if you need a distraction tonight, here are some classic Ask a Manager letters

Looking for a distraction tonight? Here are some of my all-time favorite Ask a Manager letters, and some notorious ones too.

a coworker stole my spicy food, got sick, and is blaming me (and the update)

my coworker wants us to call her boyfriend her “master” (and the update)

I ghosted my ex, and she’s about to be my new boss (and the update)

an employee is putting magic curses on her coworkers

our employee is taking nude photos in our office and posting them to Facebook

my best employee quit on the spot because I wouldn’t let her go to her college graduation

I bit my coworker

I walked in on employees having sex — and I think there’s a sex club in my office

my coworker has started faking a British accent

I had to prepare a meal and entertain 20 people for a job interview — and so did 19 other candidates

our boss will fire us if we don’t sign up to be a liver donor for his brother

I was fired from my internship for writing a proposal for a more flexible dress code

{ 56 comments… read them below }

  1. old curmudgeon*

    Oh, such a mitzvah to find these here! Thank you, Alison – you knew exactly what I need this evening. This plus Tiny Kittens will get me (I hope) through to tomorrow, and to the tomorrows that follow.

    1. gsa*

      They’re all very good, but this is my favorite.

      “My best employee quit because I wouldn’t let her go to her graduation.”

      And the reply, “Under no circumstances should you do that.”


      Imagine if her employee had asked for time off to vote…

      1. Name (Required)*

        The best employee was only asking for two hours. Two hours out of six years! Yeah, ‘best employee’ but zero valued.

        1. Elenna*

          Why do I get the feeling that “best employee” here at least partly means “employee who didn’t complain about working a lot”? :P

      2. Donkey Hotey*

        That entire letter and response thread is the Platonic Ideal of the Internet Falling On Your Head.

      1. John-Paul*

        Oh I see (I’m not American so I wasn’t even thinking about that). Thinking of all AAM commentators and readers tonight.

    1. Ms.Vader*

      Haha I just re-read it and I was also blown away they seemed askance they weren’t advised of the person’s disability so they could have put that in their report The best haha

    2. Non. E. Mouse*

      I mean, I can kind of see their point at least to a degree.

      OK so it seems like it’s a paid internship which is better than nothing but unless the company is going to cover the cost of the interns potentially having to buy a specific wardrobe for that internship – including apparently real leather flats (which seems like a weirdly specific thing. I don’t know how expensive they are compared to fake leather flats) – then it’s not completely out of line to stick your hands up and say that what you’re being asked to wear is potentially beyond your means to afford.

      I think they went too far with what they asked for but I can see where they were coming from.

      To go with the analogy that Alison used. If I’m a houseguest of someone and they expect me to buy and wear a specific brand of slippers or pyjamas to wear then that’s a little different from ‘please don’t wander around in your underwear’ and we might have to compromise some.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, wait, hold up. This letter is referenced all the time here but I guess I’ve never read the whole thing in full.
        Or else I somehow skipped that detail. I have never heard of a dress code that specifies what your shoes must be made of!?? That seems beyond absurd. Specifying leather shoes is demanding a price level beyond what many people want to or can afford to spend on their shoes, plus what if someone is vegan or otherwise morally opposed to leather?

        I want to know more about this strict dress code now. I’m thinking that was probably not the only unreasonable thing on it. I am now firmly on #TeamInterns

  2. Name (Required)*

    The scary part… the interns, the ignorant manager, the food thief and ‘lover’, the liver donor boss, the magic curse’r – they are out there voting. (╯°□°)╯

  3. Not Australian*

    Just adding to the general thanks for these; I’m not even in the USA but it’s pretty stressful for me, too. I was aware of most of these letters but the ‘British accent’ one had previously eluded me; very grateful for the distraction it provided. 8-)

  4. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Thanks for this. I’m in the uk (good morning all) and I’m not reading any news for at least a day or so because stress. Currently have 22 AAM tabs open to read past stories.

  5. JC*

    I love the accent one because i do the same thing! I’m a Brit working in the US, and it’s so easy to slip into the accent when surrounded by it (I’ve been told I switch between a Boston and Nashville accent depending on who I’ve been spending time with), but as soon as I talk to our U.K. office or my family, my Brit accent is back….and vice versa. My family spent the Xmas holidays telling me to stop speaking “American”.

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I lived in the UK for 3 years. The week we moved back to the US, the UK folks were still telling me I sounded so American. The same week, the folks in the US thought I was British born and bred. My brothers kept telling me to “stop that!” and people I just met were all trying to help the Brit visitor adjust to US customs!
      It was . . . odd for me.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Oh my yes. The updates were absolutely amazing too!

      (‘This is totally normal, you’re all wrong, nobody else complains” etc)

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        The update to that one was one of the most delusional double-downs I’ve ever read. I hope the Leap Year Birthday employee is in greener pastures working with considerate, normal people now.

    1. TiffIf*

      I would have loved an update from the employee–who I don’t actually know ever knew about this question. Though maybe she did? It went viral and that’s how I initially found AAM.

  6. Blot*

    The update to the LW who ghosted his new boss never ceases to astound me no matter how many times I read it.

    “limit our interactions beyond the school, meaning no socialising for me” but why would you even want to hang out with your boss-who’s-also-a-ghosted-ex beyond the school????

    “This makes my job unattainable” pblpblpbl I am *astounded.*

    1. Slinky*

      Every now and then, I think about this letter and the update with fresh amazement. I just don’t understand! Years later, I still don’t understand.

      1. parsley*

        I only started reading AAM a couple of years ago and had no idea there was an update. My gob was so thoroughly smacked by the original letter that I didn’t think there was any way that guy could get any more entitled, and then he implied that his ex (who he abandoned!!) was only hired because of her husband and my jaw about hit the ground. Just imagine being so totally blind to your own mistakes

      2. Blot*

        Sometimes I wonder why not being able to gossip about the new boss with his coworkers and not hanging out with her outside of work was *that* big of a deal to the LW?

        (Because it didn’t sound like he was concerned about being permanently banned from happy hour or office festivities cause she’d be there too. “You two can’t hang out outside of work” -> “whelp, I’m banned from socializing with anyone ever again” seems like an overly dramatic interpretation.)

        I’d really love another update from that LW. How it worked out in the end, if he’s done any self-reflecting, an extrapolation of the line of reasoning he used.

        1. AKchic*

          Well, doncha know, the new boss is *all* they will ever talk about, being a small community of ex-pats (and teachers at that!) and all they have to gossip about is the new boss that got her job via nepotism! I mean, how dare he keep such juicy details like his 3 year relationship with her such a secret?!

        2. rubble*

          I mean, I would want to be able to discuss my boss with my co-workers! people need to be able to communicate about working conditions and things like that. I could understand banning discussing her in a non-profession capacity, but what is he supposed to do, get up and leave the table every time she’s mentioned in the staff lunch room? what if they’re trying to unionise or plan some other labour action? he needs to be able to discuss her work at least.

          the socialising thing is ridiculous, though.

  7. Conspiracy-Industrial Complex*

    We must have an update on Liver Boss. Did the OP call him out? Did the fired employees sue? Need the info!!!

  8. Big Bird*

    Updates, please, especially to the graduation and the liver one!

    Note that it is Wednesday morning and we STILL need a distraction! Thank you, Alison!

  9. Phony Genius*

    The original writer of the walk-in one indicated in the comments section for that one that they would provide an update. Was one ever provided? (Or did they quack up?)


    I periodically revisit the one where someone was written up because she didn’t follow company dress code when picking up her boss at the airport in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.

  11. MarketingQueen*

    For the end of year updates, I would really like to see an update to the duck sex club letter! (Unless I missed it?) That’s definitely one of the more outrageous letters I’ve read on this blog.

  12. Youngin*

    The graduation one is, for sure, my all time favorite. Everytime I read it, I mouth “Good for her” under my breath

  13. Update?*

    Is there an update for the person who bit their coworker? Would love to know how/when they got out of that work environment.

  14. La Triviata*

    I’ve sometimes thought there could be a sitcom about the worst workplaces. Call it “Miss Managment”.

  15. Rivakonneva*

    The graduation letter, the bully who gets due karma, and the Hanukkah Balls are my favorite letters to re-read. This reminded me of a few more, and I badly need to laugh today. Great timing!

  16. Dennis Feinstein*

    The spicy food one (+ the update) is one of my all-time faves of anything I have ever read on the internet. I think it’s how I originally discovered AAM and then went into a rabbit hole for about 2 days reading through everything. The comeuppance was so delicious (and spicy!)

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