Thanksgiving free-for-all – November 26, 2020

This comment section is open for any discussion (work or non-work) you’d like to have with other readers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

{ 353 comments… read them below }

    1. Clisby*

      I don’t like too many pies (no pumpkin pie, no sweet potato pie for me). However, I stopped off at my favorite bakery yesterday and got cream puffs, strawberry shortcake, and blueberry cheesecake.

    2. Artemesia*

      We were doing a hand pie Thanksgiving outside around a firepit with my daughter’s family — all finger foods like turkey hand pie, pumpkin hand pie and cups of soup — but alas the 3 year old woke up with a fever and since he is in day care — no thanksgiving for us until he can get tested. Naturally getting tested Thanksgiving day is not easy to do so Thanksgiving will be Sunday or not at all.

    3. Elenna*

      I’m Canadian, so Thanksgiving was a while ago for me, but I happened to make my first-ever handmade pie crust a few days ago! Turned out quite well, even though I think I used a touch too much water.

  1. NotsorecentAAMfan*

    As a Canadian who celebrated thanksgiving over a month ago, I forgot it was American Thanksgiving today. (And admittedly was a bit disappointed to see no usual “5 questions” as I sat down for my coffee!). Ah well.
    Happy Thanksgiving neighbours!!!

    1. Mbarr*

      I’m in the exact same boat.
      On the plus side, I work mostly with Americans, so today and tomorrow are like mini-vacations for me. :D

    2. Canadian Yankee*

      American living in Canada here. I’ve only recently started working for a Crown corporation; before that I either worked for US-based companies or companies with a lot of American customers. It is very strange to (a) have US Thanksgiving go by without any work disruption at all and (b) still have Black Friday sales!

      1. allathian*

        Black Friday sales are all over the world now. I’m in Finland and several chains are doing Black Friday weeks (one had an ad for 11 days of Black Friday sales). Of course, given that I’m in an area at 60 N that doesn’t yet have snow, black is appropriate.

  2. Bagpuss*

    Happy thanksgiving to those of you celebrating!
    Even if you are not able to see the people you’d like to be enjoying the holiday with, I hope you get to enjoy a day off and some good food / pleasant virtual company / fun stuff generally

    (Normal working day for me here in the UK )

  3. Tacocat*

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    My last job search was 2 years of hell, a zillion interviews and lots of hand wringing. That was years ago, and I’ve settled into my current job not wanting to do it again anytime soon. But some things at work recently have happened that make me confident that it’s time to move on.

    I’ve reached out to two good friends and former coworkers for advice. They’ve both been immensely helpful and have put me forward for openings at their companies. I’m more interested in one than the other however, I just found out that the hiring manager is on extended leave so it’s unclear whether I will hear back. The other one, which I am still interested in but not as much as job number one, is very interested based on my experience and also friends great reputation, and I’m moving forward with interviews next week. They sound like they want to move fast but as we know this doesn’t always work out.

    My question is, how do I navigate this with my friends? I’ve been open that I’m actively applying and told them about each position. It seems that if I do get job number two and I haven’t heard from job number one yet I would accept based on the circumstances if all went well. I think I would be happy at either job. However, since I want job number one more, and it would give me additional experience that I don’t have which is the real selling point, I don’t want to take myself out of the running for that in the future and I want to make sure I’m conscientious of my friends recommendations. I am also blown away by the support both of them have given me through this whole process. It literally escalated from “I think I want to leave can I bounce this off of you?” To this all in less than a week. So I definitely want to make sure I’m upfront with both of them and show them that I really do appreciate them.

    1. StrikingFalcon*

      I don’t see why it would take you out of the running for future consideration if you got a job offer while the manager was out. Just tell your friend that you also put in an application with the other job/friend and they are moving quickly. As long as you are upfront and honest about things, no reasonable person would be offended that you accepted a good offer elsewhere.

  4. Anxious*

    Just wanted to see if I’m overreacting to something. For context, at a previous job, an employee I didn’t have any reason to interact with started seeking me out to chat when I was alone and escalated to sexually harassing me and following me to my car. Now I’m wary of random guys at work who start approaching me to “be friendly” if they start acting weird at all. 

    At my new job, a guy that I don’t work with keeps approaching me to make small talk. It’s awkward and annoying because he often starts thoughts and trails off with “you know what I’m saying?” I say I don’t, and then he adds something equally vague and “know what I’m saying?” again. Yesterday, he wanted to know if he “could be real” with me and, as far as I could understand, said he has to be careful talking to women because he’s a black man and they could take what he says the wrong way and get him fired. It unnerved me. I’m wondering if he said that so that if he starts acting inappropriately I’ll feel like I can’t report it because he basically warned me not to “take it the wrong way.”

    1. Black Horse Dancing*

      I think your last feeling is correct. When people use that line, often they wish to say something inappropriate. I’d be polite but distant. Good luck.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      While it’s possible he’s checking to see if he can sexually harass you without consequences, he may also be checking about whether you’re open to conversations on other sensitive subjects not usually shared at work, like politics / police harassment or religion.

      He *does* have to be careful talking to white women, because there is a history of white women using their vulnerability to harm black men – see Emmet Till or Chris Cooper (Central Park Karen).

      In either case, because you are not sure, I’d recommend “let’s just keep it work-related, and then there’s no problems”.

      I have developed some good relationships with Black men at my work by tackling the question directly, but I am old enough (50s) not to be a sexual harassment target anymore.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Agree with you. I’m surprised to see so many people jump right to “This guy is a creep.” Yes, some people are creeps. But some people are just bad at socializing or never learned that it’s impolite to monopolize the conversation or whatever. As a Black man, he also has to worry about whether him trying to be friendly is going to be taken as “a scary Black man is menacing me!” It’s good to be vigilant, but just because somebody is a little odd or tries to socialize more or less than you want them to does not make them a predator.

    3. Beatrice*

      Yep I think your instincts are right. I’d just keep being polite but aloof. I had coworker a few years ago who preferred to communicate face to face rather than send emails because “the tone is so hard to read in black and white and people tend to take things the wrong way when I write emails.” Nope, he was a jerk and wanted to avoid putting the evidence in writing.

    4. WellRed*

      I’m sorry you have to deal with this. It might also help you to have a stock phrase in mind to end these conversations. “Well, got to get back to work.” And then turn away/walk away. Don’t have to keep engaging in convo though I get you are being polite. PSA to guys: stop doing this!

    5. Ginger*

      I’m sorry, what a horrible thing to have happen to you.

      I would start practicing how to end these chit chats. “Hi, did you need something? I need to focus on my work right now. Thanks for understanding” (the thanks is to soften it if you want). “Hi – I can’t chat, I’m right in the middle of a train of thought, you know how that is!” (again, last part not necessary)

      Cut the chit chat, remain professionally polite but distant. A normal person will behave appropriately, how he responds will be telling.

      It is entirely possible that he is just looking for a friendly face to chat with. Doesn’t mean that it has to be you and you don’t owe anyone that. Good luck.

    6. nep*

      Second the others–Go with your gut, do not doubt yourself. There is a reason it doesn’t feel right. Love the suggestion of having a bank of phrases to shut it down, in a professional way but firmly.
      Sorry you’re having to deal with this. All the best.

    7. Artemesia*

      Red flags are flying here. Nip it in the bud — you should be uncomfortable with the line that suggests ‘most women’ are offended, but I know ‘you won’t take it the wrong way.’ Try to avoid any one on one situations. Sounds like woman HAVE taken it the wrong way before because he is a clumsy harasser. Saying don’t be offended and then offending is not a get out of jail free card. ‘If you are worried someone will take this the wrong way then maybe it isn’t something we should be discussing at work?’

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I have to say I disagree here. Not everything is a Gift of Fear situation. If he were a white man, I might agree with you, but he has probably had to deal with people accusing him of things simply for existing while Black. If OP had said he said anything in appropriate at all, that would be one thing. But it’s a bit of a leap to assume that somebody is trying to set up some kind of alibi so they can behave badly at a later date.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          But it’s a bit of a leap to assume that somebody is trying to set up some kind of alibi so they can behave badly at a later date.

          Actually, it’s not. I’ve had a few people do just that to me before. Anxious should indeed listen to her gut on this one. I’m a black woman, and that exchange made me raise an eyebrow.

        2. peasblossom*

          I have to agree here. OP, we just don’t have enough information to judge. While I agree that it’s important to be cautious when you feel unsafe, the best thing you can do here is likely to just politely but firmly shut things down. A polite but dismissive (and repeated as necessary), “I don’t have time to chat today, I’m swamped!” or “I’ve got to get back to work; take care!” should end things if this is really just a socially awkward person. If it doesn’t, then you can start being concerned.

          One of the things I think people don’t consider when they advice to “go with your gut” are all of the ways people’s gut instinct is the product of social conditioning. Think of all of the white women harassing persons of color. Their gut was telling them that they were unsafe even in situations where they weren’t. So, while I always think it’s important for women to be willing to trust themselves, it’s also absolutely essential that people in a position of social power (i.e., white people) be critical about the sources of their unease.

    8. Soylent Minority*

      “If you think you have to be careful because what you’re saying could be taken the wrong way, maybe you shouldn’t say it at all. I have to get back to work now, thanks”. Trust your gut. Classic predator move is to get their target to doubt themselves.

  5. Thanksgiving Glow*

    This Thanksgiving I am leaving my toxic workplace after dealing with discrimination. My white/male coworkers were promoted multiple times (we joined in the same month). I hadn’t been promoted once, but I was given exclusively positive feedback. So after working there for 2 years, I asked for a promotion. I was retaliated against! Told I made no technical contributions during my time with the company (I’m in a technical role). Told that my technical workshops only showed potential in marketing, doing administrative work. I was literally told that after I interviewed for the position, everyone talked about how under-qualified I was for the position, and “how much of a project” I would be. Can you believe it??

    I was so freaking pissed, especially because of the hoops they had me jump through. I spent the last year completing multiple job-related online courses, attending many workshops & virtual conferences… you name it. And some how, when it came time to reap my efforts I was told I brought no value to the company!! This wasn’t what they said when I turned around a teapot design, on time, despite a 4 month delay in project kick-off!

    So I started applying to jobs intensely, doing informational interviews, brushing up on technical concepts to prepare for technical interviews. Just about everything I could do. I would wake up at 6, do all of this from 7-9 and work from 9-5. It was extremely intense.

    But it worked out!! I was able to get multiple offers from a few companies! I accepted one, after speaking with a female employee who confirmed “bro-culture” wasn’t a problem with the new company. When they offered a meager salary, I negotiated an additional 10% increase on the offer. And they conceded! So I’ll be starting a new job, with a 25% pay increase from my previous job. :)

    My previous employer tried to convince me to stay with a meager 2% raise, but it’s pretty much a cost of living pay increase anyway. Besides, there was no way I would ever want to work there again!!

    Just wanted to share some positivity, because the last few months for me have been harrowing to say the least! And AAM really helped me get through it. I learned what is and isn’t okay in a workplace. And that empowered me to walk away when things got ugly. :)

      1. Thanksgiving Glow*

        Thanks!! After I signed the offer, the first thing I did was just… sleep. I was so tired!

    1. Bostonian*

      LOL you “bring no value”, but please don’t leave! Glad to hear you escaped. Good luck in the new job!

      1. Thanksgiving Glow*

        Right? Just goes to show they were only trying to get my labor for cheap! Once they realized I was leaving they were suddenly willing and able to offer me something. smh!

    2. Voluptuousfire*

      Wow. They tell you you don’t bring any value to the company yet when you get an offer and leave, they try to woo you to stay with a whole 2% raise. The asininity of this company is astounding. So glad you’re moving on!

    3. Analyst Editor*

      So they didn’t sound particularly kind or tactful, but, and I’m sorry to ask, is there any chance that their criticisms have a basis in fact?
      Doing workshops and conferences, and having a technical role/degree, doesn’t in itself bring value to the company or mean one is as good as anyone else with that role/degree.
      Also given how many managers are bad at giving even mildly negative feedback, as seen from many letters here, the lack of negative feedback doesnt mean there’s none to be had.
      It sounds like it was a bad fit and you are in a better situation now anyway, so congratulations.

      1. D3*

        Sounds more like sexism to me.
        Note that she ONLY got positive feedback until she wanted to advance in the company, and THEN she got trash talked. Note that when she wanted to leave, suddenly they valued her. Note that only men ever got promoted.

        *if* there was basis in fact and she was struggling, they sure did a horrible job of managing that. And you would think they’d be happy to see her go if she was performing poorly, but instead they tried to keep her.

        But gold star on you for being the first to disbelieve a woman’s experience of sexism.
        Oh wait, you’re not the first. There’s a LOOOOOOONG line of men refusing to believe a woman’s experience of sexism.

        No gold star for you.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Do we know Analyst Editor is a man? I’ve met many women who don’t believe sexism (or any other -ism for that matter) exists.

      2. Thanksgiving Glow*

        I’ve asked myself this question as well! Thing is, I had been going 1:1s across my projects for over a year, and getting exclusively positive feedback! When I asked for a promotion, it was immediately after they told me I was valued and considered a valued contributor. Then, a few days later, I was called into a meeting and placed on a PIP. It did give me the impression I was placed on a PIP and given this feedback because I asked for a promotion, not because the feedback was valid.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          Nothing says you’ve been legitimately overlooked and undervalued by getting a much better offer elsewhere!

          1. Thanksgiving Glow*

            Thanks! The only silver lining is all of the female employees I bonded with. When I quit, they all congratulated me. One even told me that I deserved to have a job where I was treated with more respect. Other than that, good riddance to the old company!

      3. Nesprin*

        What an unnecessarily negative thing to say! Having worked in bro cultures myself, it’s amazing how women’s contributions get systemically devalued. You do x, the patriarchy decides x is no longer valued. You work with A on a project, and it turns into A’s accomplishment. And you complain, and the patriarchy asks if maybe you’re over reacting coz they don’t have the same experience.
        So congrats op, and maybe let’s take people at their word!

      4. Cathy Gale*

        I think you should reread her comment. As Nesprin pointed out, we are supposed to take people at their word when they share their experiences with us.
        Workshops and conferences do have value if the person comes back with new ideas and innovations, or if they are able to promote your company – and build relationships and potential sales. A former boss of mine saved our company boffo bucks by planning ahead of the curve for a problem that was tied to global warming… which she learned about by going to a conference.
        OP here describes being retaliated against and being told she was a “project” and “underqualified”. She describes being told she didn’t do her job, and there were complaints that what she did do “only” helped marketing and administrative people (areas with more women workers, especially in misogynist companies… its clear the intent is to say, “your work benefits low priority people, not valuable contributors”). Like the other two commenters, I agree that this sounds like out and out sexism.

      1. Thanksgiving Glow*

        Thank you so much! This is the first time in 3 or 4 months that I’ve been able to get a good night’s rest. I am genuinely grateful to enjoy the holiday break, knowing I can move on from that toxic, discriminatory environment!

    4. Cathy Gale*

      TG/OP, I just wanted to thank you for sharing a positive experience! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and all the best of luck at a better position!

      1. Thanksgiving Glow*

        Thank you so much, I’ll need it! I’m so excited and grateful, but also a tad anxious :)

    5. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      So, so happy for you! Way to go. You deserve it. I can’t believe they thought a 2% raise would sway you. They sound like…quite a project.

      1. Thanksgiving Glow*

        LOL, right? I couldn’t believe the shenanigans they pulled in the span of 3-4 months! At the same time, the way they treated me was a gift in a way, because it led me to find a WAY better job. It’s just a shame that it had to go down that way.

  6. Gobblebobble*

    Last week a commenter wrote “too many chiefs, not enough Indians” and several responded that it was time to retire/rethink that phrase.

    I had a discussion about that phrase (and open the kimono) as to what was “wrong” with them with my partner. His position is that there is nothing inherently offensive about referencing another culture/ethnic group if the phrases/idioms are not insulting/demeaning/derogatory and serve to illustrate a point. To be clear, he doesn’t use or support these phrases, it was just in the context of discussion/debate.

    Can you help me with phrasing why it is “wrong” and not just a knee-jerk reaction?

    As an aside to Open the Kimono (I’m of Japanese descent) there is clothing underneath so…there isn’t any more transparency with it open or closed.

    1. Clisby*

      I’ve never even heard the expression “Open the Kimono” – had to google it. If I’d ever heard anyone say it, I’d have thought it had something to do with sex.

    2. curly sue*

      I’d never heard of ‘opening the kimono,’ but the phrase is definitely derogatory. It refers to the Orientalist stereotype of the “Inscrutable Asian,” where they don’t say what they mean and body language and facial expressions are “impossible” to interpret. IOW, meaning that Europeans who went to the east didn’t bother to learn local body language and semiotics and assumed that because they didn’t understand the nuances, they were somehow being deliberately deceived. (See a lot of the discussions that followed Edward Said’s book ‘Orientalism.’)

      Like similar phrases (“Indian giving,” “to Jew down”), idioms like these are based on awful stereotypes of cultures deemed “other” by western colonial society. There’s always something derogatory behind it, even if the speaker doesn’t necessarily realize that — even if it’s just the fact that the target culture is being othered in the first place.

      1. Gobblebobble*

        Those examples are inflammatory and speak to stereotypes that are harmful, I guess my question is more to phrases that don’t offer any overt negativity but specifies a cultural or ethnic group.

        1. curly sue*

          Right, and I’m saying that even when there’s not a stereotype that feels derogatory in the moment, there’s usually something else behind it that was. Otherwise, why specify a cultural group at all?

          1. Artemesia*

            too many chiefs not enough indians — too many generals, not enough privates — neither seems derogatory to me in the way that
            ‘jew someone down’ or ‘indian giver’ are.

            I do think that people need to hear what those in the culture think — there is a courthouse in the south where the old sign designation of ‘negro’ left over from segregation was left in place as part of the architecture — the argument was that it was a historic reminder of times when we did terrible things. But a black man who has to pass under the arch labeled that way every day has objected. I a white woman think it is important to preserve memories of segregation and this is one way to do this — but I don’t have to walk under it every day as a black man — so we should listen to how this makes black people feel.

            1. allathian*

              Yes, that’s a succinct explanation. I don’t feel “too many chiefs, not enough Indians” is offensive in the same way as “to Jew someone down” is, but I’m not American, never mind a member of the indigenous population, so I’m not sure if my opinion counts for anything. “Too many generals, not enough privates” gets the same point across without pointing a finger at a cultural or ethnic group.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought “Indian giver” referred to the horrible practice of the US government recognizing Indian territory and then taking it away. That is, the giver is not an Indian but the US government.

        (I don’t use the phrase, BTW.)

        1. StrikingFalcon*

          My understanding is that it originally meant that the “giver” wanted something of equal value back (that is, they were actually bartering, not giving gifts), but later came to mean someone who takes any gift back after being given. That’s an interesting possible origin, though. Maybe that is where it came from!

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            That’s the context I knew it in (my grandmother used to call my grandfather that when he’d buy me sweets and ask for some back) but yes the explanation above makes sense.

        2. The Time Being*

          That is definitely not how the phrase was explained to me. When I was taught it, back in the last century, I was given an explanation that was explicitly very racist.

          1. JSPA*

            I believe it’s born of the disconnect between what some first people’s / tribes thought they were negotiating (access to, and use of, land, that being what was normally negotiated in their historical context, which didn’t actually include the concept of private ownership and transfer of exclusive ownership of land) vs what the european settlers thought they were negotiating (exclusive ownership). Which also explains why the locals settled for some attractive manufactured goods; if it’s basically rent, or a friendship exchange, or an intrinsically revocable agreement, that’s obviously more reasonable than ceding one’s land in perpetuity.

            If there’s no cultural referent for “forever” sales, simply saying it’s for “generations and generations and generations” to your “children’s children’s children’s children” is not an adequate translation of intent.

        3. Artemesia*

          It comes from northwest Indian potlatches — a custom where one gives gifts and then expects similar gifts in return — white settlers were given gifts and then didn’t reciprocate and indians took things back. It was a misreading of a cultural practice.

      3. LPUK*

        we have one over here which dates back to 14th century – to ‘wels’h on a deal ( I’m welsh by birth). Goes back to when the English were trying to annex the different Welsh Kingdoms ( actually Princedoms) which they did by holding hostages and then forcing theWelsh princes to sign treaties to get their hostages – often children’ back ( now known in law as coercion!). so once the Welsh got their hostages back, they tendered not to honour the treaties they’d been forced to sign ( welsh laws were considerably in advance of English laws at that point – woman could initiate divorces!).
        On one particular occasion, King John had the hostages ( little boys) hanged
        I’m not sure many many people know the history behind ‘ welshing’ but it still irritates me ( that and being called a sheepshagger, (because sheep are the only thing you can raise in the hills)

        1. Anononon*

          Huh. It’s a phrase that gets used here in America, too. It’s not super common, but I’ve definitely heard it. I’ve never thought about the etymology before, though.

          1. Gobblebobble*

            I’d heard the phrase in my head as welch and though grapes. Like don’t back out and squish the grapes. So very interesting to learn otherwise!

          2. Artemesia*

            both welsh on a deal and gip someone are common US phrases unmoored from their original meanings. I think most of us grew up with them not realizing they were demeaning.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              A college friend with Roma ancestry is quite eloquent on the subject of ‘gypped’. It’s still offensive to her, even though she’s third generation American.
              I’ve pointed this out to others as well, and it’s startling how many people don’t want to hear it. Even though there’s a common inoffensive alternative: cheated.

        2. SD*

          My great-grandfather was a Scottish immigrant to the U.S. around 1890 where he established a cattle ranch. My grandfather was the first of 5 sons. Great Grandfather was evidently fond of literature as he taught his sons lots of Robert Burns. He also taught them this, which Grandfather taught us grandchildren:

          Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief;
          Taffy came to my house and stole a piece of beef;
          I went to Taffy’s house, Taffy wasn’t home;
          Taffy came to my house and stole a marrow-bone.

          I had no idea until much later in life that this was a masterpiece of stereotyping. I too associated Welsh with grape jelly and the rest went right over my head. Same for finding out the “jipping” was actually “gyping” someone and referred to Gypsies cheating whoever. Who knew?

          1. allathian*

            Bear in mind that Gypsy is also considered pejorative when you mean the Roma people. I know that in the UK especially, there are also other itinerant people who aren’t Roma, such as Irish Travellers, who also face prejudice in society.

        3. EvilQueenRegina*

          Having grown up as close to Wales as you can get without being in Wales, and having dated a guy from Shetland once, I heard sheep shagging a lot, I feel your pain.

        4. I take tea*

          This is so fascinating. I love languages and all its nuances. I have learned English in school, but most of my vocabulary come from books, and as I’m particularly fond of elder literature I tend to pick up old sayings. I appreciate learning about where they come from and why you shouldn’t use them.

    3. Squidhead*

      I think chiefs/Indians implies bumbling, incompetence, inefficiency and then needlessly associates it with a population. Similar to “Chinese fire drill”…you could just say “it was a clusterf**k” and everyone would know you meant it was a disorganized mess with no meaningful result, but you wouldn’t have impugned one particular group if people. For chiefs/Indians, I think coaches/players or chefs/sous chefs or whatever would denote the same problem without attributing incompetence to a race of people.

      That’s my take, anyway…

      1. Gobblebobble*

        I never saw the phrase (and variations) as incompetence, rather meaning too top heavy and not actual doers. Hmm.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Adding my thoughts: Intention is not impact.

          You may not intend it in a deragatory way. If you are really interested and open to changing your use of idioms, then there’a no reason to choose an idiom that you’ve learned comes from negative associations to a culture, nor is there any reason to choose an idiom that associates negativity to a particular when alternatives exist.

          For example, “too many cooks in the kitchen ruins the soup” conveys the same idea, just as eloquently, and isn’t about any one culture.

          1. Gobblebobble*

            I don’t use these phrases. My original question is how to argue for the discontinuation of phrases that call out ethnic groups and why we shouldn’t use them. I just don’t have a solid reason other than it feels wrong.

            1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

              Well, you (Gobblegobble) can use the reason, “There’s no reason to choose an idiom that you’ve learned comes from negative associations to a culture, nor is there any reason to choose an idiom that associates negativity to a particular group when alternatives exist.”

              If that’s not good enough, then the person probably isn’t open to changing.

            2. BubbleTea*

              It’s because a universal behaviour is being ascribed to a single group as a stereotypical characteristic. It would be like saying to someone who is upset about something “You’re such an old woman!” Being upset isn’t specific to old women, but the stereotype of older women is that they complain a lot. Equally, top-heavy management is far from being specific to Native American tribes. It is reductionist and two-dimensional, I guess.

          2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            I have a strong but vague impression that this phrase refers to small boys playing at being Indians, not to actual Indians themselves. I think it might come from a book. Mark Twain maybe, or someone like him? Half a dozen or so boys want to play Chiefs and Indians, but all of them want to be in charge.

      2. TPS reporter*

        All of this, not to mention that the named Indian is based on mistake by people who came to the Americas thinking it was Asia. And promptly killed or enslaved a lot of people.

        1. Artemesia*

          I am old and have lived through several cycles of what native people’s want to be referred to as. I was chastised once in a professional setting for using the term ‘Native American’ when I should have known that ‘we want to be called Indians’. These things have changed over time. The same issue is now in the Latino community where academics want to use Latinx and many people in the community find that ridiculous and prefer Latino and Latina. It is not always easy to know what terminology is in current favor. And some of us remember when ‘Negro’ was the preferred and polite term as was ‘Colored’ (NAACP) and then Afro and then African American and then Black. People need to use the terminology that the people involved prefer, but should give a little grace to those inadvertently getting it wrong.

          1. Roci*

            Thank you for pointing this out. I see a lot of well-meaning academics and progressives shifting to “Latinx”, which ironically can’t be pronounced in Spanish and kind of strikes at the insecurity of Hispanic/Latino minorities in English-speaking majority areas… the younger generations lose their connection to the Spanish language and their concept of their identity can no longer exist in Spanish.

            I see some Spanish-speaking places use “e” as in “Latines” but its use is far from widespread because gender-neutral terminology in languages with grammatical gender is a much bigger deal than changing a couple nouns around!

            1. c-*

              That’s not true. “Latinx” was invented by queer Spanish-speaking Latinoamerican activists and is widely used among queer people in Latin America. It is pronounced “latine” in Spanish, but we often switch the -x for an -e so that people who use screen-readers can understand. Gender-neutral Spanish does indeed exist and is widely used in queer Spanish-speaking circles. It (oversimplification) involves switching the feminine morpheme -a for a gender neutral morpheme, often -e or -i, or using already existing neutral forms.

              You shouldn’t speak so lightly about topics you don’t know well, it spreads harmful misinformation.

          2. c-*

            I explained in more detail in my reply to Roci below, but “Latinx” wasn’t invented by academics, but by queer Spanish-speakers in Latin America many decades ago. It is widely used among queer people.

      3. JSPA*

        “Indian” all by itself can get some side-eye, especially used by outsiders.

        “Indian” to mean “peon of Native American descent is problematic. (If the “Indians” are “Indian,” the chief is also “Indian.”) It also presumes much more hierarchy and much less self-organization, self-governance, consensus building and democracy than is actually the case, for a significant subset (maybe a majority) of groups / tribes / peoples. You wouldn’t say, “too many Americans, not enough Presidents and governors,” right? Not only because it’s not a saying, but because we don’t presume that Americans without leaders are a milling bunch of Keystone Kops.

        As a rule of thumb, if substituting in some equivalent statement for the dominant cultural group lands as pointless or nonsensical, it’s worth considering that there may be stereotypes baked into the idiom.

        You may still choose to use it–if, for example, you’re making a point about that cultural feature. But if you’re using it randomly for conversational playfulness, and someone tells you it’s a problem, “I need to understand why, to stop doing it” is like telling someone who won’t shake hands because (for some reason) it hurts or is awkward for them, that you need to know why, or else you’re going to keep shaking their hand.

        1. JSPA*

          I’m backwards, that’s “too many Indians, not enough chiefs.” The opposite suffers from presuming that leaders (who are not all “chiefs”) don’t do actual work, are only figureheads, and basically take more from the people they represent, than they are worth. It’s (again) putting one culture’s dynamic onto another, and finding it somehow cuter to do so.

    4. Anna*

      I would tell him that First Nations people have pretty unanimously said that it’s offensive. Even as far back as 2011 people (the GOP, no less) were issuing formal apologies for using it:

      I guess my question would be, why does he need to bring a wholesale reference to another race up when he needs to say something? Even if this falls on the side of “insensitive” rather than “overtly racist,” why is he clinging to that phrase when he could as well say something like “too many cooks spoil the broth” or “too many cooks in the kitchen” which doesn’t have any racial implication at all.

      “Open the kimono” is offensive to me because it’s sort of like the difference between eating with chopsticks (not offensive) and using them in your hair (offensive). Many people in Asia eat with chopsticks, but no one puts them in their hair (there are things like hair sticks for that). “Open the kimono” in corporate slang means being open and transparent about business practices but (as you said) there are layers underneath said kimono so culturally, the phrase doesn’t make any sense. It also perpetuates the racist/sexist myth of the submissive, shy geisha-type woman.

      1. Artemesia*

        That is a phrase I have never heard– ‘open the kimono’ — but it just seems sexist and racist on its face.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Look at it this way: the original phrase is meant to imply too many managers, not enough llama groomers, so why not say that? The co-opting of another culture because the use of the terms sounds more cute or edgy is classic appropriation, and it’s insensitive. Imagine if you heard someone use the expression “too many [anything]s, not enough [your nationality]s” from someone you know isn’t from your country. It’s weird and belittling, even though technically they are saying there should be more of those of your nationality, so they may think it’s a compliment. That’s because you know that there are those with amazing talents but none in the field to which the expression refers, and there are at least a few useless people of your nationality, too (as I am sure we all know people like that). The speaker is equating you and those examples as all the same to them, because you’re all [nationality]. That’s belittling and bigoted.

      1. Washi*

        I agree that for me, it’s not simply an apt metaphor, it’s meant to be sort of winking/edgy. Similarly, I don’t like it when white people use black speech (AAVE? ebonics? not sure what the correct term is) for extra emphasis because it sounds “cooler” or whatever. It’s one thing to borrow a word/phrase because it’s genuinely the best way to describe something, but another when you just want to sound funny and hip.

    6. Rainy*

      I say “too many chefs, not enough servers” which I think gets at the idea of ineffective top-heaviness much better than an outdated and racist saying anyway.

    7. Liz case*

      A VP in my old company did use the phrase “open the kimono” in a meeting in regards to being purchased by a bigger company – it was something like “now they have bought us, they get to open the kimono and see what’s under it”. It made me super uncomfortable, and I talked with him about it afterwards (one of the only times I’ve done that, and i was terrified. I found the courage because we had known each other for years). I explained that as a woman, it was really jarring to be compared to something purchased, like women can be0 bought, I guess. That was not at all what he meant and it just hadn’t occurred to him someone could take it that way. But after I pointed it out, he apologized and said he would find another way to describe seeing the company details after a buy out.

    8. Brusque*

      I’d say if it was truly a proper depiction of a culture without derogatory elements, your boyfriend would be right. The problem is: mostly there are either misinterpretations or hidden derogatory issues others can’t see because they’re not truly part of that culture.
      So a sensible person would rather not use them to avoid the risk of demeaning a culture than behaving like a know-it-all busybody telling people of different cultures what and what not to be offended about just to keep a phrase.
      A decent person would know that being able to use a phrase is less important than respecting people of different cultures and let them feel good in their presence.
      And that would be my argument if I was trying to tell my husband why its inapropriate and highly insensitive to use phrases about different cultures if one is not part of those cultures.

      1. Roci*

        Good litmus test. If the phrase only makes sense from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about the culture, then it’s gotta be pretty ignorant.

  7. Swirly Twirly Gumdrops*

    Hey everyone.

    I need some advice on how to teach my 5 year old son the concepts of race and privilege and how he, as a white upper middle class male, has a responsibility to combat systemic injustices whenever he can as he grows older.

    I think one of his grandmothers has opened the can, so to speak, because she has told him that people with brown skin are black, or something like that. 5 year olds aren’t exactly gospels of truth and I was so angry when he told me that I haven’t asked if she did, in fact, tell him his teacher is black.

    I am definitely the most liberal member of my family. My husband was raised to be very small minded in regards to race, and while he gets along with Black people/other POC/cultures/backgrounds, his overarching opinions of non-white peoples is not favorable. I have been working hard to make him confront his views and opinions and he has made some progress. My inlaws though, are the kind that would be horrified if our son dated a Black/Muslim/anything other than white Baptist girl. They were horrified that he was the only white child in his last daycare. They expressed their “concerns” to my husband about my desire to send our son to public school, when the private schools in our area are not academically superior but are more for white flight than anything else. I’m proud to say I won that battle and the school has been a phenomenal place for our son, so they can kiss my ass on that matter.

    So again, what I’m asking is, aside from being a role model for him, what are the actual words I should use to respectfully and appropriately teach him about race and privilege?

    Thanks all!

    1. Bibliovore*

      May I suggest that you read How to be an Anti-Racist. That might help formulate talking with your son in everyday language on how we are active in our lives everyday working for social justice.
      Surround your child with books and media that show all kinds of people and culture. Good websites for recommendations is We need Diverse Books and The Brown Bookshelf.

        1. Lore*

          There is also a picture book version, Antiracist Baby, and a kids’ adaptation of Kendi’s earlier book Stamped from the Beginning—not sure what ages that’s aimed at. Also, a companion journal called Be Antiracist just came out, which might have exercises and stuff that are useful or could be adapted for kids.

          1. PostalMixup*

            My child attended a daycare that was housed within the college of education at an HBCU. They used Anti-racist Baby in their ABAR curriculum with the PreK kids this fall. My daughter seemed like she picked up some good context, though I don’t know how much came from that source, specifically.

    2. Laura H.*

      He’s five! Teach him to be kind first and foremost. And address this stuff as it comes up! Not all at once. That’s a lot to give a kid, regardless of how you age it down if you pop it on him all at once.

      Your husband can likely take it in larger chunks and with more of the nuanced language, because he’s had more years in the world and presumably is better able to not let it overwhelm him.

      I’m 30 and I don’t have the bandwidth or patience for all the socio-economical, socio-racial, and socio-political parlance for the concept of privilege that should boil down to “Be kind and charitable to all; everyone has an inherent (I believe God-given) dignity and treat all you meet with that in mind.” I can do and try to do the “Be kind…” and while that doesn’t cover all the privilege conversation, it covers enough where I don’t need it shoved down my throat.

      Sometimes yes, I absolutely need to be hit with the proper parlance, and I’ll admit to slightly chafing until I put it back into that basic concept of dignity is for everyone. Your little one is five and teaching him that everyone has intrinsic dignity will help him a hell of a lot more than strictly going into the privilege conversation at his age.

      The privilege convo should be had in its full and proper context, but not when little one is only five. It’s a lot to lob on a kiddo.

      1. Anona*

        The argument I’ve heard about talking to white kids when they’re young about race/privilege is that kids from other races often have to learn about the concept of race younger, because they experience racism. They don’t get to wait until they’re older to learn.
        So I’m planning to address it with my kid. She’s 2, and white. I’m still figuring out how, but books have been helpful in the past.
        Would I prefer a world where this doesn’t apply? Yes, definitely. But unfortunately we’re not there.

        1. londonedit*

          I agree, and I’d also keep in mind that while ‘Oh we don’t see colour, we’re teaching them that everyone is the same’ might sound noble, it’s really unhelpful. It’s a fact that black history is not the same as white history, and the experience of being black in the world is not the same as the experience of being white, and I think it is important for children to learn about that. Otherwise they’ll never learn to recognise their own privilege and they’ll think everyone goes through life with the same experience as them.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              That’s not much different than the colorblind nonsense londonedit was talking about. It ignores the fact that black people and other ethnic minorities are often not treated as “just people” out in the world.

          1. StrikingFalcon*

            Yeah, my parents tried for the “color-blind” upbringing, and I was around a lot of kids from different parts of the world up until grade 3, which was helpful, but I still absorbed the larger cultural narrative of what race was, and eventually made the connection on my own that “oh when people talk about ‘black’ people they mean people who look like my classmate M.” Not teaching it doesn’t make it go away. These conversations need to happen, and they need to happen when kids are young.

        2. Anona*

          And honestly I’m surprised about the kind of stuff I can talk to my daughter about and she has some level of understanding. There’s such a difference between age 1 and 2 and I’m sure she’ll just keep understanding more.

      2. Reba*

        On the other hand, waiting until they are old enough to have a detailed conversation is probably not the way to go. This is one of those things where IMO the kid should never remember the first time or the one time they had a big convo about it; it should be an ongoing conversation.

        I say this because children are VERY observant and they don’t pick up the things we would want them to, necessarily! They are swimming in the cultural soup just as we are; they are getting messages about race class and society no matter what, they are not waiting to learn about this stuff with no input at all until a parent or teacher brings it up directly! So it’s worth parents naming it and making sure *their* messages are in the mix. Not to mention, some families *can’t* wait; being able to sit out this conversation is an aspect of privilege.

        (If you listen to the short podcast “Nice White Parents” you will hear White 11-year-olds who have absorbed the message that they are saving their majority minority schol with their presence. Where did that idea come from?)

        So the challenge is to do it in age appropriate chunks, not wait until some undefined point of maturity when it becomes possible.

        I also think that little kids often have a very strong sense of fairness and this is both a challenge and a strength in addressing these kinds of issues.

        Swirly twirly, there are some columns in the Slate Care & Feeding column that address this question!

    3. Redhairedrunner*

      I think that Sesame Street has guides on how to address tough topics with kids at an age appropriate level.

    4. TPS reporter*

      The school sounds awesome and props to you for standing up to your in laws. You could also intentionally expose him to books and movies and tv shows that feature non white main characters.

    5. OyHiOh*

      I love the suggestions for We Need Diverse Books and The Brown Bookshelf. Those are terrific resources. If you are a library user, don’t be afraid to ask the youth services librarians for suggestions as well.

      So, two things. First, that your son’s toys, books, and screen time mirror the population of his school. I’ve kept my kids in diverse, mixed socio-economic schools for reasons similar to yours, but you can unwittingly undo his sense of “this is what my community looks like” if everything he interacts with at home/in play is white.

      Second – and this is probably even more important – its important for children to hear their parents discuss socio-economic-systemic issues. Not the talking with your child, but also, the two of you talking between yourselves. As every parent knows, those little ears are always listening, and absorbing information, even if they can’t understand it yet. It’s well meaning parents – like my sister – who never have big ideas conversations with their spouses when children can hear, that leads to pre teens who think they’re the white savior at their school, or my nephew who thinks he’s progressive . . . . and then rolls out every trumpian phrase you can think of. So talk about issues when they come up in the news. He’s listening, learning what’s important to you, even though he doesn’t know it yet.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I love your second point. I don’t remember my parents giving us many direct “lessons” about life but it was always present. Most of what I know about being a good person and successful adult came from simply listening to my parents verbalize their lives, their decisions, and what matters to them. Lots of dinner table conversations. (Unfortunately my parents didn’t do a great job specifically on race and class.)

    6. DragonQueen*

      I’ve heard good things about the “A Kids Book About” series. There are books on racism and white privilege, as well as every other topic under the sun- cancer, feminism, emotions, money, etc.

    7. Just a Guy in a Cube*

      I try to notice thing with my girls. “Hm, that room we were just in, were there people with lots of different skin colors, or mostly just people who look like us? I noticed that it was mostly white people.”
      When we were in Chicago, we talked about redlining and housing segregation by the time the oldest was five. It’s pretty easy to say “hm, most of the people who live near us have the same skin color. It used to be that that was the law, and even after some of the laws got changed, there are still a lot of rules and places where it’s hard for people who don’t look like us to get housing.” That generally turned into a good and productive conversation about fairness. We’re in New England now where the historical roots of segregation are a little more distant, but I still find that from a very early age it’s very easy to get in the habit of noticing out loud with kiddos when they’re in a predominantly white space, and also to say very clearly that if you’re in a space where everyone’s skin color is similar, that’s not an accident. It’s the result of unfair choices that people have made/continue to make.
      You’re going to run into kids noticing (sometimes publicly and sometimes incorrectly) people’s race, which can be awkward, but better to be aware of what they’re noticing, and guide/have conversations about that then have them make silent assumptions

      1. Just a Guy in a Cube*

        Also! This “noticing” is good for not-race marginalization as well. “Oh, it would probably be hard to get up the stairs to this office if you were on crutches or had trouble walking. I really like how our library makes it easy for everyone to come in.” Or “I had a meeting today where all the people in charge at my company talked about how we’re doing. I was sad that it was 5 men and only one woman, but really proud that my big-boss was the woman up there. I wonder what made her story different that she’s the only woman, and I hope in a few years she won’t be.” I try really hard to emphasize that when some groups are excluded or cut out of a place, that’s the result of choices people have made and are making, and talk about the kinds of choices we could make in the future to include more people. And even little kids like fairness!

    8. Artemesia*

      good for you. both of my adult children have told me that one of the things they valued about their upbringing was going to integrated public schools — they felt that they were better equipped to function in the world of work because working with people of other races was just something they were used to. the one with kids of her own is sending them to public schools because she valued that as part of her own upbringing.

    9. Jessie*

      You have a right to be concerned. Children are not born racist. They learn this behavior. And if his grandmother is telling him stuff like that every time he sees her, then your boy will internalize it it sooner or later.
      For starters, it’s great that your child goes to a diverse nursery. He will have friends from different religions and races and this will open his mind a lot. If grandma says something derogatory about black people, he will think but my friend Joe is black and he seems lovely. At least, it will given him some kind of a defense mechanism.
      Are you able to talk to his grandmother and ask her not to talk about race/religion with your child? She needs to stop ASAP. Because she’s his grandmother and he loves her. When you are a kid you tend to think that your parents and grandparents are perfect and he will believe what she says after a while.

    10. allathian*

      I think your son is already ahead in the game because he has experienced something that few white kids his age do, that of being the only white kid in a group.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One easy word can get the meaning across: “bully”. As in “Sometimes kids get bullied just for being a different color or religion, and that’s not something we do in this family.”

    12. SnappinTerrapin*

      I’m a southerner, born in the late 50s to parents born in the 30s. Most readers will guess that I have certain attitudes, because those attitudes were the social norms of the time and place.

      I remember a lot of conversations about race during my childhood. I’d’ve had to have been blind and deaf to have missed discussions of race, segregation and related issues. I remember a few specific conversations.

      One that stands out, I was a couple of years older than your child. We were traveling, and stopped at a filling station. I had noticed before the “separate but equal” (intentional ironic emphasis) four restrooms at most accommodations, but this station had three. Even at that age, I recognized hypocrisy, even if I didn’t know the word yet.

      I asked. My parents were embarrassed, but straightforward in confronting the bigotry behind the Jim Crow laws and the deeper meanness that led people to rub more salt in the wounds of people who were already mistreated. This was not my only lesson in social justice. My grandparents, who had some of the attitudes common to their time and place, also taught me about human dignity.

      Both of my grandfathers were migrant and tenant farmers in their youth, and they taught me how hard that life was, but they also taught me that a person’s wages should be based on the value of his labor, not on the color of his skin.

      I can’t tell you what words to use. You know your child better than I can. You also know your spouse better than we can.

      My first suggestion is to have some serious conversations with your spouse. It makes a big difference when the parents are consistent in messaging. My second suggestion is to have many small conversations rather than a “one and done” lecture.

      This ties in with many other lessons about basic decency and respect, as others have noted. It might inoculate your child against the kind of political manipulation based on fear and other emotions, as well as the misguided notion that a law supported by the majority of the population is inherently right. Mob rule can be as tyrannical as any dictatorship. In fact, a mob of bullies may be worse than a single strong bully.

      Best wishes.

  8. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

    I love my family and would have loved to see them, but holy crap a 4 day weekend where we have no commitments is the best! We ordered in BBQ and get to hang out with the pets, who have never had a T-day outside a kennel. All in all, not so bad!

    1. TPS reporter*

      I’m with you. Work is so busy and this break is sorely needed. Family gatherings can be really draining

  9. Bibliovore*

    Well, I have just been diagnosed with shingles. Just looking for sympathy. Taking to my bed like a Victorian heiress. Trying to stay off the internet but found a good care checklist.
    Anti virals- check
    pain meds -check
    icepacks – check
    tea and toast- check (it actually said nutritious meals but I am letting that slide- pain makes me nauseous)
    Distractions- not so much- Can’t seem to read.
    Finished The Crown- seems I am not so interested More Queen please less Charles.
    Suggestions for a marathon of streaming between dog walks please.
    I like Star Trek Discovery, Frankie and Grace, Endeavor, Sherlock. Bosch
    I have Apple plus, CBS all access, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu

    1. Swirly Twirly Gumdrops*

      Sleepy Hollow the series, seasons 1-3
      The Great, on Hulu, season 1 (warning for very explicit language)
      The Tudors, seasons 1-5 on Netflix (warning for sex scenes, violence, language)

    2. Clisby*

      My sympathies. My husband went through that about a year ago, and was in so much pain. You better believe I got the shingles vaccine after that.

      1. Arya Parya*

        Sorry you’re ging through this. Had the shingles about a decade ago and it sucked. Anti-histamines helped some. Also stuff that’s actually for cold sores. It’s related virus.

        As for streaming: The Queen’s Gambit

      2. Bibliovore*

        unfortunately weighing to underlying conditions my primary care physician advised against the vaccine. I suppose we will revisit that recommendation.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I love Kim’s Convenience! Binged it all in a few weeks. They’re shooting season 5 but it won’t be on until next year probably. Also, I spotted Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, who plays Appa, on last Friday’s episode of The Mandalorian!

    3. Big Moody Curve*

      Elementary and New Tricks on Hulu, Broadchurch on Netflix.

      And you have my sympathy, plus hopes for a quick and complete recovery. My husband had shingles a while back. To his credit, he went to the doctor right away instead of trying to tough it out. He was fine after a few days.

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        +1 on Elementary. Jonny Lee Miller is a crush of mine.

        I had shingles in 2009 at 29. I remember using a lotion called Sarna with lidocaine and it really helped with the rash when it was stingy/itchy.

        1. Bibliovore*

          yes, I have a 5% lidocaine cream. The worst pain is under my skin- not the blisters. I feel like I am on fire.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Would a book on tape be good? I always seem to want to keep my eyes closed a lot when I’m sick, which doesn’t make for an amazing television watching experience. Or I’ll watch Mythbusters or something else with long talking bits you don’t actually need to see, and just open my eyes for the explosions.

    5. nep*

      Oh, my dear Bibliovore. Sorry to hear. I had shingles a few months ago. It was an illness that had me thinking ‘will I ever feel well again?’ As awful as it can be, you will emerge from it, well and whole.
      I was amazed how much it helped to Just. Rest.
      Peace and sound recovery to you.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I KNOW! I keep saying, this too shall pass. Good news. We have take out Thanksgiving that is just reheating in the oven. The first time I have been hungry in days.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      I am sorry you have shingles. The chicken pox vaccine should make getting shingles rarer in the future. My poor friend had shingles on her face. On top of everything else, she had to see an eye doctor twice as it was nearing her eye and it would have been very bad if it reached her eye. My friend was lucky and made a full recovery.
      Have a speedy recovery, too!

    7. DragonQueen*

      Not sure if it’s up your ally but I always recommend The Librarians whenever I can- fun and smart, mystery + scifi + history.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I LOVE the librarians. Maybe it is time to revisit. I love the that whatever absurd situation they are in all they have to say is We are the Librarians and whoever is in their way shows respect.

    8. JSPA*

      Starting ASAP is important for the antivirals; if they are on your checklist, but not yet in your body, and if you’re still in the period where they’ll be effective, try to power though until you get them.

      “Woke” on Hulu is pretty great. Really packed with sly visual jokes, double-take punch lines that slide by and give you a delayed spit-take. Best thing I’ve seen in a while, for distraction (and seeing more, the second time around).

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Whoops, my browser burped. I meant to add, I’ve been watching Superstore on Hulu; it’s very funny. That would be my suggestion.

    9. Roci*

      If you like Star Trek I recommend the Expanse. 4 seasons you can binge with 5 coming soon, on Amazon Prime.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Do warn people about the infectious disease plot. (Sub-plot?) I tried to join my husband watching it and had to leave fast. He stopped watching after a couple of nightmares. For both of us it just hit too close to home during a real world pandemic.

  10. Laura H.*

    Thanksgiving Little Joys thread.

    What little things amused you or brought you joy this week, doesn’t have to be a dinner success. Mine is though!

    Cranberry sauce made yesterday and NO SPILLS! (Cream colored countertops so it would stain.)

    We all could use a bit of joy. Spread some joy and I hope y’all have a great day!

    (I love hearing all y’all’s- they do my heart good)

    1. Lyudie*

      I am a pumpkin pie FIEND but generally only have it once or twice a fall, my husband doesn’t really eat stuff like so it’s not worth buying or making a whole pie. But we’re getting takeout for Thanksgiving today and it is coming with pumpkin pie and I’m kind of excited LOL. I’ve also got an order from Total Wine being delivered later today (I am tipping well!! I acknowledge working on a holiday sucks) with a couple of bottles of wine I’ve never tried before so I’m looking forward to that as well.

      1. Artemesia*

        pumpkin pie is excellent for breakfast — keep in the refrigerator — it is pumpkin custard — vegetable, milk, egg — and no more sugar than breakfast breads. So you can make one and eat it yourself.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Looking for and finding little pieces to sets of stuff I had years ago. It’s like an Easter egg hunt on Thanksgiving!
      Hooray for clearing out old stuff!

    3. nep*

      Seeing my grand-niece for the first time in a good while the other day gave me such a huge lift. We helped raise her from when she was around 12 weeks, till COVID put all that to an end (she’s now six). She absolutely owns my heart and all I need in my life is for her to be content and healthy.

      1. Artemesia*

        We were having the grandkids every week and spending time with them till COVID too — a very great loss. I feel your pain.

    4. Tortally HareBrained*

      Our sixteen week old bunny calmed down enough to come cuddle in bed for about 15 minutes this morning. Given the amount of energy this rabbit has stored up each day, I was very thankful.

    5. Lcsa99*

      Our kitties are definitely our little joys every day. The other day we had a box sitting upside down (with the flaps turned it to make it sturdier) sitting on the counter because my husband uses it for video calls and our determined kitty managed to open the bottom just enough that he could get in … then he couldn’t get out again. Every time he pushed up the whole box would move because of course he was sitting on the counter, not the bottom of the box. So you could see the box moving and see the little paws poking out from the bottom. It was hilarious.

      Then this afternoon our timid kitty stood his ground. He was laying on the bed in the one spot both kitties love (a whole queen sized bed and they both have to sit in the same spot) and our curious kitty (the one from the box earlier) squished next to him. Well timid kitty usually doesn’t like cuddles, he likes his space so usually he would just move. This time he stayed put and put up with the cuddles for the sake of a warm spot.

    6. Filosofickle*

      I made my favorite fall pie! Last year I missed out on it because I made what someone else wanted for both holidays. So this year I just made what I wanted without asking. CAN’T WAIT. :)

      I got positive feedback yesterday from a new client, too! Due to an injury and then the pandemic I didn’t work for a year, so getting my mojo back feels great.

    7. StellaBella*

      I have a few little joys today. Where I live it is not a holiday, but I am American so I am on vacation this week at home. I had a therapeutic massage today (ok in our virus situation), plus I made a pumpkin pie and roasted some chicken breasts, which I shared a tiny bit with my kitty, and I have just finished dinner. The pie and massage were good but the best part was checking work email briefly to find my contract has been extended to June 30, 2022!!! :) YAY!

    8. SR*

      My stepdad’s 80th b-day was on Tue, and me and my two siblings (all of us in different states scross the US) decided to chip in and order a nice birthday dinner to be delivered to him and my mom. I called around to some local fancy restaurants to ask if they’d deliver, and the woman who answered the phone at one place said, “We don’t usually deliver, but we can on occasion if we know in advance.”
      When I mentioned it would be my stepdad’s 80th, the woman (Becky) was so warm and generous in her response, and said, “I’m sure we can do it, let me check with my manager and call you back. We’re closed tomorrow, but give me your number and I’ll call you from my personal phone to confirm.” I mentioned where my mom and stepdad live, and she said that she lives in that same part of town and could probably deliver it herself.
      Becky not only called the next day to say,”Yes, we can definitely deliver their dinner,” but when I placed the order the following day and asked about a delivery fee, the manager who took the order mentioned that that there was no fee, but that Becky was making a special trip into the restaurant on her day off to deliver the meal, and whatever I wanted to add for a tip would go directly to her. Needless to say, I gave a very generous tip.
      I texted Becky later to thank her, and to tell her how much they enjoyed the fabulous food, and that my mom had said it was “the best birthday possible under the circumstances, and a labor of love, even on the restaurant’s part.” Becky replied, “Aaw!! Your my generosity is deeply appreciated, but this text means more to me than you know…I’m so glad your mom and stepdad enjoyed their dinner!”

  11. Rita*

    I told my landlord my heater isn’t getting warm, and she asked for a PICTURE. I just need to share my frustration before I implode with it.

    1. SarahKay*

      Picture of an ice-cube? Picture of you on a sofa wrapped up in full outdoor clothing? Or, you know, your landlord is an ass and you have all my sympathy.

    2. anon24*

      I would send a selfie of you dressed over-the-top in warm clothes, wrapped in a blanket, one hand desperately wrapped around a lit candle held near your face for warmth, standing next you your heater/thermostat with a look of fear and despair on your face. But then again I fully admit to being a POS.

    3. Jack Russell Terrier*

      Yes – send a photo of your thermostat. Our heat pump kept malfunctioning over the summer. The thermostat setting would show 75 and the ambient temp would be 78. Also, don’t turn off the heat – they often have error messages that can help diagnose but if you turn off the the system it will wipe that that.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      Warning: silliness below!
      Just set the camera on your phone to anti-infrared. That’ll pick up the cold waves.
      Actually, the thermostat photo suggestion sounds very useful!

    5. All the cats 4 me*

      Wild guess, but possibly she needs visual record for an insurance claim? This is the most benevolent interpretation I can come up with.

    6. Rita*

      Thanks everyone for the advice and laughs and commiseration. Unfortunately there’s no thermostat (electric space heater) and there’s no way I’m buying a thermometer for this. I sent her a picture of the thing and waited for her to realize it’s useless.

  12. Almost Academic*

    Learned this week that I failed my comps (series of essays you need to pass to be admitted to doctoral candidacy in my PhD program). I’m frustrated and ashamed, and scared that my rewrite won’t pass as well. It doesn’t happen very much in my program, and I was a strong student before that. I think I’m looking more for reassurance and commiseration than advise. Any other readers have times when they “failed” a big project, at school or work, and it turned out alright in the end?

    1. StrikingFalcon*

      I’m so sorry! I was such an anxious mess when I took mine. Failing didn’t happen often in my program either, but when it did, people were fine as long as they took the prof’s comments earnestly and put in the effort to rewrite. Remember that it’s in your profs best interest for you to pass also. You’re a strong student, so you can do this. Good luck!

      1. StrikingFalcon*

        I don’t have an example of a big project I failed, but I consistently got less then ideal scores on every term paper I turned in to my committee chair. It has been stressful and definitely affected my relationship with him. I know I can do better work than that, but the program had a really high workload, I had a lot going on in my life outside of school, and I am bad at picking projects I can do in a reasonable time frame. But ultimately, at the end of the day it’s the degree that matters, not the bumps along the way. He was happy with the quality of my master’s thesis, if not the time it took to write it. I’m working on my dissertation now, and hopefully will be the same – it’s taking me a long time, but it’s also my best work. Grad school is a marathon, so give yourself credit for getting this far, even when things are hard.

      2. Reba*

        Yes, your advisers want you to pass. I hope that you get good and usable feedback to help you prepare for the next round!
        This is a challenging milestone in an extra challenging year. You can regroup!

    2. londonedit*

      Commiserations from me! When you’ve always been a strong student, it can be really hard to come up against a failure. The first thing I ever failed in my life was my driving test, at the age of 17, and I realised I had no idea how to deal with it. I was totally ashamed and embarrassed and I felt like I’d never be good enough to pass. And also like it was some sort of moral judgement against my abilities as a person, rather than ‘Sorry but you got too close to that car on the roundabout so I had to fail you’. It was hard to get back into lessons and try again, but I passed on the second go! I reckon give yourself a break over the weekend, try to put it all out of your mind and enjoy some rest and recuperation, and then get yourself ready to give it another go.

    3. Agnes*

      I’m on the other side of this. I administer our department’s comps. Every so often someone fails. They almost always pass the next round especially if they try and get feedback and try to improve.
      Whether students fail has little correlation with how they do later. One of my students who failed is now professor at an Ivy League school.

    4. TPS reporter*

      I failed the bar exam the first time. It was a combo of nerves and burn out. Once I got some rest and a job, I was more motivated and focused then I passed. Sometimes you just have to go through it!

    5. Emma2*

      Not in academia, but at the start of my career, I failed at a major interview round that was the key gateway to getting onto a particular track in my industry. It was an annual event and you did it at a particular stage so it was pretty much a one shot deal. I was a very good student, but just did not perform in that round. It was devastating and felt like I was a failure, had lost my chance, etc.
      I took a slightly different route, landed what was actually a more interesting and more prestigious job, and ultimately ended up back on the track I was originally aiming for (and did well there).
      It is awful when you are going through it, but one failure does not reflect your overall capacity or competency, and does not determine your future.
      I did spend time looking at why I had failed in that round, seeking feedback, etc. That was not easy, but was worthwhile.
      Good luck – it will get better.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      I received a low C or D in a college science class when I normally get Bs in all my classes. I went to the prof’s office to talk about it. The talk didn’t do me any good in understanding the subject but I resolved to work very hard in the class to show the prof I appreciated his time and attention. I passed the class (barely) which was essential for getting my degree. Major relief.

    7. Casey*

      I experienced sleep paralysis for the first time this morning and because of the dream I had right before, the “shadowy figure” just outside my field of vision was…. one of my professors. I truly cannot get a moment of peace away from them.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Almost everyone in my partner’s PhD program failed one of their comps, including my partner. They all did the retake and almost all of them are now gainfully employed people with doctorates. The one dude who passed both on the first try is now in his 7th year because he was fine at his coursework but has trouble with the self direction required to complete his dissertation.

      You are not alone. Take some time to wallow, step away from your notes for a few days, then refocus and take advantage of the fact that it ain’t over yet. Good luck!

    9. Nesprin*

      Yup- i went to my last choice undergrad and grad programs, and the number of things Ive failed at dwarfs the number of things I’ve succeeded at. Among the more embarrasing: failing calc (and still getting a math degree) picking the wrong lab (then finding the right one when i was about to be kicked out) and developing anaphylaxis against my research animals (which meant i had to change my thesis project). And am now a (moderately) successful scientist who can usually laugh about those things.

      Its worth noting that when a student fails comps or defense, its usually the advisor’s fault: either they’re not paying attention to their student, or not balancing workload, or are kind of a dick and wanted their student to fail. So now is the time to rally your allies, so you can do better next time: can you get more help from your committee? Peers? Staff? Interesting prof down the hall?

    10. The New Wanderer*

      Back when I was preparing to take the GREs to get into grad school, I took a practice test just before the test date and bombed the practice test for my major. I ended up delaying the GREs to the next cycle, which made me ineligible due to a lot of programs’ cutoff dates but no school would have considered me with such a low score. So I studied my butt off and got a really high score in the later cycle. I still only got accepted to a single program, but luckily for me, at that time it was one of the best programs with THE advisor to work with.

      You can do this!

    11. Kuododi*

      I didn’t pass my national boards for my LMFT on the first attempt. (Missed it by 2 stinking points.)

  13. 653-CXK*

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

    This year, I am taking Black Friday off. At Ex-Job, Black Friday was extremely popular, so people would ask for it off months in advance, and management would hold lotteries to grant that time off; those who didn’t get approved but wanted it off anyway would have to work a full day the Sunday before Thanksgiving. As we were a processing team, there was a required skeleton crew of 20% of a team to work, so I volunteered to work on Black Friday (except for one occasion where I was impaneled on a jury during Thanksgiving in 2015 and work was a no-no). I worked Black Friday last year at CurrentJob, and the advantage was the same as in ExJob – the commute by public transportation was incredibly easy and I was able to catch up on other work.

    Another good piece of news: I had come off a week’s vacation (mainly staycation; got my birthday lunch, went for an eye exam and glasses, and built a closet rack for my mother), and I thought I would be swamped with emails, phone calls, etc. The inbox wasn’t bad at all – however, our CEO told us that this week, as a thank you for working during this pandemic, full-time employees would get a $500 bonus check! Last year, everyone got a check for $50, which I had used for a new bookbag to carry my stuff back and forth to work, but that money will pay off the new glasses and office chair I bought.

    I can easily tell you that the time between two-and-a-half years ago and now is like night and day. By this time two years ago, I was still looking for jobs (I was on my sixth month of job searching by then) and it wasn’t until January 2019 when I began to panic (just a little) about my prospects. Only when I realized I had to cast away my fears did things begin to open up for me. It’s a humbling epiphany, and I’m glad I took that risk.

  14. Clisby*

    Happy Thanksgiving to whoever celebrates it!

    Things to be thankful for …

    It is 73 degrees and sunny here in Charleston, SC, so my windows and back door are wide open and a nice breeze is blowing through the house.

    I at least get to spend Thanksgiving with my husband and son. My daughter is in grad school in Florida, and we agreed it made no sense for her to come home for Thanksgiving, go back to Florida, and then come back here for Christmas. We haven’t seen her since last Christmas, so I’m really looking forward to having her and her adorable cat here for at least a couple of weeks around Christmas.

    I’m retired, so I don’t have to put up with the nonsense I read about on AAM.

  15. Blue Eagle*

    It’s a two person Thanksgiving dinner for me and spouse. Unfortunately I waited too long to buy a small turkey and the smallest that was left was 18.7 pounds. We decided no stuffing this year (only mascarpone mashed potatoes and corn pudding) so the early morning prep was easy and the bird just went into the oven.
    Ahhhh! Now to sit on the couch with a nice glass of wine to relax and watch America’s Thanksgiving Day parade. And to recount my blessings of everything I’m thanksful for.
    Wishing everyone a joyous Day of Thanks for your blessings!

  16. Amber Rose*

    I have a pet peeve, and it’s so petty and minor but lately I’m feeling fairly frustrated by it. I occasionally have extremely vivid dreams. And I often suffer real, physical pain from these dreams. It usually fades right after I wake up but can leave me with mild muscle aches after.

    I was so upset about the latest “lockdown” announcement from our useless POS government that the dream I had after finally crying myself to sleep last night was agony. I woke up shaking. When I mentioned this to my husband, he said, as he always does, “it was just a dream.” Other people tell me this too.

    I know it was, but it didn’t FEEL like it. It hurt, and I’m sad, and I’m going to remember these feelings for the rest of my life. I never forget them. It’s not “just” anything. Those are memories I made and they’re awful.

    1. Courageous cat*

      Have you ever had a sleep study? That seems somewhat unusually intense. I have never had a dream like this so I can imagine it’s hard for him to conceive of.

    2. Reba*

      Yeah, your spouse is probably trying to comfort you (I know I’ve said the same thing, inane as it may be, after my spouse had an upsetting, talking and thrashing dream!).
      Do you think it would help to ask him not to say that, and try like “I’m sorry you’re upset, can I help?” instead? This might be one of those marital areas where just saying “this is what I need from you” makes a breakthrough.
      Sorry you’re feeling low.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I have asked him not to say it, but he forgets in the moment when I’m upset. That’s why I called it a petty thing. It’s not something to make a fuss about, it’s just one of those quirks of my life.

    3. SarahKay*

      Lots of sympathy from this internet person, because that sounds truly unpleasant.
      The thing is, a hard knock to your funny bone is also agony, but passes quickly with nothing to show for it other than the memory of the pain. Doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt like the blazes at the time, though! If you told your husband that you’d hit your funny bone earlier today, would he be sympathetic? If so, does it help to phrase it like that to him?

      1. Amber Rose*

        It’s not just the pain though, but the memory of where it came from. I actually have an irrational fear of parking garages because I once had a dream I was attacked and killed in one. That was a thing that didn’t actually happen a decade ago, but it felt so real that I still get nervous in them.

        But if I start trying to explain that the pain is gone but I’m still sad about the circumstances around it, people think I’m crazy and can’t tell the difference between dream and reality. I can.

        1. Rainy*

          I’m on a medication that they actually won’t give to children and adolescents because of the “vivid dreams” side effect. I’ve always had relatively vivid dreams (I gather by comparison to others), but this has really broken the dial off and jumped up and down on the machine.

          I’m super sorry this happens to you. It sounds very disconcerting.

    4. Colette*

      Have you considered a couple of sessions with a therapist, not to stop the dreams but to see if you can figure out a way to let them go after you wake up?

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Would this be considered night terrors? I dunno about that subject but I am betting someone here does.

      Decades ago, Ann Landers recommended that someone go to a doc for a full check up because of alarming nightmares. Older me totally agrees. I changed my diet, backed away from chemicals and I don’t have the dreams I used to have. Younger me handled a lot of pesticides, herbicides etc for my job. Finally the problem when out beyond dreams, I had trouble keeping weight on etc. I got out of the job and therefore the chemicals and the dreams dialed back. (I also got control back over my weight.) Once I went one step further and started eating just whole foods, less coffee, etc the dreams pretty much went away.

      Oddly, I had small confirmation about this in a cohort who used to work in one of these plants that made these chemicals. Cohort had vivid, vivid dreams and they mostly coincided with their job at this plant.

      My two cents is to check with a doc, or a nutritionist who has been in the field for decades and seen all kinds of problems. The dreams do not have to be on a regular basis, they do not have to be the same thing all the time, the fact that they happen is enough to start looking around for some help. While I agree that therapy can be of some help here, I think it’s very wise to check for a physical component to what might be happening here.

    6. Gamer Girl*

      I have incredibly vivid dreams, as well as the emotional side effects if something horrible happened in them. Doesn’t help that not one but TWO of my dreams were actually prophetic in my mid-twenties (both dreams were about things that were unexpected, majorly life-changing events, about circumstances I had no control over). The dreams were vague on the details but real on the core event and feeling. I never, ever talk about this with anyone besides my husband because I’m fully aware that others would believe I was either lying or suffering a psychotic breakdown. (In fact, after I had my children, I had a period where I did have trouble separating dreams from reality because I was so tired. That’s when I finally told my husband because I could feel that the boundary was becoming dangerously blurry and I needed serious help. I did see a psychologist for about a year, which helped a lot on other issues, but I could never bring up the dreams.)

      I’ve had these dreams since I was a child and they have periods where they seem to quiet down, but they are on the upswing now that it’s 2020 and the world is a dumpster fire.

      Sorry I can’t be more help, but you’re not alone in feeling terrified of things that “didn’t really happen” but felt very, very real.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Seconding the sleep study. I have a neurological form of sleep apnea where I sleep soundly EXCEPT during REM sleep. You know how people say it takes a few weeks to adjust to a CPAP machine? I decided it was worth it after only 2 nights because it was such a joy to wake up with dreams that ‘faded away’ like other people have described. Instead of long vivid sequences that won’t fade.

    8. Brusque*

      It is not just a dream. It could be psychosomatic indiced pain and that is a real thing. This happens when your mind is so stressed and occupied it causes your muscles to cramp up in your sleep. It is a serious warning sign and can lead to a lot of real physical consequences and can even cause real issues with your body. Think heart issues, high blood pressure, disturbance with your digestive system and so on. The mind can make the body really sick. Measurable sick if it’s not taken care of. Talk to your doctor. If he’s worth a thing he can help you. Mine helped me when I had something like that in summer.

  17. Courageous cat*

    Update and question: thanks all for the hand suggestions – it got progressively and quickly worse after the weekend, to the point where I was afraid I was going to lose the use of my hands by the end of this week and was having real trouble typing. Finally though I found a hand specialist to take me in yesterday. It’s definitely not arthritis which is great, and he is not concerned that it’s something horribly serious – but he definitely thinks it’s carpal tunnel, most likely due to (surprise surprise) ergonomics during wfh. I have to do a nerve conduction test on both hands I have to do. Meanwhile, wearing splints most of the day seems to have stopped my symptoms from progressing, so that is a comfort, and my new computer chair is helping as well.

    Who has carpal tunnel, and what have you found to be helpful for it? Was the nerve conduction test as weird as it sounds like it might be?

    1. I have Chronic Fatigue*

      One thing that helped me immensely was sleeping in my splints for a while. It turns out I curl my hands when sleeping and that was doing more damage than the typing. So if you can, try that.

      I also found, after my friend who is a masseuse suggested it, taking B vitamins every day helped. I don’t exactly remember the reasoning for it but something about nerves and improving them.

      1. Courageous cat*

        I did start that! I absolutely curl my hands, it’s so annoying. My main issue is finding that I’ve thrown them off sometime during my sleep every morning.

        I will def look into the b vitamins because I am sure I am not getting optimum nutrition!

        1. Hazel*

          I’ve had two EMGs because I occasionally get shooting pains up my hand to my fingers. Like some folks have said, the tests were uncomfortable and weird-feeling, but not really painful to me. Both tests were negative, but my new hand doctor (I have arthritis in both thumbs) says he’s pretty sure I have at least mild carpal tunnel syndrome and that he’ll take care of it when I eventually get surgery for my thumbs. It actually hasn’t been bothering me much for a while. I usually sleep in hand braces, and I also started taking glucosamine & chondroitin, which seems to be making my thumb pain much less frequent. I hope your tests are not painful and that you get some relief from the wrist pain!

    2. Might Be Spam*

      I had it in both wrists and my hands couldn’t straighten out. I waited way too long to get help. It helped to not watch while they did the test and the nurse talked to me the whole time to distract me.

      Do all of the physical therapy exercises, but don’t overdo it. Stop when you feel the stretch. If you feel ANY pain during the stretching or strengthening, you are going too far. I made myself worse by thinking “more is better.”

      I still had some lingering trouble a year later that went away after I spent 8 weeks on crutches. I guess I am grateful for breaking my foot.
      Now I can crochet and knit again. In moderation, because I finally learned my lesson.

    3. Liane*

      I am recovering from my surgeries on both hands–not at the same time! (One a week and a half ago, the other about 2 months ago.)
      Nerve conduction test is definitely weird. How uncomfortable it is seems to vary. My husband has the most skewed pain scale ever–pain that would have most of us screaming “Get me morphine NOW!!!!” gets a “Gee, that really hurts” from him. He had nerve conduction done several years back and was telling me how terribly painful it was, so I was sure I was going to be tortured. Instead, the electrical pulses just felt odd and, at worst, a little annoying to me. (Oh, the look on his face when I told him that!)

      I am glad the splints work well for you. I had a pair to help me between diagnosis & surgery, but they didn’t really help and aggravated my arthritis. Steroid shots in my wrists helped much more while waiting for the surgeries.

      Good luck. Can check in later if you have more questions.

        1. Liane*

          Yeah, I saw that almost right away–but then Son arrived so we could stuff faces. (He’s in our bubble or whatever).

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I used a tens unit on my wrists, omg, it was so comforting. Not sure if you said you had tried this or not. One trick I have learned with tens units it sometimes you can’t put them directly on the pain, you have to put the pad on just to the side of where the worst pain is. This still can be very helpful.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Oh neat! I will look into it, I didn’t know it would be useful for this. I don’t have pain exactly, just stiffness and weakness. But I imagine it could help.

    5. Kuododi*

      I’ve had carpal tunnel in both wrists. Gabapentin was an excellent pain reliever but I wanted to eat the wallpaper I was so hungry bc of the meds. Frankly, my biggest regret was stalling with the surgery for so long. (It left me with a mildly atrophied left hand and I lost my ability to play piano. )
      Best wishes, Kuododi

      1. Courageous cat*

        Ugh! I already take Gabapentin! It doesn’t help one bit, hahaha. That’s too bad because it sounds like a good solution. I do eat like a horse on it too so I can relate.

        Thank you!

    6. Roy G. Biv*

      Do sleep with splints on — it really helps. I had carpal tunnel surgery on my dominant hand 8 years ago, and it was a night and day difference. The relief was amazing. Note – I did invest in ergonomic mouse and keyboard, and kept a compression glove and splint for when my hands have had a particularly fatiguing day, but otherwise all is good.

  18. Mimmy*

    Happy Thanksgiving to all US readers!!

    Usually at this time we (spouse and I) are enjoying Thanksgiving in Boston with 17 other people. This year, it’s just us with my parents. No worries, we’ll take proper precautions.

    It’s been so nice to have a lighter week both with my job and school, especially after spending all of last weekend writing a 10-page paper. I have another due next month. Ahh! So I guess I shouldn’t get toooooo comfortable with the downtime. But sometimes you think “oh I’ve got time, I’ll work on it later”. Then “later” turns into “ahhh why did I wait until the last weekend??!” Anyone else get like that?”

    1. TPS reporter*

      I’m also doing work and school. I have a plan to work on my final paper during this break. I am so prone to procrastinating. We can do this!

  19. Rainbow Brite*

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    In the spirit of the day, I wanted to share my good news. Earlier this year, I began freelance writing and have been loving it — it’s night and day from my previous job teaching, and given the current state of schools over here (full-time, full class sizes, face-to-face teaching with very few precautions), I didn’t relish the thought of having to return. But as of November, I’m officially making a living writing full-time. (I also got engaged this year, so despite the obvious, I feel like I have a lot to be thankful for at the moment.)

    1. nep*

      Wonderful news! Congratulations on all counts.
      I’d love to hear more about how you’ve worked toward writing for a living full-time, if you don’t mind sharing. Did you get a writing job, or are you continuing to freelance? If the latter, how did you put yourself out there and get clients?
      All the best.

      1. Rainbow Brite*

        Thank you!

        I’m still freelancing — though I don’t need the flexibility right now, I’m looking forward to eventually being able to travel more and control my own schedule, so at the moment I’m fine with the trade-off of less stability.

        I actually started off with content mills, which don’t pay much but also don’t require much in terms of experience or portfolios. At the time, I’d envisioned it as a short-term stop-gap while schools were closed, so it was a quick and easy way to get started. After I built up a portfolio, I started looking on job boards and similar places for direct work, and now have a few steady clients. (To be completely honest, the whole marketing/looking for clients aspect is by far my least favourite part of the job, but it’s a necessary evil.)

        I’m still definitely on the lower end of the pay spectrum, but making a basic living has been my first — now cleared — milestone. For the past six months, I took pretty much any work offered to me; now, my focus is on seeking out clients that have a higher profile/pay more/are more relevant to my target niche. But just getting to this point is huge, and knowing I can support myself doing something I love is everything to me right now.

  20. nep*

    Walnuts, anyone?
    I don’t like them raw, but roasted–soooo good. I love to crumble roasted walnuts in a salad.
    They’ve got a nice nutritional profile too.

    1. Jane Smith*

      Oo I haven’t tried them roasted, although they are delicious cooked into a pate for a vegan wellington. Sounds like something to try this weekend!

    2. Glass Piano*

      I used to love them, before I developed an oral allergy reaction in my late teens. Fortunately, I have not trouble with almonds or pecans!

    3. Sylvan*

      Yum. I ate them on pizza once – I thought it would be bad, but it was actually pretty good. I’m wondering about using them in pesto like pine nuts.

    4. Emma2*

      Ooh, I also love walnuts. Marcella Hazan has a recipe (I cannot remember which book it is in, as I just make it from memory now) for pasta with portobello mushrooms, walnuts and crispy sage leaves (all cooked with butter and topped with Parmesan). It is so good and really brings out the flavour of each ingredient, including the walnuts.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      Candied walnuts are amazing! I don’t touch them otherwise. Use as a salad topping if you want to add a hint of health, but we tend to just grab a handful at a time.

    6. Girasol*

      I roasted a batch I bought from a store’s bulk bin to sterilize them and they are so delicious with yogurt and berries for breakfast. Toasted walnuts are amazing!

  21. Courageous cat*

    Why does everyone seem to have no trouble finding a job working for the government but me?! It seems like every time I put in a very long-winded application I’m just pissing into the wind. I want a foot in the door, dangit.

    I work in supply chain now and am not good at it and would love to make a switch to literally anything other than an office (without going back to school – been there, done that, too expensive) but boy do I ever not know how.

    If anyone else has a liberal arts degree with no particularly specialized skills and fell into doing something halfway not-miserable afterward, would love to hear what that is!

    1. Amber Rose*

      My husband has a political science degree, but he got his foot in the door with government by taking an on call, part time job helping the flu shot clinic. It was a hellish few months of working two jobs, but it allowed him to apply for internally posted positions and work his way up. Now he’s management level.

      I have a useless geography degree, worked in a mail room, and now I’m a safety manager.

      Sometimes you gotta start in a weird place and find yourself in a weirder one.

    2. OyHiOh*

      Liberal Arts degree, and my resume is a mess thanks to a combination of life decisions and changing economy at crucial moments.

      I am finally not-miserable in a job! It’s administrative – I was hired as an admin assistant but given a title change to office manager four days after starting – but not miserable. I work for a quasi-government, non profit agency that deals in economic development. Industry-wise, it’s about as far away from my theater/writer/artist/musician personal interests as I could possibly imagine, but it’s also turned out to be extremely interesting and I find myself regularly listening to relevant webinars on our parent agency’s website on my own time.

      I do a little bit of everything – all of the admin stuff you would expect from my title, but also I first draft presentations, write our newsletter, handle our social media presence, manage most of the staff’s communications with our board of directors, attend board meetings . . . It turns out I have a knack for organization that my boss – retired academic who wants to leave something useful and good in the world before he shuffles off – does not have, and between my sense of organizational wizardry and my co-worker who knows state bureaucracy better than the bureaucrats do, we’re making the boss look really good.

    3. Just a Guy in a Cube*

      Liberal arts degree and fell into software QA and Design (after getting fired from a paralegal-ish job because that kind of attention to detail was not a strength). Turns out that the combination of “read the requirements and make sure they work” plus “oh, hey, let’s see if I can break this!” Plays to a lot of my strengths and interests, and now I also get to do the translation between the business types who “just want to make this process work” and the developers who don’t really care about the process, they just want to know what the controls need to do.

    4. university minion*

      I wrote a cover letter that made a case for, “I’m competent at being competent.” I filled out a LOT of applications, and eventually got a job that was a significant paycut but a foot in the door. 4 years and 2 promotions later, I’m making more than I did in old-job with 3x as much time off and a set schedule. The right gig is out there, I promise!
      A good foot-in-the-door job that you’d be qualified for right now are COVID contact tracers. Check around your county or state health department and local universities.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I am not sure what level of government you are looking. In my area, it’s fairly easy to pick up a part time job at the town and village level. Then you leverage that by being darn good at your job, getting to know people and letting people know you are interested in more work. This is a more rural area. You might try with smaller municipalities around you if that is possible.
      I have had times where I had two jobs and/or offers of more work but I could not take it because of scheduling problems.

    6. Nacho*

      I’m making a pretty good living in customer service with my liberal arts degree. It pays a lot more than you’d think

    7. Venus*

      You say that you aren’t good at supply chain now, but could you do it well enough to get a job? Often with government it’s about getting your foot in the door.

  22. Somegirl*

    Hey all!
    Long time reader, first time poster. This was going to be a letter to Allison, but since it’s the holiday season and I don’t think she’s going to be answering any more.. I decided to post it in the open thread to get some perspective. I apologize if this is too long or not done properly. Kind of time sensitive, so here goes.

    I work an hourly role in the service industry, and was furloughed for over 6 months. When I was brought back, I was offered a different position because my previous role wasn’t available yet. It’s about a 50% pay cut, but I accepted since it’s still better than unemployment and I’m trying to make the best of it. A coworker (from my previous role, let’s call her Sansa) was offered the same and accepted. She has been miserable and very negative ever since returning. Sansa keeps bringing up the pay cut (her SO was laid off) and how our skills are being wasted and can’t wait for us to go back to our previous role and is upset that others have been called back to that role after us with less seniority than us while we are still doing our temporary position (long story about our union job and how call-backs work). I get it. It sucks, but that’s part of The Times We’re In and we’re lucky we didn’t get laid off. This is where it gets weird and I don’t know what to do here. She has called out for her daughter “breaking her arm” for over 3 weeks now— again, union job with a very generous points system for call outs and you don’t even need to speak to anyone to call out. She’s an over sharer on social media and there has been literally no mention of this on her fb, which is very unlike her. In fact, on another social media platform she has LOTS of followers (think over 150k) and posted a video of said daughter dancing two weeks after the accident with clearly no broken arm. I do know that video could have been taken before, but something here is off. She told me she requested a leave of absence that wasn’t approved, but my managers said she hasn’t asked for a leave. I think our HR department would ask for documentation, so that’s why she hasn’t actually asked for one. Her calling out continuously affects me, as I won’t be given any of the days off I’ve requested because they need her for coverage and I’m getting scheduled a lot of overtime right now to cover for her as they are expecting her to call out every day. I normally wouldn’t think someone would lie about this, but my previous knowledge of Sansa is that she’s not a very honest person and something here just doesn’t add up… You need to call out for a month for you tween daughters broken arm when your SO is unemployed and could easily take care of her? I don’t know is she’s gotten another job, or is making money off her large social media following… but I’m getting frustrated that I keep having to cover for her and want to say something to management. I’m also very upset that she’s holding a spot from someone else to get called back of furlough when she clearly doesn’t want the position and won’t come to work.
    Am I overreacting? Is this none of my business?

    1. Jane Smith*

      I would say that it isn’t any of your business. What can you do anyway? Unless Sansa is in some way inhibiting your ability to do your job (which I don’t think you are saying that?) then keep your head down and get on with it.
      Otherwise you can approach your manager, but only with work-related issues; e.g. “I am finding it difficult to do x, y, z because Sansa isn’t completing a,b,c”.
      How she behaves is really up to her.
      I am not too sure how the call outs work either, or if you are saying she is committing fraud? But you would need evidence, and a bad feeling isn’t evidence. So leave it.

    2. WellRed*

      All the background stuff about her daughter and social media and stuff I’d leave alone. You can say something to your manager about having to work so much. Can you just not be available to provide all that coverage?

    3. Reba*

      I don’t think it’s none of your business, entirely, but the part of it that’s your business is all your overscheduling — not the truth or non truth of what this lady is saying to your bosses, or her (possible lack of) ethics.

      It sounds like you have spoken to manager about this at least once.

      Do you think it might work to go to them again and say, “I’m being scheduled for all this overtime, and while I’m glad to be working I’m not getting any of my days off and this is really not sustainable for me to continue at this pace, doing the work of two people. Can you tell me if there is a plan to address that or bring on another person to pick up some of the work?”

      Basically DO talk to them but keep it about how this affects you and your work, DO NOT try to prove what coworker is up to or otherwise get into her life choices.

      That sounds stressful and anyone would be feeling bitter about this situation. (I’d also recommend hiding/muting/soft blocking her just to have less exposure to her social media just for more peace of mind.)

      Good luck!

    4. londonedit*

      I can totally understand why you’re frustrated, but I definitely think you should stick to the work-based complaints rather than bringing in speculation about social media and Sansa’s time off. You could definitely say something like ‘With Sansa being off, I’ve been asked to cover on X, Y and Z dates, and it’s not possible for me to commit to this much overtime/and I need X and Y dates off because of prior commitments’ or whatever, but I’d leave it to things that actually have an impact on your work.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Agreeing with everyone here, your core issue is all the OT and it’s not sustainable for you, period.

      I have met these types of people, who let’s say they live double lives- real life and the-stories-they-tell-at-work life.
      She will eventually unravel her own trail of lies, BUT if you try to get down in the weeds and prove she is lying the only person who will be harmed here is YOU. She will end up looking just peachy and you can end up being on the outs with everyone. I have seen this too many times.

      This is one time where it’s okay for this to be All About You. The extra hours are not sustainable for you, period. Just stick with that simple, yet true statement. And let her do as she wishes.

    6. HannahSnow*

      Genuine question: what would happen if you were to call in? I’m not suggesting that you should call in for the next three weeks too and claim Christmas as well, but if you were to call in sick one day because you’re too tired from being overworked, what would happen to the operation, and how would your new managers react? If they’d be sympathetic to you taking the time you need for your health, let them know that this schedule isn’t sustainable for you and what can be done to adjust it. The bigger problem seems to be that not enough people have been called back to do the work required, so if there’s not enough people than the work won’t be done. That’s not on your paygrade to deal with; that’s the sort of decision that gets made way higher up. I’d focus on your own schedule and how it affects you, and leave out whatever shenanigans Sansa may or may not be up to. Does your union have anything to say about already approved days off being honored, or is everyone is the new location getting their days off yanked?

      Also, I don’t think you’re overreacting by being really frustrated with this situation. My workplace has done something similar with a couple rounds of callbacks from furlough since we reopened this summer, but my role is without the backing of a union (everyone who didn’t make the seniority date is just laid off, regardless of whether they took the first callback). It may be that all the pent up frustration of not being in your own role and suppressing the big feelings with “at least I’m not stuck on unemployment” is coming out in this one issue because it’s something tangible you can focus your energy on. Being furloughed for a long period of time has a way of messing with your perception of your employer – it’s a plus that you are technically still employed, but this isn’t the job you signed up for and even if you did pick this role, no one wanted it like this. If your employer has an EAP that offers counseling, it would be worth calling them to see if you can set up an appointment to talk to someone.

    7. Anono-me*

      You’re not over reacting. But Sansa’s drama is not your concern, only the consequences to you are your concern.
      What if you check out the union contract and maybe talk to a steward to find out what your options are?

  23. Anona*

    Phew! Was just in the yard with my kid and dogs and a little dog with no collar came in the yard. She looked well cared for. I scooped her up to protect her from my enthusiastic dogs and went to see if anyone was looking for her. Thankfully they were! Lots of adrenaline for an otherwise peaceful morning.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Thank you for doing that!

      I have caught other people’s dogs also. I guess I am hoping karma will kick in if mine gets away. One dog turned out to be a pup. It was running through a busy grocery store parking lot. What a nightmare for the owner. I estimated the pup was about 30-35 pounds so I felt pretty sure I could pick it up… if I could get close to it. I started walking toward it an talking to it in a silly voice. I realized it was a pup the way it bounced right over to me. haha. phew. There was one family member on foot chasing it, and another family member lagging behind in a vehicle. The pup thought it was all great fun, like pups tend to think. By the time, I entered the story the pup was beginning to get tired and probably thirsty, so I got lucky and I was able to get it.

      I am sure the owner was very glad you rescued the dog.

      1. I take tea*

        Aw, enthusiastic puppy. They are very impulsive. I once caught a dog by its trailing leash, just after I saw it almost got run over. I was very pleased, because I’m not especially used to dogs, but I still managed to catch it. I was very happy, and so was the owner.

  24. Nicki Name*

    Food thread! What’s on your table for dinner?

    We’re having turkey legs, potatoes, succotash, and pumpkin pie. I miss cranberry sauce, but I’m the only one in the house who likes it.

    1. Rainy*

      Great minds think alike! See below.

      Also, I made the cranberry sauce with the bon appetit “perfect cranberry” recipe, but used 50/50 100% cranberry and 100% pomegranate juice and added pomegranate arils just at the end. It tasted pretty darn good last night going into the ring mold!

    2. Courageous cat*

      I had it at my friend’s last night and we did a beef tenderloin, roasted brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, corn souffle (mine), and sweet potato brown sugar crumble cheesecake (also mine). It was fantastic.

    3. GoryDetails*

      I got a small heritage turkey this year, and went for as many different dishes as I could manage, starting on Tuesday: I put the legs, thighs and wings into spiced salt as preparation for confit (they’re slow-cooking in duck fat as I type); roasted the breast for immediate gratification and leftovers (not as many as usual due to the smallness of the bird, but that made it easier to handle); my cats do NOT like fresh poultry giblets, unlike previous cats who would swarm me at the merest whiff, so this year I sliced, breaded, and sauteed the heart as a snack for myself (tasty!), sauteed the liver with some onions, thyme, and white wine and then blitzed it with hard-boiled eggs for a nice pate (added a quick fresh cranberry jam for some sweet-tart balance), and put the rest of the giblets in with the turkey carcass for stock… and I guess that’s it for the turkey, except for whatever I do with the leftover breast meat. [Probably a white bean chili of some kind.]

      Oh, and when I made the hard-cooked eggs for the pate (using my Instant Pot – best hard-cooked eggs ever, and so easy to peel), I of course opted to make extras, so I have the material for deviled eggs on hand when I get tired of all that turkey!

      Will be having a kir royale this afternoon for a family Zoom.

      [What with all that, it sounds quite pedestrian to admit that I had a bowl of spicy chicken miso ramen for lunch!]

      1. PX*


        Applause from across the pond. That sounds delicious. What sides are going with all that deliciousness? Sides are usually the thing that sound the most exciting to me :D

        1. GoryDetails*

          Heh! Not a lot of room for sides after all that – though I did whip up some Stove Top stuffing using some of the stock from the turkey for extra flavor. (It’s a basic bread-and-seasonings stuffing, fairly close to the kind my mother used to hand-make back in the day – not fancy but I like it.) In another day or two I may get out the Brussels sprouts to oven-roast and then mix with some spicy grilled pineapple – fruits and veg to counteract all the meat!

    4. BRR*

      Doing a turkey breast brined in buttermilk by Samin Nosrat, creamed spinach, crispy potatoes, rolls, and Stella Parks “Impossible pecan pie” which has a butterscotch filling.

    5. Rainbow Brite*

      A teeny-tiny two-person turkey, creole cornbread stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, hasselback potatoes, roast broccoli + cauliflower with parmesan, and the most delicious brussels sprouts I’ve ever had. (Seriously, I want to eat these brussels sprouts every single day for the rest of my life.) Plus a bunch of ingredients that were supposed to be cherry pie, but I’m sooooo full right now, so maybe later this weekend.

    6. Unicornucopia*

      None of us love turkey and since it’s just five (our household) this year, we’re grilling steaks and having honey baked ham instead. Additionally, we will have all of our favorites of mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, sourdough rolls, roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts, fresh green beans, cream style corn, and cranberry sauce over Brie for appetizers. It’s a lot of food but we’ve prepped ahead of time and with five people making it, the burden doesn’t fall onto anyone too badly, and it’ll be nice having all of the leftovers for a while. We’re having dessert of chocolate pie with meringue and pecan pie with vanilla ice cream, and later on we will have chocolate ganache cake but we decided we had enough for today haha.

    7. Free Meerkats*

      I have a lamb leg roast in the sous vide cooker, will be there for 8 hours at 134 F (my first big sous vide effort, all I’ve done with it so far is pasteurize some eggs for eggnog and burgers.) When it’s finished, I’ll blast it in the oven to crisp the outside. Meanwhile, I’m making scalloped potatoes and green beans. In the last few days I’ve made a sweet potato pie, kugel, cranberry sauce and blueberry sauce.

      And there’s only the two of us…

    8. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Since we are not hosting anyone this year, we ordered from a really nice restaurant that had a holiday meal-to-go menu: a small turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, glazed carrots, bacon mac & cheese, corn bread, and bourbon bread pudding with Grand Marnier sauce! :-9

    9. Elenna*

      Had a semi-traditional meal back when Canadian Thanksgiving happened – duck, fish, mac and cheese, brussels sprouts, baked potatoes, some other veggie I’ve forgotten, pumpkin pie (store-bought), and apple crumble. It was delicious. Definitely too much food for the five people we had, but hey, leftovers are part of the Thanksgiving tradition!

    10. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I bought a total cheat of a turkey breast joint that you cook from frozen in the disposable tin. I also made pumpkin pie, stuffing, roasted root vegetables, and green bean casserole. Originally I planned to have mashed potatoes too but it’s too much food for two people. Maybe tomorrow with the leftovers!

    11. The teapots are on fire*

      I am feeling absolutely free to have things only I like today. So I made cranberry sauce (just cranberries, sugar, and a bit off orange) and I’m having mashed sweet potatoes with cranberries in it, which only I will eat. I am at peace with this. Make yourself some cranberry sauce this weekend! You deserve it.

    12. Pam*

      I was eating cheese and an apple for a snack, when the front door blew open. When I returned from closing and locking it, a certain canine was finishing up the apple, already having gotten the cheese.

    13. OyHiOh*

      Turkey, sausage stuffing, gravy, baked sweet potatoes, sauted green beans, whole cranberry relish. Individual cheesecakes for desert.

    14. Sparkly Librarian*

      This thread reminds me of the children’s book Duck for Turkey Day, in which many different families bypass the traditional turkey. :)

      I am very thankful that I have to do minimal holiday cooking this year; our good friends, who love to host Thanksgiving, made a feast and delivered to about a dozen no-contact households. My plate held turkey and gravy, cranberry sauce, brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes with orange, and kugel. There is also stuffing, squash soup, and green bean casserole. And both pumpkin pie and Kentucky Derby pie for dessert! We’ll eat that later when we Zoom with them.

      Tomorrow (the traditional feast day in my family of origin) my dad is experimenting with a smoked turkey and baked sweet potatoes. I’m not sure what else to expect (and I will miss the usual mashed potatoes!) but have made provision for an epic cheeseboard, which will probably be a light dinner while we watch Jingle Jangle on Netflix.

    15. lily*

      I did homemade caramelized onion, spinach, and ricotta ravioli in a cream sauce with more spinach and caramelized onions. Some sauted mushrooms and broccoli too. Plus a maple creme brulee, since I wanted to use the blow torch

    16. Diahann Carroll*

      I also went non-traditional for dinner today (since I don’t really celebrate this holiday, though I appreciate the time off): baked lemon butter garlic salmon, roasted garlic mashed cauliflower (which was surprisingly delicious – tomorrow I’ll add goat cheese to the leftovers), and I’ll be having gluten free cinnamon coffee mug cake later on tonight for dessert. I had a Bellini as my after dinner cocktail.

    17. Girasol*

      Big turkey just for two of us but we make soup from the bones and freeze the leftovers for the rest of the year. Traditional stuffing from saved scraps of bread from the last several months, gravy, cranberry orange sauce, brandy cherries, broccoli salad, corn on the cob frozen from last summer’s garden, and pie from the acorn squashes we grew. Brought in a bowlful of Carnival squashes from cold storage for a centerpiece because they look so cheery.

    18. Not trying to be rude, just good at it*

      We had Chinese style hot pot and my son had a double bacon cheese burger with fries. My son was very happy, my wife was very happy and I am typically ambivalent.

  25. Rainy*

    I’m making a brisket for Mr Rainy and I. We’re reveling in going nowhere–or at least I am–so having a somewhat non-traditional meal of two salads (beet and bleu cheese, shaved asparagus with parmesan vinaigrette), brisket and mash with gravy, homemade cranberry-pomegranate ring, and gâteau invisible aux pommes for dessert.

    This morning at about 5:40, I woke up out of an extremely vivid dream that had started as me driving around with some friends and finding a litter of puppies and then became me scraping burnt on brisket out of a slow-cooker insert. I bolted awake, ran down the stairs, and discovered that the brisket had cooked in such a way that it had thrust a bit up, dislodging the slow-cooker lid. Still plenty of sauce, but that *brisket smell intensifies* thing had reached into my dream and woken me up.

      1. Rainy*

        Our doggo got some roasted beet and was absolutely beside himself with waggy doxie joy.

        (Yes. Beet. He loves beet. And chickpeas.)

  26. Seal*

    At 4PM yesterday, the day before Thanksgiving and sorely needed 4-day weekend, my boss tells me out of the blue that they want to do a significant reorganization by the first of the year. More specifically, they want to turn a subunit of one of the departments that reports to me into a new department that reports to them. Their reasons for doing so are vague and have nothing whatsoever to do with doing what’s best for the organization or that particular unit. What it boils down to is that the head of this subunit is a rising superstar who’s doing cool and innovative things and my boss wants to work directly with them. Never mind the chaos and resentment this is going to cause amongst the rest of the staff, who are already beyond frustrated with my boss due to how badly they’ve dealt with the pandemic. Worse, the rising superstar is not a fan of my boss or their ridiculous approach to management and will leave at the first opportunity if this comes to pass. Apparently none of that matters; my boss discussed this at length with their administrative assistant (who knows nothing whatsoever about our work but is allowed to set policy and override decisions made by department heads that know what they’re doing) and they agree this would be the best for everyone.

    So rather than enjoying a long weekend and thinking about anything other than work, I need to come up with a way to derail this asinine plan before any real damage is done. The pandemic has brought out the worst in my boss, who was not all that great to begin with. It is widely accepted amongst the staff that there will be a mass exodus once the job market improves, but for now everyone – including me – is barely hanging on by a thread. But my boss doesn’t see that and plain refuses to admit there’s a problem. Happy f’ing Thanksgiving.

    1. PX*

      Commiserations! That sounds supremely unfun.

      If you can, do your best to forget about work for the weekend! Its not worth it spending mental energy on it at the moment. Save all your frustration for Monday morning where you can come up with some r/MaliciousCompliance worthy approaches ;)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Aw, so very sorry, whatta mess.

      There’s a technique that I have used with stuff like this. I find one good solid monkey wrench. And it can be something like saying, “The toilet on the third floor does not flush.” This Stupid and Seemingly Unrelated Thing causes the whole Bad Plan to dissolve.

      One time Boss had a plan that I would take a bunch of people and go work at off-site location. Fine, I said. I need a CDL to transport, shall I get one? Yes, get one. [Whoops, not the answer I expected. Try again.] Of course, when I am driving I am working so if people want to stay there and work 8 hours, plus 2 hours of driving for ME, that means I get 2 hours OT each and every day. [Bingo, nailed it.] OT was Very Bad, OT cannot possibly happen. The plan disappeared.

      Look for the monkey wrench. Make sure it’s a good one or you can end up just looking like a naysayer if you toss out too many objections. And this wrench is just some stupid little thing that no one thought of.

  27. R342*

    I have a ridiculous question.

    A coworker made me a playlist. Is this something people do for (work) friends?? I can give more context in replies, but I’m interested in your gut reactions.

    The playlist was 3 hours, very good, and titled with my name so definitely not a one they had knocking around.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      If you had a running conversation about music and share the same tastes or had expressed interest in the coworker’s choice of music, and you had a sense that they had access to a big music library or lots of their own ready made playlists and therefore selecting 50-60 songs would be relatively quick, I’d say it’s a nice gift.

      If completely out of the blue and they didn’t do it or something comparable for anyone else? That would be off putting to me. Still a nice gift, but odd.

    2. Rainbow Brite*

      I would do it for a very good friend, especially if we’d bonded over shared music tastes/experiences. For a more casual friend, maybe, but probably more like a handful of songs than a fully-curated three-hour playlist. Otherwise, mmm, probably not.

    3. university minion*

      I worked in a place where someone did this as a hobby and she was really good at it! This was in the days of “burning songs to a CD”, and we were always impressed by her music collection and how she could curate an awesome CD based on knowing relatively little about us. I probably still have a couple of CDs kicking around somewhere. If it was weird, it was awesome-weird, never creepy-weird.

    4. Alex*

      I think it matters a lot what kinds of songs are on the playlist.

      Songs professing love? Weird. Just a bunch of songs you enjoy? Nice!

      I would say that the person probably would like to move from “work friends” to “outside work friends” but not necessarily more than that, unless you are getting additional vibes in other ways.

  28. Liane*

    I am recovering from my surgeries on both hands–not at the same time! (One a week and a half ago, the other about 2 months ago.)
    Nerve conduction test is definitely weird. How uncomfortable it is seems to vary. My husband has the most skewed pain scale ever–pain that would have most of us screaming “Get me morphine NOW!!!!” gets a “Gee, that really hurts” from him. He had nerve conduction done several years back and was telling me how terribly painful it was, so I was sure I was going to be tortured. Instead, the electrical pulses just felt odd and, at worst, a little annoying to me. (Oh, the look on his face when I told him that!)

    I am glad the splints work well for you. I had a pair to help me between diagnosis & surgery, but they didn’t really help and aggravated my arthritis. Steroid shots in my wrists helped much more while waiting for the surgeries.

    Good luck. Can check in later if you have more questions.

    1. Courageous cat*

      Odd and annoying I can take! Thank you for sharing! Steroid shots were something I thought the doctor would have suggested but he did not. I will bring it up if I don’t get relief soon.

      1. Liane*

        Hope you see this. Definitely do ask about the shots.
        In case surgery’s something being considered (or it comes up later), the endoscopic isn’t very bad. I have small, less than 1/4″, incisions on the inside of my wrists, plus a similar sized one in my left palm. (I think he used a slightly different technique on my right, so only the wrist.) Local anesthetic isn’t really an option unless you go for the open technique, which is a lot longer recovery.
        You will need help for a week or 2, especially when your dominant hand is done, because some things just aren’t doable one-handed. It was over a month before I could use my left (dominant hand) for some things, like cutting food, although I could do simple stuff within 2 weeks. But my right seems to be healing slightly faster.

  29. Seeking Second Childhood*

    We watched the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade — one beautiful surprise in the middle was a land acknowledgement: “And we’re still here!”
    I also loved seeing representatives of the parades cancelled through the year….I just want a way to download the whole thing uncut because there was too much announcer in a box. They should all be like Al Roker, going out into the parade route like every excited child wants to do at every parade!

  30. Batgirl*

    How do you politely respond to an email from someone senior, asking you to do what amounts to a huge, way-above-your-role undertaking that you’d definitely mess up, because its not your job, but she thinks it is? We work in a school and a member of the Senior Leadership Team, Thelma, sent an email to myself and my boss Louise, asking us to judge who in the school needs a laptop as an access arrangement, and to put those students “in priority order” because we don’t have enough for everyone. She just said ‘this needs doing’ like it’s a simple task..
    It’s actually a huge undertaking, (I’m not convinced it’s even possible to assess students in priority order) and while it’s the remit of my boss to oversee access arrangements (she’s the Special Educational Needs coordinator) she definitely wouldn’t have time to personally prioritise and assess each student in that way. She would normally work from concerns raised by teachers and then get assessments organised for students on a case by case as individuals (I think, it’s not my wheelhouse). As for me, I actually have nothing to do with access arrangements, I deliver literacy intervention as a HLTA which is a totally separate, full on job that I’m drowning in because my fellow literacy colleague is shielding. I think Thelma is confused because my job uses laptops to access the online programs and thinks a literacy/SEN student is the same thing. Additionally, because we hadn’t safely figured out how to do my job at the start of the year, literacy was paused for a month and when Thelma asked me to do something similar in September, I was completely at a loose end and had the time to try. I visited students to chat with them, checked their handwriting ability in books, looked up who was already in various documentation as needing a laptop, compiled it all (it took weeks) and sent it out to the whole school telling teachers to please take it to the finish line by adding comments about their knowledge of students level of need. It’s been largely ignored by an overworked staff.
    It turns out, that I was completely wasting my time trying; apparently it isn’t helpful unless I (or my boss) personally decides who is the priority on that document, in a set order. But I’ve done all I can – if I tried a second time, I’d fail a second time. I see that I’ve also made a rod for my own back
    How do I get this off my plate? I’m a TA, not the person who should be allocating resources.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      She emailed you AND your boss?
      This one is easy- let your boss answer.
      Talk it over with your boss how you will handle it or not. Get on the same page together. Then ask your boss to answer the email. And that can look like, “I think it would be more appropriate coming from you than coming from me.”

      For the future, ask your boss what to do when this woman emails you for more work. If your boss is not firm and kind of wishy washy, OR she does not include your boss in the email, then tell her that you have to check with your boss to see if it’s okay to take on more assignments right now. Then ask the boss how she wants you to handle it. Ideally you boss would say, “Forward the email to me and I will take it from here.”

      1. Batgirl*

        This is the second time I’ve freaked over an email asking me to level up past my paygrade this week, and I think the reason is my boss IS kinda wishy washy due to circumstance. She’s brand new in the role and she keeps asking me ‘is this how it’s done here?’ My previous boss shared an office with my grandboss who was her back up with these kinds of situations because he was very senior. Now his position has been eliminated and the entire SLT team is trying to pass bucks to my boss’s department.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I hope you are answering her questions about how things are done, fully and completely and not just giving her a barebones answer.

          I’d start by saying something like, “I am not comfortable with people going around you to get me to work for them. I feel that I need an okay from you because you are my boss and you know my workloads and if I can take anything new on atm.” Then you can talk about other things such as, it’s not possible for you to take on more work right now AND that in the past bosses have had to intervene because this situation comes up often. Always be truthful and never exaggerate or bend the truth.

          If she is asking you how things are done that means she would like to trust you for the long haul and is working on building that up now. It also means that she is not getting much coaching from her higher ups. If you already know that the entire SLT team is trying to pass work on to your department, that is valuable information and your new boss should know what is happening and why so she can begin to sort it all out. Maybe your department IS supposed to take on all this work, she should know that so she can ask for more people or she can ask her boss about what is a priority and what is not.

          And I would somehow work into conversation that twice in one week you were asked to do things above your pay grade. In some places that can mean a person does not have the quals, certifications, education, whatever to be doing the work. So, here I would say that the work requested was out of your paygrade/class/whatever is applicable and you want her to know that so there isn’t a problem later on with people claiming you are not qualified for that task.

          I have a sad story of a friend who ended up in a situation where she was doing work that she should not be doing. She did it to “help out”. I am not exaggerating when I say the situation became newspaper headlines. It’s better to push back now, than when the headlines are in print. My friend got out of that job but it was at least a year or two of licking her wounds that were inflicted in that mess. The work was more or less shoved on to my friend. There was no one else to do it. She understood how to do the work and she could do it correctly. But she wasn’t qualified. And the press had a field day.
          Better to find out now where the problems are rather than wait a while.

          1. Batgirl*

            This is so helpful, I have been guiding my boss and can do it here too. I think you’re right, sometimes there’s no one appropriate at the wheel but that doesn’t mean you should become the fall guy who drives the failing vehicle. It stays parked until they get a real plan.

  31. Nacho*

    Mom started a zoom call with her family an hour ago. I lasted 20 minutes before excusing myself but it’s still going. Somebody tell me if I’m being antisocial by hiding in the basement until it’s over

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I was just talking about this with a good friend. Her family cuts it off at one hour. I mean, using a timer, exactly one hour. The reason for this is, if you stay on too long it’s no longer fun and people don’t want to do it any more. Sort of a leave while you’re in love type of thinking. They have a set interval between calls, also. So far, Friend says everyone is quite happy with how it is working out.

  32. Well shit*

    Sooooooooooo talk about being thankful….

    You know how I’ve been very angsty about being stuck in my mum’s house? Thank the gods I was in the fricking house, because she had a damn stroke on Tuesday afternoon.

    She came downstairs to deal with her laundry but then said she didn’t feel good and to check on her in twenty minutes — she sounded scared. She has never said to check on her when she’s feeling bad (she has chronic illnesses); she usually just watches TV and goes to bed early. So I followed her ass upstairs because OF COURSE I DID.

    She said she had felt dizzy and weird, and I did the stroke tests I could remember, and she passed them. Then she said she was feeling it again, and I did the raising arm test again, observed drift, and asked her to smile. Sure enough, the right side of her mouth stayed put. Plus she tried to pull her sleeve down with her right hand and she couldn’t get hold of it. I asked her to smile again and the second time it was worse, so I called 911. She never passed out; she was awake and talking the whole time. The fire truck came first, then the ambulance, and we got her to the hospital within an hour, so they were able to get the medication into her really fast.

    She’s doing much better today. They moved her last night from ICU but will need some rehab, plus we’re trying to get her to deal with another issue that may have actually caused this. They’re only allowing one visitor per person per day due to COVID. My nephew, who is in nursing school, drove over and he’s been with her; he’s a good advocate since he can explain medical stuff to her.

    Before you ask, yes I’m fine. I’m staying here to monitor her business phone and did all her laundry. I would rather not sit at the hospital all day because I have no insurance or money and can’t afford to get sick.

    I want to impress this on everyone: if you feel bad and you think something is wrong, tell someone, or call for help if you’re alone. If she hadn’t said anything and had just gone upstairs to lie down, we’d be having a very different conversation right now. It’s better to be a little embarrassed in front of a first responder than to go to bed and die.

    Also, and this is important because of the pandemic, PLEASE make sure your important information is easily accessible in case you have to go to the hospital—e.g. bills, professional contacts, etc. Make sure your peeps know who to notify if you’re taken ill and can find that info easily. It took me until today to find her address book and then Nephew had to ask her who she wanted us to contact. UGH. Don’t leave people scrambling through little pieces of paper that only make sense to you!

    1. nep*

      So glad you were there, and that you’re OK and she’s better. Wow.
      (I’m currently living w my mom, and while I’m more than ready to get back to my own space and much of the time I’m tearing my hair out, there are moments when I’m really glad she’s got one of her kids living w her.)
      May your mother recover well.

    2. My Brain Is Exploding*

      So glad you were there and thanks for taking the time out for the “teaching moment.” Take care.

    3. anon24*

      I’m glad you were there for her and knew what to do! Strokes are so scary and congrats for recognizing what was going on. I hope she has a full recovery. And good tips! For everyone, if you suspect you are having a stroke, DON’T WAIT to see if your symptoms get better. If I (EMT) can get to you and get you into the hospital shortly after your symptoms start, they have a chance of reversing it. If they can’t, they can at least limit the damage. If you wait too long, it’s too late. I see people who wait a day or so, hoping it will get better and by then that part of the brain has died and isn’t coming back. Time is brain.

      1. Well shit*

        ALL OF THIS!
        The faster they get that medication into you, the better your outcome is likely to be. They can give it for up to three hours after, but the sooner the better. If you’re worried about money, most hospitals have financial assistance or will work something out with you.


    4. A313*

      Oh my gosh, so lucky you were there and so good you had the presence of mind to know what to do. I hope you get some time to yourself to catch your breath and take care of yourself. That matters!

    5. allathian*

      Wow! I wish your mom a speedy and full recovery. I’m glad for her sake, and yours, that you were there and that she had the presence of mind to say she felt something was wrong.

    6. Jean (just Jean)*

      Great thinking and responding! I hope your mom recovers completely.
      And an unrelated thought…You would be a great employee in settings that require calm in a crisis (or dynamic situation but not one in which lives are at stake): emergency room, crisis center, transportation hub, shipping facility…? Or event planning, in real life or online, when this pandemic finally abates? or coordinator for downsizing elder households, or estate sales?
      Okay, enough from the Department of Unsolicited Advice. Just a vote of confidence here from this internet stranger. Keep on taking good care of yourself and your mom.

      1. Well shit*

        Thank you, but I really don’t want a job where I have to deal with crises all day, mine or anyone else’s. I just want to quietly do my work and then go home.

    7. Well shit*

      Thanks, y’all.

      Update: she’s doing way better, has walked with a walker and some help (she has one at home already since she had a problem with her knee last year—she named it Ethel, lol), and she has agreed to deal with the other problem (she needs a pacemaker) and they are going to take care of that on Monday. That will help her heal faster and probably make her feel way better overall.

      1. Hazel*

        I’m so glad this turned out as well as it did. Good for you and for her for knowing something wasn’t right.

        P.S. Ethel is a great name for the walker! My grandfather called his Hiram – as in Hiram Walker, the liquor company (“smart ass” runs in our family).

      2. AnotherAlison*

        Wow. . .I wasn’t online yesterday, but sorry to hear about your mom. Glad you were there and she’s doing better. My cousin had a stroke >5 years ago, and her son was with her and got help right away, and she fully recovered. She had a never-discovered congenital heart defect that she was able to have repaired, so I hope your mom gets the pacemaker so you have a little peace of mind and she will definitely feel better. My cousin was surprised what full heart function actually felt like.

      3. Twisted Knickers*

        So glad to hear your mom’s doing better, and I second, third and fourth others’ comments about how fortunate it was that you were there. Best of luck to your mom, and to you!!

  33. Not So NewReader*

    Wow. Good for her for telling you and cooperating with you and Good for You for pretty much saving her life.

    I couldn’t for the life of me remember the signs of a stroke. And then one day I HAD to remember. I read it a million times how come it did not stay with me? But in the end, I pulled it together.

    Ask them to smile.
    Ask them to raise BOTH hands over their head.
    Ask them to say a simple sentence.

    When you call 911 they make you do it all over again, which is fine especially if you forgot one or if things are worse the second time you test the person.

    For anyone who decides to put together that emergency list of contacts be sure to put your own address at the top of the list and clearly labeled. If you have a landline be sure to include that number with your address.
    Even people who have known you for a long time can forget this basic info in times of emergency.

  34. SandrineSmiles - France*

    I’m still around!

    My family is super happy. We have finally found a cheaper, better located apartment. It’ll change from the house we’re in now, but quite frankly, we were all getting tired of relying on Mom only to go places (I do not have a license) .

    So while the year was pretty crappy, this is just another good note to add to it, besides my new nephew in January :D

  35. Hazel*

    Wait! Alison, you have 6 kitties now?! They’re adorable! Last I remember you had two and then a foster fail. Where did the other kitties come from? ‍⬛

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