coworker won’t stop consulting an ex-employee, my boss won’t wear a mask, and more

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

1. My coworker won’t stop consulting our former boss, who doesn’t work here anymore

Due to recent restructuring from Covid, the head of our department’s position was eliminated and now I and one other regional director report directly to the CEO. Instead of one person making a major decision, we have to come to an agreement and share our recommendations to the CEO to ultimately decide.

My co-manager is close with the old boss who was let go and is continuing to text him and have conversations asking for advice on several recent initiatives. My colleague then insists on a course of action because “that’s what he recommends.” I have tremendous respect for our old boss but he neither works here nor has all of the information.

I’m feeling undermined and made to feel like my own expertise is irrelevant. What is a good way for me to handle this? We generally work well together and I want to keep it that way. Do I ignore when this happens and hope that with time we settle into our responsibilities and authority?

Yeah, that’s not good. I could imagine there being one or two situations where the former director might have crucial info or perspective that you can’t get any other way … but not on the reg and, more importantly, this guy was laid off and is no longer being paid by your organization. Maybe he’s happy to continue to help, but your organization shouldn’t be comfortable continuing to let him. And that’s before we get into the very valid points you made about him no longer having all the relevant context, and others now being in charge. (There also might be confidentiality concerns, depending on the type of work you do.)

So I’d address it head-on: “I’m concerned about continuing to bring Bob into these conversations because the more time that goes by, the less he has all the relevant info. I believe (CEO’s) intent was for you and I to make these decisions ourselves. I’m also concerned about leaning on Bob for input when he’s no longer being paid by the company; at a minimum, I think the company would want to be aware that he’s being asked for input in this way.”

If that doesn’t stop it, talk to your boss about it; it’s a big enough deal that it rises to that level.

2. My boss won’t wear a mask

We’ve returned to working in the office for a percentage of the month. In addition to other safety precautions, we have all been asked to social distance and wear masks, as expected. For the most part, I’ve seen my coworkers comply with the mask rules. The one hold-out is my direct supervisor. Whenever they have a mask on, they always wear it below the nose. When they have approached me at work, they have either removed their mask completely or have just worn it incorrectly. I feel extremely uncomfortable, and am upset that they think this is acceptable.

The last time I was in the office and they approached me (again with the mask not covering everything it was supposed to), I got so tense that I probably wasn’t as personable with my responses as I could have been, and just tried to end the conversation as soon as possible (and it wasn’t anything that couldn’t have been sent in an email). I feel awkward and like I acted unprofessionally, but I am just so frustrated. We all know how to wear a mask, and I feel that intentionally not doing so is a sign that they believe their comfort is more important than my safety.

For a number of reasons, I am not super comfortable approaching this issue with them (for one, I haven’t been taken seriously when trying to bring up concerns in the past), but I’m not sure bringing it up to our manager is the best thing to do. I don’t want to be seen as a tattler. I’m also concerned that the failure to follow the rules stems from dangerous and ill-informed views regarding the pandemic and I don’t know that I want to open that can of worms. This sentiment is quite prevalent where I live, so it has definitely crossed my mind.

I really want to reiterate that my company is very serious about these safety rules. Our industry has taken a massive hit due to this pandemic, so it’s in everyone’s best interests that we all follow the guidelines. I know that if I spoke up, the concern would be addressed but I worry about how that would affect my reputation.

Your company is taking the rules seriously, has asked employees to take the rules seriously, and you’re confident they’ll address it. So please speak up. Your manager is putting people’s health and lives at risk. This isn’t tattling (a concept that doesn’t really exist at work, particularly around serious, substantive issues like this one); it’s giving your company important safety info. If your manager were driving company cars drunk on work property, would you tell someone? Same thing here.

When you report it, explain you’re concerned about retaliation from your manager and ask if it’s possible for them to keep your name out of it. Something like this is so simple for them to independently confirm that it should be easy for them to do.

3. If I give bigger gifts this year, am I setting a precedent?

I have two full-time employees and I always get them a $50 gift card from a large retailer with a professionally heartfelt note about how much I appreciate them. We’ve all been under great stress this year due to the pandemic. I’d like to give them more, but I’m worrying about setting a precedent. If I go to $100, will I then need to do that in all future years? Will it be too awkward going back to $50? I use my personal money for this as our organization’s rules don’t allow for using the budget for gifting employees.

Related, am I being too stingy? I’ve never had bosses that give me more than a small Starbucks gift card – and my current manager, the leader of the organization, doesn’t even give a card, much less a gift. Even though I’ve been a manager for almost 10 years, I wonder if I’m doing this right!

You are not being stingy! To the contrary, you’re being very generous.

If you want to put in extra this year, you can do it without setting a precedent. Include a note that says something like, “A little extra because of how hard 2020 has been.” I’m sure your employees would be very appreciative.

The two caveats I’d give are: (1) If your team gets larger in the future, you may need to lower your per-person expenditure at that point (simply to protect your own budget). But generally people understand that as a team gets larger, this kind of tradition may change. (2) Make sure you’re not inadvertently creating pressure on other managers to give significant gifts to their teams. With a two-person team, you’re probably not, but it’s something to be sensitive to. (I hope that doesn’t diminish your confidence in what you’re doing this year! It sounds lovely, and you sound lovely.)

4. My employer doesn’t understand I’m in high school

I am 17 and work part-time as a cashier at a big box superstore, where I have worked for about a month and a half. I typically work weekends and Thursday/Friday nights, and told them when I started that I wasn’t able to work before 4:30 on weekdays due to school. This worked well for up until the past week.

When I checked my schedule on Sunday, I found I had been scheduled to work at 3:30, 10 minutes after school lets out here, and 3:15 the following day (when class is still in session!). I talked to the manager of my department and explained I couldn’t work those hours because of school and got them pushed back. Water under the bridge until today.

I received a call today, while I was in class, from an an assistant manager, asking me to come in within the next 20 minutes or so. I told him I couldn’t and explained again that I was in high school. He told me I could come in later today, but am I right for being annoyed? Other than this, it’s a good job, but with this being the third time my request to not be scheduled during school hours was ignored, I’m lost on what to do.

Most likely, people are just going to keep forgetting and you’ll need to keep reminding them. That might be incompetence, but it could also just be that they’re scheduling a ton of people and can’t remember the specifics of everyone’s availability. Also, it sounds like multiple people get involved in finding coverage, and they’re even less likely to know your availability. It sounds like they’re good about backing off once you remind them, and so you might just need to remind them over and over. If you can see it that way — as opposed to them pressuring you to miss school or otherwise being inconsiderate — it might be easier to deal with.

Read an update to this letter here

5. Following up with an employer who said they might be hiring in January

I’m currently job searching. I had an informal interview with an employer that was recommended to me through my network. It went well, and I would be excited to work with them. In the interview in mid-October, they stated they were not currently hiring because they were onboarding a couple new employees and didn’t have bandwidth for an additional new employee. However, they thought they might be hiring in January. I was curious what the best way to follow up would be. Do I wait until January or reach out now since it’s almost December (so that I’m top of mind when January arrives)? Is it enough to restate my enthusiasm for working with them and to inquire about whether they are hiring now, or is that too direct?

It’s too soon to follow up. It wouldn’t make sense to ask if they’re hiring now, when they recently told you they might be hiring in January (which implies it’s pretty unlikely to be now).

I’d wait until early January to follow up. Normally right before their stated timeframe would be fine, but in this case that would be the last week of December, which is often a time where very little is happening. So, right after the new year starts.

When you do check back in, you can note that they’d mentioned they might be hiring in January and say you wanted to reiterate your interest if they are. Good luck!

{ 253 comments… read them below }

  1. Anononon*

    I find the employers/managers super odd/frustrating in number 4. My first job was a cashier at a grocery school, and for whatever reason, they agreed to allow me super abbreviated hours when I first started because I didn’t have my license yet. I was doing three-hour shifts on weekday nights when the standard shortest shift was four hours. I don’t remember ever getting scheduled incorrectly.

      1. former cashier*

        I had the same issues 25 years ago.
        The store had everyone’s availability in the computer, but would override it to fit their scheduling needs. After multiple attempts at correcting it, and countless hours worring about it, I just started ignoring it. After the third time of being told I was over 30 minutes late I pointedly asked them if I had confirmed my availability weekly with the scheduler then how could I possibly be late if my availability had been the same thing for over a year. I stopped caring, since they didn’t care about my schedule either. I was so done by then.
        Somehow it was resolved from that point on.

        1. former cashier*

          Sorry for the long story, but my point was that this is a tale old as time in retail All you can do is tell the person in charge and then ignore the calls until your availabilty opens. A quick “I was in school” should set any manager straight.

    1. A Poster Has No Name*

      Yeah, your managers suck, but you need to keep pushing back.

      My side gig is at Target, and the needs of minor employees are well known and not a big deal. Your store may be forgetful or may be pushing boundaries, but either way let your boss and/or HR know as soon as the schedule comes out that you’re in school and can’t work before x time and you will be in at that time.

      At my store, at least, sometimes HR will modify the schedules after they’ve been set by the department managers and they don’t always know or pay attention to people’s availability so you need to speak up. If your store is worth working at, they’ll be OK with that and work with you. If not, they suck and you should apply elsewhere.

      1. Haven’t chosen a username yet*

        Agreed. Target has been fantastic for my teenaged daughter, who has been there a bit over a year. She updates her availability in the schedule as the school year/sports changes and it is all captured and reflected. She can still pick up someone’s shift for outside her availability if she needs to fill in. They are very aware of the minor limits/hours and rules, and the only issue she has was getting longer hours the week before school started (because our town started a week later than the town where target was located and they didn’t think she could work.

      2. New Job So Much Better*

        And maybe you are so professional and carry yourself maturely so they forget you’re in school.

      3. Blackcat*

        I have had multiple friends who work for Target and, I forget the exact term, but they have some affectionate term for the scheduling algorithm. Whatever they use seems to work really well.

    2. Liane*

      Even Walmart didn’t do this. Largely because scheduling was done by computer* and scheduling out-of- availability needed both employee and manager logins. My store’s Personnel office also put notices all over the employee areas before every semester reminding high school & college employees to update availability as soon as they had new class schedules. The system was even able to accommodate some odd things, like “always off 4th Monday & 3rd Thursday of month,” “only after 1pm Sundays,” or blocking off all weekends there was National Guard training. It’s surprising there is still a large retailer not using such a system.
      Still OP, as it’s an otherwise good job, treat as Alison suggests. Good managers will be fine with you saying you can’t start before X pm weekdays or pointing out that School District isn’t closed Y Holiday so you can only do your usual schedule.

      *Department managers were expected to review to catch any issues.

      1. Anon Admin*

        Department managers definitely need to review those schedules!

        Both of my sons work at Walmart and even though they use a computer to schedule, one occasionally gets weird hours (other son is on a static schedule*). Recently, son #2 was scheduled to work 2-11 pm, then be back in at 8 am. Most people who work a late shift don’t immediately fall asleep as soon as they get home, so he was able to speak to a manager and get them to switch it to later the next day. The fantastic manager son #2 had recently left the company and the new manager is not as fantastic.

        * Son #1 used to get all kinds of crazy hours when he when he was in AP- 1-10p m, back in at 6 am. When he worked in fresh cap 1, another new, not fantastic manager didn’t do something right and half the crew wasn’t scheduled for 11 days and he claimed he was not “allowed” to fix it. He’s not a manager anymore.

        1. Daisy*

          In the UK it’s illegal to have less than 11 hours between shifts, so that is definitely something computer scheduling is capable of avoiding if you tell it to.

        2. Blackcat*

          “Recently, son #2 was scheduled to work 2-11 pm, then be back in at 8 am.”
          Some states have made “clopening” shifts illegal for the reason you mention. It’s pretty common in some areas. I know Target and Starbucks have corporate policies against it, but many others don’t. (And Starbucks didn’t for a long time)

          1. Littorally*

            Yeah, I worked clopening quite a lot back in my retail days. Our scheduling system was crap and our manager would go and pencil in people he had grudges against for even crappier shifts.

          2. Uranus Wars*

            I didn’t work in retail but at a 24-hour restaurant. The WORST was weekends when I’d work midnight (11p-7a) on Friday & Saturday and then have to be back at 3 p to work Sunday (8 hours isn’t even enough time to eat, sleep and shower properly). As a college student my other option give by management was give up the Sunday shift, but not replace it with anything else…and I couldn’t afford to lose a shift.

          3. IrishMN*

            I worked at Home Depot in college (almost 4 years) they had meetings at 6 AM Sunday before the store opened. They said *everyone* had to attend. (I want to say this was once a month, but I don’t quite remember.)

            I almost always closed Saturday and was there until 11 PM or so. I think I went once and then said forget it. I was really surprised I didn’t get in trouble for it because they made a big deal out of it and I knew people who said they’d gotten in trouble for not attending. What a horrible policy. That was a pretty awful place to work in general actually. Many stories.

        3. Not A Girl Boss*

          Even in my post-college professional job, I had to work day shift (7am-3:30pm) on the weekday, then every other week come in for midnight weekend coverage (11pm-11am) and then be back on day shift on Monday. And yes, that means I only got 4 days off a month.
          It was brutal, my health never quite recovered. But at least they told me what to expect upfront and paid me $$$$ overtime for the weekend shifts. The pros and cons look different when you’re a teenager responsible for being capable of learning during school hours.

      2. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

        Most places have your availability in a computer system somewhere now a days. So this really shouldn’t be happening this often. I spent years working retail part time with a full time day job. I could grab extra hours if I wanted to for holidays when my day job was closed. I never had managers calling to see if I could come in early. I had coworkers trying to get out of their shifts blow up my phone during the day but never management.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I’m wondering if the manager calling is because of pandemic related call-outs? The person who is having to call out is connecting with the manager – and then the manger is being an actual manager and handling finding coverage and just calling all the part-timers?

          Still be polite when they call early – they’re probably so into getting the shift covered they blanked on your age/school schedule.

        2. Alice's Rabbit*

          I some places, it’s policy not to give your number to other employees, so it would have to be a manager calling you to cover. Personally, I prefer that. I don’t like people having my number.

      3. TardyTardis*

        When I was a nurse’s aide in college, we all put in our finals schedule as well, and when/if we would be leaving for Christmas and other breaks. The break room was overflowing with textbooks during those weeks!

    3. Staja*

      I used to get scheduled like this when I worked at McDonald’s twenty-mumble years ago. I probably worked M-F throughout the whole summer in the daytime cashier shift, and once school started up, I’d still get scheduled to come in at 8am. I was 15. Their response? Find coverage!

    4. Mookie*

      Extremely odd. School hours have changed over the years, but the vast majority of people have attended high school or the equivalent and have a general sense of school schedules and when they begin and let out. I’m not buying forgetfulness as an excuse after once or twice. It’s not unusual for students to be intentionally badgered into this, so there’s little room for plausible deniability; this is a well-documented phenomenon.

      It’s absolutely true that, usually speaking, shift work often entails last minute attempts at coverage, shift-bartering, wildly disparate scheduling week to week, and the like. Individual employees may have standing weekly or monthly functions they attend and are pre-approved as unavailable hours, and sometimes this is tricky for scheduling managers to remember if they fail to keep a spreadsheet for such exceptions. But… this is school, with a reliable schedule everyone seems to know instinctively second only 9-5 / 8-4 in terms of universal recognition. If you’re awake in the early afternoon and working in service or retail dealing with the public, you’re aware of when minors are cloistered at school and when they’re not.

      Three times in a single week? With two managers? Nope. You’d remember the first time you asked and wouldn’t ask again. Sounds like box-ticking.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s just been my experience that retailers will tell you that they will work around your school when you are at the interview stage. Once employed, they change the game. If you point out that wasn’t what you were told on the interview there is always some kind of excuse that is SO illogical it’s almost impossible to have a sane conversation and therefore impossible to change the situation.

        OP, do the best you can with it. Remember that many retailers consider employees as a dime a dozen. They are totally expendable. If you start dealing with conversations that don’t make sense, or you start dealing with threats, just move on. (Threats meaning statements such as, “Well you have limited availability to I am going to have to give others a chance, too.” When you hear this stuff, don’t keep hanging on to see if it gets better. It won’t.)

        1. Mockingjay*

          With big box retailers, it’s often about the local store managers.

          My daughter worked for a big Office Supply company in high school and college. The assistant manager who handled scheduling was terrific about getting the kids’ schedules at the beginning of each semester and assigning fairly static hours (for retail). Of course all good things must end and he was transferred to another (ailing) store. Back at original store, after six months of widely varying schedules, daughter found a job with big chain Steakhouse. Again, she found really good managers and had a consistent schedule for the rest of her college years.

          Like everything else we encounter at AAM, it all comes down to good managers respecting the needs of hardworking employees, regardless of age.

          1. Rachel in NYC*

            I agree. I had a great managed when I worked at a big box book store in college- even let me take a month off for the holidays against corporate policy, so I could go home. Good managers make a massive difference.

            1. TardyTardis*

              The nursing home I worked at was at a college town, and if it wasn’t for students working as aides, they would have been hard up, so at least at the time I worked there (it was really more than 30 years ago? Eeek!) they were very willing to work around class schedules.

        2. EnfysNest*

          Yeah. My very first week at a retail place in college, they scheduled me during a bunch of my classes. When I replied in a panic that I couldn’t work any of those times, the manager said my profile in the computer system didn’t list any unavailable times for me, in a tone that implied I was the one at fault. But I definitely put my conflicts on my application and sign-on documents, so someone on their end just didn’t transfer that to their computer system.

          So on the one hand, it could be called an “honest mistake” on the part of the manager, who probably wasn’t the one responsible for moving application info to the computer, but on the other hand, something like having *nothing* blocked off on my time should have been a big clue that there was an error they needed to follow up on, especially since it was a college town and nearly everyone working there was a student. So it should have been obvious they needed to call me first or look for my paperwork to confirm my times or something instead of just scheduling me whenever they wanted.

          Then they tried to tell me I needed to find coverage for “my” shifts, a practice that I think is awful in any circumstances, but for this in particular, it was my first week! I didn’t know *anyone*. It definitely put a sour taste in my mouth for that place right off the bat, although the work itself wasn’t too bad once I started. But scheduling was always a mess and a pain.

      2. Colette*

        It’s not always clear who’s in high school, or what their schedule is. (Some high school students have spares and, due to the COVID schedules, that meant that my niece had afternoons off for 2 months.) They should be checking availability when they make the schedules. But that’s more of a difficult request when you’re looking for immediate coverage because someone didn’t come in (which may have been the situation in the second scenario the OP gave). Should they do it? Sure. But when you’ve got 10 minutes to find a replacement and 50 people you can call, I can see why they messed it up.

        1. H2*

          Yeah, where I am there are two school districts, and one HS is out at 2:20 and the other is out at 3:00. And private, charter and magnet schools all fall around there somewhere. These aren’t such wild misses on timing that it strikes me as egregious, especially since this employee has only been there a month and a half.

        2. DataGirl*

          Agreed on this. In my state, each city has taken it’s own approach to COVID scheduling. Some have been in person from the beginning of the school year, some have been virtual, some are hybrid. Our city has hybrid- the ones who go in person get out at the normal time (2:30) but my kid who is in virtual school ends at 1. So it’s possible that OP’s boss isn’t fully up on what time each student employee’s school gets out. So I really don’t think it’s that unusual for every hiring manager to not be up on every employee’s availability restrictions- especially when they may vary even for students.

          1. Colette*

            The high school students I know are all doing 4 or 5 sessions this year instead of semesters, with 2 or 2.5 classes each session, and either half in class/half virtual or all virtual. It’s non-trivial to track.

        3. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

          Granted, it was also twenty-mumble years ago here, but the state required work permit paperwork I had to file as a high school student for a retail job stated whether I was enrolled in school, or not. (And a quick google search shows that my state still requires this form be filled out for any employee under the age of 18 assuming that they have not graduated nor dropped out of school, or the employer is in violation of state labor laws. And the onus is still on the employer to )

          The employer also had to keep it on record in the physical location where the minor was working.

          1. Colette*

            Sure, but that doesn’t mean the shift supervisor or the scheduler knows, just that the company overall knows.

            1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

              I just cannot wrap my brain around a scheduler (or anyone who is supposed to manage these students) not being aware of this, if for no other reason than to make sure they’re not screwing anything else up, like not providing adult supervision (this may be particular to my state, but still. There has to be one legal adult in the building at a bare minimum!). I vaguely remember the scheduling software from back then not being perfect, but it still had to be cleared by at least two humans before being written in stone. It still had hard stops for start times and finish times, it was everything else that sometimes needed adjusting!

        4. EventPlannerGal*

          Yeah, I’m wondering if it’s clear on whatever system they use that OP isn’t available before 4.30 specifically because school. There’s multiple people involved and OP is very new and people probably don’t all know her yet. I’m thinking of a situation like, someone calls in sick, Manager brings up a list of everyone who works Fridays, sees “Jane: evenings after 4.30 only” and thinks “Jane? Who’s that? Well, it’s only an hours difference” (or whatever) “I’ll just give her a call and see if she can make it” without realising that it’s a hard stop. Obviously that’s still irritating for OP but it’s just the kind of thing that does happen.

      3. Natalie*

        But… this is school, with a reliable schedule everyone seems to know instinctively second only 9-5 / 8-4 in terms of universal recognition.

        Most Americans live in a metro area, which typically means multiple school districts, sometimes a dozen or more. You really think all those school districts have the exact same schedule or that every adult manager has memorized each high school’s dismissal time?

        1. Quill*

          Actually most middle and high schools in a district (that has more than one or possibly two) have staggered arrival and dismissal times from each other because of the bus routes.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Yup – was hoping someone would mention this. Plus even with being old enough to drive – some of the high schools in my area do not allow students to drive themselves to school/park on campus (these are the schools in the middle of downtown, the parking lots for even the teachers are tiny and there’s no realistic parking for students, but lots of school buses and public transit lines have stops by the schools).

            1. Quill*

              Yeah, my high school was sprawling (midwest suburbia, hey!) but even so we had to ration parking. We sold nearly twice as many parking passes every year as there were spots (on the understanding that most people did not drive there every day) and you still had to get there 15 minutes early or be forced to park on an adjacent street and potentially ticketed if the cops decided you were in Neighboring Elementary School street parking territory instead of high school street parking territory.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Quill, you have nicer parking police. Here you get one ticket and the next time you get towed. They don’t allow any street parking by the schools that don’t have student parking.

                Yes, they are also very proactive about telling all the students – don’t park here, or you will be towed.

          2. Tiny Soprano*

            Wow I had no idea! In Australia pretty much all the schools just let out at around the same time.

      4. Gazebo Slayer*

        Yeah, I suspect this is intentional pressure given situations like Staja’s above, or my college neighbor who ended up fired from her restaurant job because she wouldn’t skip the final exam she’d previously told them about in order to work a shift. Way too many part-time employers try to insist on being everyone’s #1 priority, and really think you should blow off school or your full-time job for them, or even just drop out/quit for their convenience.

    5. Southern academic*

      I know. I thought Alison went too easily on them—scheduling is literally their job, and if they keep forking it up, especially in what sounds like a really short time frame, that’s definitely annoying. I’ve had retail jobs where the scheduling manager “forgot” each time off I requested (even though it was the same day/time each week, like a Tues afternoon) and I had to go and fix it. Got old fast.

      That said, when you’re 17 and in retail, I’m not sure how much you can do about this.

      1. Annony*

        I don’t think Alison went easy on them so much as acknowledged that they are not the ones writing in. They absolutely should be more careful about scheduling but the OP really only has two choices: keep pushing back when asked to work during school hours or quit. Since they always accept the push back of “I can’t because I have school” it doesn’t seem worth quitting over. I am pretty sure if the manager or assistant manager was writing in she would tell them to get their act together.

    6. Lynca*

      It’s not so much the chain but the competency of the management at that particular store. My first retail job 9 out of 10 times I’d have to get hours corrected because they’d schedule me during my college classes. It was the same way with the high school students.

      They were just a terribly run store. It showed in a lot of other ways besides the scheduling issues once I got out of there. Even now I am shocked they got away with what they did.

    7. Malarkey01*

      Honestly it’s only been about 6 weeks which is probably 3 schedules. It sometimes takes a few rounds before they figure out who is in high school versus college, and this gets more complicated if there are multiple schools with different dismissal times (my area has 3 different overlapping districts within 15 minutes), add in who has after school activities, and it can be a little confusing until they get everyone straight.

    8. tiny cactus*

      Maybe I was working at particularly unreasonable places, but when I was in high school and college, I was constantly being asked to work hours when I was supposed to be in class and for longer hours each week than I wanted, so my theoretically part-time jobs became full-time. I was expected to find coverage for any shifts I couldn’t work. They knew I was in school and didn’t care. So although it’s somewhat annoying, if I were the OP, I wouldn’t be too concerned about them booking these shifts as long as they don’t mind changing them.

    9. HoHumDrum*

      I worked in food service and retail for a long bit and I have seen a shocking number of managers who dgaf about their employees commitment to school. I’ve seen managers expect high school employees to be reached by phone quickly during the school day and even be like “You couldn’t ask for a hall pass??” when students were like “I couldn’t pick up because I’m in class”. Also witnessed a manager tell an employee to skip out on her track practices to come in earlier, being like “Running around after school isn’t as important as work” uh it is when she’s on the varsity team and is trying to get into college. A friend of mine even had the experience of her son’s retail manager trying to talk her son out of attending college because he was “management material” if only he stuck around at minimum wage longer. I’ve also had experience being told I should leave class early or just come a bit late if needed when I was in college.

      Some of these folks are monsters IMO, but I do think that part of what happens is that corporate puts so much pressure on managers to attain certain margins that they lose all sense of proportion themselves and start to think “My employees better prioritize this job as number 1!!” without considering the actual fallout from that for the young ones.

    10. Secretary*

      OP, you don’t have to answer your phone from your boss at school! That’s having good boundaries, you told them your availability, if they call for coverage and you can’t cover, don’t pick up because they’ll just call someone else. You can call them back when you’re done with school for the day. Their poor planning/unreliable employees is not your emergency.

      1. TardyTardis*

        And you can easily claim that you’re in class with Snape, who will confiscate your phone for a week if you try to use it in class. How will your boss know?

    11. MCMonkeyBean*

      I had a very similar experience at Target in high school. They said they couldn’t normally accommodate the hours I needed but it was a new store and they were desperate to hire so they would make it work. Spoiler alert: they didn’t make it work.

      I got the first schedule and it wasn’t what we agreed, but they scheduled three weeks at a time so they asked me to do it anyway and said they’re be sure to fix it in the future. So I worked the shifts as scheduled for three weeks, then the next time they got me the correct hours. After those three weeks were up… they were back to scheduling it wrong so I worked those three final weeks with the extra hours and then quit because it was clear they were never going to get it right long term.

      For OP, if every time you correct them and say “I can’t do this because I’m in school until X” they respond by fixing it right away, then since you otherwise like the job I would keep going and just consider having to remind them as part of the package. If they ever try to make you work during school, or punish you in any way for not being available during the those times, then I think you may need to look elsewhere. Also, if they generally make people find their own coverage I would push back and make sure you are never held responsible for finding coverage as a result of their own scheduling error. You can’t be dealing with that while you’re in class.

    12. Harvey JobGetter*

      But you worked at a grocery store. A single walmart has like 400 employees and the person doing the scheduling may have more than one store. That’s a lot harder than your neighborhood grocery store or even a regular supermarket (which has about 40 employees).

    13. RG*

      What is going ON at this store? I worked as a cashier for 4.5 years during college breaks and then as a shift manager for 4.5 years at a regional grocery chain. We didn’t have a computer scheduling system—everything was done by hand (this was from 2008-2017, so…maybe we should have had a computer system?).

      We had probably 50 employees to manage schedules for, and most of them were in high school/college, and OP’s situation STILL strikes me as totally baffling. How does a manager who employs teenagers not know a) which employees are under 18 and b) roughly what time the area schools let out? We were all hyper-aware of which employees were minors because we couldn’t legally schedule them past 10 or beyond a certain number of hours per week. (Also we couldn’t ask them to put stuff in the trash compactor.) We’d have to call people for last minute coverage all the time, but trying to get people to come to work while they were still at school was never an issue.

      This sounds like some really incompetent management, tbh. The only advice I have for OP is to put your schedule in writing and give it to your manager if you haven’t done that already.

  2. Hi*

    #4: is there benefit in changing your voicemail to state that you are unable to answer your phone ‘until after 4pm when I complete school for the day’ to head them off without you needing to answer? That might save a little bit of time for you and them.

    1. Soooooanon*

      This makes total sense but it also makes me giggle at the prospect of a high schooler using what is more or less an out-of-office message so they can go to school…. lol

      1. anonymous 5*

        Agreed–that kind of clarity, *plus* already reads AAM? That’s some fantastic hope for the world, right there.

      2. Myrin*

        Yeah, I’m always so excited when teenagers write into AAM. I literally clapped my hands when I read “I am 17”.

      3. NotsorecentAAMfan*

        Ya that’s probably part of the problem. This highschooler is so reliable and professional the bosses keep forgetting that they’re only in high school!

          1. nonegiven*

            Change your voicemail to say, “I’ll call you back after school.” Never answer the phone before then.

    2. Workerbee*

      OP can, yet so many people don’t actually listen to voicemail recordings, they’re too busy thinking about gabbling out their message the moment they hear the beep.

    3. Colette*

      Regardless of whether the OP changes her voicemail, she could just … not answer during school time.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        This is the tactic I used as an adult working side jobs through my twenties. Granted it was before texting and some of it was before cell phones even, but you get my drift.

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Sure! However that would usually entice the ill-informed caller to try again, while the voicemail actually reminds them why there’s no answer and when to expect one.
        Also you can set most phones nowadays in “quiet time” mode where all calls go directly to voicemail but if they call again it will go through for emergencies (not that scheduling for a grocery store job would constitute an emergency and even if there would be a fire at the store, what could an in-school employee do about it?)

  3. Retail Not Retail*

    LW4 – if you have an online schedule system where you see your schedule and request time
    off, there may be a place there for your availability. If you never put it in, put it in now. If you did, it may have gotten deleted for some reason.

    I didn’t work at a big box store but I did work at a national grocery chain and that was our system. My friend worked with the scheduled sometimes and they’d have to override each shift that went against availability.

    I’d also bring this up to a manager ASAP because without documentation of some kind, they may be thinking wow this person doesn’t work their shifts as scheduled, what a hassle this person is.

    (Caveat – the only restrictions I ever did were for entire days which are pretty easy to avoid!)

    1. Retail Not Retail*

      Scheduler! They also had to override any shifts that violated the ten hour rule. No clopening at our stores dangit.

        1. Retail Not Retail*

          Union! We could violate it ourselves by picking up someone’s shift, but they couldn’t schedule us. One time the morning supervisor asked me to come in early but he didn’t know I’d been asked to stay over the night before. He woke me up with that call so it wasn’t til I got there that it hit me.

          There was much discussion among the more senior people – yes it violated it so I’d get time and a half the whole shift, no it didn’t since I said yes. It did violate it and I did get time and a half AND a bribe in the form of reward coupons. (He forgot to remove it or couldn’t. Ha!)

          Now managers had to clopen a few times a year but we had no sympathy. They’d leave well before 11pm anyway. (24 hour stores)

        2. Retail Not Retail*

          At my current job, there is no such rule. And in my department it happens twice a year but it still sucks. Luckily (?) it’s split so the spring event does it to the people who work Saturdays and the fall event does it to the people who work Sundays. Still. Off at 11 (and work started at 6am), back at 6. We were zombies.

        3. Quill*

          I thought this was a typo until I realized that… some stores probably do close, have people in an hour or so after, and then open, with people in an hour or so before…

    2. Albatross*

      My own experience with low-level shift work (theme park, not one of the big ones) was similar. When you put in a time-off request, there was a way to request that same slot off every week. I never had to use it, because all my time-off requests were one-off events, but it was doable.

    3. On a pale mouse*

      Came here to say the same. Also, in our system, the person tasked with calling people to cover might not have access to that information. This happens to me all the time. “Hey Mouse, Jack called in sick, can you call someone in to cover?” I kind of vaguely know who’s in school but not everyone’s exact schedule, and I don’t have access to the system showing their availability, so I’m just going to call everyone that even might be able to come in. If you can’t, you can’t. This also applies if someone hasn’t shown up on time – if they told our boss they have school and boss said okay, that was a scheduling mistake, you can come in later, that doesn’t always get communicated to everyone. And again I don’t have access to whatever information or boss has on their availability. So I might be asked to call LW4 to see if they are coming in or what’s going on.

  4. Gaia*

    OP 2, please know you are completely in the right to raise this. This person is putting lives at risk and it is as unacceptable as any other massive safety risk at work would be.

    1. Doc in a Box*

      Yes, please raise this issue (anonymously if you can to avoid retaliation).

      I saw a great cartoon a few months ago likening wearing your mask below your nose to wearing your pants below your genitalia. Probably not safe for work, but accurate nonetheless!

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Yup, I liken it to walking around with an arc welding torch and no mask. Not only do you endanger your health but also endanger others.

    3. Totally Minnie*

      I absolutely agree. My boss’s masks are all too big for their face so they’re always loose and frequently fall below their nose, so I’ve had to become really comfortable with telling them to pull their mask up. It’s really, really uncomfortable, but it has to be done. Though, my problem wasn’t as bad as OP2, since my boss is really just thoughtless and not purposefully wearing their mask incorrectly.

      OP2, if you don’t think bringing this up with your boss will solve the problem, go to their boss with a clear conscience, and definitely use Alison’s script about being worried about potential retaliation. You are not tattling or getting your boss in trouble. There would be nothing to go to management about if your boss were doing the right thing in the first place, this is their fault. Not yours.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        I know that its really frustrating when your mask doesn’t fit, but also like… there’s no way you don’t notice its fallen down. That’s what makes me so mad about it, they know, we all know, they are not being subtle.

        I feel particularly bad for employees at a local fast casual restaurant we love but basically just can’t go to anymore. They all have to wear the restaurant branded face masks, and they are a horrible design that is CONSTANTLY falling down. Last time I went the cashier had to pull up her mask 3 times in the course of a conversation. The food is good and the employees are really trying…. But sorry, I just do not want the person cooking my food constantly reaching up to his face to pull his mask up.

      2. Momma Bear*

        OP2, bring it up. You can start with “hey, your mask slipped, can you pull it up?” and if he doesn’t fix it or doesn’t respond well, try HR. Or maybe go straight to HR depending on how you feel about your boss. I dropped a note to HR to ask if they could remind everyone about the mask policy, which they did. It was very specific about when, where, and how masks must be worn in the office, and included additional information from government sources. We were reminded that we were provided disposable masks if anyone wanted them, set out in x and y locations. The big boss also mentioned it in a company meeting. Since then I have only seen the main offender “forget” his mask once. Masks that don’t fit, especially when you do a lot of talking, are an issue but it’s still not right that he doesn’t pay attention to his mask.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          I’m always afraid to say directly to the improper-mask-wearing-person “hey you’re doing it wrong”, no matter how the polite version of that might be phrase, because I never know if the person will be all ragey about wearing it in the first place and do something like pull it down all the way and cough in my face intentionally. Surely that would be a massive overreaction on their part, but if already dealing with someone who clearly doesn’t care about others’ safety, it feels very risky.

          1. Julia*

            Someone sat down next to me on the train and did just that. Mask below his chin, I say “excuse me, your mask has slipped down,” they huff at pull it off. I was shaking – it took all my courage to say something in the first place, and no one jumped in to help.

        2. JustaTech*

          OP2: you can even try treating it like noticing your manager’s pants are unzipped or they’ve got a giant piece of food on their shirt: just say “mask” with a pull-up-over-nose gesture. Make it not a big deal and it will be harder for them to make an issue of it with you.
          (Harder, not impossible, if your manager is totally unreasonable to even mild corrections then you might need to just go to the top.)

        3. Rescue Dog*

          I wish I had read this earlier today. I never think of the right thing to say in the moment. I was at the post office today and a manager was clearly making her staff uncomfortable with a mask way below her nose so I could even see her mouth. Her staff were wincing and turning away. I wish I had thought fast enough to say something. I’m always so shocked I don’t think clearly until later.

      3. willow for now*

        But by now, 8 months in, everyone should be able to fix masks so they don’t slip down. Make a tuck in the mask with one or two stitches, or a staple, or some tape. Make a figure 8 loop with the straps. It’s time for everyone to adapt. The ones who have not yet adapted are the ones that don’t want to.

    4. Butterfly Counter*

      I’d be tempted to buy one of those masks that have lettering that goes, “IT GOES OVER YOUR NOSE.”

      1. Massive Dynamic*

        Last line of your post aside (FAR aside), if the manager has a medical issue with the mask then the manager can phone/zoom call/email employees instead of getting in their physical space. In the workplace, one person’s medical reason does not mean another person must be put at risk.

  5. Autumnheart*

    Every single retail manager I ever had was just a blithering idiot about scheduling. They never remembered anyone’s availability, insisted that one come in regardless of their commitments, badgered people for not taking extra hours while refusing to fire the slackers who called out in the first place, and were otherwise just completely ridiculous about it all.

    Now I work in the corporate side of retail and am surrounded by competent people (including managers) and I think back to those days and wonder, WTF was wrong with those people? Were they just plain stupid? Incompetent? Unable to keep a calendar? What is so hard to understand about “HS student can’t come in before 4:30”? Why couldn’t they keep it straight? None of my office jobs ever had a problem with this, and it’s not like people don’t take time off or have the same availability issues. But in-store retail jobs, man. I don’t miss those days.

    1. Retail Not Retail*

      I had a manager once mock employees who wanted (needed!) more hours but wouldn’t come in on their days off on short notice.

      We got our schedules a week at a time and ooh they got mad if we tried to peek Thursday night. Our schedules would vary wildly, sorry I decided to do something on the day you told me I had off! (I once got a call on a requested and approved day off when i was on the road to six flags. No. Another came at about 3pm asking me to work overnight that night while I was on my scheduled paid vacation on the other side of the state. Get a life.)

      1. BubbleTea*

        I once got called to see if I could come in something like ten hours earlier than my scheduled shift. I had to say no, I was currently about six hours drive away in Scotland. I was on time for my scheduled shift though!

    2. Gaia*

      Wow. This is a really harsh read on…every retail scheduler ever.

      More likely, a lot of workers each had their own unique availability and that’s a lot for one person to remember. As long as they react appropriately when corrected, there’s no need to be so aggressively unforgiving.

      1. LDF*

        They shouldn’t need to remember though. Something like “Jane can’t work before 4:30” is extremely easy to record in some google doc or something along with other people’s constraints.

        1. MK*

          And if you are scheduling 50 people it’s also extremely easy to go through the document for every shift to make sure you haven’t missed anything, huh? If this a weekly schedule with, say, two shifts, we are talking about almost 100 potential mistakes.

          Scheduling lots of people for different positions and shifts is not easy, and while I am sure there is technology to make it more so, it’s not always available to low-level managers, who also have a million other things to do.

          1. Gaia*

            Exactly! We’re not talking about scheduling a few people. Large retail stores could be dealing with dozens of more. And the people doing the scheduling are often also overworked and underappreciated.

          2. Uranus Wars*

            THIS! I used to help with a 100 person 2-week schedule and it was a NIGHTMARE, even with their availability right on the sheet with the person’s name. Just trying to fit everything into the puzzle is hard. We’d try to just give everyone the same schedule week-to-week but that didn’t work for everyone because someone would call out, or needed off every 3rd Tuesday or something crazy.

            And if I am a shift manager just trying to find coverage I didn’t always have the same access to the system, so you just call. And if someone said no, that was fine…and if they didn’t answer, that was fine too. We really just needed someone to say “yes”…and every once in awhile it would be a kid who had a teacher in-service or a dentist appointment that he didn’t’ return to school after or SOMETHING.

            1. Observer*

              Except that’s not what @Autmnheart described. Maybe they got “lucky” and had a uniquely bad string of managers. Or maybe bad managers are the norm in retail on the shop side. I don’t know.

              But whether they are outliers, or you are, it’s not a good look to respond to a description of bad behavior by claiming that the bad behavior didn’t actually happen.

              1. Uranus Wars*

                What?! No one said bad behavior didn’t happen. We are saying it’s not always as easy as X=Y until the end of time. People do their best, but sometimes people do their best in the given situation. I had a ton of really really great managers in my 15+ years of food service and had some really really bad ones. Calling someone doesn’t always mean malice, even though with some managers it likely can.

                Asking someone to cover a shift and then being ok with it if they say no isn’t bad behavior, it’s just hoping maybe you can get a shift covered and then moving down the chain. Especially 6 weeks in when you are trying to remember everyone’s schedule, which when you are dealing with high school/college kids changes every semester, plus usually fall, winter, spring and summer break.

                Asking someone to cover a shift a threatening to fire them if they don’t come in is bad behavior, but that’s not what I was describing at all.

                1. Observer*

                  Asking someone to cover a shift and then being ok with it if they say no isn’t bad behavior, it’s just hoping maybe you can get a shift covered and then moving down the chain.

                  Again, that is NOT what Autumnheart described. They described managers who were definitely NOT “ok” with it – who berated and badgered people.

          3. Autumnheart*

            Well, yes, I do expect them to be able to do exactly that, because that is the job.

            Just like I’m expected to do my job with minimal mistakes. Just like everyone is.

      2. 2horseygirls*

        Not harsh at all. I have worked a variety of retail jobs, from Marshalls/Homegoods to Blockbuster Video (just to thoroughly date myself) to clothing stores, from high school through college and as a second job after graduation for a few years.

        It is not rocket science to remember who your HS students are, and that they cannot come in before X. If we managed it in the days before computer scheduling, then it is certainly manageable now.

      3. Mookie*

        Write it down? Just write it down. Unlike Autumnheart, I’ve never done shift work where the scheduler didn’t have a spreadsheet tracking availability. Of course that availability can be unique to the individual—that’s often why people choose shift work, including the non-traditional shifts. It hardly needs saying.

        I’m more than willing to believe there are managers who don’t keep track, but that’s certainly not the fault of the LW and employees like her nor is it harsh to lay blame where the blame lies. The obvious solution to not remembering something is obvious.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. I would have to create a master schedule to show who was available when and use that guide as I wrote a schedule.
          A lot of it is computerized now. But scheduling is not easy because of the people factor. Let’s say you are doing a schedule for 13 people. This is no where near as straightforward as one would think. On any given week there are at least 3 people who need to do something and are not available at a time when they ordinarily will be. Then there is always a last minute emergency, every week, count on it. Typically if you end up with one or two people who will reliably fill in, then you are doing very well.

          That’s not to defend poor managers. Managers should be taught how to set themselves up so they can make a viable working schedule each week. They are not always taught this. On the corporate side, upper management was adverse to having people with set schedules. I hear this is changing as TPTB found making people work all kinds of kooky hours caused health issues, (drrrrr.)
          Some retailers did believe or maybe still do that set hours mean employees can plan unscrupulous activities, such as ushering items out the back door to a non-paying customer/friend. There are other examples of what supposedly goes on with set schedules.

          It’s tough to soar like an eagle when you work with a bunch of turkeys. Managers are only as good as TPTB allow them. A manager who is micromanaged is less likely to be a great manager. OTOH, good workers aren’t going to apply for poorly paying management jobs where the title manager is there for decorative purposes only.

          1. Retail Not Retail*

            wait what?! We can’t have set schedules because we’ll participate in a formula smuggling ring or something? Our nefarious criminal buddies only want to work with us if we can work regular hours?

            That is so bonkers, I love it! Why did they come up with these reasons, instead of the truth, which is that squirrels set the schedules. (No, I know it’s to handle expected business.)

            1. doreen*

              The “expected business” is only part of it. The other part is that people are going to request days off for whatever reason – and there are only two ways to accommodate that and maintain coverage. One is to say “OK Doreen, you are scheduled to work from 5pm-10 pm on Tuesday and if you want Tuesday off you will have to find someone to swap with you. ” Which doesn’t always work when the person scheduled on Saturday wants a Saturday off. The other is to make a new schedule every week or two that accounts for both expected business and staff requests. If you do this , you can give me Tuesday evening off without requiring me to find coverage – but you are either going to annoy Melinda by 1) making a brand-new schedule every week that accommodates everyone’s requests. or 2) making minor tweaks every week , so she normally has Tuesday off except when I requested off. Different methods will work better for different situations- but you will never be able to make everyone happy unless you have only two employees ( and even then it’s only a maybe)

            2. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

              I agree, its completely bananacrackers.

              We knew a district manager was pilfering merchandise on hand written “store transfer” sheets. Could we do a thing about it? Not really. Was she in with any regularity? Not at all. (We had a shipping manager who trusted NOBODY and wrote out a separate set of transfer sheets of what she was transferring and compared it to what she wrote on the her sheets when those finally came over. There was a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, a nice set of $$$ pots and pans, new stainless steel mixing bowls, and a few other smaller items that were all short a quantity of “one” compared to what our shipping manager watched her take. Can’t imagine where those ones all went….her brand new house maybe?)

              If anything, some criminal elements, I would think, would avoid places that keep a static schedule because there’s institutional reliability there, sort of. Some criminal elements, probably the ones looking to just shoplift and such, not the planned theft ring and that type.

      4. Observer*

        That might explain the failure to REMEMBER the schedules. It doesn’t explain, much less excuse! the rest of it.

        I don’t care how complex the schedule is, “insisted that one come in regardless of their commitments, badgered people for not taking extra hours while refusing to fire the slackers who called out in the first place,” is just NOT acceptable.

      5. fhqwhgads*

        If the store’s process requires a human to remember rather than a computer storing that information, it’s the fault of that store’s management.

      6. Autumnheart*

        Of course it’s a harsh read, because now that I’m an adult that has had multiple jobs where lots of people have to coordinate their schedules, it’s….just not that hard. But these morons made it out like it was an impossible task that they couldn’t even begin to figure out. Just about EVERYONE has to manage a schedule and coordinate when people are going to be available, whether you’re a parent, doctor, coach, contractor, project manager, people manager, teacher, volunteer….everyone! That’s a normal life skill. It doesn’t suddenly become rocket science when you’re talking about 30 people on the floor in a store.

    3. Retail Not Retail*

      You know it may be that retail workers don’t and can’t push back on scheduling screw ups in any meaningful ways. There are no consequences for the managers. Headaches for the supervisors on the floor, but corporate’s happy as long as you’re on a skeleton crew.

    4. Crivens!*

      Yeah, I get that one may be scheduling a bunch of different people with a bunch of different time constraints but that’s why we write things down. Or create an Excel sheet. Or literally anything to keep track of that instead of forgetting every week and inconveniencing staff.

      1. H2*

        But I have a genuine question: is it an inconvenience? Why?

        We have a very new employee (of a month and a half!) who, twice in the same week, was scheduled too close to school getting out. Not at 8am or noon, just too close. They pointed out the error, it was fixed, it didn’t happen again.

        Then the employee was called very near to the time school gets out (within 10 minutes) to see if they want to pick up a shift (presumably because there is an emergency, and this is a different manager). They say they can’t at the moment, it’s no big deal.

        For a 17 year old it may seem like pressure but I also think from the other side that a manager might reasonably assume that a high schooler might welcome extra shifts. I think you could chalk this up to everyone getting used to a new employee in the schedule—I don’t think it’s a nefarious pattern yet.

        1. Observer*

          Firstly, it’s three times in t weeks (or two incidents) which is a lot. Secondly, the first 2 times were the person just being put on the schedule, which put the burden on the student to get it fixed. And, yes, that doesn’t just “feel” like pressure – IT IS pressure.

          The last time is worse – the assistant manager called the OP during class, and didn’t just offer an addition shift, but expected to come in pretty much on the spot. And when the OP said no, the response wasn’t “OK, I’ll find someone else” but “come in later.”

          I’m not saying that it’s the end of the world, but the pressure is real and so is the inconvenience. Is it worth expending a lot of energy on? Probably not. But this is not really “reasonable” behavior. Hopefully this will all shake out and the management of the store will get more reasonable.

    5. allathian*

      I’m lucky in that when I worked retail, there was a requirement on store managers to set schedules three weeks in advance. We were allowed and encouraged to swap shifts when necessary, but if someone got sick, arranging coverage wasn’t the employee’s problem. Granted, I worked in a small grocery store with 3 checkouts.

    6. Language Lover*

      I don’t work in retail so I don’t know if there are better ways of doing this but sometimes it’s easy to forget availability because availability changes all the time, especially with students. There are vacations, school days off and with college students, even more shifting each semester.

      And when a shift opens up unexpectedly that needs to be filled, there might not be time to think through everyone’s schedule.

      1. Mookie*

        The problem posed by emergencies requiring coverage has as one possible solution a blockgraph or similar visualization overlaying individual availability on top of all working shifts. No need to read the entire document when you can immediately narrow down who can be called.

        Most outfits solve last-minute shift changes involving something other than emergencies and illness by setting a simple, firm deadline for such requests, say a fortnight or month out. Just like most work where hours are indicated. For staff who have forgotten to do so, they may have the option of arranging the coverage themselves.

        I don’t really understand the confusion here. This is how shifts have always worked.

    7. ...*

      Hmm that hasn’t been my experience at all. There were definitely some stupidly short shifts just to cover busy times, or where you could possibly have to be called in if busy, but in general my schedule in multiple retail stores and fast food places was respected.

    8. turquoisecow*

      I worked at a small grocery chain 20 years ago. The schedule was made on the computer and everyone’s availability was entered in so there was no need for the manager to remember anything. A large number of the cashiers were students not scheduling them during weekdays wasn’t unusual.

      OP says they work at a big box store, so I assume their chain has something similar to what my regional chain had back then, but with some improvements since it’s 20 years in the future. I’m guessing their availability wasn’t entered into the system properly. I would tell OP to go to whomever their department manager is (my store referred to that person as the customer service manager, some places simply call them front end manager) rather than whoever the day manager is who may report to that person. Explain the issues with scheduling and tell them that you don’t want to get in trouble for not showing up, or leave your coworkers in the lurch, but you’re in school and you cannot get there before 4:30. Hopefully they can adjust the system and fix the issue.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        If the OP was working there over the school/summer break and maybe picking up more hours, the system or the boss might not have reset to the school hours thing. This used to happen all the time when I would pick up extra shifts in HS during breaks. Granted our schedule was usually done on a whiteboard, so it was easier to mix up, but is still totally possible with a spreadsheet.

    9. Forrest*

      It depends enormously on whether the retailer actually allows the supervisor time off the shop floor in the office to work out schedules. Some work on the assumption that the admin required in that role is just something you can squeeze in in a couple of hours a week, and it’s really not. I used to run a desk rota for 16 people: 12 of them were student employees and I tried to keep them in fixed slots, and four of us were full-time workers who had other moveable commitments we had to work around. Working two to three weeks ahead, it took about two hours a week to make sure we had coverage.

      LW4, you could have a conversation with your managers just to find out how far in advance they usually plan, whether it’s possible to get scheduled for some set shifts every week so you know you’re always Tuesday and Thursday nights and Sunday morning, and if you can let them know when you’re going to be available. You can also ask whether they will remember that, or whether they’ll continue to ask you to work during weekdays but it’s fine if you turn those shifts down. Different places (and different managers) will have different levels of organisation about this stuff, and it should be OK for you to ask how they work this stuff so you understand whether they have the capacity to remember everyone’s availability or whether it’s on you just to politely turn down shifts you can’t do.

      1. On a pale mouse*

        Yeah, my boss is not given much if any admin time. I guess they think she can fit it all into slow moments on the floor, which is pretty unrealistic (and probably explains why I’m two years overdue for performance evaluation). She does schedule most of a day to write our schedule even though she isn’t supposed to need it. In theory she can let the system auto-schedule but the result never makes anyone happy. We have 50+ employees in our department (maybe closer to 100?) and she has to schedule for at least 8 separate roles with the number of people in each role varying constantly by time of day according to the scheduling computer’s predicted requirements. And not everyone does all roles. Add in everyone’s availability. Then add in preferences that aren’t captured in the system but that she tries to respect, and it gets pretty complicated.

    10. hibbert*

      I coach a high school team, and we had a girl who continually missed practice because she was “on call” at her retail chain store at the mall and was called in to work. If she was “on call” and didn’t go in she would be fired. It was unclear what would happen to the people who called out. The coaching staff nicknamed her Doogie Howser because she must have been the youngest person to ever go to medical school.

      My day job is as a lawyer, I had her hand me the phone one time the manager called right before a game and I read to her our state’s statute regarding paying employees for being “on call” and also asked whether she was counting all the time her teenage employees were “on call” towards the hourly limits on how much they could work per week. I threw in some information on retaliation, just in case. The calls stopped.

    11. Doc in a Box*

      Are we swapping scheduling mishaps? *rolls up sleeves and grabs a chair*

      One of the “honors” of being chief resident is making the schedule. Because this was hospital work, we had to have 24/7 coverage for eight services, with restrictions like max 80 hours per week for everyone, at least 24 hours off per 7 days (averaged over 4 weeks), no going straight from days to nights, ensuring everyone had at least one half-day of clinic per week, maintaining a Jeopardy system for sick coverage…. Oh, and honoring vacation and weekend off requests.

      The year before us, this was done with a calendar in Word. (Disaster.) My year, we converted to using Excel so we could at least put in data validation. Still, after one of our residents got pulled for legal issues, requiring us to remake the schedule completely, my co-chief and I rebelled and convinced the department to buy a scheduling software program. It was like a miracle.

      What I learned from my chief year is that if you are scheduling more than, like, ten people, you really should be using a scheduling software. I’d be surprised if a big box superstore didn’t have one set up already (many of them are also timesheet software for payroll); it’s possible the rules just need to be updated to say “Gwendolyn can only work after 4:30 on weekdays.”

      1. Quill*


        Sorry I just… data management. In word.

        I personally had to train the whole team I’m in not to try to merge cells in excel so I could actually sort data. Only to turn around and field “why are you doing that in excel?”

        Because that’s the program we own, my dear database friend. That’s the program we own and we’re not generating enough data to break it.

    12. Mel_05*

      I’ve seen a lot of managers who just refuse to remember people’s schedules. Although I never personally had one when I worked at a box store.

      I’ve also seen a lot of employees who say they want a certain number of hours, but call off for half of them. That leaves the manager scrambling to find coverage – or working a bunch of extra shifts themselves. But they can’t just fire the people – or they’d be working all those extra shifts all the time.

    13. el knife*

      the reason retail and customer service managers are like this is because they’re being squeezed from the top – I worked in the industry for years, and was both the squeeze and the squeezer and both sides of the dynamic sucks because everyone know their job is on the line when they go over. the way these industries operate take it out on the lower person getting paid the least and it’s horrible.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Totally yes on the squeeze. Back in the 1970s and ’80s, Walmart went through its exponential growth phase largely because it was an early adopter of computerized inventory management. This kept its costs considerably below the competitors’, which in turn let it consistently have the lowest prices. Then those competitors caught up.

        How to maintain momentum? There were two strategies. One was to put the squeeze on its suppliers. This is when they quietly dropped their proud “Made in America” campaign, opting for cheap Chinese manufacture. This also is why I never go to Walmart for anything with moving parts. I assume that even if it is name brand, the manufacturer has been forced to produce crappified versions for Walmart.

        The second strategy was to squeeze employee hours. Store-level management was under intense pressure to keep payroll down, while still keeping the store clean and the shelves stocked. The result was pressure to work illegally off the clock. I remember being busy stocking when an assistant manager asked me when I was scheduled to clock out. I just gave him a look, and he went “oh, never mind” and walked away. I was very innocent, back then. You also would find the store manager stocking shelves rather than managing. It was an absurd way to do business. My sense based on Walmarts today is that they put a lot less emphasis on keeping the store clean and well stocked. This is another reason I don’t shop there often.

        1. kayakwriter*

          On the subject of Walmart constantly grinding both employees and suppliers, google search “The Man Who Said No To Walmart” for a fascinating article on a lawnmower CEO who choose to step off that downward spiral. It’s from 2006. There’s still a very active website for Snapper mowers, and the only Snapper stuff I can find on Walmart’s website are replacement batteries, not the mowers themselves, so it looks like that worked out for Snapper.

    14. Richard Hershberger*

      I was a Walmart grunt back in the early 1990s. My take on the store manager was she was pure Peter Principle. She likely was a perfectly competent assistant manager, but promoted out of her depth. The co-manager was simply a twit. He came back from some meeting one day and gathered us around, and lectured us that we were being too proactive. He clearly had just learned a new buzz word and was eager to put it to use, but wasn’t quite clear on what it meant. I had trouble not breaking out in laughter.

      I don’t think that chain retail store management attracts the best people. Among the hourly employees you have some people who aren’t ambitious and are happy to just do this forever, and a lot of people who are doing this until they do something else. Both sorts may or may not be competent. But once you are in the management ranks you have people who are ambitious, yet settling for what realistically is a miserable job with terrible hours and, for all but the people at the top, lousy pay. If you worked your way up to managing a high volume store the money finally was good, but the job worse than ever. There were stories about store managers whose life plan was to keep the job as long as they could stand it while living frugally, then take a year living off their savings while they figured out what they were going to do next. That’s not the worst plan, but neither is it the best. It isn’t really plan anyone would make, if they could make a better one.

      That being said, I worked under one assistant manager who was a marvel. He had been around a long time, understood the business better than the people who worked under, and was always honest with me. That might mean I would walk in the store in the morning and he would tell me “Richard, I’m going to screw you over today.” That’s better than the smarmy boss screwing you over while pretending things are great, and he never did this if it wasn’t necessary. Why was he only an assistant manager? He had managed stores in other chains, but I think he was too honest for Walmart, which collectively is totally into smarmy bossing.

  6. Hapax Legomenon*

    #4: This is normal enough for a part time cashier job. It might feel deliberate because it’s suddenly an issue, but it’s much more likely that they’re understaffed or ramping up for the busy season and that’s why they’re making these scheduling mistakes. If they DO try to pressure you into working hours you can’t, you can ignore their calls while you’re at school–nothing will burn down if you don’t answer your phone in class.

  7. TurtleIScream*

    Letter #4 – I am concerned this goes beyond the hassle of being scheduled during school hours. Is the employer following the law regarding limited scheduling of minors? In my state at least, minors who are in school cannot work more than a certain number of hours per day, per week, or during certain hours. They also have stringent rules for breaks. I find it hard to believe that a manager not paying attention to work permit rules while scheduling shifts is conscientious of other rules pertaining to the employment of minors.

    1. Soooooanon*

      Where I live, this isn’t a thing at all. Breaks are clearly defined but are the same regardless of age. There are no rules pertaining to the scheduling of minors (unless you’re talking younger than 12 or 13). It’s pretty easy to follow the rules for breaks and overtime; less so to keep track of the individual schedules of each employee. I’ve made the kinds of mistakes described by LW many, many times. It’s never had any relation to our ability to comply with legislative requirements.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        No rules to keep on-school minors from being scheduled to work after X o’clock on a school night? Or to keep a minor from closing & carrying cash to bank deposit slot at midnight?
        Very different where I grew up. (NYS)

        1. doreen*

          Whether those rules make any difference depends on employees and the business – for example, 16 year olds can work in NYS until 10pm ( or sometimes midnight) so if a store only hires those 16 or older, closes at 9 and everyone is out by 10 that particular rule won’t affect scheduling.
          But I remember my high school and college jobs- and although the managers did a fairly good job of scheduling, it would have been crazy to expect them to never make mistakes about people’s availability. I mean, it wasn’t even like they could say “Doreen is a student, so she can’t start until 5 pm”. Everyone had their own unique availability, depending on whether they went to high school or college, which HS or college, ( the one down the block or the one 40 minutes away), might have a different schedule on Monday rather than Tuesday and so on. People who weren’t students( including the managers) were often working there as a second job, so they had to be scheduled around their main job.

    2. ACM*

      We also had different laws pertaining to minors and hours they were allowed to work; I think it’s pretty common. I don’t think it’s malicious, but if some of the people in charge of scheduling aren’t even reliably aware that the LW is in high school (and clearly they aren’t; it’s not just some random availability she’s talking about, it’s being scheduled during the school day!), they might not know they should be paying attention to other stuff too. Where I worked in retail, managers received shockingly little training in that kind of thing.

      1. Momma Bear*

        It is posted in our break room when and where and for how long minors can work. OP4 should verify that their hours are within local guidelines.

        I also worked in HS and there was usually one person who did a good job and one who was terrible at scheduling. It was even worse for college students because the bad one would never seem to remember who had summer class and who was more available. My old manager had a calendar they were supposed to consult for people’s availability, both as routine and vacations. Is there something like that where you work, OP?

        Hopefully this is just a new person problem and it will resolve soon.

    3. On a pale mouse*

      I think I’m my state there are no hour limitations for 17 year olds, though there may be stricter break requirements. There are some tasks they can’t do for safety or legal reasons, of course. Could be wrong, I’m not the scheduler.

    4. drpuma*

      Yes, exactly this. The state where I grew up had more stringent laws around employing high schoolers than adults. If there are similar laws in OP4’s state the company should know and follow those laws just like the company is responsible for knowing and following laws about breaks or overtime pay for all employees.

    5. A New Yorker*

      Obviously you have never scheduled HS people. Their schedules change all the time. Sport seasons start and end. Clubs have different needs.
      Of course the person scheduling tries not to make mistakes. What possible good would that do?
      I work in a one store Co op. No scheduling software here. If I make a mistake they will text me and let me know. If I need a fill-in I’ll text people. If they can they can if not OK. You never know when an activity might be canceled.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I used to schedule lifeguards, and you’re right. If I needed a last-minute sub, I’d ask everyone regardless of stated availability. A lot of times I’d get back, “Oh my class is canceled that day/it’s a half day at my high school/it’s a reading day for finals/my team didn’t make the playoffs so the season is over and I actually AM available and I’d love extra hours!!”

        If they accept your no, it’s all good.

    6. OP #4*

      I’m from BC, Canada, and looked it up. Apart from being during school hours, I am not being scheduled in a way that violates labour laws here, even with my age

  8. Soooooanon*

    OP4 – this is so common, it’s fine if you are internally annoyed but nothing to make a big deal about. They don’t expect you to skip school to work – it’s just not easy to keep track of everyone’s schedules when you have a lot of students on staff (it’s not just high schoolers – they are probably also balancing university students that can only work certain hours on certain days and it can just be really easy to lose track of when you have 10 different people with 10 different schedules). Just let them know when your schedule conflicts, and remind them if they forget to adjust your shift on the schedule. My brain melts when I have to schedule students – I can never remember who just graduated vs. who has one more year in high school. Or for that matter, what time someone is available – it’s easy to mix up, especially if someone says they finish school at 3:15pm and in my mind I process that as available at 3:15pm when actually it’s more like 3:30pm once you take travel time into account.

  9. Language Lover*

    I have a co-worker like your direct supervisor. They remove their mask to talk. They remove their mask to drink long drinks, they remove their mask to talk on the phone and they even sometimes remove their mask to listen. Luckily, I am in a position to tell them to put on their mask but it’s frustrating to constantly have to do so.

    If you have a direct manager you feel that you can talk to about this, I think that’s the best next step but if your supervisor is anything like my employee, you might also have to work on little reminders because they’re likely going to slip right back into haphazard mask usage.

    I don’t know if you fear retaliation but you can try to work on creating boundaries for yourself and issue those boundaries by making it sound like it’s about you and not about them. Things I’ll do is step back if someone gets too close and joke that my “social distance” bubble keeps growing as 6 feet doesn’t feel far enough away any longer. Or if I see someone’s nose exposed, I might mention how the nose wires have really helped me keep a mask on and having a tighter mask or better fitting mask helps keep them more comfortable.

    But if you know you have an ally in his and your manager, it’s worth discussing options with them.

    1. Stormfeather*

      This was one where I would be really really leery of using any sort of “it’s not you it’s me” language. You do NOT want to reinforce in these people’s minds that oh, any sort of foibles around mask usage or social distancing or what have you are all on the other people, and they, the original person who can’t wear a mask properly, is in the right.

  10. Anon for this*

    #2 – I’m in a related situation, except instead of my boss, it’s practically all of the people I share a large cubicle farm with. Our cubicles are tiny (like, 5 feet by 4 feet) with only 3/4 walls separating them, and there are like 200 of them on my floor. Masks are mandated in my workplace, but I’d say 90% of people who work on site wear masks when they’re walking around, but take and keep them off when they’re sitting at their cubicles. Meanwhile they are doing lots of aerosol-generating behaviors (our job often involves a lot of phone calls, remote meetings, and conference calls). It makes me very uncomfortable. The colleague who sits across from me (like six feet away) kept making fun of COVID and never wore his mask. Then he tested positive and was out of work, incapacitated, for two weeks, while I had to cover his work during a very busy time for me for other reasons. I wouldn’t be surprised if he contracted COVID at work, from someone who sits around the same area who was also not wearing a mask at their cubicle; I’m very thankful I didn’t get sick.

    Around the time my colleague fell ill, I went to full-time remote (as thankfully I have the capability to do that most of the time). It’s been tough as I haven’t had all the resources to properly and efficiently do my job remotely, and various parts of the organization have been very backed up on providing those things. But at this point I see no other option, at least until case rates in my part of the country go way down (currently ~2% of people in my area are actively infected, and hospitals are at capacity), and/or I’m able to receive a vaccine.

    The irony? My workplace is in the healthcare sector. All/most of my coworkers are highly educated people.

    1. Lucy Day*

      My infant daughter has a rare disorder that could potentially make getting covid deadly, so the only place I go is her doctor appointments that can’t wait (both hers and my own) where an in person examination is necessary. I had to ask nurses (in the hospital, in the NICU, at my clinic) to please put their mask on/on properly. I had a confrontation that felt fairly aggressive given the situation with front desk staff member at my child’s pediatrician who wanted me to step closer to speak with her but had her mask under her nose. I asked her politely to pull it back up and she rolled her eyes and refused, so I proceeded to yell my check in info from 6+ ft away. We live in part of the country that has refused mask mandates and tends to believe much of the “hoax” messaging, so there’s not much I can do

      All of this is to say – none of what you described surprises me in the slightest. I’m glad you got moved to remote and I hope the OP is able to find a solution with their manager. I’m happy to correct the scheduler at my kid’s pediatrician but it would be more nerve wracking if it was my work supervisor.

      1. mreasy*

        I was in the ER this summer and saw a ton of below the nose and other ineffective mask-wearing from all levels of medical personnel – not when they were working directly with patients, but since ER triage is one big room, it didn’t make a difference.

        1. Tired of Covid-and People*

          Where do you live? Except for one surprising encounter with an unmasked nurse practitioner in a cardiology clinic (unbelievable), the medical personnel in my are have all been appropriately masked up. I have since left that clinic, did without hesitation tell that NP to put on a mask but should never have been put in that position.

          OP, this is you health and the health of your loved ones that is at stake. Don’t let timidity put any of you at risk. You aren’t doing anything wrong, they are. I feel physically assaulted whenever I see somebody using a mask as a chin diaper or neck warmer, luckily it is rare where I am. I get angry and can feel my blood pressure rising.

          I will never, ever understand how any rational person can consider covid a hoax. Created by whom, how, and for what reason? It is so insulting to the families of the deceased and to covid long-haulers. How can a hoax shut down everything? There is probably overlap with the insane people who thought Sandy Hook was a hoax. No humanity in these humans. Sometimes I really hate being a member of homo sapiens.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            About a third of the people in the US (more or less depending on location) are simply monsters. I don’t know what we can even do about them.

          2. Black Horse Dancing*

            I know many people who don’t see COVID as a hoax but as simply another flu and just don’t care.

    2. WellRed*

      I am acquainted with a couple of EMTs who don’t believe any of this. I’m curious about your coworkers attitude now that he’s been infected.

      1. Anon for this*

        I think he takes it somewhat more seriously now. I remember when he got sick he kept texting me saying he would be well enough to work remotely (while isolating at home) after like day 3, day 4 of the illness…but apparently he felt so badly that he couldn’t even make it to a 1 hour teleconference even by the end of the second week of his illness.

  11. Fancy Owl*

    Just found out today that my boss tested positive for COVID and they often wore their mask under their nose. Now I’m just waiting nervously to see if I caught it. Definitely speak up! I wish I’d made more of an issue out of it but I was just relieved people at work finally started wearing masks at all… luckily they finally let me start working from home again three days a week so I only have to start counting from last Thursday. Still though, you definitely don’t want this stress if you can avoid it!

    1. Paperwhite*

      I send you all good luck anti-infection vibes! I am so sorry your boss is so irresponsible and careless!

  12. TexasRose*

    #2: At this point I am simply DONE with folks thinking the virus can’t come out of your nose. I’ve ordered “It goes over your nose!” masks to wear on the few times I can’t stay home. The words are printed in bold ON the mask. You can get various styles from different vendors.

    If I had the money, I’d buy the “Keep your @#$& distance” hoodie (with the writing on the back) from Effin’ Birds. Fun site (if you don’t mind swear words), but definitely NSFW.

    Background: I just found out that I have two (distant, both in blood and geography) cousins, different branches of the family, who are long-haulers (folks who have passed the acute phase of COVID infection, but who have not recovered their health after months.) To keep their spirits up, one started a long-promised scanning and genealogy project, and invited me to follow them on Facebook, which is how I know this bit of family news.

    1. Pennyworth*

      Ha, if it can’t come come out your nose why does the Covid test involve sticking a swab UP THE NOSE. Sorry to hear about the long haulers in your family, I hope they fully recover.

      1. Quill*

        I see a lot of cases where it appears to be being caused by not bothering to find a properly fitting mask, but even still. Hey Kilroy, it’s been 9 months, get a real face cover.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I have so many extra uses for my walking stick this year. Physically shunting people back is one of them.

      (I also have an extreme rage for the ‘it’s harmless if you’re healthy’ or ‘masks don’t work’ crowd. I’ve lost friends to this virus this year and they were perfectly healthy one day and dead less than 3 weeks later. Do not tell me it’s ‘just the flu’ unless you want a lecture on viral classification and a walking stick flung at you)

      Sincerely hope your family recover from this. I am however extremely impressed at the ‘the keep spirits up’ idea as something you can do from bed as and when you have the energy. Gives me some ideas…

      1. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

        Can you stop by my office, Keymaster? I have some coworkers whose kneecaps need to be acquainted with your walking stick.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I demand payment in tea, licorice allsorts or working software :)

          (I work IT. Caffeine and licorice please!)

        2. bluephone*

          I missed the announcement from Alison that this is now a blog that’s cool with physical assault, including in the workplace. Cool story, bro.

      2. londonedit*

        Absolutely. Thankfully I haven’t met any virus-deniers (yet…?) but it staggers me how anyone can just decide for themselves that it’s ‘just like the flu’ or it’s ‘the government trying to control our lives’. I know a marathon runner in her early 30s, super fit, to the extent that she’s actually won marathon races in sub-3-hour times. She caught Covid in March and still – in November – she’s suffering extreme fatigue, a crazy immune response that means she’s only able to eat a limited diet, and regular setbacks that are interfering with her ability to do her job (she’ll be OK for a few days at a time, then all of a sudden a walk to the shops will see her back in bed for three days). Suffice to say she’s not able to run on a regular basis and isn’t even sure whether she’ll ever be able to run long distances again. But hey it’s all just made up and it’s not dangerous, right?

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          As a fellow runner, I feel so much sympathy for your runner friend. I’ve been down for the count since November 2 with a couple of back-to-back fluke injuries and it’s so incredibly frustrating and demoralizing. By the time I can get back out there later this week, I’ll have to make up so much lost ground in training. And that’s just for 3 weeks off! And I’ll definitely be able to run again just fine.

          I really really hope your runner friend heals up fully and can go back to doing what she loves.

          1. londonedit*

            Best wishes for a speedy recovery! I’m a runner too and it’s awful when you can’t run. I can’t imagine how my friend is feeling, it’ll be such a shame if she has to give it up. I hope she won’t!

            1. Third or Nothing!*

              Thanks, I appreciate it. I just got back from a mile and a half run/walk with my daughter and I thought about your friend the whole time. You can consider those miles for her, and pass that on to your friend if you want. We’re all in this together (or at least should be). This thing isn’t going to go away unless we all do our part to stop the spread.

        2. AKchic*

          We have covidiots in my office. Guess who got it? Yup. Every single anti-masker has either gotten it in the last week, or is in quarantine waiting on their test results right now.

          I am less than charitable in my thoughts about them.

          1. Third or Nothing!*

            I struggle with feeling compassion for people who get COVID due to their own negligence. I know I should care, because they’re people and therefore have inherent value and worth, but my asthmatic self is on month 8 of self imposed lockdown because the people where I live think COVID is a hoax and act accordingly. I’ve had so many breakdowns from the strain of isolation while everyone I know continues to have big gatherings, go to bars/restaurants, and travel. I’m burned out. I just can’t muster the compassion any more.

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              I don’t have an ounce of compassion for anti-maskers, conspiracy theorists, and “die for the Dow” types who get the virus. In fact, I laugh at them. They are getting exactly what they deserve.

              Unfortunately, they also spread the virus to people who aren’t like that and *don’t* deserve it, which is horrible.

              Someone who just wasn’t super careful and gets it I certainly feel compassion for. But the people who have been deliberately making things worse, including certain politicians? 100% pure schadenfreude.

        3. virago*

          People just. Don’t. Get. It.

          Twelve members of the US women’s Olympic rowing team got COVID in March (from a team employee who tested positive). The cases were all considered mild; nobody was hospitalized.

          One team member, 32-year-old Emily Regan, posted on Facebook in July: “As of today, over 3 months after my symptoms went away, I am working on getting back into the shape I was in in early February or March before all of the setbacks.

          “While it only took me a month to feel like I was in my own body again,” she added, using an eye roll emoji, “I have teammates who were dealing with complications from COVID for over 2 months. So if you don’t think the virus is that big of a deal because you are young, healthy or fit, please consider my story. … I have personally never experienced another illness like this. I have never been knocked off of my feet for an entire month before.”

          During that month, Regan told NPR in July, she’d be tired enough to take a nap if she climbed a flight of stairs. And this is someone who’s won four world championships and a gold medal in the 2016 Olympics.

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            A player for the Boston Red Sox – Edo Rodriquez, had a heart condition after having COVID – he was shut down for the season in August and can only do things of limited stress for awhile.

    3. Blackcat*

      A friend found an Etsy shop making masks with tiny penises printed on them. Unless really looked super close, it looks like a sort of floral or pokadotted pattern. The point is, if you’re close enough to see the mask if covered in penises and get all offended… you’re too close!

  13. Bagpuss*

    #1 What is your relationship like with the ex-boss? Is there any way you could reach out to them, thank them for their willingness to assist but explain that you don’t feel it is appropriate to take up their time any longer, and ask that if your coworker reaches out again, they suggest that it’s something they should discuss with you, rather than with former boss?
    If they say they don’t mind or are happy to help then at that point you could add that you appreciate their willingness to assist, but that as they no longer have all of the relevant context their input is often counter-productive, and is preventing co-manager from developing their own confidence, and ask again that that encourage them to talk to their current colleagues instead.

    If ex is a reasonable person and a good manager then they will probably see the issue once it is flagged up.

    1. MK*

      I don’t think this is appropriate at all. Basically you are asking a former employee of your company to manage a coworker with whom you are peers. If I was the former manager and I was responding to questions from my former company, I was be incredibly annoyed to be told, however politely, that I need to butt out, which is what your script boils down to. The manager could reasonably respond that if the company doesn’t think it’s appropriate to take his time, they should get their employees to stop calling him.

      Also, if I was the OP’s coworker, I wouldn’t take kindly to them going behind my back and trying to get a resource to stop helping me. I am not saying it’s appropriate for the coworker to keep contacting the former manager for work matters, but it’s equally inappropriate for the OP to do it, and they would be basically asking the former manager to manage the coworker.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Well that’s why I started by asking what OP’s relationship with them was like. If this is someone they have a good relationship with then they can have a conversation with them just as their coworker can, and it’s not really asking them to manage the coworker, its asking them to step back. OP may feel that they don’t have a relationship with them which would enable them to do this but I don’t think it is automatically inappropriate to consider it. I think it is one of those things which is hugely dependent on the specific personal relationships and the people concerned.

        1. MK*

          The problem is that you are asking someone to step back, so you are implying they have been stepping forward in some way. I disagree that this is about what kind of relationship you have with them; if you are asking them to stop responding to the coworker, instead of talking to your coworker or your manager, you are asking them to handle a situation in your company’s operation and that’s not appropriate. If the former manager was the one initiating the conversation, yes, but even then I think it would be the OP’s boss who should contact them.

          Think of it this way: if your spouse is spending more money than your family can afford, would it be appropriate to ask shopkeepers to not sell them stuff? No matter how close a relationship you might have with the shopkeepers.

    2. Daffy Duck*

      Ummmm…talk directly with coworker and your boss first. This should absolutely be managed in house. If old manager was reaching out to the company you would talk to him directly, but you can’t complain that he has politely answered coworker.

      1. Elenia25*

        I have to admit, I would probably just blink and be like “But Bob doesn’t work here anymore.” Like I was really slow at getting it. “But….he doesn’t work here anymore. But…But…” I mean there’s a point I’d be all “We’re not taking the advice of someone who doesn’t work here anymore” but I’d make them come out explicitly and say they want to listen to him. ugh.

        Bob doesn’t work here anymore!

  14. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*


    Is your colleague steamrolling you into agreeing with Old Boss’s direction, which you then present to Current Boss as the approach you both recommend?

    Your colleague is being an ass, but you are putting yourself at risk by not pushing back hard on this.

    You might not be able to stop your colleague from reaching out to Old Boss, but if I were Current Boss and I found out that you have been:

    1. Saying nothing about your colleague sharing business information with Old Boss who NO LONGER WORKS AT THE COMPANY
    2. Allowing your colleague to dictate what goes into the proposal to Current Boss – which is supposed to represent the views and effort of both of you
    3. Putting forward the proposal as though you had contributed to it AND agree with it

    – I would see this as a serious lack of judgement from both of you, and would probably discipline you (both of you), and maybe fire you – depending on the nature of the information being shared, and how long it had been going on.

    I do think that feeling undermined is natural under the circumstances, but the least of your concerns right now.

    Old Boss was laid off, so his expertise and input into business decisions is clearly not something that Current Boss sees as critical to the company’s success. But even if Old Boss had resigned or retired, this whole set-up would still be a problem.

    It seems as though you don’t want to rock the boat, which I understand, but I disagree that you and your colleague are working well together. This is the opposite of that.

    Since you don’t want to take a harsh stance, I would recommend that you:
    – Stop agreeing with your colleague and presenting ideas as though you both agree on them
    – Speak to your colleague and raise the pattern you are seeing – sharing info outside the company, allowing someone else to make decisions you two should be making (and will be held responsible for), and presenting it as your own thinking
    – Let them know it cannot continue
    – If they push back, let them know that you will be speaking to Current Boss because you believe it is the wrong approach and you want their input
    – Go and speak to your boss – before someone else does! Raise it as something you are uncomfortable about, not “Bob is doing a bad thing”

    This is a harsher take than Alison’s so I am interested to see what other commenters think.

    I hope this helps. Remember, you are not making things awkward, your colleague is.

    1. MK*

      Eh,I do think you are taking an overdramatic view of the situation. There are many fields where asking input from mentors and former colleagues is considered normal, though it’s usually an occasional thing. We don’t know that the OP is allowing the coworker to dictate their recommendations to their boss, or that the coworker is sharing information he shouldn’t with the former manager (I don’t know how other fields manage this, but mine is law, and it’s common to ask a question along the lines of “what do you think of the validity or X claim in Z suit?” without crossing any lines). And this might not be a huge part of their job, so it’s perfectly possible that they are working well together for the most part.

      The main problem that I see is that the coworker is not simply soliciting input from the manager and relaying it into their discussions, but trying to cite them as an authority. I personally wouldn’t feel undermined by this, since it’s pretty obvious the coworker has no confidence their own expertise, though I understand the frustration. What the OP needs to do is have a very direct talk with their coworker, telling them that “because former manager said so” isn’t appropriate feedback and they need to bring informed opinions to their recommendations and pointing out that the former manager no longer has the responsibility for their work. Sometimes you need to bluntly tell someone that, if things go wrong, they, and not whoever is giving them advice, will be answerable. Also, thye should ask them if their boss knows that they are discussing their work with the former manager and how much they are relying on their input. It’s also possible the coworker hasn’t considered how this would look to their boss.

      1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

        Yeah, my brain went into “worst case scenario” mode and that’s why I wanted to know what other folks think.

        I think the red flag for me was: My colleague then insists on a course of action because “that’s what he [Old Boss] recommends.”

    2. PleaseVote*

      I don’t know if I’d fire the OP but I’d seriously question their judgment and ability to solve interpersonal problems and not be thrilled with their timidity.

      The coworker, however, I would consider firing if they can’t do their job without outside help.

  15. Jasperred*

    Hey #4: I feel your pain. It was much easier for my manager when I worked retail to remember if I wanted a whole day off, even consistently, than if I needed to not start at a certain time. In high school though this was simplified, everyone started either at 4pm or 5pm (for over 16) or 3pm (if between 14 and 16 because they got off earlier). Standardized start times during the week were easier to do.

    Once I had a final to get to (college) and wrote in a note that I needed to be done by x time that day. I was scheduled to be done by x time but the manager was nowhere to be found to pull my till. I gave it 15 mins or so, shut off my light, rang out my line, pulled my till, knocked on the office door, handed it to her and said “gotta go, I have a final! Sorry!” And left before she could say anything. I didn’t even get in trouble. So if I got away with that, you’ll be just fine!

  16. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    LW2, depending on the general tone of your workplace and your relationship with your boss, could you start with a cheerful, “Hey boss, your mask has just slipped down off your nose there”? Every. Single. Time.

    This falls into the Pretending You Think Everyone Has Best Intentions So All Bad Things Are Surely Unintentional Errors school of thought.

    If you *must* be present to work, the very least they can do is make your workplace as safe as possible.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I like this.

      I’ll start off at work with a friendly ‘your mask slipped’ or ‘you forgot your mask? No worries I have spares’.

      Even I’ve got out of my car, headed toward the building and gone ‘hang on, something doesn’t feel right…oh! Mask!’ and I’m probably the most paranoid of this virus in the office. So, I’ll be nice the first few times.

      However, if I get pushback/conspiracy theories/statements about how masks are ‘stupid’ then…Nasty Keymaster of Gozer comes out and she is ICY.

      (Already been called a five letter word starting with B here at work for my zero tolerance for Covid denial BS. Frankly I see it as no different as walking around with a welding torch and no face shield – you’re gonna hurt yourself and others)

    2. Quill*

      Yeah, that’s how I’d lead, but it does depend on knowing if this person is, or is not, a raging ball of personal exceptionalism.

  17. Conspiracy-Industrial Complex*

    Re:#1: [“…I’m also concerned about leaning on Bob for input when he’s no longer being paid by the company; at a minimum, I think the company would want to be aware that he’s being asked for input in this way.”]

    I would go beyond this. Your co-manager is (1) substituting Bob’s input for his own and (2) overriding your input with Bob’s, which means that Bob is effectively running the department long after he left. The CEO needs to know this right now and (I hope) put a stop to it. Go tell her. Now.

    1. Des*

      Why would you escalate something that can be solved directly with the person? The CEO will just say “have you talked to them about it?” and you’re back to square one.

  18. Conspiracy-Industrial Complex*

    Re: #4…

    They’re NOT “forgetting” about your class schedule. They know exactly what they’re doing and why. Reconsider if you still want to work with people who want you to drop out of school.

      1. Conspiracy-Industrial Complex*

        It’s really very simple:

        (1) OP has told them multiple times about the class schedule.
        (2) Therefore they know about OP’s class schedule.
        (3) They continue to ignore OP’s class schedule.
        (4) Therefore, they do not want OP to be in school.

        I have worked with enough people over the past few decades to know when co-workers are acting in bad faith. These co-workers are acting in bad faith.

    1. EventPlannerGal*

      That’s a bit dramatic, no? Miscommunication or carelessness seems a lot more likely than a conscious effort to force a random teenager to drop out of high school… an apt username, maybe?

    2. Bagpuss*

      I disagree. It’s far more likely that they are simply looking at things from the perspective of “I need someone here, wonder if X is available” than some sort of Machiavellian plot to undermine OPs education. Laziness is a much more likely reason than malice for what is happening

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely more likely to be more due to laziness / forgetfulness. My boss sometimes asks me to cover meetings on days I can’t do simply because she forgets when I’m on leave and is in a hurry.

        It’s far more likely to be someone rushing to find cover quickly and not remembering or checking availability.

    3. Nope.*

      Not everything is a conspiracy. This is retail, with likely dozens of employees and multiple managers. They don’t have the incentive to memorize her needs, plain and simple. It is not some grand scheme to get her to drop out of school.

      1. Howard Bannister*

        “Not everything is a conspiracy.”

        You can’t possibly expect user “Conspiracy-Industrial Complex” to agree with you on that…. :D

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Or maybe they’re human, fallible, and are juggling a lot? Try reading a bunch of the other comments here about the realities of scheduling in retail environments.

    5. Arvolin*

      Possibly, but the question isn’t so much what they want as what they are going to do if they don’t get it. They may hope that OP#4 will be willing to run out of English class and dash over to the store, but if they aren’t going to retaliate if OP#4 refuses it isn’t OP#4’s problem. Lots of people have wanted me to do something I didn’t want to do, but couldn’t or wouldn’t compel me.

    6. Nanani*

      That’s possible, but not very likely.
      The far simpler explanation is they forgot – that LW is in highschool, that LW is only 17 (especially likely if they’re the only teenager there), that school ends at Time X and not time Y like the school they went to a generation ago, maybe a lot of things.

      There could also be some kind of auto-fill algorithm being used somewhere that doesn’t take these things into consideration. Big corporations are notorious for automating these things and the automation doesn’t prioritize real human needs, to put it mildly.

  19. Thankful for AAM*

    Re masks and coworkers
    I work with the public and use Alison’s advice to say something with an of course they would fix it tone.
    When I see someone going nose commando, I say, “oh, your nose has come uncovered.” Or if they have pulled the mask down is say, “oh, your mask has slipped.” I say if in the same tone I would say oh, your wallet is about to fall out of your pocket/bag. It works really well. I think some people want to argue but the tone and phrase seem to disarm any push back. My coworkers have adapted this too and find it works well for them.

    That might be something to try with your boss b4 going to the next level.

    It is part of my job to enforce the mask rules with the public. But it is still hard to do and not welcomed. I have used similar language with coworkers and I have reported it to supervisors.

    Good luck OP, we have to do this for our own and other’s safety.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      You have to try and get the public to abide by the rules? Blimmin heck mate, that’s REally tough work! Respect.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think in this case, I’d go straight to escalating it, because the OP can address it directly when she sees it, but the rest of the time he’s walking around exhaling freely into their space.

  20. Lynn Marie*

    LW 4: You are learning early an important concept: nobody pays as much attention to your needs as you do and it’s unrealistic for you to expect them to. Your life will be easier if you accept this now. (My brother is over 60 and he still doesn’t get it.) Just keep reminding them you are in high school and unavailable before 4:30 when they ask and don’t get annoyed about it. It’s just the way of the world.

  21. CupcakeCounter*

    My org is doing a decent job at this and they received 2 complaints about the same manager wearing his mask improperly and he was called into Safety/HR (who are the ones tasked with enforcing COVID protocols) for a chat. He complied for about 3 days and then the mask was down again. We are actually having COVID audits to ensure that masks are worn, conference rooms limits aren’t being exceeded, things are properly cleaned after being used, and people are properly distancing (300+ person manufacturing and office facility) at time clocks and other areas. He was caught wearing the mask incorrectly by one of the auditors and was warned that another violation would mean he would be suspended without pay and put on a PIP. It did happen and sent shock waves around some of the other managers who tend to be lackadaisical about the pandemic.
    I say decent as opposed to great because they are pushing hard to have people in the office who don’t have to be.

  22. CupcakeCounter*

    #3 I think that is a very nice thing to do. Add the little note about 2020 and no one will expect the higher amount going forward. If you do hear grumbling in 2021 about going back to $50 then you will know your direct reports don’t appreciate that this is out of your pocket or understand that gifts shouldn’t have expectations.
    When my husband’s reports got too large for individual gifts, he catered in lunch and (since I love to bake) brought in large cookie trays and containers so they could each take home a dozen or so holiday cookies.

    1. OP #3*

      Thank you — I appreciate the back up! I will definitely include a note acknowledging that there’s a little more due to #2020. My team will never grow — maybe by one person, but I’ve been asking for 9 years and no dice — so I can keep this up. The catered party you and your husband did sounds wonderful!

  23. I'm just here for the cats.*

    #4 there could be legal ramifications for the employer of you do work a certain hours. I know some states that during school year those under 18 can’t work past 11 or something. There might be legal stuff for during school hours too. And frankly the bosses should know that your still in highschool. There are labor laws, like needing x breaks that might apply too. There should be some way for them to note that you are in highschool. Like a note on the call list or something.

  24. broadbridge*

    Removed. Do not post anti-public-health misinformation here.

    (Also, regulars, please don’t get into squabbling with this kind of thing. It’s a lot more work for me to remove. Please just flag the comment and I will take care of it.)

    – Alison

  25. 7.12*

    LW4 – you don’t need to answer your phone. if you know you can’t work that day, let it ring. if it’s an ultra emergency for some reason, they’ll leave a VM or text you.

    1. 7.12*

      or if you feel weird about not replying at all, let it ring and then text them an hour later “i was in class what’s up”

  26. Mel_05*

    #4 This happens at many, many hourly jobs. I don’t think it’s on purpose. Some people are just awful at scheduling.
    And, even people who are good at scheduling, make the occasional mistake.

    My husband schedules hourly employees. Last week he accidentally gave someone 50 hours. He put down the wrong name for one shift. He knew who he *meant* to have that shift, but that’s not what he wrote. It worked out ok, aside from paying unintended overtime, but he would have fixed it if anyone had let him know it was wrong.

    1. Retail Not Retail*

      If I looked at my schedule on Friday morning and it said 50 hours (and I had no restrictions), you bet your butt I would not be bringing that up to anyone.

      (One week they called me to ask me to work on a blocked day but my finals had ended – I just pointed out that that would be 48 hours and they said yes we’re desperate. Don’t have to ask me twice)

      1. Mel_05*

        Most of the people who work at my husband’s store don’t want 50 hours. They don’t even want the 20 hours they say they want. He happened to over schedule the one person who wouldn’t mind. But the person he shorted didn’t mind either – which is weird, since he is the sole provider for a wife & 3 kids. When I was working that type of job, I couldn’t afford to be short 10 hours – and it was just me!

  27. Lazy Cat*

    LW #2 – I had to do a similar thing, and it worked eventually . I work at a small company with only a few hierarchical levels (me, boss, grandboss, director), and my “grandboss” wore a vented mask, or would wander around without a mask, or would get up in your cubicle/personal space unnecessarily. I knew GB wouldn’t take well to a comment, so I wrote the director and copied my boss, noting the incorrect behavior, cited to the CDC recommendations, and mentioned all the behaviors that made me uncomfortable, particularly including that the power dynamic made me uncomfortable calling GB on it. I also noted that I wanted my name left out of it.

    Director confirmed with HR or whoever that we did need to follow CDC guidelines and sent out a “no vented masks” email, which did mostly nothing – GB wore a non-vented mask that day, then went straight back to vented masks. I proceeded to email the director (and copy my boss) Every. Single. Time. that GB was wearing a vented mask. Obviously this approach requires a certain rapport with the person you’re reporting the behavior to! It did work after a few weeks, apparently there was some final serious talk, and GB has only worn appropriate masks since.

      1. Howard Bannister*

        Common for industrial uses like painting–I have a bunch of them in my house! When you’re more focused on keeping bad stuff out than keeping potential infection from spreading they make a lot of sense–but they absolutely eliminate half the protective value of the mask, the half where it protects other people from you, which, if you’ve been following what we know about the science of masks and how it changes…. is the stronger function of the masks.

        I think the estimates say that you get about a 50-60% protection rate from other people from wearing the mask, but they get a 70-80% protection rate from you when you’re wearing a mask? (and of course the best is when both of you are masked)

        (basing this on some meta-studies that got analyzed over at sciencebasedmedicine, a great site for sifting through the misinformation)

        So, yeah, they exist, they have a real function, and anybody wearing them during a pandemic is probably not aware of the reasons why it’s not a great idea and they should rethink it.

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          Would those vented masks work for filtering out airborne allergens? I’ve been doing all my exercising alone and outside since going to the gym isn’t safe right now, and my personal allergen season is quickly approaching. I’ll make myself sick if I spend too much time outside, but the alternative is…well let’s just say exercise is my only safe coping mechanism left and leave it at that. I’ve worn a neck gaiter over my nose and mouth during dust storms, and that worked, but it made it impossible to run since my asthmatic self can’t breathe well through the fabric.

  28. learnedthehardway*

    OP#1 – I think that you need to loop your manager in on this – consulting an ex-employee constantly is creating risk – in a few areas. One is the risk of confidential or sensitive information being shared – the company can’t control what the ex-employee does with it. Another is that the ex-employee gives bad / outdated advice. There’s the risk to you personally that – since you’re supposed to be co-managing – your own performance could suffer if the ex-employee’s advice is ill suited to the current situation. Nothing the ex-employee tells you would be covered by your company’s liability insurance, as there’s no formal arrangement there. And the ex-employee could very well try to claim they are owed consulting fees – might be difficult for them to prove or enforce, but it would be a headache (and wouldn’t reflect well on you colleague or you, if you don’t address the issue).

    Your manager is owed the knowledge of how these recommendations came to be made – I’m sure they would be concerned that they come from outside the organization. And if your manager decides that the ex-employee is okay to consult, at least you will have surfaced the issue, and it will be your manager’s responsibility if it doesn’t work out.

    1. starsaphire*

      Absolutely. I mean, for all we know, Bob could be riding out an X-month non-compete with a view to starting his own business in the field, or he could be negotiating a job with a competitor, or… there are so many possibilities that aren’t even a very far reach.

  29. Researcher*

    OP2 –
    I realize the boss/employee relationship makes this more delicate, but I’ve learned to approach the subject with people at work as a dress code violation. It helps detach any preconceived ideas I might have about the individuals beliefs or reasons for why they’re not wearing the mask/wearing it properly. Where I work, you must wear a mask on-site. It’s not an expression of a political or social or scientific belief, it’s complying with the dress code. If you decide to reach out to HR or escalate the issue above your manager, mentally framing it that way may help you approach this objectively.

    Similar to how you cannot walk around a construction site without a hardhat and appropriate footwear, you cannot walk around our workplace without a mask. Period. This can be handled like any dress code violation – either fix the violation or come back when you can comply with our policy. It’s not personal.

    1. Tired of Covid-and People*

      ITA, it’s a workplace rule violation, just like with that covid-denying NP I encountered. I reported her forthwith. It was a clinic rule to wear a mask and her politics did not matter.

  30. Leah K*

    I cringe so hard when I hear the word “rattler”. You don’t want to raise concerns up the chain of command? Then suffer through it. Those are your two options. Unless you expect people to read your mind.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I call it “faux-recting.” Mine insists on changing “hinky” to “kinky” which TOTALLY changes pretty much any sentence.

  31. Tired of Covid-and People*

    History has shown that public sentiment can be changed with consistent messaging. Remember when smoking was considered sexy and everybody did it? Now smoking is forbidden virtually everywhere, and those who smoke know it is unhealthy. Wearing real fur is now maligned, wearing seat belts and bicycle helmets is second nature. We need a surgeon general message that masks mitigate covid, full stop. There needs to be billboards, commercials, print ads, allof it. Respiratory transmission needs to be explained so people understand why the nose must be covered also.

    Yes, some folks still smoke, some still drive unbelted, but there is no question that societal attitudes have changed because of massive public education efforts. The crazies will always be with us, but their impact can be reduced.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  32. Foxgloves*

    OP3, could you add into the note you write that you wanted to give extra this year due to the incredibly hard work under this year’s exceptional circumstances? If I received a card saying that with an extra generous gift card, I’d infer that this is an exception, and be absolutely fine with it going back to the previous amount the next year!

    1. OP #3*

      Thank you! I will definitely include a note. And I’m glad to see most think my gift isn’t too stingy!!

  33. Not Australian*

    Just a note the apparently men with beards struggle to stop their masks from slipping downwards – beard gets caught on the chin hairs and slides off the nose – so it may be a question of trying different mask types until they get the right one. This is not an excuse, but can be the reason in some cases.

      1. SarahKay*

        I did, but your comment also made me chuckle, as I pictured beards / hair slowly sliding down from the hairline to the chin.

  34. Kiki*

    #4 I don’t know if they LW is dealing with the same thing that I was when I was a high school employee, but I found it really hard to understand that it *is* actually okay to push back with bosses. In school, we were taught to obey teachers no matter what and they were in charge of many of our comings and goings and setting due dates, but with bosses at work, it’s okay to say something’s wrong, that you have school at that time, or that you think something would take more time than they’re allotting.
    So when a boss calls and assumes you can come to work at a time you can’t, it is actually expect that you’ll t say that you can’t if you can’t. If that’s not the case, the workplace is unreasonable. They probably just forget that you’re in high school, they don’t expect you to skip class and I actually think under some state laws they would get in a lot of trouble if that were the case.

  35. Lizzo*

    OP4: I would strongly encourage you to write down your availability, then both email it and hand a physical copy to whichever managers are in charge of scheduling. That is proactive, and hopefully helpful to them when they’re building the schedule or looking for last-minute coverage.

    I might frame it as:
    –I am available to work on the following days and times: [days/times]
    –I am never available on weekdays before 4pm due to school.
    –However, I *would* be available on the following days and times which are school vacation days: [days/times]
    –This schedule is current as of x date.

    Every 1st of the month give them an updated schedule, even if nothing has changed, so that they know what they have is current.

    Also, I might take it as a compliment that they are interested in having you cover shifts when they need it. You sound very mature and a good, conscientious worker, which probably makes them think you’re older than you are (i.e. not in high school).

  36. Sled dog mama*

    LW2 I too am frustrated and sometimes angry with people who refuse to wear some type of face covering or refuse to wear it correctly.
    I am in the middle of being worked up by my doctor for a cardiac arrhythmia that has appeared in the last few months (could be a precursor to early heart disease or failure, I’m 37). I have severe anxiety, to the point that I’m having anxiety attacks when I have to go to public places and know I will encounter those who refuse to wear or refuse to wear a face covering correctly. (I live in an area of the US where many have not taken COVID seriously). I am beginning to have anxiety attacks from just putting on the mask even in an environment where I know everyone is taking it seriously (I work in healthcare, so I am working in person and we are required to wear a mask correctly at all times). When I see people in public not wearing anything I want to tell them that if I can wear a mask for 30 minutes they certainly can (I don’t of course, but I want to so badly)
    Thanks for wanting to make your boss take this seriously!

  37. Nanani*

    I’ve been in your shoes! I was not the only high school employee at the time (are you?) so it seemed very weird to be scheduled during school hours, but telling the manager asap and getting it fixed is the only thing you can do.

    If they keep doing it, or if they pressure you to skip class – or worse, skip something important like an exam – remember that your schooling is roughly a quintillion times more important than part time retail work.
    If push comes to shove, quit. No future employer will care that you quit BoxStore without notice once you explain that they pressured you miss school for minimum wage.

    I hope it never comes to that though. Just keep checking your schedule and flagging problems as they come up. You’re doing the responsible thing already!

  38. Des*

    January is when activity picks up, OP, they will likely forget a conversation that happens in December anyway.

  39. BMore*

    LW 4 — I think it’s absolutely amazing that you **as a 17-year-old** are not only reading AAM (that alone is worthy of praise!) but also volunteering to be vulnerable and send in a letter asking for feedback. Wow — good for you! I don’t know where you’re headed in life, but the potential before you is huge. You are definitely on the right track, and you’ve figured something out that many adults haven’t.

    Keep working smart… and reading AAM!

  40. Observer*

    #1 – In addition to what Allison says, is there is a reason why what coworker says HAS to be the recommendation you go with? If your coworker were constantly insisting on something for a different reason that you didn’t necessariy agree with, would you feel equally compelled to get on board with this?

    What I’m saying is that you need to get comfortable with making sure that your point of view is given the same weight as your coworker’s point of view. Even if ex-CW disappears, you are still going to have situations where you are coming to things with a different point of view. While you should obviously not be “my way of the highway”, you SHOULD expect your point to of view to be treated with the same consideration and your coworker’s. Thus, even aside from source of your coworker’s opinion, it’s perfectly valid for you to push back and say “I disagree”.

  41. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

    #1-It sounds to me like your co-worker is either lazy or doesn’t trust his own ability to analyze situations or make decisions. I agree with Peter Piper. You have to shut this down now. No good can come of it.

Comments are closed.