even my young nephews and nieces understand ‘don’t get close to people and always wear masks’ a lot better than some adults I’m hearing about…and they’d definitely speak up against planned large gatherings etc.

        So, in this case I’d prefer people acted more like my young relatives than worrying if they’re acting ‘childlike by snitching on others’.

  5. Barbara Eyiuche*

    #2 This happened to me. I didn’t tell anyone at the time that there had been a cockroach in the coffee maker, but later I thought that if someone else had found a roach and had not warned me, I would have been pretty angry. The problem was not knowing who to tell. One person I told later thought that if I had told the boss, I would have been fired.

    1. CockrOPch*

      The takeaway I’m getting here is “clean your damn keurigs.” My job at the time had a Keurig too, and you better believe I came back and cleaned and inspected the shit out of it.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Worst part though it’s not just cleaning the Keurig. Cockroaches will go in for the water itself.

      2. Ashley*

        I can only imagine how gross these machines were after people were shut down for weeks or months. I am now super grateful I never used ours at work.

    2. juliebulie*

      I have definitely endured some grief for reporting cockroaches. Not at work, but while living in the dorms at college. Because I reported roaches, my RA got in trouble when they found out that it was a pretty significant infestation that she hadn’t wanted to report because the slobs who left food lying around for days would have gotten in trouble and then they wouldn’t like her anymore. Because she was fired, we had a new RA who wouldn’t let people drink openly (a serious violation of the rules). So, everyone was mad at ME. Even though **I** never left a plate with half a tuna sandwich out to rot all weekend on the floor outside my room.

      1. juliebulie*

        And for the record, knowing what I know now, I’d still report the roach. It was rough getting the cold shoulder from my suitemates for a whole semester, but I’d rather that than have roaches all over the place.

        Although I’d think twice about it if I thought I’d get fired.

      2. Observer*


        I kind of feel bad for the RA, but really she DID deserve to be fired. Her behavior was a total dereliction and really put people’s health at risk.

        1. juliebulie*

          There were a lot of other issues with her, not just the drinking, but selling lists of names and phone numbers to a marketing company. I did feel badly for her – not so much for getting fired, but for her desperate insecurity and need to be liked.

  6. Aggretsuko*

    I don’t think anyone cares about those “certificates,” the company is just trying to make money.

    1. misspiggy*

      Coursera started by offering academic courses from various universities for free, and if you paid for the certification you could end up with genuine accreditation. But it looks like they’ve expanded the same model to things that do not need certificates.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Yeah, I took a number of really interesting university courses from Coursera when they first started (Dan Ariely taught a video class similar to his behavior economics book Predictably Irrational, which I loved), but now nearly everything is in the certificate model. It makes sense for coding and data science type programs, but it doesn’t for the soft-skills classes.

        1. Heather*

          OP here, as I said in my post, I’m very new to the business world. What is considered a “soft-skill”?

          1. wittyrepartee*

            It’s essentially- things that you learn in kindergarten and spend the rest of your life perfecting. Working well with others, managing your time, taking criticism- all that.

            1. blaise zamboni*

              Another way of looking at it is skills that don’t have quantifiable points to signal mastery. I know where I’m at in my mastery of math or my mastery of Excel based on what I’m able to do with those skills. It’s a lot harder to say where my mastery of “teamwork” or “leadership” is.

              That doesn’t mean that soft skills aren’t important, or that there’s no difference in people with different levels of mastery for those skills. Being a good leader is incredibly valuable; using effective communication is often a core part of a job. But those skills are typically shown more in our work, our relationships with others, and how others perceive us. You can’t take a test that really evaluates your abilities in those areas.

              Audit the classes and make the most of what you’re learning. It’s valuable for you, especially as someone very new to the corporate world, and it shows that your company values your development. But you don’t need certificates for these classes – save that money for ‘harder’ skills that you’ll want to explore down the line.

          2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            To be exact it’s defined as “personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.”

            It’s “Plays well with others” and “doesn’t pick up food from the company buffet line with their bare hands.” kind of stuff.

            I used to think I needed a communications workshop because I didn’t realize it’s mostly manners…which I’m mostly fully versed in, lol.

      2. Artemesia*

        I’d probably pay if it were an accounting course or a course in some computer language or graphics package i.e. something tied to a skill. And I second the costume designer getting some basic accounting training. I used to push the basic accounting course at university on my advisees since so often that is a skill you need even if you are not an accountant. If you want to be the executive director of a non-profit or advance in a small business, knowing how to read a financial statement and budget is crucial and it doesn’t take CPA level knowledge to be able to understand those things necessary for that role.

    2. KR*

      Agree, and as a hiring manager, I would be both concerned about (1) your putting it on your resume as well as (2) why you needed the course. Take it if it’s valuable, but don’t put it on your resume.

      1. Heather*

        OP here, I know that this is just the first of a series of courses we will be taking, are there any you would consider valuable?

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          (Joining to add my perspective)
          This was partly discussed upthread regarding “soft skills”, but it would be courses linked to technical skills (a.k.a. hard skills) or demonstrating knowledge/expertise, e.g.
          -Excel formulas and Pivot Tables
          -Training to work with ___ Human Resources Information System (HRIS) or _____ software platform.
          -MAYBE training related to roles like meditation, but I would ask around about that
          -MAYBE project management skills, but that may depend on the depth and the source of the course; another one to ask around about. Plus, this is a skill that lots of folks will have experience in across sectors, including you with your experience in theater.

          Any course regarding relationship development, teamwork, etc. I would leave off. When applying for a job, only include courses/certificates if it looks like a key technical skills you don’t have work experience with and limit it to maybe two at the most. As you can probably imagine, taking a class in something is less impressive than experience applying those skills.

          That said, as @Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP) said downthread, courses and certificates are less impressive on a resume compared to certifications (but really useful as learning/development experiences). And as AAM said in her original response, demonstrating successful applications of those skills is the best of all.

          If you aren’t already doing this, I recommend creating a master resume that includes all certifications, courses taken, certificates received, work accomplishments, etc. Include month/year, organization/company, manager name and contact info, your official title(s), etc. That becomes a resource of “What have I done that’s applicable?” when applying to future jobs.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        KR, can you elaborate on what you mean by “why you needed the course”? Obviously I know what it means in a literal sense, but do you mean that for example it implies that the OP lacked some soft skills about ‘that course content’ and so was sent to study “Remedial Interpersonal Relationships” sort of thing?

    3. kt*

      We’re doing some Coursera courses together at my work (on math-related things, for continuing education basically). We don’t pay for the courses; we just talk through the problems and assignments as a group. But if we wanted the quiz answers etc it would be totally worth paying for. Think of it that way: do you want to buy the answer book and the homework grading? There are courses for which you’d order the solutions manual for $49. If that’s not worth it to you, then don’t pay for it!

      It’s not wrong to pay for courses on the internet. I paid for some Udacity courses some years ago; the graded homework was really, really useful, honestly. Just know what you are paying for. I was paying for the organized curriculum and the interaction and conversation with a live human grader who made good comments on how to improve, not a certificate or badge, and I’m happy with what I got.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I’ve done two online certificates that were paid for (one by me, one by my company) and I think those were worth it. I’ve used knowledge I picked up in both for my work and it’s come in very handy. Both were on technical skills (data science, model based systems engineering) and through major universities – one came with online credits. The work was fairly rigorous, graded by peers (and we graded others’ work), and there were tests and required scores to continue with the next modules.

        That said, you could definitely cheat the system – multiple people asked questions off the homework to well-known coding forums and the answers were easily available to anyone who looked (along with admonishments about using the coding forum to cheat). And some people publicly posted their solutions to the assignments. But, at the same time, part of the process was understanding that, unlike university work, in the ‘real world’ you are (usually) allowed to and expected to look at resources to help you accomplish things. The intro session specifically advised people to visit those forums and use them as needed, because learning how to ask the right questions to debug your code is a key skill. So there’s a balance between using a resource in order to learn, and using a resource to do the work for you.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Adding on to this:

      OP3 characterised this course as resulting in a “certification” but really it’s just a “certificate” and those are two totally different things.

      I say this as someone who’s studied numerous subjects through Coursera myself and paid for the subscription, and also has ‘certifications’ relevant to my field… namely a certification is generally awarded by/on behalf of a particular company/organization such as Microsoft, Adobe, Prince 2, ITIL, actuarial certification, etc.

      I think that the Coursera certificates/courses (and similar ones like EdX etc) can be useful to put on your resume (if they are relevant) more as a sort of talking point/way in to a topic rather than as a validation of your skills on its own, though.

      [The other thing to be cautious about is listing courses that are “entry level” and far below your actual level of experience, for example “basics of networking” if you are already an experienced Networks Administrator!]

      I wouldn’t pay for the certificate, OP3, in the circumstances you describe.

  7. Analyst Editor*

    I think that you can have a responsible gathering, outside, in sunlight and with masks at close proximity, without it necessarily being unsafe. I think it’s also perfectly reasonable not to go.
    Especially if the interns try to get together at the end of the internship – does company policy apply then? Should company policy be able to police if they do this, but organize it more sneakily?
    I think raising it as an issue with your employer is a sure way to get you excluded from any other planning and social activities by the cohort.
    If you are otherwise willing to risk going, you can see who behaves in a safe manner and who throws all caution to the winds.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Public health guidelines are 6-10 feet apart and masks, even when you’re outside. We’re not going to debate public health guidelines here.

      Company policy doesn’t apply if they’re no longer employed. If they’re still interning, it does. If they’re organizing it as an intern activity (as opposed to a few of them hanging out on their own time), the company can ask them not to.

      Saying “hmmm, I think this might be a problem for us with the company — let’s check before we move forward” isn’t going to get her excluded from any reasonable group of people. They’re there to intern; one of the main goals is presumably to leave having made a good impression and with a good reference. (And if they’re not reasonable, then there’s no point in being terribly invested in their opinion.)

      If you are otherwise willing to risk going, you can see who behaves in a safe manner and who throws all caution to the winds.

      There’s no reason for the OP to risk her health (and the health of anyone she lives with) to find that out, particularly when she’s already said she doesn’t feel safe going.

      1. Münchner Kindl*

        Could we please stop calling it “social distancing” though?

        It’s PHYSICAL distancing: as you said, the interns can meet outside, 6 feet apart and with masks and follow guidelines.

        Or they can meet via zoom.

        Same effect of meeting, and following guidelines, too.

      2. C.*

        I agree that nuance matters, but I don’t think that nuance comes across in your advice above: “…if you do check with your manager, no this isn’t ‘tattling’…”

        I also agree with you that a large gathering of interns is reckless. But telling someone at the very beginning of their career that it doesn’t matter if they burn bridges with their cohort and come across like a busybody to their supervisor isn’t the solution to this. I don’t know what industry this person is in, but in mine the people that I went to graduate school with and interned alongside are now some of the most powerful in the business. Having their first — and in the time of Coronavirus, likely *only* — impression of me be, “Make sure she’s not cc’d because she’s threatening to report us” would have been a bad misstep, and the kind of thing I’d hope a more established person would warn me to avoid.

      3. nodramalama*

        But if coworkers decide to get together in their spare time, is it even really the employer’s place to say they can’t? The employer’s position is not to get together for work “meetings”. It doesn’t sound like this is a meeting.

        I know in my workplace our employer doesn’t care what we do in our spare time. Also we don’t even know where OP is from so how we can know what exactly the guidelines are?

        I would personally not bring it to the manager and just not go.

    2. MK*

      A gathering outside with masks, especially if they have high temperatures wherever they live, sounds uncomfortable and unpleasant. Considering the only purpose of this gathering is social and among near strangers at that, what exactly is the point of trying to make it work?

    3. Not Australian*

      “I think raising it as an issue with your employer is a sure way to get you excluded from any other planning and social activities by the cohort.”

      If they’re going to flout safety guidelines and disregard other people’s wellbeing, being excluded is A Good Thing. Who would want to be part of a group that acted with such a complete lack of consideration?

    4. LGC*

      Hot take: I kind of agree with you. Mostly because of the point you bring up about it not being clear whether this get-together is going to happen during the internship – I feel like it’s a bit more on the “tattling” side if it’s after the internship ends, myself.

      That said…yes, LW1, you still get to say it’s unsafe! Maybe not in those words, since it could be construed as judgmental – you could say, “I think it’s risky, especially given the situation here.” (Which works for…pretty much all of the country at this point.) Oftentimes, people just go along with the loudest voices, so if you’re willing to make a scene about this, I encourage you to.

      I don’t agree that LW1 should consider checking it out or that she should feel it’s “safe,” though. (I’m not sure if you’re saying she should feel this is a safe situation, Analyst Editor, but I hope you’re not.) It’d be within my risk tolerance, but it’s certainly outside of LW1’s – and I’m willing to defer to her on this.

      1. Gall Bladdered*

        “I feel like it’s a bit more on the “tattling” side if it’s after the internship ends, myself.”

        They wouldn’t be gathering at all if they weren’t the interns at this company, so it affects the company. If one of them infects the rest, and it becomes the focus of a transmission cluster, imagine how that looks in the media. “A group of interns from Company A flouted restrictions to hold a social event at which 11 people were infected!” no thank you!

        1. SomebodyElse*

          Except the company gets no say in former employees lives! If a group of interns want to meet when their internships end and they are no longer employees of the company, then they get to do that. There’s nothing that says they can’t safely. Even if they want to do it before their internship ends, a company would be on shaky ground telling employees what they can and can’t do on their own time. The not allowing a ‘work meeting’ is a bit of a red herring because it sounds like it’s an off hours social event.

          1. MK*

            Since they are violating public health guidelines, the company would be in no way, shape or form “in shaky ground” telling its interns, or even its former interns, that they are against holding this event. Of course they can’t stop them, but that’s true for any not-illegal activity. And given that “off hours social events” among coworkers (and these people are coworkers, not coworkers-turned-friends) is associated with the workplace, the company deserves the chance to be able to express its opposition and afterwards to say the event was held against their recommendation. And the people attending it, who might think the gathering as a semi-work obligation (as many people do consider work socialising) deserve to know this is in no way endorsed by the company.

      2. pancakes*

        There’s nothing underhanded or unfair about an individual forming a judgment that violating public health recommendations is unsafe.

          1. LGC*

            I think it’s where I said that if this happened after the internship, it might come off more as tattling? I might be wrong, though.

            For what it’s worth, I was thinking more about…they obviously do care about safety if they’re banning in person meetings. But although they’re breaking the spirit of the rule, I think they wouldn’t be breaking the letter if they met up afterwards? It’s fuzzy to me.

          2. pancakes*

            I was responding to the part where LGC said, “yes, LW1, you still get to say it’s unsafe! Maybe not in those words, since it could be construed as judgmental . . .” Forming an opinion on whether something is safe isn’t inherently problematic.

      3. The Other Dawn*

        This is how I feel, too. It’s not clear if it will be at the end of the internship or not. If it’s at the end, let them do what they want. If it’s not and they’re returning to work, even then I likely wouldn’t say anything since OP says they work remotely. If they’d be returning to an office, then yes she should say something. But either way, OP doesn’t need to go. She can tell them why or she can just make an excuse.

    5. LizM*

      If I found out our interns had organized a get together that violated our current covid restrictions, even if the internship had ended, it would make me seriously question their judgment and would impact my reference and whether I’d be willing to hire them on permanently. Doubly so if I found out they’d used company resources to plan it (work phones or emails) or they’d planned it while on the clock.

      Honestly, I would question the judgment of interns who knew about the plan and didn’t tell anyone, even if they didn’t go.

      It’s not about whether you think it can be pulled off safely, it’s about knowing local and company guidelines and sticking to them. There is no need to have a 25 person gathering right now if your local jurisdiction prohibits it. Even if the interns are done with the program, it still puts the company at risk if an outbreak results, or even if just pictures end up on social media or the news if the gathering is linked back to the employer.

      1. Just J.*


        Our company is viewing the health guidelines set by our state they same way that we look at the requirements for PPE while on a construction site (my line of work). You follow the requirements for PPE no matter what. No matter if you think eye protection is unnecessary or that you look dorky in a hi-viz safety vest. And you follow Covid restrictions no matter what your personal thoughts are. If you elect not to follow the PPE requirements – or state / local mandated covid restrictions – then we discuss whether or not we want you as an employee. Interns included.

      2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        100% agree. I worked in a heavily-regulated industry and judged every intern I’ve hired on both job skills and readiness for the workforce . I would certainly want to know if these interns were flouting any company directives, since that would show they have failed the readiness part and could put the company at risk.

      3. Riverlady*

        This! I work in a very dangerous industry with non-negotiable safety guidelines. The idea isn’t that you do the bare minimum to not get fired. It’s about creating a culture of safety and caring for each other that extends beyond the literal hours you are on the job. I’ve absolutely seen people fired from a job site because they stayed up too late and were too tired/hungover to responsibly handle heavy equipment the next morning and the foreman decided not to put everyone else’s lives in that person’s hands. The people I work with have been great about following covid restrictions – wearing a mask is no different from a hard hat (wear it or work somewhere else).

    6. JJ*

      I think this style of comment is really the sort of magical thinking a lot of people are engaging in right now, and should be approached with extreme prejudice. Your phrasing makes this event seem “probably fine”, but if you changed “without it necessarily being UNsafe” to just, “without it necessarily being safe”, would it still feel like a probably ok thing to do?

      I think the OP is right to be wary, and it’s kind and responsible of them to push back on this.

      1. sswj*

        “Your phrasing makes this event seem “probably fine”, but if you changed “without it necessarily being UNsafe” to just, “without it necessarily being safe”, would it still feel like a probably ok thing to do?”

        THIS is the way we need to be thinking. Thank you!

      2. Quill*

        Yeah, the 6+ feet and masks, and outdoors if possible are meant to be in combination with “the bare minimum of exposure necessary to ensure that everyone can keep putting food on the table.”

        Covid’s not going to stop circulating in the US until the actual weather prevents people from meeting up outdoors.

        1. not today*

          Actually, no. Meeting outdoors is relatively safer than meeting indoors. There will be a spike come winter. That’s why the regular flu spikes in winter: in closed air situations.

    7. LifeBeforeCorona*

      This reminds me of the interns and the dress code letter. They thought they were making a reasonable request, the company thought otherwise and let them all go. The interns need to realize that some companies take their rules very seriously.

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

        +1 Especially now, when it can have real consecuences beyond the interns and the company. (Apart of the PR disaster it would cause if it becomes public)

    8. Liane*

      “I think that you can have a responsible gathering, outside, in sunlight and with masks at close proximity, without it necessarily being unsafe.”
      Per the letter, this gathering is large enough to be against local guidelines, so still a problem, even if the guidelines don’t provide for legal consequences. The group could still be told to break it up, especially if they pick a public location (park, picnic area at someone ‘s apartment building). Plus anyone could post/share pictures or video that might get back to their employer. If witnesses happen to overhear an attendee mention the company by name, it will certainly get back to the employer, possibly via a direct complaint.
      Won’t that be a great way for the intern cohort to start making their professional reputations?

      1. C.*

        It’s one thing for the LW to refuse to attend the event, to cite public health guidelines as their reason, and even to urge other interns to behave more responsibly — that’s what I’d do in this situation. But reporting the other interns’ off-hours plans to a supervisor is totally different. Instead of appealing to their cohort’s maturity and intelligence (“Hey, everybody, we’re smarter than this!”), it infantilizes and threatens those peers with the cudgel of an external authority. It also creates a problem for the supervisor, who now no longer has plausible deniability about the intern gathering but might not feel inclined to overreach into the personal lives of temporary, likely underpaid employees.

        If the LW reports this and the other interns face consequences as a result, I’m willing to bet that those interns will never remember the interaction with gratitude, even if they currently agree or later regard their own recklessness with chagrin, and will likely avoid networking with the LW in the future. (I’d never allow someone to see my “friends only” social media, for example, if I knew they were the kind of person who escalated to reporting others so quickly.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The recommendation isn’t to report it. The recommendation is to tell the other interns she thinks they should run it by the manager to find out if it indeed would be a problem. That’s a nuance that matters.

          (That said, if it’s happening while they’re employed there, I have no problem with her reporting it either. They’d be breaking company safety rules.)

          1. C.*

            Oops, posted this in reply to the wrong comment.

            I agree that nuance matters, but I don’t think that nuance comes across in your advice above: “…if you do check with your manager, know this isn’t ‘tattling’…”

            I also agree with you that a large gathering of interns is reckless. But telling someone at the very beginning of their career that it doesn’t matter if they burn bridges with their cohort and come across like a busybody to their supervisor isn’t the solution to this. I don’t know what industry this person is in, but in mine the people that I went to graduate school with and interned alongside are now some of the most powerful in the business. Having their first — and in the time of Coronavirus, likely *only* — impression of me be, “Make sure she’s not cc’d because she’s threatening to report us” would have been a bad misstep, and the kind of thing I’d hope a more established person would warn me to avoid.

        2. Lalaroo*

          I pretty much agree with you. I’ve seen SO MANY PEOPLE in this intern’s likely age group that are just not acting as though the pandemic is serious (I’m a law student, so even though I’m older I’m still around – virtually – a lot of people fresh out of college). I’ve actually lost a friendship because I tried to push back on their plans to have an in-person party in March.

          OP you should do what you think is right. I know that I’m disappointed in the things about people I’m learning through this pandemic, and there are people I’ve lost a lot of respect for. But you should make your decision with your eyes open. I know Alison mentioned it shouldn’t be a problem with reasonable people, but I think that’s downplaying the likelihood that your peers (who have decided to plan something so ridiculous) are not what we would consider “reasonable people.”

  8. Fancy Owl*

    Definitely don’t pay for the certificate on Coursera! Not only is it going to be of limited use on your resume, but if the course has exams or assignments that unlock when you pay, you’ll most likely find they are of poor quality. That was my experience trying to take programming courses on Coursera, from multiple universities. Poorly worded questions, broken and uninformative auto-grafing, peer reviewers who rush through their reviews, plus all of the questions and answers to every assignment and quiz can be found online because they’ve been the same for years. It’s actually easy to accidentally cheat, they encourage you to use Stack Exchange for help and you’ll have to because the videos won’t cover everything you need for the assignment. While you’re searching for the piece you need you’ll often come across someone asking the question from the assignment verbatim and the entire solution will be in the responses. I thought about asking on a Friday thread what hiring managers think of Coursera certificates but I never bothered because I realized I wouldn’t feel right putting it on a resume after how little I felt I got from it. It might be a bit different for professional development courses, but I doubt it’s much better. No, I’m not bitter, why’d you ask?

    1. Dan*

      Coursera itself is legit for technical coursework, my colleagues and I do some stuff through them from time to time, but it’s been awhile. The paid certifications don’t tell me much, however. If you make it to the interview, what’s most important is how you respond to the questions I might ask about the courses you took. I need to know what you learned and retained. You can have the certificate, but if you can’t have a conversation about the material, the certificate is worthless. Likewise, if you can have an intelligent conversation about the material, I don’t care about the certificate. (Side note: I do government work for the most part, and you can’t get hired on in the government sphere without a BA/BS in a technical discipline.)

      Things have changed since my “I just graduated and am looking for a job with no related experience” days. These days? Demonstrating your ability to apply the material is key; just regurgitating course material will not set you apart. I need to see some ability to 1) Understand a real problem, 2) Adapt the principles of the appropriate algorithms to the problem, 3) Choose an appropriate set of performance metrics and explain why the metrics are appropriate for both the model and the problem, and 4) Communicate your findings at an executive level. What am I *not* looking for? “I wrote the code to apply a stock algorithm to a stock data set, and here’s the output I got.” That answer isn’t an instant rejection, but it’s a “thank you for coming in, we’re continuing to conduct interviews, and we’ll let you know.” BTW, point #3 is harder than it looks, but is also very critical. If you can nail point #3, you’ve impressed *me*, but that may not be worth all that much. You will, however, get a recommendation from me to my boss that reads, “this guy really gets it and will be a real asset to our team.”

    2. Beth Jacobs*

      I love coursera but have never bothered to pay for the certificate. Even with excellent courses, the assessments tend to be poorly constructed. Even with “harder” skills, the certificates don’t mean anything.

    3. Mockingjay*

      My company uses a different service than Coursera, but the goal is the same thing – training to assist or round out soft or easy skills, like team communications or presentation styles. Unless you are going for a specific credentialed certificate (usually IT-type things), you don’t need to pay for these certificates.

    4. LQ*

      I’ve done a few classes on coursera early on in their lifespan when the assignments and exams were still a part of the free auditing and you just paid for the certificate. They were really hit or miss. I had a few where the assignments and exams were really excellent (the gamification class stands out as one of the best I’ve ever taken, paid or free, in person or online) and some where they were really poor. I definately wouldn’t pay for anything soft skills at this point. And for harder skills you’re likely better off with a certification that comes from somewhere else. (Like take a class from Coursera on AWS architecture, but get the certification from AWS…well…the company that does the certifications.)

      1. kt*

        My first course was the gamification course, and it *was* good! I also liked the interactive Python programming with CodeSkulptor courses, though they may have been reconfigured.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        Yeah, I’m doing a couple of the Specializations at the moment, and the quality of the course materials themselves is fairly good (mostly due to survivorship bias in my case, since I sign up for a lot of them and then dump them quickly if it’s clear that they are no good!) … but the assignments are quite variable.

        I find they can be split into:

        – multiple choice quizzes that boil down to “reading” comprehension and can be answered as you go with the videos. For example “Which of these does Professor X say are the main steps in process Y?”

        – programming assignments and similar things where you are “filling in the blanks” or applying something that was demonstrated in the course but just filling in different details.

        – more open ended assignments that are much more difficult than the material presented, designed to make you think and come up with your own approach. These are potentially valuable, but I’ve found that they get plagiarized easily – either by people posting the code on Stack Overflow, Github etc, or “re-circulating” work they received to peer review as if it was their own work, or just copy and pasting from Wikipedia or similar when the question clearly wanted an original response.

        What I’ve personally found most useful with these type of courses is to really think about the course material and then make up my own “problems” (in domains I am interested in) to apply it to, beyond the things asked in the assignments. I think that kind of thing if complex enough could be a good addition to a “portfolio” of work (or just things to draw on in interviews).

        I think it’s just a fundamental difficulty in the way Coursera etc work currently, and I’m not sure what, if anything, can be done about that…

  9. Shira*

    Alison – it may not affect LW1’s relationships with peers if s/he backs out of the gathering, but wouldn’t it affect peer relationships to follow your earlier advice to talk to their manager? Even if we understand that s/he isn’t trying to get everyone in trouble and just wants guidance, I doubt the peer group will see it that way. If someone argues that what they do outside of work isn’t management’s business, that person by definition isn’t going to agree that asking the manager (no pun intended ;-) ) is a reasonable course of action.

    1. mazarin*

      Yes, but anyone who thinks that discussing it with the manager is unreasonable can be safely ignored. You are an intern to get experience and a reference, there is no positive result from ignoring your managers opinion. And you do not want to be friends with someone who thinks your manager can be ignored.

    2. virago*

      If I were OP 1, I wouldn’t worry about whether or not I strained my relationships with people so obviously lacking in common sense. My teenage nieces (12.5 and 15) both have jobs this summer, and *they* know enough to wear masks and avoid large groups. What’s wrong with OP 1’s fellow interns?

      1. Not Australian*

        Exactly. Why would we care about the hurt feelings of people who are not just prepared to behave rashly but are actively contemptuous of other people’s health? It’s an extreme level of selfishness that should never be encouraged or pandered to.

    3. Dan*

      “If someone argues that what they do outside of work isn’t management’s business, that person by definition isn’t going to agree that asking the manager (no pun intended ;-) ) is a reasonable course of action.”

      I happen to agree with this, but I do think one of the lessons that only gets learned the hard way is that management may disagree with the employee about what is and is not “management’s business.” The cold hard truth is that management’s business is whatever management decides it is, and most of the time, there’s nothing the employee can do about it.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I wouldn’t alienate my peers for an issue like this. I think it’s unreasonable to think that young folks in their first jobs are going to be reasonable about someone announcing that they are bringing this to management’s attention. If I were the LW, I would speak to my boss or to HR confidentially or not at all. I would not tell the other interns that I was doing it.

      They want to do it “by the end of the summer.” If their behavior is likely to endanger other people in the office, I would speak to management. If it’s a matter of them, like so many other people, acting in ways that are not in the general interest of public health, I wouldn’t report them. I’d just bow out personally.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes, I’m surprised a bit by the advice and a lot by all the comments who say “who cares if you get alienated” by your peer?” Intellectually, sure, but realistically, assuming these interns are early 20s, peer pressure and fear of missing out are a very real thing. In the greater context, it’s stupid to go and there’s no real benefit to going, but the advice and many of the comments seem to be ignoring that. 50 yo me DGAF about saying no, 25 yo me, it would have been a lot harder.

        1. Natalie*

          I don’t know if I find it surprising, whenever any kind of social fallout comes up here there’s usually a vocal contingent claiming to not care and not understand why anyone else does. It’s certainly annoying for anyone who expects actual advice on avoiding or mitigating or getting comfortable with it, but not particularly surprising.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          Just because peer pressure and FOMO is real, doesn’t make it okay. Sounds like OP might have the guts to do what’s right for them instead of falling victim to that peer pressure. And regardless of age, I would still give the advice to not worry about alienating your peers. They’re making a bad decision and I would encourage anyone to not follow them blindly because you’re afraid of missing out on something. That’s the attitude that’s made us all prisoners in our houses for the last 6 months.

          1. Ashley*

            And this is no longer an issue of just FOMO. While many people have no symptoms (at least short term from COVID), we are literally talking about life and death situations for others and those they have contact with.
            A gathering in a public health crisis is much different then say a keg party outside of a pandemic.
            Of all the reasons to judge people and decide who isn’t worth being friends with and socializing with, people who don’t take my health seriously is a pretty easy standard of who I don’t want to associate with.

            1. Quill*

              In addition: an internship where no one has previously met in person is not a situation where you are juggling social survival against your principals. You have worked with these other people, but at this point (they’re all interns, none are already part of your life outside work) you can literally cut ties at any moment without physical or financial consequence. (Emotional is probably unavoidable.)

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          Because some people really don’t care and never did? And your intern cohort is not necessarily your friends, they’re people you happened to work with for one summer/semester. It’s not like picking a fight with your BFF and alienating your actual friends.

          And, this isn’t about wearing the wrong clothes or not being invited to the cool kids’ table, it’s a public health issue. Weighing the value of being in with the in-crowd versus an increased risk of contracting COVID plus flaunting local health regulations and the employer’s no meeting policy? I care more about being healthy and preserving my recommendation or post-grad job offer.

        4. Joielle*

          And in addition to the peer pressure/FOMO aspect – I don’t know what field or city the OP is in, but in my profession it’s a VERY small world. Even though I personally agree that the OP is the one being reasonable, their peers probably will not, and you don’t want to apply for a job 10 years down the line and find that the hiring manager is still holding a grudge against you for (what they see as) tattling on them during an internship. Perhaps people will say “well, you wouldn’t want to work for them anyways.” But…. sometimes you DO want to! Sometimes people who kind of suck end up in really good jobs. Or sometimes people who suck when they’re 20 end up sucking less when they’re 30.

          When I was in law school, we were all warned early on that we were already developing our professional reputations, and that’s turned out to be very true. But your professional reputation isn’t judged against some objective standard of correctness, it’s judged by your peers. Most of the commenters are well-established in our careers and perhaps have the luxury of not caring as much if someone in our field doesn’t like us. But that’s a much bigger risk when you’re just starting out.

          Personally, I’d tell the group I wasn’t going to attend because I’m trying to be really careful about COVID, so hopefully anyone else who felt the same would be empowered to make the same choice. But I wouldn’t tell a manager about it unless they were going to be coming back into the office.

          1. Grapey*

            “But your professional reputation isn’t judged against some objective standard of correctness, it’s judged by your peers.”

            Depends on the job; there are plenty of cops out there that are being judged by a lot more than their peers.
            And as someone senior that works with (not manages) a number of entry level workers and has the duty to provide feedback, I notice when these junior workers resist common peer pressure to cut corners.

            1. Joielle*

              Well, yeah, I guess if your on-the-job behavior extends to literally murdering people in the street, then that does fall short of an objective standard of correctness. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

              I guess I’m not sure what you’re getting at. When I manage interns, I, too, notice which ones do a good, thorough job and which ones phone it in and cut out early. But this question is about an intern’s reputation among their peers. Some people appear to think that’s largely irrelevant, and I’m saying it’s not – except in the unusual case where your industry or city is so large that you could be pretty well assured that you’d never run into those fellow interns again.

      2. cacwgrl*

        I agree with you here and would hope that OP’s manager would handle it in such a way, assuming they are still employees and would in theory continue to be employees after the gathering happens. I know the rules, I have no issues telling all of them ‘hey, here’s the guidance, as a reminder, not allowed for work. Personally, if you do it, here are the rules you must follow professionally, if you attend”. They don’t need to know how I know, who told, whatever. I wouldn’t burn someone’s personal bridge and would hope OP’s supervisor could handle the situation in the same way.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      Personally, I’d be totally okay with being shut out of further social interactions with the other interns if they got mad about it. And if they start cutting the OP out of work related tasks, that *is* something that’s both at work, and the manager’s business.

      The other thing is the company’s point of view. If they’re doing it as an Interns of X social gathering, it’s associated with the company, even if it’s after hours. The company should have the chance to respond if they’re planning on doing something that would reflect badly on the company. It’s the same as if the interns were planning a bros and hos themed party for all the interns, or an end of internship party where they trashed a bar – it would be the company’s business even if it were out of office hours.

      1. WellRed*

        Would you really be OK, though? We see plenty of letters from people being ostracized at work, to the point they want to quit.

        1. Colette*

          This is an internship that is ending. There is not likely to be any long-term ostracizing. (It is, however, possible to take part in the event and potentially torpedo a recommendation from the company.)

          1. Hoya Lawya*

            Don’t kid yourself: part of the benefit of an internship is forming a network with your peers. Some of the folks I interned with are now with major think tanks, partners at law firms and banks, etc.

            People like Diahann Carroll below are not thinking strategically. Interns are future business partners, sales leads, business referrals, and so on.

            You do not want to alienate your fellow interns. OP1 should report confidentially or not at all.

            1. Colette*

              Maybe in some fields. I did co-op terms, got to know a bunch of fellow students, and never talked to them again after it was over.

              But also … the OP gets to form her own opinion of people who would deliberately flout both her company’s guidelines and public health guidelines.

            2. Oh No She Di'int*

              I came to say this. This isn’t about FOMO and “being with the cool kids”. It is about who’s going to be running that major business that you need as a sales lead 20 years from now. Don’t throw yourself on a grenade, OP. Just walk away gracefully.

            3. EventPlannerGal*

              That’s totally dependent on the industry and type of internship. And honestly I don’t think it’s especially strategic to prioritise a possible future sales lead over the very real, immediate possibility of your intern cohort becoming known for “Goldman Intern Party Becomes New Covid Hotspot, Three Dead, Local Officials Furious”. Lots of parties have ended up in the news after people have posted them to social media or whatever and that seems like it could do a lot more damage to the OPs network than some of her fellow interns (some of whom may be on her side anyway) maybe holding a grudge over a party for the next 20 years.

              1. Hoya Lawya*

                “That’s totally dependent on the industry and type of internship.”

                I disagree. It may be more important in some fields than others, but I can’t think of any field in which seeding a network for the future is irrelevant.

                1. EventPlannerGal*

                  Of course a network is important, but people here are acting like it is universal that your network is going to be heavily comprised of people you did one summer internship with and are going to hold a grudge over a party for the next 20 years. In industries where there is considerable mobility, people frequently move between companies/cities/countries, where people exit the industry entirely frequently, or if the interns are a group of college students who are going to disperse across the country/planet after graduation or may never actually get a job in the industry, you may never encounter your fellow interns professionally again. I did a couple of internships at university and of my fellow interns only about half of them actually went into events or a related industry, most of them in other countries, and most of those have since left the industry even before the pandemic. I have never encountered any of them in a professional capacity. And that is in an industry where networking is HUGELY important.

            4. Robin Sparkles*

              I completely agree with this and frankly am really surprised at the comments. You just cannot assume this will not have a negative consequence. OP needs to do this carefully – if these fellow interns are usually smart and reasonable and she likes them, maybe talk to them about the public health concerns. Otherwise do not announce yourself as reporting this to management.

            5. Sutemi*

              My experience as an intern were different than that. There would be 2-4 interns per department and we all did different things. We had intern group activities together but were otherwise spread out in labs, in finance, in IT etc. My reputation with the other interns at 3 different companies had no bearing on my career.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          So you’d engage in dangerous behavior just to be part of the “in crowd” at work? No it wouldn’t be a picnic to be ostracized at work, but I’m not going to be a part of something I don’t agree with so people like me more.

          1. WellRed*

            Did I say that? No, I didn’t. I’m genuinely curious if others would find this so easy if they were in OPs shoes.

            1. Dave*

              I am the oddball out at my company because to put it bluntly I believe in science and I don’t think just because on the surface I don’t have an underlying health condition I should put myself in situations where local health laws are not being followed. It is annoying and frustrating having conversations with co-workers about why I can not do something they want me to do that was a fairly reasonable request in January. What it tells me is a) my co-workers suck b) my industry sucks and c) I am grateful for my governor and health leaders for caring about my health more then those I have worked with for years. Sometimes it is worth being the odd ball out.

            2. Alex (UK)*

              I’m with you on this WellRed. Obviously, the correct course of action for OP is to alert their management that this gathering is taking place, and at the very least decline to attend themselves. But it’s not necessarily as easy as some here are making out. I know that right now at 32, I’d have no trouble with it, but honsetly when I was 22? I don’t know if I’d have had the fortitude to speak out against it.

              Peer pressure can be horrendous in your early 20s, especially when you’re only just learning to navigate the norms of professional conduct. It can be incredibly difficult to be the one to speak out against something, or to report it to higher ups – yes, even in the face of a global pandemic.

            3. EventPlannerGal*

              I don’t think I would find it easy per se and I would probably try to avoid being known as the person who reported it, but this isn’t like pissing off someone who you work with long term or has power over you. They’re interns, there’s a big group of them and may not know each other that well anyway, the internship will be over soon and there’s no guarantee that they will work together or even see each other again.

              I get that peer pressure and FOMO are real feelings, but I think it’s important to be clear about the difference between feelings and actual likely consequences. Something that FEELS hugely important may have absolutely no impact on your life at all, while things that feel completely unimportant at the time can be a BFD later on.

            4. Emilia Bedelia*

              I agree with you! In my company, interns are very social and tend to live with each other and socialize out of work. It is more common than not that interns are offered full time jobs. Every summer, the new cohort of interns turned FTEs arrives, and they continue to be social with the people that they knew from their internship.

              As someone who was not an intern, and who didn’t come in with a “cohort” of people my own age, I really did have a vastly different experience from the other new grads. I wasn’t unhappy, but there were definitely moments when I would have wanted some work friends to eat lunch with or go to happy hour with. This is about the day to day interactions that make your job pleasant – if OP’s office culture is like mine, it’s fair to be a little worried that speaking up could impact that.

              Alison’s scripts are good for striking a balance between speaking up to do what is right, and keeping the tone polite and nonconfrontational. Discreetly discussing with the manager is also a good route if they are hesitant to speak up. While we should all be confident and willing to confront people who are not taking public health seriously, it’s better for OP to speak up in a polite way than not at all.

            5. Forrest*

              Yeah, I’d do it *now*, but that’s the difference between 21 and 41.

              We had a very similar thing recently—we’re no true in the US, so different rules—where I was organising a big planning meeting and we wanted to run it in person, socially distanced, outside. At the time we wouldn’t have have ein allowed to have a gathering like that for social reasons, but doing it for work meant we needed to be covered by our employer’s risk assessment and guidelines, not the personal ones. Work was apparently fine with it, so we did it.

              OP, look at the dynamics in the group, and ask whether this is being organised in a “we know this is against the rules, we don’t care” or, “this is probably ok, let’s not check.” If it’s the former, and it’s happening for work reasons or before the internship finishes, either steer clear, let them do whatever but don’t get involved, or ask your manager for advice. If they’re ignorant, present it as a professional thing: “this just seems like the kind of thing where we should check with a manager, I’ll mention it to them at my one-to-one for their take.”

              The other trick in this kind of situation is to test the waters with a couple of people you trust most. Sometimes you find that other people are also deeply uncomfortable but just going along with the group dynamic, and once you know there’s a bunch of you thinking the same thing it’s a lot easier to push back.

            6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

              You’re questioning if someone would really be okay with shutting work people out of their lives, so yes, you implied it.

            7. Robin Sparkles*

              Agree WellRed. Most of these interns are probably swept up in a wave of wanting social interaction. If OP is well-liked and likes them – she can maturely mention safety and concerns with the company’s policies. She can reasonably point them in the right direction and I have a hard time believing she is the ONLY intern who cares about public safety while the rest are all selfish and ignorant. I bet if she says something, others may side with her and that is the end of that. She can kindly bow out. She can report it but report it confidentially.

        3. Sutemi*

          Ostracized by the other interns? They won’t be your references the same way your manager or full time coworkers could be.

          1. Hoya Lawya*

            Ostracized by the other interns? They won’t be your references the same way your manager or full time coworkers could be.

            Even if they’re not references, they are future professional colleagues. You don’t want to alienate people who may make decisions about whether to hire your firm for engagements, make introductions to people when you move to a new city, etc.

            1. fhgwhgads*

              I’d have lost all respect for these interns at this point, and would not want to work for or with them in the future. Also maybe I’m weird but the networking I did in their shoes was with the professionals at the time. I don’t think my peers would even remember me. I don’t remember them. But I still have good contacts otherwise.

        4. Archaeopteryx*

          It sounds more from the letter like OP is concerned about some kind of professional fallout from alienating the other interns, which isn’t likely to be a huge concern. This is a limited term internship; it’s not like they all actually work there long term and might be a major factor in each other’s social lives. And it’s not like peers give you references.

          This kind of unnecessary violation of social distancing guidelines is the reason that this pandemic is such a long drawn out process. Speaking up about it might help pierce the bubble of these people’s magical thinking.

          1. Anya Last Nerve*

            I think it’s unwise to view this as “just” an internship. I work in a financial services back office function with people based in the largest cities in the world and it’s definitely a very small and incestuous industry. People remember and mention things that happened 20 years ago – I don’t think the OP wants to start her career as the person who made a big fuss that time. I tend to be a real rule follower but I’m not a “I’m going to escalate to my boss!” kind of person at all. So I would not advise that OP go to her manager. Instead, OP should just be honest – “sorry guys, I don’t want to break the company and local rules on gatherings!” Then she’s put it out there and made it clear that there is a rule and this violates it. If these folks go ahead with their plans, then the consequences are on them.

            1. Joielle*

              Totally agreed. Maybe if you work in a really huge industry you’d never see or hear of your fellow interns again (although even that I find hard to imagine). Personally, as an attorney in a large city (not like LA or NYC large, but pretty big), I know everyone. Everyone knows everyone! There’s a ton of gossip. I mostly stay out of it, but even as a person on the fringes I could look at a stack of resumes and tell you who you shouldn’t hire. I wouldn’t go to the party and would say why, but I also wouldn’t stake my reputation on getting the party shut down.

            2. Sparkles McFadden*

              Agreed. I think talking to peers directly is more effective anyway. Be straightforward and state your case. One person speaking up might just be enough to derail the event anyway. Anytime I spoke up in such a situation, I was surprised by the number of people who would agree immediately, later saying “Until you said something I thought I was the only one who was bothered by that.”

          2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

            I would be far more worried about professional fallout from the management of the company than from the other interns. The other interns have the ability to say bad things about OP1. The company’s management has the ability to destroy their careers.

            Think of the dress code interns. I am sure they all get along fine and say wonderful things about each other, but as we saw from at least one additional letter to AAM, any association with that group was likely harming their careers.

            1. EventPlannerGal*

              I agree. I’m sure that at some point in the future it’s possible that some of these interns will be in a position where they could make life harder for OP if they care that much about this party and still remember and hold a grudge about it years in the future, but that’s a lot of ifs and whens. Their current management are the ones with actual power in this situation.

        5. NotAnotherManager!*

          This is a public health issue. This is not doing something that might bend your own moral code or ignoring someone looking at social media on company time for the sake of fitting in. If someone’s going to ostracize me for adhering to public health guidelines and company policy, that says more about them than it does me and like someone whose approval I’m not dying to obtain.

          And, really, if someone’s an intern and they are not adhering to base professional expectations like acknowledging their coworkers, collaborating on projects, speaking professionally to others, avoiding mean-spirited commentary on company resources, etc., that’s for a manager to deal with, if you have a remotely functional workplace. Not everyone’s going to like each other, but we don’t run our office like the middle school cafeteria.

        6. Keymaster of Gozer*

          If I knew my actions had saved the lives of others (by reducing the spread of Covid)? Yeah, I’d be fine with others getting a bit offended over that.

          It’ll show me everything I need to know about them as a person if they think safety guidelines are a) optional and b) worth causing discord over.

          Bottom line is, this is a situation that is killing people. Lots of them. Healthy, sick, young, old…we need to be building up those who’ll take this seriously and giving them the strength to stand up.

    6. BRR*

      It’s possible but I’m wondering if it even matters. So often work is the only thing people have in common. How often ate there letters about people losing touch when they no longer work together?

      1. virago*

        Exactly. I think that’s a good thing to keep in mind for people who a new to the working world.

    7. Jennifer*

      Agreed. I would tell everyone that I would not be attending and why but I’d leave it there. It sounds from the description that this is not a work meeting but people getting together to hang out after work. Still very reckless and irresponsible but if it’s happening outside of work, I don’t see what the manager could do about it. I don’t know if calling the authorities would help unless you live somewhere where social distance guidelines are being heavily enforced, plus calling the cops because of something like this doesn’t sit well with me. Protect yourself, and encourage them to do the same. Ultimately, you can’t control what anyone else does. Why I stay masked up when I have to leave the house and try to avoid leaving as much as possible.

    8. kt*

      This whole thing (and the discussion in the comments here) is so 1990s after-school special.

      “Jennifer, it’s not a big deal! Just come out with us! No one will know!” Jessica tossed her hair over her shoulder and looked at Jason, sitting in the cab of his truck with the door open. He nodded. “Yeah, Jennifer, we’ll all wear masks. It’ll be fine! Don’t be a such a drag.”

  10. Alternative Person*

    I’ve gotten some useful tidbits from the sites my job encourages me to use (not Coursera, but similar), but we’re not expected to pay for certificates, so I just take a screencap (snipping tool can come in handy in a pinch) to show I went through the course. It looks good on my internal company record, but if I were to apply outside I wouldn’t put them on my resume.

  11. Lilyp*

    “I removed and disposed of the cockroach while internally screaming”…. I’m honestly in awe of your nerves of steel OP2! I’m pretty sure I would’ve sworn *loudly* and run away O.O

    1. CockrOPch*

      I’ve lived in some pretty buggy places in the past so I’m used to dealing with them, but “in Keurig in a business setting” was a new one.

      1. Quill*

        I’m very fond of madagascar hissing cockroaches & will willingly pet them, would struggle not to gag if one got in a coffeemaker.

        1. The Rural Juror*

          I had a roommate in college who wanted to take a class called “Insects in Religion.” One of the requirements was that the students would take home a hissing cockroach and take care of it for a semester. That would have been fine with me if it was contained to her room, but she said there was a possibility the cockroach would lay eggs that would hatch…and those were too small to be confined to the terrarium. I said NOPE. I would not agree to that! At least she gave me the whole rundown before just doing it…that was respectful!

          1. Ev*

            …while I think you absolutely made the right decision, the idea of a college course about religion that required you to temporarily parent a cockroach is completely fascinating to me. I have so many questions about that.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I lived in cockroach-infested places non-stop between ages 17 and 30. They (and the bedbugs, which my dorm also had) are the only insects I cannot stand. Never got used to dealing with them!

    2. kittymommy*

      I would have smashed the crap out of the Keurig and had a panic attack. I am deeply terrified of these bugs (I can’t even read the posts here because I’m starting to freak out a little.)

    3. Third or Nothing!*

      Me too! I actually had the horror of dealing with this in my own home thanks to sharing a wall with an infested home and let me tell you, there was a lot of running to the bathroom if you catch my drift. My husband had to take care of a lot of the encounters thanks to my weak stomach. OP2 is a freaking champ.

      Also, all the advice online for getting rid of the pests is to clean your space better. Yeah, thanks Internet, I have no control over the cleanliness of someone else’s space. Did learn how to deep clean the coffee maker, though.

      1. CockrOPch*

        I lived in an area with a lot of cockroaches so I’m kinda immune to dealing with them now. But I’m so used to other people bugging out (hehe) that it made me wanna not bring it up when I found the Keurig resident.

        1. Zona the Great*

          Sometimes I can’t tell if I’m actually grateful for scorpions around here as I never see any bug besides them. Which are horrible horrible creatures to be sure. They never crawl out of my foodstuffs.

          1. Exhausted Trope*

            Oh, totally. Lots of scorpions but no bugs indoors to speak of. But I’ve been working on eradicating the scorps from the house since we moved in. It’s been a lot of effort but it beats being stung by a long shot.

            1. The Rural Juror*

              You can get a blacklight that will make them glow. It’s very useful for checking around the room before going to bed at night. I’ve stayed in places in South Texas where you’ll find them inside!

        2. Third or Nothing!*

          I also live in an area with a lot of cockroaches (Texas) and I still freak out. I can handle the little ones much better than the giant flying ones, though.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Also, all the advice online for getting rid of the pests is to clean your space better.

        Haha. hahaha haha. Last place I lived that had cockroaches was an apartment building with 100+ apartments. If one family in the building had them, so did everyone else.

        1. Dancing Otter*

          Same thing with mice. One complaint, and Maintenance wants to put poison in every apartment.
          I said, “No, absolutely not with so many pets in the building. My cats will enjoy playing with live prey.”
          It must have been a small infestation, because my furry exterminators only caught two. That, or there were only two mice stupid enough to venture where there were cats.

  12. MistOrMister*

    I had one of those cockroach meetups. OP is a better person than me. I opened the sugar packet drawer, saw the cockroach moving about, did an internal scream,of bloody murder. Then closed the drawer and ran away. I suppose I should have emailed our facilities team but I was squicked out and panicky and stayed far away from the beverage supplies for ages. Our building is somewhat prone to cockroaches. Its not an overrun infestation, but you’ll randomly see one a couple of times a yeat maybe. Blech!!!

  13. Jessica Fletcher*

    Another thing about those paid certificates! You can put any name you want on them, so they’re truly useless!

    I took a course a few years ago, and paid for the certificate. It then asks you to upload a photo of yourself holding up your photo ID, to prove it’s you. They wouldn’t verify me because I was registered as Jess Fletcher, and my ID said Jessica. I explained that I use Jess professionally, so it would confuse people to see my full name on the certificate. (My real name and nickname are not as easily matched as Jess/Jessica.) The website rep said, “oh don’t worry, after you get verified, you can change the name on the certificate.”

    So those certificates are useless. Someone could sell certificates, just changing the name after they get verified as their real name. What a racket.

  14. Yoana*

    I came here looking for an answer to a different issue but what OP #1 posted really resonated with me!
    My own manager in a team of around 15 people is trying to organize a “team get-together” at his home coming weekend.

    I know for a fact his home is not big enough to safely allow for people to keep a 1.5m distance from each other while dining together, and it really irks me that we are all working from home precisely to avoid being in a situation where we’re all cramped together like this.

    I don’t feel like I can speak up since it’s my manager and will need to come up with a stupid excuse instead, and what exacerbates this even more is the fact that everyone else was truly excited about it, immediately throwing food and activity suggestions and going on about how we should have done this earlier. I know as an introvert this attitude may be a bit more foreign to me than to most, but this feels like blatant ignorance of the current COVID-related rules.

    1. Mainely Professional*

      SPEAK UP.

      “I know we all miss each other and it’s been hard not socializing but…it’s really not a good idea for us to have a party. Small gatherings like this have actually been driving the epidemic. Every day we successfully resist the urge to break the rules, is another life saved. Think how terrible it would be if one of us was an asymptomatic spreader of COVID who ended up killing a coworker/coworker’s immunocompromised spouse or loved one?”

      “Our state/province/whatever guidelines are that people can only meet in groups of 10 or fewer, outside, masked, and maintaining social distances of six feet.”

      More scripts, people?

      1. Yoana*

        Thank you! I have to say as a person who is absolutely not outspoken the idea of a scripted response brings a lot of relief.
        The only issue I have is that our current guidelines allow for bigger gatherings (the Netherlands), so long as the distance rule is respected, and I know they will downplay that. I will do my best to address this on a team call because I still find it odd and irresponsible to host a party right now.

        1. LGC*

          In that case, you can just say that you’re uncomfortable with it (not sure if this lands the same way in the Netherlands, but in the US and other English primary countries, that wouldn’t be too weird). If you’re really pressed, a last ditch dodge is to say, “I might be a bit unreasonable, but…” (kind of like getting out of an office party).

      2. LifeBeforeCorona*

        My script is that I want to visit my grandkids so I’m being extra cautious with my social distancing.

      3. Epsilon Delta*

        “I’m sorry, I’m not able to come.”

        “I’m sorry, I do not think gatherings are safe at this time so I won’t be able to come. Have a good time.”

        Or I guess worst case you tell them the day of that you are not feeling well.

        I don’t think it’s worth trying to convince the other person to cancel or try to get them to agree with you that it’s a health risk. It’s political now which means that you’re not going to change their mind. Just politely decline and don’t Justify Argue Defend Explain.

    2. WS*

      Do speak up, and do it where everyone can see, not personally to your manager. There’s going to be other people who are looking for cues on what to do, even those who are excited at the chance to see other people. Your manager doesn’t want to be the person all over the news for hosting a virus-spreading party at [Company Name].

      1. Yoana*

        Thank you! It didn’t cross my mind other people may also be uncertain about how to handle this, but it makes so much sense now that you say it.

        1. Mainely Professional*

          I agree. Just because some people were excited and making suggestions about food and such doesn’t mean everyone is keen about the idea.

          1. LGC*

            One more point: people often tend to listen to the loudest person in the room, even if they have doubts. Likewise, even if the loudest person in the room doesn’t represent the majority, people will think he does.

            (Majorities of Americans – across the political spectrum – support wearing masks in public, at least according to polling. It’s a slight majority with Republicans, but much stronger with independents and Democrats.)

    3. Lady Heather*

      What I’ve found helpful is rather than expressing distrust – “This is not a good idea because of the distancing guidelines” (which I can’t because it makes me feel rude), asking a question that assumes good faith, “How will the distancing be enforced?” because of course it will be, or even “What an effort you’re going through for us – I imagine it’s a lot of work clearing all the couches from your living room just so we can stay 2 m apart” or (I don’t think you should do this one, but hey) “You’ve built an addition to your house? I’m so looking forward to seeing that? … Sorry, I misunderstood – when you said 15 of us were going to safely meet inside your house, I assumed that meant that you had enlarged your house since the last time I was there. How are we going to fit with the 2m rule?”

      1. Mainely Professional*

        Coronavirus spreads not only through small “droplets” that fall away from a distance of 2m, but through smaller droplets that remain in the air. It’s unsafe to be inside any building/room, unmasked, with other people. (Arguably it’s pretty unsafe even if you are masked.) So there’s no truly safe way to distance inside.

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        Doesn’t being so passive-aggressive about it sort of undermine the good faith idea, though? Just asking ‘how are we going to enforce the 2m distance’ is a great way to avoid rudeness, but the whole ‘oh so you’ve removed all your furniture already?? Wow! You’ve built a house extension?? Wow!’ thing seems almost ruder than just saying that it’s a bad idea.

        1. Lady Heather*

          Maybe it is.. I don’t know.

          Personally, I value honesty* – above almost all else. With that, accusing someone else of dishonesty is the worst thing you can say to someone, I think. So if someone says something that sounds dishonest – “We’re going to safely party” or even “I care about your safety and we are going to party”, I ‘can’t’ say that it wouldn’t be safe, because then I’d be accusing them of being untrustworthy, a liar, dishonest. So instead I’ll take what they say at face value, and then ask questions about that, if that makes sense.
          And if removing furniture is the only way it can make sense for them to be truthful, then I’m going to assume they removed furniture.

          *honesty as in, considerate honesty, not deceiving people like misrepresenting situations, not telling factual lies, not making promises with no intention of keeping them. I don’t value the brutal “that dress is ugly and you stink” kind of honesty.

          If I am going to assume it isn’t going to be safe, and tell the manager “I don’t think it’s safe”, I’ll be essentially telling – implying to – my manager that I think they are a liar, that they have no consideration for my safety, that I believe them capable of misrepresenting risks and vital facts in order to deceive someone into endangering themselves.
          I think it is rude to accuse someone of that when it is possible they -aren’t- doing all of those things.

          So I’m going to assume they found a way to make it safe.

          (I am autistic. I think it shows.)

          1. ThatGirl*

            I think you can rephrase that as “I don’t feel safe” though – then it’s about YOUR feelings, not someone else’s.

            Saying “oh, so you’ve built an addition on your house?” will come off as extremely passive-aggressive.

            Non-work example: My brother in law (husband’s brother) and his wife had a baby shower on Saturday. They had a handful of family members over and we video-called in so we could watch them open presents. While their house is spacious, people were still indoors, some with masks and some without, eating and talking and sitting fairly close together. We love them, we’re excited to meet our niece in 6 weeks or so, but it seemed totally crazy to travel for this event. We didn’t call anyone out, though, or chide them for gathering – we just emphasized that we weren’t comfortable with it right now for our own reasons.

            1. Lady Heather*

              I think there’s a difference between feelings and government-mandated distancing guidelines, and between hierarchical vs non-hierarchical relationships. (Both from a ‘manager is responsible for a safe workplace’ and a ‘manager has power over employee’ perspective.)

              But you’re right in that “I don’t feel safe” (depending on tone) wouldn’t necessarily be accusatory. It would give me that icky feeling of this is not about my feelings, this is about life and death and that can go into the ‘things I tolerate for a paycheck’ category.

              1. Spencer Hastings*

                Yeah, I think this is a situation where Alison’s frequently-recommended strategy of “oh, this is just a weird quirk of mine…” (even if it’s not) would come in handy. Like, other people might be comfortable at such a gathering, but *I’m* not, so I won’t be going.

              2. ThatGirl*

                You’re right, but I was addressing your statement that you can’t say it wouldn’t be safe — making it about your *feelings* of safety would sidestep that. Because then it’s not a judgment on someone else; it’s about you.

                1. fhgwhgads*

                  Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t want to make it about my feelings about what is safe because that would then undermine the messaging that it doesn’t matter what I personally feel is safe or what Boss personally feels is safe; what matters is what scientists have determined so far is safe.

          2. Colette*

            But acting like you believe the manager has built an extension on her house or has taken all of the furniture out of her living room is not being honest – you don’t really think that.

          3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

            My approach would be, not These people are being dishonest, but These people are mistaken, and are saying something they think is true. Some factual errors are trivial–did you buy those blueberries on Thursday or on Friday?–and some are important.

            What I think is going on here is someone is saying, honestly, that they are planning a party, and also honestly that they think it’s safe. That doesn’t mean it is safe: there are a lot of people who are doing things that they think are safe, and that I’m pretty sure aren’t. They aren’t trying to lie to me, they honestly (if from my viewpoint ridiculously) think that if their brother-in-law disagrees with the WHO or CDC, this means the CDC is wrong.

            What you’d be saying is something like “maybe I’m being over-cautious, but some people say it’s risky and I don’t want to take chances” or “I don’t know whether this is safe, but I’d rather miss a cool party than not be able to visit my grandmother.”

          4. EventPlannerGal*

            Okay, interesting – thank you for explaining!

            To me I don’t think of it as an honesty issue – it’s possible that the boss here honestly (wrongly) believes that it is possible to have this party safely, or he has somehow misunderstood the regulations or some other scenario where he sincerely believes that this party is safe. He can be incorrect without lying. In my eyes, putting him on the spot in a way that reads as though it’s designed to embarrass him (like, “this is such a stupid idea that you would have to have built an entire extension on your house to do it – well, have you? Oh, you haven’t?”) will come across way ruder than just assuming he’s forgotten the 2m rule and reminding him.

          5. allathian*

            I think it’s OK to imply that you think your manager is if not a liar, at least misinformed. Plenty of managers are perfectly capable of having zero consideration for their employees’ safety and of misrepresenting risks and vital facts in order to deceive someone into endangering themselves. Many managers do it for kicks, because they can. Good managers don’t do this, obviously.

            Please find a script that makes it clear to you that your manager does not automatically have your best interests at heart when they make decisions, and you’re entitled to refuse an invitation to your manager’s house, especially if it’s against local guidelines.

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        “I imagine it’s a lot of work setting up distanced spaces outside, with everyone bringing their own refreshments so that we don’t share via handing out food. Maybe we could get some walkie talkies so that people on the far sides of the space can chat.”

        I just had 2 families over on Sunday. We sat in a triangle outside, 10′ apart, with our own chairs and blankets and water. I did hand out UNO decks, but I washed hands before touching, and tossed them on the blankets from 6′ away. Remote UNO worked surprisingly well.

        We could *maybe* have squeezed in a 3rd family, but more than that? Nope. And sharing food? NOPE.

    4. Carlie*

      If you really don’t feel you can speak up with regard to the safety of the event itself, you could still say something publicly within the group that might help others. I’ve found that people respond well when I tell them honestly that it’s something I can’t handle. “Thanks, but I’ve found that with everything there is to worry about right now, setting my own no-contact rule has really eased my mind and made me more productive and comfortable in general. When I’m ready to come out of my shell, I’ll let you know! Thanks for understanding.” That might also prompt others who feel that way to speak up and agree.

      That would be if it is purely social “team-building” – if they want to use the time for actual work, that would require more blunt comments about the safety or possibly going to HR.

      1. Heather*

        +1 This is the only “script” so far that doesn’t seem rude or passive aggressive. It’s focusing on controlling your own sphere as opposed to trying to dictate what others do.

    5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Why do you need to make an excuse? Just because it’s your manager, doesn’t mean you can’t be honest. “I’m not comfortable going to a party right now so I won’t be able to make it.”

    6. Robin Sparkles*

      Oh your situation feels different than this intern reporting. First, you have a long term employment relationship with the manager and team. Second you are in a position to say something without it being received negatively because you have some level of seniority compared to an intern. It perfectly reasonable to bow out and you can certainly point to guidelines on distancing and masks. You can use exposure to a vulnerable relative or loved one as a reason to avoid this. You can just say you personally are not comfortable as you have all done the work of distancing and don’t want to be part of the very real second wave of corona. I live in a state with very low rates, safe enough that technically we can go about as normal without many of the precautions other states need to do and we still wear masks and people still don’t go to gatherings of more than 10 people using the reasons I stated above. If you live anywhere else, you can easily point to the data and statistics for why you are uncomfortable.

  15. Mainely Professional*

    If you see something: say something!

    Cockroaches love to infest Keurig machines (does everyone not know this??) unless they’re cleaned every week. Do not use them if that’s the option for coffee in an unfamiliar setting.

    People want to break the rules about social distancing. That behavior *kills other people.* My state (check the username) shut down early and remained shut down into June, and bars are still not open. We’re technically closed to tourists from MA, our biggest source of tourism. People wear their masks. Our daily new cases have not ticked above 25 in a month and are still hiccupedly declining. Positivity rate on tests is 0.5% as of yesterday. I’m still not having a party. I would still speak up if someone was.

    1. Haven’t picked out a username yet*

      I’m also from Maine and agree with you, and I am thankful we have remained so shut down while the rest of the country spikes, but will say that the highways are full of out of state cars, every other one from Massachusetts, so I am holding my breath a bit. I am hoping things stay on the trajectory they are on. Even so at my company, we aren’t returning to the office until at least 2022, save for a few essential workers (like 12 in a building that used to hold 400).

      1. Mainely Professional*

        Oh for sure! I’ve been inside my house, non-stop, basically for the last five months, so I couldn’t speak to what you’re seeing on the road. (I went inside a big grocery store for the first time since March 1st last week. Picking my own food was very exciting!) I have been going to the beach and parks for hikes, trying to support some local eateries I want to survive with pick-up. That’s about it. Fortunately beaches have gotten the message about masking on entry/exit, at least. My two local beaches, the lots are 90% Maine plates, small number of MA/NH/NY/NJ. I went to Popham last weekend for a change of pace, and I was shocked to see that not only was it more like 1 in 3 were out of state, it was a lot of…really far away states, not just New England or Mid-Atlantic, not just snowbird plates. Summer people obviously came anyway. My biggest fear right now for our caseload is opening schools. I guess I’ll be back to hiding in my house.

        1. Haven’t picked out a username yet*

          Good luck and stay safe! I have only recently been going to Portland to access the pottery studio (socially distanced, very few people, and everyone masked) once a week and I find myself on 295 and have noticed the influx.

    2. JerryTerryLarryGary*

      Located I’m assuming north of you. People aren’t wearing their masks. Last two state parks I visited we were the only ones using msks in the bathroom areas. The low rate and unequal distribution of cases is lulling people into complacency. I would bet there’s an good element of that elsewhere as well.

      1. Mainely Professional*

        That’s sad but not surprising to hear. A number of northern ME counties have no verified community transmission but that doesn’t warrant complacency, and I hate to think those communities are going to learn the hard way. I didn’t go to any stores or restaurants when I was in the Bath area, but Popham at least has enter only/exit only paths, which I and some others were masked on. I didn’t see any signs requiring masks, but the Bureau of Land Management requires them when you can’t distance in parks/beaches. There’s big ol’ signs saying masks required on beaches around Portland. You certainly can’t go into any building without one.

      2. virago*

        “The low rate and unequal distribution of cases is lulling people into complacency.”

        I’m from Maine, and a landlord told me that he’s renting to a local couple who sold their house and now can’t buy anything because people from bigger states are coming here to buy property because it’s “safe.” Not for long, it won’t be.

        Oh, and re: the price of real estate in Maine: “Everything’s so cheap up here!” Go away. We are a state, not the property equivalent of a flea market. And it’s not cheap if you earn the median Maine income.

        1. blackcat*

          I mean, I’ve known multiple MA residents who are now looking at the prospect of having to work in an office in Boston or Cambridge only 1 day week or even less. Lots of businesses are saying this is indefinite, and are looking to reduce their physical footprints to save $$. For the price of their 2 bedroom Cambridge condo, they can buy a 4 bedroom house with an acre or more in NH or southern ME. If they’re no longer commuting regularly and they have kids, it makes a lot of sense to consider decamping to another state and coping with a 1.5-2hr commute if it’s one day a week or two days a month.

          I think this may be a real, long term shift as more jobs are permanently remote. I think it’s naive for folks in cities or more rural areas to assume this is a temporary trend. I expect that the value of my home (in greater Boston) to be a lot less in 2021 than it was in 2019. And, accordingly, I think it will drive up real estate values in other areas. It’ll likely be an uncomfortable shift, but I would not assume that it’s all about real estate being cheaper where you are. It’s about the “new normal” allowing city residents to consider different lifestyles all together. If I weren’t in academia (which means my job will always be “in person”), it’s something my husband and I would consider. There are a lot of benefits to city living, but paying $500k for a small house on a 2,000 sqft lot (that is not a typo, my *lot* is smaller than my parent’s *house*) is not one of them.

          1. virago*

            I can relate, and you make a lot of good points. And I was born somewhere else and moved here as a child. I’m not all “We’ve been here for X generations and they should close the Piscataqua River Bridge.”

            It’s just hard to hear that we’re such a bargain (as friends/acquaintances in the real estate business have told me), when so many people here can’t afford to buy property and are sometimes pushed even to find affordable rentals. We’re the state with New England’s lowest income (both per capita and average median household) and second highest poverty rate (behind only Rhode Island).

    3. blackcat*

      TONS of folks I know in MA simply book a testing appointment for 2 days before their Maine vacation, since a test means you don’t have to quarantine. TONS. So much so that my local FB group is awash in “Which testing sites can I get my test on X day and have the results by Y for my Maine vacation?” I swear, like 1/3rd of the people getting tested in MA are doing it so they can go to Maine for the weekend.

        1. Mainely Professional*

          Yes, I’ve seen the reports out of Bar Harbor/MDI hospital. It’s terrible. Visitors to Acadia in July were not lower than last year. I’d like to go myself, but I absolutely won’t until winter.

    4. Delta Delta*

      I’m also in New England and we are absolutely overrun with tourists (especially MA plates). My town has a mask ordinance. I asked a visitor to wear a mask and she screamed at me.

      1. Lena Clare*

        Out of interest does your state have exemptions for people who can’t wear a mask for health reasons? In this case, how do you know if someone is not wearing a mask because they cannot, rather than choosing not to?

        1. Delta Delta*

          Gee, when someone screams, “I don’t give a F about your town I’ll do what I want” makes me think it’s her choice.

        2. L*

          If we’re talking about wearing masks inside, the ADA does not say that businesses have to allow unmasked people to be inside. The ADA does mean that businesses have to accommodate people who cannot wear masks by allowing curbside pickup, for example.

        3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          The exemption in my state (Massachusetts) means that if I see someone walking down the street without a mask, I should assume the person can’t and leave them alone. That’s me as a private citizen: some police officers are carrying masks, and will approach unmasked pedestrians and offer them masks, because sometimes the problem isn’t medical, it that the person doesn’t own a mask, or left the house without thinking about it.

          “Assume they have a medical reason” doesn’t mean businesses have to let them come inside: I saw a sign yesterday saying “if you are coughing or sneezing, ring the bell for curbside service.”

          1. blackcat*

            “That’s me as a private citizen: some police officers are carrying masks, and will approach unmasked pedestrians and offer them masks, because sometimes the problem isn’t medical, it that the person doesn’t own a mask, or left the house without thinking about it.”

            ….. where do you live? Because in my town in MA, the cops are the most likely people to be flouting the mask rule. Drives me bonkers to watch them all go into my local DD for their coffee without masks.

        4. emmelemm*

          Pretty much the only medical reason not to wear a mask is if you are severely lung-compromised. If you are lung-compromised enough that wearing a mask is difficult, you probably shouldn’t be out in public.

    5. Third or Nothing!*

      Can I come live in your state? I’m so sick and tired of the people around me acting like this virus is a joke. I used to love Texas with all my heart but the flippant way everyone is treating us high risk folks is souring my view.

      1. virago*

        We’d love to have you! A number of high-risk people are among my friends, co-workers and loved ones. And in my part of the state (south of the capital city), people are very amenable to wearing masks, staying 6 feet apart, and waiting in line, and businesses are doing curbside pickup, takeout, etc.

        (Be aware that there’s a contingent that hasn’t connected the dots and that will say that our low infection rate and low positivity rate mean that it’s unreasonable for the governor to maintain social distancing measures. Uh, no. We have low rates because of those measures.)

        1. Haven’t picked out a username yet*

          That’s the challenge right. Because we did things right “nothing happened!” That is a measure of success, not that it is unnecessary. I feel lucky that most people here are wearing masks and maintaining distance.

  16. EnfysNest*

    My coworkers keep organizing group lunches and it’s frustrating. We’ve all been in the office this whole time with strict mask rules, but going out to eat kinda makes that pointless since you can’t eat with masks on. And most of them have had a really dismissive attitude towards masks this whole time (despite us working for a medical facility, though at least we’re not involved in patient care at all.) The first two times, I went but ordered my food to go to take back to my office alone, but the others took their masks off even while we were waiting for our food, so I was the only one still masked. They’ve got another one scheduled for Wednesday and I’m definitely not going at all this time.

    1. EnfysNest*

      I meant this to nest in another thread, but my point is just that I understand the frustration of coworkers not taking things seriously and I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with that. Please know that you are being reasonable and responsible in your choices – I know how I can start to doubt myself when I’m seemingly the only one not willing to go along, but stay strong!

    2. HR Bee*

      It’s so easy to still do group lunches safely though too which makes this frustrating. My office has a Group Lunch every Friday (we are an essential Food Manufacturer – smaller, family business, not like Tyson or Smithfield)! We order for Delivery/Pickup, one person pays and we all Venmo our share to him so no cash is exchanged, and we all eat at our own, socially distanced cubes/offices and just project our voices so everyone can hear (our office staff is small, only like 8 people in our location, so it doesn’t take much volume).

      I realize not everyone will have a set up like ours, but this way, we’re still bonding and engaging with each other, but being safe while doing so.

      1. JustaTech*

        Yeah, the time my work had individual box lunches I was OK eating a “group lunch” sitting at a table by myself. But the time the boss (a scientist!) ordered pizza and salad I was like, nope, not sharing utensils with y’all, and eating food you’ve maybe breathed on, not worth it.

    3. Sled Dog Mama*

      I’m so with you. I also work in a medical facility not direct patient care. Can’t tell you how many of my coworkers I see with their mask pulled down or hanging off one ear, I genuinely want to scream sometimes. My favorite part was the day infection control came around to inspect they all told each other so that they would be wearing their masks, no one told me because I always wear a mask. I was in my office alone and took my mask off in order to take a drink of water in that 30 seconds is when Infection control came by and I got in trouble. I still don’t understand why eating/drinking in my office alone is less safe than eating/drinking in the break room with six other people not wearing masks, and no one will give me a good answer

  17. SweetestCin*

    And here I thought “Cockroach Etiquette” was going to discuss the properness of screaming bloody murder and/or the use of socially unacceptable expletives in an appropriate manner, the variable success rates of means of squashing (heel vs. toe, stiletto vs. workboot, etc), and the appropriateness of the use of pyrotechnics and/or flame for elimination of the beasts.


    I agree, a Post-It would be acceptable. So would dropping the Keurig in the garbage can. And hey, in a moment of post-roach-disgust, I don’t blame you for not saying anything either!

    1. Oatmeal*

      If the office is in a building housing many people or offices there will always be roaches, depending on what time you get to work and how often they spray will be the determining factor if you see them. I haven’t had work coffee or anything from a break room since my days as an admin when I was the one turning the lights on.

      1. SweetestCin*

        I learned this when working in a city for the first time. Prior to that, they were a “thing that I knew existed”, but I had never seen one in my lifetime. Out in the boondocks, we had oodles of bug-life and other fun things, but I’d never ever seen one of these gnarly things!

        My response to usual bug-life “hmmm…WTF are you now?”
        My response to cockroach “EWWWW gross kill it with fire!”

      2. JustaTech*

        The best thing about working in a lab building is that we *can’t* have an insect infestation and still do our work, so I don’t know what it is that the facilities folks do, but they do it well and I think I’ve seen maybe 2 flies in 9 years.

  18. Delta Delta*

    #2 – I’ve never been a fan of Keurig machines for lots of reasons, and now knowing they get infested with cockroaches is actually making me feel like I am going to vomit.

    1. Lena Clare*

      I am so glad I don’t drink coffee in work; I barely drink it at home either – and I know I don’t have cocker oaches at home!

      1. Exhausted Trope*

        We’ve had a machine in our office that’s been dormant since March. I shudder to see it once I go back to the office.

    2. Summersun*

      I once saw a colleague carrying a Keurig water reservoir by itself to the kitchenette to scrub it, and it was so full of green wispy fronds that my first thought was “I didn’t know we were allowed to have aquariums in the office.” When logic kicked in and I figured out the context, I was queasy.

  19. Summer Anon*

    #2: Yikes! I thought at first maybe you worked in my old office. Major roach problem despite pest control services. It was so bad you had to sit with your feet off the ground somehow. And then one day I was informed that it would be best to keep lids on all beverages because they also dropped from the ceiling and someone had one land in their coffee. NOPE!

    I forget if I read it on this site or another but something similar to your story happened except the roach was not alive when they found it and the poster made a comment that the whole office had been drinking La Cucaracha blend for who knows how long. GAAAAAA!

    1. CockrOPch*

      Oh eeew. I used to sit under an air vent at a old job so I’d get occasional bugs dropping on my head out of the vent system (nothing like a few baby spiders in your hair to get you in that Halloween spirit… in April) but for some reason that’s less horrifying to me than bugs in my drink.

      1. Stormy Weather*

        I worked for a place where the fixture holding the sprinkler to the ceiling was broken, so there was a small open area around it. Enough for a mouse to fall out of it on occasion.

  20. Tableau Wizard*

    Didn’t expect to get excellent parenting advice for my toddler today, but here it is. thanks!

  21. HailRobonia*

    New product: If you’re sleepy and need a pick-me-up, try Keurig Kockroaches! Nothing sends a jolt to the system like a surprise roach!

    1. juliebulie*

      We secretly replaced all of this restaurant’s cockroaches with Folgers Crystals. Let’s see if their customers can tell the difference!

      I bought a new coffeemaker a few weeks ago. I considered a Keurig, but I hate the amount of wasted packaging. Just the same, I was questioning my choice of a regular drip coffeemaker… until today.

  22. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #2 – a very funny story on Las Cucarachas! I worked at a place – in a major city. The management set an arbitrarily high growth goal for us, which year-over-year was unattainable. Well, we were missing it by a percentage point or two.

    So they went on a poverty kick. Every other day there was a “The Sky is Falling” memo, about no paper towels because there were no funds, people stealing toilet paper (actually we had moved a 24/7/365 operations group onto a floor, toilet paper use went up but building management was too stupid to pick up as to why), the coffee machine could not be fixed.

    Well, someone decided = “ah, the best way to promote the attitude – let’s not take the trash out of the mini-kitchen galleys”…. well they did have the night cleaners take the trash – but not the soda cans. Ignore the fact that those cans have a nickel deposit in our state… the cleaners would have been more than happy to take them and cash them in.

    I called – “hey, we have cockroaches. Those cans…” and the woman went into a talk, no funds, the sky is falling, etc. I suggested “some of the neighborhood’s street residents might take full advantage of these, it could keep them in cheap port wine for a week, let me invite them up to the floor…” WHOA. WHOA.

    The next night there were notes left for the cleaners in Spanish that said you can take the cans and cash them in.

    They sprayed with roach spray and realized how far they had taken it – it became a sick joke, almost literally ….

  23. Another JD*

    #2 – I think I’d have put an “out of order” sign on the Keurig, then found someone who worked there later. Adding the roach bit, though true, feels indiscreet. If I saw that sign as a participant, I’d definitely think less of the host organization. Announcing the roach to the world during a conference without giving the host the chance to remedy the problem would rub me the wrong way.

  24. TiredAdmin*

    Can we PLEASE move away from the notion that admins are the go-to person for janitorial work? You wouldn’t ask a janitor or cleaning staff to write up a client contract, would you? The reverse is also true. I get that some small offices still use their admins for office cleanup work, but this is an exception, not the rule.

    1. CockrOPch*

      For me it wasn’t that I thought an admin should clean it, but they’d be much more aware of who should be notified.

      1. Quill*

        Yeah if something is broken I run to the admin with “who do I email to fix this?” or for the keys to the cleaning supplies, ink refills, etc.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        Yeah, I had an embarrassing moment with this (as a female “techie” to a female admin/facilities manager) — I’d had some kind of coffee grounds disaster in the communal area so needed to get the carpet cleaning stuff, vacuum cleaner etc so I could fix it, but I don’t know where we keep any of this stuff so I went to ask her, but I’d only got as far as “Hey, I was emptying the coffee maker and I’ve dropped the coffee grounds all over the floor of Conference Room B….” and she had already got “on to it” before I could say “so could you point me to where I can find the cleaning stuff?” — it must be a common occurence that people just assume that she will go and clean up coffee boo-boos etc. This is someone highly experience in HR, facilities, contracts etc!

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

          (btw, I did make it clear that I was asking so I could do it myself! I didn’t just let her get on with it!)

    1. Sled Dog Mama*

      I’m not an admin but I know this! If you what to know who to ask about something ask the admin, they will know who is responsible for it, and won’t be shy about telling you if it’s actually your responsibility (ask me about my old workplace that gave zero training and the amazing admin who taught me everything, including what my responsibilities were).

  25. nunyabeeswax*

    LW1 as for it being tattling, if you talk to the manager, the manager makes it public they know about it, and people figure out you talked to the manager, they will consider it to be tattling. It doesn’t matter what the ‘ethical’ definition of it is, its perception. Your intern peers will consider it tattling, and the regular employees who found out you asked will probably consider it tattling.

    That may not seem fair, but comforting yourself with ‘its not technically tattling’ wont help when people treat you with the distrust reserved for tattlers anyway, even if its ‘unfair’.

    Don’t go, but say nothing. Even if you don’t plan to every associate with this company, people move about, you never know when you meet up again. You gain nothing by ‘talking’ to your manager about it.

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      My husband is in the hospital with COVID. He is an athlete and has no health problems and we have barely left the house since March. And still he got it and cannot kick it. If ever there was a time to “tattle,” it is now.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Very much in agreement with you. This virus is not messing around. I’ve got no sympathy for those who want to believe it’s a minor issue.

        Hope your husband recovers soon and returns home.

    2. Observer*

      Talking to management is NOT “tattling” – this is not just a technicality. And treating someone like a tattled IS unfair, no scare quotes needed.

      OP, unfortunately, this post gives you a good look at how many people operate. They are going to put on an air of reasonableness, but are ultimately NOT reasonable. I have no doubt that this person would absolutely bully you for talking to management while making you out to be the bad guy.

      1. nunyabeeswax*

        Giving advice and expecting everyone in a large group to act idealistic is not real. I’m just pointing out the reality if its made known she talked to management: peers will treat her as if she was tattling. That’s how they will perceive it. I’m not saying its right, or fair. But, as an intern, if shes hoping to go somewhere with this organization, she should carefully think about the risks of this decision. Explaining to them that you were, even rightfully, seeking advice from a manager won’t change how others may react.

        Best course is to say “Hey, I just don’t feel comfortable with large gatherings with conditions as they are given current local restrictions and company policy; I’d participate in a virtual gathering if one occurs.” It reminds them of the differing entities discouraging such gatherings, but reinforces how they would like to socialize in a safe manner, and notes its due to current circumstances.”

        1. Colette*

          Why would fellow interns be in a position to influence her path with the organization (but the manager not be able to do so)?

  26. Aria*

    If I saw a cockroach in the Keurig I would have just screamed, so you were miles more professional than me already

  27. anonthistime*

    Regarding OP #2, I used to work at a very old hotel right next to a river. There were SO many roaches. One morning I went to sit down and felt something brush across my foot, looked down and saw a GIANT one ON MY FOOT. I flailed, literallyscreamed “OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK” and then promptly fled the area. I was always one of the first in the office, so I had to hunt someone down to trap it with a trash can until one of our resident “exterminators” arrived. Not my finest professional moment, but I literally cannot when it comes to bugs. Especially huge ones. I lose all ability to reason. It sounds like you handled it very well!

  28. Exhausted Trope*

    We’ve had a machine in our office that’s been dormant since March. I shudder to see it once I go back to the office.

  29. Shramps*

    Cockroach in the Keurig is another good reason to work from home. That’s disgusting. I work in a 100 year old building in a city downtown- roaches exist. Our building is already dirtier than I would ever like, but I settle for the job. I’m so glad to work from home and not worry about that anymore.

    1. lazy intellectual*

      I’m not gonna lie – while I want the pandemic to be over, it will be hard to readjust to working in an office again. I really like having access to my own kitchen and bathroom.

  30. anonanana.nananana.nananana*

    OP# 2 – A cockroach once ran over my foot when I got to work. I flailed, literally screamed OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK and fled the area. I think you handled it fine.

  31. Rocky Mountain Higher-er*

    OP5 – As a recruiter, I would not be at all annoyed to have a candidate reach out in those circumstances. I consider myself one of the more responsive and organized recruiters out there, and I still miss follow ups once in a while. I always tell my candidates, and truly mean it, that if they do not hear from me in the time frame I gave them then to please feel free to contact and ask what’s up. I never intentionally leave people hanging, but it does happen on rare occasions. This is particularly the case when it’s not an active opening and we’re just keeping in touch for when something does come live. Depending on the company, it’s also not unusual that a recruiter who was handling a role is no longer doing so and may not even be aware that it has reopened. In short, even good recruiters are humans and are not generally out to purposefully ignore people.

    1. LW#5*

      Appreciate your insights! Unfortunately, last time I contacted the recruiter, I wasn’t told any follow up timeframe, just that they’d let me know if they learned of movement on the role. So I wasn’t sure if following up after that last interaction a month ago would seem… aggressive?

      Also, the job posting was taken down as of this morning (less than a week) so if I do contact them again, I am not sure if I should mention it or not.

      1. Rocky Mountain Higher-er*

        For sure – Still totally fine to contact with the wording in Alison’s answer.

        As an example of what good follow up can do, my company just hired a candidate that we originally interviewed back in February. At the time, he was recommended as a hire but we’d just filled all our available openings. He continued to keep in touch at regular, but not excessive, intervals (probably about monthly, just quick notes on LinkedIn). I did not have (and still haven’t had) an opening come up for the division I hire for, but one of my colleagues had something open up in a related division. I thought of him immediately, and shot his resume over. They got him interviewed quickly and made an offer. He started with us last week!

  32. RagingADHD*

    OP1, what’s your goal here?

    From your phrasing, “they want to meet up by the end of the summer,” it sounds like there’s no specific plan to do anything at this point. It’s just a topic of discussion.

    Of course you can and should say that you think it’s a bad idea, and if such a gathering would break local guidelines, bring that up too.

    But what are you even going to report? Nobody has done anything.

    If theg do get togethet, it might be after the internship ends. What’s the company going to do about it? As far as you know, it may wind up that nobody ever does anything. All summer groups talk about making awesome party plans, “we really should…”

    Very few of them happen.

    Just express your opinion, and cool your jets. Don’t make trouble where none exists.

  33. Copyright Economist*

    Re #1, I agree with Alison’s advice. My team of 5 or 6 is planning to meet up in September for a picnic, in a large public park, where we each bring our own lunch, and sit 2m away from one another (as soon as we can find a date where everyone is in town). This does not violate Canadian guidelines or government rules (we are federal employees on the north side of the border). Even so, we would pay attention if any of the group did not feel comfortable doing so.

  34. Sea anonyme*

    “Public health guidelines are 6-10 feet apart and masks, even when you’re outside. We’re not going to debate public health guidelines here.”

    But the public health community understands the advantages of the harm reduction approach over the zero tolerance approach. That is why it almost universally advocates things like instruction on how to use condoms to prevent the spread of HIV, rather than abstinence education.

    People are social creatures and need some degree of social interaction. A small outdoor gathering with masks is much less risky than a massive indoor gathering. LW1 should reduce the size of the gathering to comply with public health guidelines of course, but there are ways to do this safely, if outdoors, socially distant, and masked. In Czechia they did a massive outdoor banquet a couple of weeks ago.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The reply you’re quoting was in response to someone saying it didn’t need to be distanced. (The person wrote, “I think that you can have a responsible gathering, outside, in sunlight and with masks at close proximity.”)

      Moreover, the OP notes the gathering would break local social distancing rules.

    2. Being realistic about one's influence*

      While not applicable to this OP’s situation, since employer forbids all face-to-face meetings, I think this it could be a good option for those in similar predicaments. If you can conceivably nudge the activity in a direction that conforms to local public health guidelines and whatever is allowed by their workplace, you might as well try.

      And if they won’t, a calm, non accusatory public decline — with either “I’m playing it safe,” or even no reason at all — is often more likely to encourage others to do the same than is reiterating things they know. Condoms-vs.-abstinence is a useful metaphor.

      Everybody has access to the same information and rules and news sources by now. People are more likely to be alienated than educated by a random colleague listing things company rules and local guidelines they’ve already heard a hundred times. Whether you’re following or bending or flat-out flouting those guidelines, everybody’s reasoning sounds great if you agree, but sounds defensive and/or accusatory if you don’t. Telling your employer isn’t likely to do much more than annoy people.

      Confident, non accusatory modeling of good behavior is probably your most persuasive position if you don’t have actual authority at work.

  35. Ocean*

    I have been in a similar position to LW4, but in my case, I would check email once or twice per day and then work if any requests came in. The rest of the time I was relaxing or doing errands and not available. People could text me with urgent requests but there was no guarantee that I would respond. Does that make the situation different?

  36. lazy intellectual*

    #2: EW. Could you have left a note? It seems like roaches laid eggs inside the coffee machine – the humidity inside coffee machines makes it perfect breeding environments for roaches unfortunately.

  37. employment lawyah*

    4. My office is only paying for the time I spend on assignments
    Can’t do that; they need to pay you both retroactively and in the future.

    I am always very nervous about AAM’s “tell them they are breaking the law” advice. I have seen a lot of folks lose their jobs for less.

    YMMV. But since you’re purportedly retiring anyway, I will note that you can perhaps opt to leave this entirely alone. Check w/ local lawyer but the statute of limitations for federal claims (which covers most employees in the US) is 2 years and for state claims may be longer. You may just want to work, retire, and then demand payment. it’s entirely up to you, but as AAM notes it is THEIR JOB, NOT YOURS to know what labor laws require.

  38. msjwhittz*

    For OP3, definitely don’t pay $50 for that particular certificate.
    As a successful costume designer for theater you likely already know more about communication and teamwork than the course could really teach you. That’s what theater is all about!
    I’d suggest you work on how to translate the soft skills you have in abundance onto your new resume and how to talk about them in cover letters and interviews. But you definitely, definitely already have those skills so focus on filling real gaps (like in accounting as someone suggested above, if that’s useful in your new path) when it comes to investing your own money and time in further education.

  39. Jaid*

    I let my co-worker know about this post. We’re not clear on how to clean the interior of the Keruig…so yay. One thing we agreed on is not to tell our other co-worker about it, because she has a phobia about bugs.

    1. SGP*

      That’s horrible. If you have a bug infestation in your Keurig you need to let your coworker know.

      As far as cleaning it, a simple internet search brings up a bunch of methods.

      1. Jaid*

        I meant that I’m not telling the coworker about this post about insects in coffeemakers, not that we actually have an infestation.

  40. cacwgrl*

    LW #1 – I recommend telling your employer. I manage my employer’s intern program and would not want a group getting together in any kind of official capacity that would/could put our people at risk. I don’t want them doing it unofficially either, to be clear! However, in addition to state/local rules, we also follow additional guidance that limits (highly advises against) large gatherings and other non-work related activities, which I am required to make sure our employees are aware of and ask that they follow. In LW’s case, I wouldn’t consider it tattling. This is a health issue for others and a safety issue for the workplace if the interns are expecting to return to work after the planned meeting.

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