updates: the drug deal, the fake celebrity spokesperson, and more

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

1. I think I witnessed a drug deal at work (#2 at the link)

I was a recipient of your advice back on December 20, 2013. I took your advice of not saying anything because I agreed: there was nothing concrete or compelling. Reporting my suspicion to management or HR was a poorly thought out idea borne of personal misery, and would have had larger repercussions. Thankfully, the roommate/coworker moved out about half a year later.

I was young (almost a different person!) and the roommate situation did a number on my self-esteem that took a few years to recover from. I worked hard to ensure my personal life did not compromise my professional judgment any further, and can confirm that my professionalism has remained firmly intact. I am a trusted, respected, and positive resource within my company and have been promoted several times. Had I not taken your advice, this likely wouldn’t have been the case. I am eternally grateful for your advice not just on that day, but all of the advice from the last several years. I am a daily reader and frequently recommend this blog to others. Thank you!

2. My boss is trying to manage my diabetes for me (#3 at the link)

We went along pretty well until July 2019 when I was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer and spent six months going through all the treatment that entails. He was wonderful – incredibly supportive through all the mess (and between chemo, surgery and radiation, my diabetes control got very shaky for some months there, too; it wasn’t pretty in many ways), letting me come and go as and when I felt up to it, I couldn’t fault him.

Everything is back on an even keel now (and the cancer is gone and will hopefully stay that way) and he seems to have relaxed his need to micromanage. But, honestly, after the last eighteen months, I don’t care. He went well above and beyond what is required of a principal in that sort of situation.

3. What should I expect from my staff at this point in the pandemic?

Thank you so much for your advice, and thanks to the commenters for their input as well. The ‘thanks for having empathy’ messages cheered me up, and the ones suggesting solutions were a final confirmation that I really had tried my hardest to find ways to engage people more in their job and I was just being very limited by the top-down culture of my organization.

By the time my question was posted, I had already started tentatively looking for a job outside the library system where I currently work. Last week I was offered, and accepted, a new position! It is technically a lateral move, but it comes with a raise, more interesting work, and what seems (so far) to be an upper management that puts more trust in their team and allows people to take more initiative. I start in a couple of weeks and I am very excited!

4. Our marketing director thinks he’s a celebrity spokesperson (#2 at the link)

Nothing much to report but I will still update because my colleague is the source of much entertainment during these trying times.

During the pandemic, he moved to the country and adopted some goats. He started a moderately successful TikTok and branded himself as “Good Vibes Steve and his G.O.A.T.s” (not the exact name but you get the gist). He started selling merch with his face on it and to our surprise, some people are buying them. He’s currently approaching Cameo to be part of their talent but for some unknown reason, they do not seem to believe Good Vibes Steve the marketing manager is a bona fide celebrity and they keep rejecting him, much to his dismay. Since we’ve all been working from home, we have much less interaction, which allows me to look at his antics with the bemused eyes of an outsider.

{ 47 comments… read them below }

  1. KayEss*

    The tale of Good Vibes Steve warms my heart, probably because I don’t have to actually deal with him in person. May he continue to be (harmlessly) convinced of his own celebrity and thereby provide entertainment for all!

    1. EPLawyer*

      Train wrecks from 90 Day Fiance get on Cameo. Why can’t Get Vibes Steve? He’s a much as a “celebrity” as they are. Probably less stupid (although equally as delusional it seems)

    2. Artemesia*

      This whole ‘influencer’ culture in which people who have exactly zero talent or reason to follow them nevertheless create a life on line as a celebrity is one of the strangest things to happen in my lifetime. I could not be more behind the times. It’s spill over into politics is scary, but the rest of it is amusing. It is like an endless celebration of shallowness.

    3. EmbracesTrees*

      Ugh, I work with a former local tv news person who is convinced they are The Sh*t and, in a dept of people who are all Senior Advanced Goat Herders, literally refers to themselves as THE Senior Advanced Goat Herders. It is the “It’s Me” show every day all day.

      It Is So Annoying To Work With. A mutual acquaintance who is a doctor of psychology refers to that person as actually being THE Senior Advanced Clinical Narcissist.

      Oh, how I wish I could give you more details of this person but it would be far too identifying. The Stories!

    4. Quill*

      Glad Good Vibes Steve is working towards his goal of becoming an influencer without dragging all his coworkers into it!

      (The Goats, I am certain, do not care one way or another about this.)

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

      As long as Good Vibes Steve doesn’t evolve into a fake influencer with fake followers who threatens lawsuits and doxxing to all those who make videos about him, I’m ok.

        1. Sylvan*

          Ha, I think so? There have been several Instagram influencers who were caught faking sponsorships (influencer is code for advertiser, sponsorship is code for ad deal, so it’s a bizarre thing for them to do). There have been many more influencers caught buying fake followers. Sometimes a YouTuber or two will expose this in a video and there’ll be a lot of drama.

  2. Always Late to the Party*

    Currently praying the Internet Gods put Good Vibes Steve and his GOATs on my For You page…

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

    As long as Good Vibes Steve doesn’t evolve into a fake influencer with fake followers who threatens lawsuits and doxxing to all those who make videos about him, I’m ok.

  4. EPLawyer*

    #3– I just want to say thank you for your original letter and your update.
    In the original I posted how much our local library meant to me by introducing curbside pick up for holds. You encouraged me to thank my library. Well recently on Twitter the local library posed a survey asking people’s thoughts on curbside pick up. I responded. I also responded directly to the tweet to thank you for the service. I said it saved my sanity. A friend saw the post and questioned whether I was ever sane to begin with (we take mental health seriously we were JOKING with each other). The Library went AFTER my friend (in a very good natured way) and we all had a good laugh about it. But most importantly the library DOES KNOW their efforts are appreciated by at least one person.

  5. Michelle*

    Wow wow wow. I never saw the original “I think I saw a drug deal at work” post, but I very nearly lost a job due to someone like that once in the 90s. There was a mix-up over whether my boyfriend or our other friend would be picking me up from work; one or the other did every day and this was pre-cell-phone. Shortly before my shift ended, they both arrived and parked at opposite ends of the block and met in front of the building, talked for a few minutes, then our friend left. It is worth noting, or at least the security guard thought so, that my boyfriend had long hair and “wacky” sunglasses and drove a 280Z; our friend drove a panel van for his job and probably was shirtless with a chest covered in bandages from a recent accident. They were not clean-cut young preppy men, is what I’m saying. Anyway I came down and caught my ride home a few minutes later and it would have been just another afternoon, fully unremarkable, if not for the next day’s “uhhhh hi good morning you don’t have to go to work today REPEAT DO NOT GO TO WORK TODAY they don’t need you any longer and don’t call them either ok call us bye” message from my contracting agency, left at 6:30 AM after my boyfriend and I had already begun our commute, that I found when I called my home voice mail from work to check messages at lunch. I went to my on-site supervisor, because, well, there I was at work even though apparently I wasn’t supposed to be and why had he not said anything and what the hell???? I suppose he had thought I’d get that voice mail when I got home then call the agency office, because he did not have a lie ready. He told me what the building’s security guard had seen, that the guard had called him down to look, that they both agreed it was a drug deal, and I was never supposed to know all that. I was just supposed to never come back again, period. If I had been five minutes later leaving for work to get that phone call, I’d’ve lost my job and never known why. Because someone thought they saw a drug deal. Spoiler alert: it was not a drug deal. Moral: mind your business.

    1. Mami21*

      Whaaaaat?? They thought they saw a drug deal because two men spoke briefly, and decided to fire YOU because you left with one of them?
      What a weird, cowardly way to deal with a total non-situation.

      1. Michelle*

        It was a conservative industry in a conservative part of the country. If that had happened to me in my 30s or 40s instead of when I was 18, I’d’ve made it cost them. But at the time I was just glad to still have my (extremely terrible, you’ll be surprised to know) job.

        1. Capertillar*

          Not that it was anyone’s business, but why did your supervisor not have the decency to at least speak to you to clarify the situation before jumping to conclusions?!

          1. Michelle*

            Like @Mami21 intuited, he was just a coward. He was the type who’d gather the whole team around to say “just as a reminder about our dress code, you should always be appropriately dressed for the workplace…” It turns out he thought that _my_ skirts, specifically, were too short, but he never once said that to me individually, and I genuinely had no idea that I had been the target of those namby-pamby lectures until years later, due to a chance run-in with someone who used to work there.

            I suspect there were also some staff-vs-contractor dynamics in play; I work (then and now) in tech and have seen the whole gamut of in-group gatekeeping along that divide from none to gratuitous. This place was the worst of the latter, and I’d be unsurprised to know that the main client company whose jobsite we all worked at (in the back of their basement, batch) saw all of us contractor peons as entirely disposable. When you add that situation to the boss contractor peon being a spineless worm… it’s a miracle they didn’t fire me anyway, just for appearances, even after I told him that their interpretation of my ride home from work was way off-base.

            1. Amethystmoon*

              As someone who temped for a number of years, temps can and will get let go for reasons that companies would not fire permanent employees for. I have seen people get fired from temp jobs for being out sick for a few days (not a whole week, just a few days). In the US, temps have few job protections.

              1. Chinook*

                Ditto in Canada. When I called into a temp job with kidney stones (I was in the ER), I fully expected for my position to be removed and to return my office keys. In any other job, I would expect to be given, at the very least, unpaid sick days. But temps are there to cover when someone else is off and the position needs to be covered. We are easily replaceable, like cogs, and I learned not to take it personally.

  6. Ms.Vader*

    Okay I went back and re-read the drug deal letter and oh wow – I’m happy to see the letter writer appears to have matured a bit. But…there’s another letter on that thread that left me gobsmacked (letter 4).

    Women should work less because we take longer to get ready? And the OP left early to wash her hair? Lol haha oh man.

    1. Arctic*

      I used to low-key plan my entire schedule around washing my hair sometimes. But I would never SAY it or leave early solely because of it!

      1. Virs*

        As an adult I’ve always low-key planned “events” around washing my hair. It takes 4 hours to dry fully and will look a complete mess until I’ve slept on it, and often even after sleeping on it if it was too dry or too damp when I went to bed. And the “nice” look lasts for a maximum of two days, less if it rains, and much less if I wash it more frequently than every 4 days. I wish I had the bone structure to pull off a pixie cut sometimes!

      2. Ms.Vader*

        I get up an hour early just to wash my hair on wash days but I don’t come in late or leave early because of it lol! My hair takes all day to air dry. I should get a day off a week with her logic haha

    2. Vichyssuave*

      Yiiiikes. I know we’re supposed to be nice to the LWs here, but it takes a special kind of cognitive dissonance to be asking if the boss was the one being sexist there.

      1. PT*

        I wonder if that letter ran around the time there was a ton of attention about the time and money women lose because the standard for professional appearance for women was so much more involved for women than men. It was being lauded as the new gender pay gap type thing, for awhile.

        It was a terribly tone deaf thing to say out loud, but I can 100% see how you’d read that article and then summarize it poorly down the line to someone else.

        1. Vichyssuave*

          Ah, that makes sense! I’ve seen a similar argument made for why it’s still totally reasonable to expect men to pay for first dates. But I have to say I was shocked to see it brought up in a professional setting.

        2. Ms.Vader*

          I think the problem is this person has difficulty with critical thinking amd is unable to apply that to her defense of “washing her hair takes longer”. She’s picked a rather odd hill to die on and with little basis of fact against her employer.

    3. Kiki*

      I feel like that OP read half a paragraph about feminism and gendered expectations of professionalism and just completely took home the wrong point. It was a wild ride, but I kind of love her confidence? “I need to go home now to wash my hair, OBVIOUSLY.” LOL. I love askamanager so much. The workplace is such a rich tapestry.

  7. gltonwry*

    OP#2 – I hope all continues well with you:) That’s a tough row to hoe and continue working. All the best and many cyber hugs.

  8. Amber Rose*

    Good Vibes Steve sounds like the kind of person Skweezy Jibbs is making fun of and I honestly am happy about that.

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