my boss bought me new clothes, couriers who don’t wear masks, and more

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

1. My boss bought new clothes for me

I work at a furniture store and just had an odd meeting with my store manager and am not sure what to think. My sales have been low this last month so we had to do a touch base to find areas to improve. I am open to constructive criticism but it took a strange turn when she said I was not up to the dress code. This was the first time she brought it up and I honestly cannot see a difference between my business casual style and that of my coworkers. I’ve never worn jeans and always wear either business flats or fashion boots and my tops are sweaters, blouses, or shirts with blazers.

She went on to tell me that she has purchased new clothes for me. I was quite taken aback as I don’t need anyone else to buy my clothes, and it’s not like I had been told repeatedly that I needed to change my dress and hadn’t complied or said I can’t afford it.

I don’t feel comfortable accepting the clothes but I don’t know if I can turn them down. I also don’t necessarily want to offer to pay her back for them, as I probably would’ve bought other styles.

Is this weird and what should I do next? I have worked in retail furniture for many years and have never encountered a dress code problem before.

It is indeed weird! Most people do not want their managers to select and purchase clothes for them, and it’s incredibly odd that she did this without ever having spoken to you about the dress code before and without you indicating that you needed or wanted help. (It’s also just incredibly odd in general, even without those factors.)

You can and probably should turn the clothes down. You could say, “I appreciate the offer of help, but I can’t accept them. I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing clothes someone else had picked out for me. I’ll certainly make sure I’m adhering to the dress code, although it would be helpful to better understand exactly where I’m out of compliance. My understanding is that sweaters, blouses, shirts with blazers, and flats or boots are all okay. Am I off-base about that?”

It’s possible that it’s something like … everyone is wearing sweaters but yours are in bright neon colors that aren’t sufficiently sedate for your office. Or it’s possible it’s about fit — for example, loose and baggy or very tight will read less professionally. Who knows! She should have been specific when she talked with you.

If you had a chance to look at what she purchased, that might give you some clues about what she thinks you should be doing differently …. but you are not her dress-up doll and do not need to allow her to clothe you. What she did was a huge overstep.

2. Deliveries from couriers who aren’t wearing masks

My partner is working from home due to Covid, and his company has been great about it in general — which is good for us as we both have high risk factors. However, something has popped up twice now, that neither of us are sure how to handle. He works in IT, and part of his group’s duties include changing out server drives that need replacing. Since they all are working from home now, they take turns. The way it works is they decide who’s going to do it, then the vendor ships a part to that person’s home so they can do the swap (the method of choosing is fine).

My partner has had it do it twice now and the same problem has popped up with both vendors — the delivery people (courier services, not FedEx or UPS) show up to the door and demand signatures, but are not wearing masks. We’re a pretty locked-down household. I’m unemployed and, except for necessary stuff, have been home and am always masked when out, so this is disturbing. I had to sign in one case, as my partner was on a Zoom that couldn’t be interrupted. I get that the stuff has to be signed for, so I just did it quickly. He did mention it to one of the vendor, who apologized and said they’d deal with the courier company in question, but has said nothing to the other vendor. How hard is it okay to push back on this kind of thing? We’re in a hotspot area and I don’t see this changing anytime soon.

He can absolutely push back with the vendors very firmly. It’s ridiculous for couriers to show up without masks, and any responsible vendor would want to know that’s happening.

If it does happen again, in addition to reporting it to the vendor, please insist on whatever precautions you need in the moment. For example, you can ask the person to leave the thing you need to sign by your door and move back quite a ways so you can pick it up and sign, and then leave it for them to retrieve once you’re back inside. Or you can keep a supply of disposable masks, hand them one, and ask them to put it on before any business commences.

3. I sent an angry email to an employer who I thought had ghosted me

I went through the entire interview process with a company and was told I’d receive an offer soon. More than two weeks went by without any contact, during which time I sent a follow-up email asking what was happening and got no response.

I’m not proud of it, but I concluded (as it has happened to me before) that the offer would not materialize, and sent an angry email to my point of contact at the company. I didn’t use profanity, but my tone was sarcastic and rude. It certainly got their attention — they apologized for the delay and expressed shock and sadness over the escalation in my tone, which, fair enough. I still think they could have kept me in the loop and said so, though I did apologize before we parted ways.

I know you’re not psychic and can’t speak for the employer, but do you think there’s any value in following up with an additional profuse apology and an explanation of my state of mind in hopes of salvaging the relationship and maybe the offer? In reflecting on the whole thing, I’m keenly aware that I had a fear-induced lapse of judgment, and I’m reminded of an early Mad Men episode where Bert Cooper tells Don Draper, after Pete Campbell has tried to sabotage Don’s career but won’t be fired due to his extensive connections, “Who knows how loyalty is born.” In other words, if they still were willing to give me a chance after this brouhaha, it might make me that much more diligent and tenacious as an employee, as a means of redeeming myself.

I know the worst that can happen is that they will stick with the rejection and I thus have nothing to lose. I guess I’m really asking whether you’ve ever witnessed or heard of a real-life situation where a job-seeker managed to recover from a boneheaded move like this.

I think you should send the apology because it’s the professional thing to do, but without any hope of salvaging the offer. One, because it’ll probably come through if you’re just trying to get the offer back. Two, because yeah, that offer probably isn’t salvageable. It’s one thing to sound mildly impatient, but still polite, when several weeks have gone by with just silence after you were told to expect an offer. But sending an angry email and using a rude and sarcastic tone … it crosses a line and will make them think you’re going to be angry, rude, and sarcastic on the job if something doesn’t go your way. Unfortunately what they’re thinking at this point is likely, “Whoa, glad we found that out before we hired him.”

Employers don’t usually think, “Maybe this person will be extra diligent on the job to make up for his bad behavior as a candidate.” They think, “His behavior as a candidate is a window into how he’ll be in the job.”

Any chance there have been other occasions where impatience or frustration has made you act in ways that lessened your chances of getting something you wanted? It’s worth looking at whether this was a one-time flub borne of desperation, or whether there’s a larger pattern there.

I’m sorry about the offer.

4. Should I share my referral bonus with the person I referred?

Recently my company started offering referral bonuses for various jobs. I referred someone I know online (never met them in person) to a fairly entry-level job. I am a manager level making quite a bit more than they would. In order to refer, you don’t actually have to know them, and you’re not giving a stamp of approval. Basically, you log into the job portal and forward the job link to whomever you’re referring.

I believe the referral bonus is $2,500-$3,000 for this position if they hire this person. I know the person is not in great financial shape right now. They just broke up with their partner and are staying with someone right now, renting a room. Should I give them the bonus? Would splitting it look cheap?

It would be nice to have but wouldn’t be a huge amount of money for me like it would be for them, I would think. I do own a home and we’ve been doing quite a bit of repairs/renovations (new roof, which is obviously not cheap!). I don’t want to be selfish here.

People normally keep referral bonuses for themselves. Your company offers bonuses because they want to incentivize referrals, and if people felt pressure to give them to the new hire they wouldn’t be serving their purpose. Plus, the candidate probably feels you already helped them out — by referring them! It’s really yours to do with as you want.

But if you’re moved to offer it to them, that would be a lovely thing to do! If you’d prefer to split it, that won’t look cheap — since the expectation is normally that they wouldn’t get any of it, offering a surprise four-figure sum would undoubtedly be welcomed and appreciated, not resented.

{ 434 comments… read them below }

  1. MissM*

    LW#4, just remember that you’ll be paying taxes on the full amount, which is another reason why people don’t split them

    1. MK*

      To begin with, the OP should make sure how much the bonus is. I admit I don’t know the norms around referral bonuses, but the sums mentioned for an entry level position and a candidate the OP doesn’t even vouch for sound exorbitant to me.

      1. Shells*

        My company had a £200 referral fee for entry level, if they stayed over 3 months. It’s the only scheme of its kind I have seen.

      2. HA2*

        Depends on the company and the industry, I suppose.

        Tech industry in San Jose – those numbers seem normal (if you’re not at one of the few big companies that’s drowning in all the candidates they could ever want.)

        Then again, tech in San Jose is not a normal industry by any means, so I don’t know whether that’s unique to that field/location or not.

        1. Liz case*

          My last company had $2000 plus another $2000 if you were both there a year after. They did strongly encourage you only refer folks you personally could vouch for, though.

      3. JM in England*

        My previous employers had a referral scheme which paid c£250 if the nominated person was hired and then the same amount again if they passed probation.

      4. Ana Gram*

        I’m in law enforcement and we do 2 days off or $500 (your choice) for referrals. But you do need to actually know the person and provide a reference.

      5. Blue wall*

        My previous company had a different amount for a reference (someone you could vouch for) and a referral (more of a random person).

      6. LW4*

        I know it sounds crazy but it’s a nurses aide type position in a West Coast healthcare organization.
        With Covid, it’s harder to fill these jobs.

        1. Whynot*

          FWIW, I think it is a very kind thing you’re doing, whether you split it or not. It is nice to read about people looking out for one another, particularly now.

        2. theletter*

          A congratulatory gift certificate, issued when the referral bonus comes through, should be more than enough.

        3. rear mech*

          Please listen to the voice in your head that says the referral bonus would be a life changing amount of money for them. I’m poor and if I got a decent referral bonus for referring a similar income friend splitting it would be foregone conclusion. Get their venmo first so they can’t refuse, and just send them the money and tell them the referral was unexpectedly massive because of covid and that you already paid off a bill or took yourself out to dinner.

          1. MK*

            Many people would be offended and humiliated to be given money in such a highhanded fashion (don’t give them the option to refuse, seriously?), and some may well return your money with specific instructions about where you should put them. Offering to split the referral is a nice friendly gesture, but what you suggest can backfire, no matter how well intended.

        4. Anne Elliot*

          It’s important to me that it is a Certified Nurse Assistant position. Most of the people I know who are CNAs are very hard working but live pretty close to the bone because the salaries are so low. I think sharing part of the bonus would be very meaningful to a CNA, who would likely be very grateful, especially these days. I think such an offer would be very kind, though it is not required and really is up to you.

      7. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

        Previous place of employment was $1500 for the first referral, $2000 for the second, for any position other than a student intern. If you were to refer someone to be hired at the VP/Exec level, it was higher.

      8. Mel_05*

        Yeah, I’ve seen in the $200-$500 range and the person has to work out for a specific length of time.

      9. BlueWolf*

        I work at a law firm and our minimum referral bonus is $2,500 for staff positions (even entry-level) and even more for higher level staff position and attorneys. You get half after their first 6 months, and the other half after they’ve been with the firm for a year.

      10. Lightning*

        I’m at an engineering firm and our referral bonuses are in this range. Depending on the category of job, anywhere between $1000 to a few thousand, plus an extra week to few weeks of PTO. No personal reference required, just a successful hire.

      11. Littorally*

        Definitely depends on the industry. My employer’s referral bonuses start at $1,000 and go up to $5,000, but that’s dependent on the new hire being hired and passing licensing exams, as well as what licenses they already have.

      12. EssEss EssEss*

        I work in the tech field. In both my current job and Oldjob , referrals for entry level tech roles would pay between $3K and $6K, depending on the job role and also on how many diversity categories the new hire fit into.

      13. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Mr. Gumption’s employer offers $5000-$7,000 for hard to fill positions, even entry level, especially if in hard to fill areas of the world or ones that would be considered “hardship posts” (e.g. remote rural, minimal infrastructure).

    2. RussianInTexas*

      Boyfriend company pays $5k for a referral if a person stays for 6 months, but they are decidedly not entry-level (software development). They also give a generous sign-on bonus, so sharing the referral bonus won’t even occur to anyone.

    3. starsaphire*

      Do you know if there’s a time factor on the bonus? Like, does the person have to stay X months or you’ll have to pay it back?

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally on team split the bonus, but I also don’t want you to suddenly be out a grand because your friend didn’t make it past probation for whatever reason.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        This would be my concern too. My employer doesn’t use referral bonuses, but this was how they worked most places that I knew of – either the bonus came in parts (upon hire and after x days/months) or was only awarded after they stayed x length of time.

        Make sure the money is happening and not revokeable before sharing it.

      2. LW4*

        There is a time requirement. They need to stay 90 days. And I would absolutely wait until I actually got it before considering giving her any. Thanks!

    4. Tara*

      In my social circle, it’s customary if you get a referral bonus to take the person who’s got the job out for dinner to say congratulations. It’s kind of you to want to give or share the bonus, but remember, you’ve already done them a kindness in helping them get a job.

    5. Momma Bear*

      See what the taxes takes out first before promising a sum. But other than that, it is very kind and generous of you to offer half to someone you know can use it.

  2. Jaybeetee*

    LW3: I think you’re screwed on this one. All they’re going to think now is that you’re foul-tempered and take things out on people. Send another apology if you like, but don’t assume it’ll lead to an offer.

    This is an impulse you have to learn to rein in. As I’ve heard elsewhere, feelings are valid, but that doesn’t mean our actions always are. Job-hunting is frustrating and a ridiculous power imbalance. You’re allowed to get frustrated and upset. But lashing out is no bueno, ever.

    1. Jackalope*

      Yeah, this is a case where venting to a friend or family member (in a nonpublic, not social media type way) is the best way to go. You can get out your frustrations and not have it affect your ability to get the job.

      1. Myrin*

        Or even just writing the email to get it all out and then not sending it. (Best way to do that is to not have anything in the “to” field at all lest you accidentally let something loose.)

        1. Liz*

          YES! I am prone to feelings-related-wordvomit when I get emotional, and I find it helps immensely to just write the thing out there and then, and then let it sit for a while. I have friends who use similar techniques. Very occasionally one of us will run the email by someone else say “should I send this?” and often the answer is no, or, if there is a legitimate complaint, a qualified yes whereby the writer is advised to cut the more emotive chunks and leave the fact of the matter that requires action. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, immediacy is not our friend.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I’ve got a word processing app on my iPad that I use pretty much exclusively to draft out really profane rants. Like, what I’d like to send to the interviewers a few months back who said my height (I’m over 6 foot tall) would be an issue at their place as I was intimidating the staff.

          Think every sarcastic, inventive thing ever said by a UK comedian. That level.

          The iPad is locked, those words are stored locally and I never run the risk of it accidentally getting out. The notes function on my phone sometimes stands in.

          1. EventPlannerGal*

            I do this! I use Writer and have it set to make typewriter noises so I can angrily bang away at the keyboard like a pissed-off 1930s journalist. Sometimes I look back at my old rants and lol at how angry I was about things that I don’t even remember now. Helps with perspective, I think.

          2. Shhhh*

            I write out things I know I shouldn’t say to people (coworkers, family, etc) in the notes app on my phone. I just delete it later when I’ve calmed down. It helps.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              Yup, that’s why I do it. I have a ton of internalised anger (I know it’s nobody’s fault I’m disabled and in pain 24/7) and it does help to get the stuff written down. Then have a cup of tea.

        3. Totally Minnie*

          I regularly open a google doc, rage type about all the things that aren’t going right, and then immediately delete it. It’s an excellent mood regulation aid.

    2. NeonFireworks*

      I did the same thing as #3 once, many years ago. It was the only time in my adult life I’ve lashed out like that at anyone for any reason, but they had led me to expect an offer and quickly. I apologized immediately and thoroughly, but it haunts me to this day. I burned a bridge badly. Though the company abruptly collapsed in a huge scandal shortly later and might have torpedoed my future while they were at it, so maybe my moment of uncharacteristic arrogance and anger protected me from a baaaaaad situation.

      1. Julia*

        Yeah, exactly. What concerns me a little about LW 3 is that he doesn’t seem to actually regret his rudeness – what he regrets is prematurely giving up on the company, because now he realizes their silence wasn’t a rejection.

        He even said that in his first apology email, he pointed out they should’ve kept him in the loop more! That is not a repentant person.

        LW, I don’t think you should apologize again. You’re not really sorry, and it’s going to come across.

        1. Observer*

          Yeah, the doubling down part is really concerning.

          But so is the reference to Mad Men. I mean, who really thinks that this is an accurate portrayal of who minimally functional workplaces operate?

          1. Another health care worker*

            That jumped out at me too. It’s a fictional TV show about a specific workplace culture 50+ years ago, characterized by frequent drinking on the job and overt misogyny. If you’re looking at Mad Men for reassurance on your professional judgment, something is wrong.

            1. pope suburban*

              This. I worked in a place that bore more than a passing resemblance to Mad Men, and it was absolute hell. Someone referencing that show in a positive way would raise my hackles. It would suggest to me that they will be manifestly unkind to support/clerical staff, and that their judgment is all-around not likely to be sound.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            yes, while it may be a true saying Mad Men is not exactly a reference in the business world.
            And seeing the kind of people who demand loyalty (starting with the lame duck prez who refuses to leave), it’s perhaps not even wise to point out that loyalty may be forged by hiring him despite his mistake. I’ve gone right off loyalty as a characteristic in fact.

            1. 'Tis Me*

              Loyalty is still a good trait – but blind loyalty to the exclusion of all reason, lawfulness, etc, not so much.

        2. Sunny*

          Yeah LW1 comes off as oddly Machiavellian and a bit out of touch. There is a pandemic and the holidays just happened, so it makes sense that hiring in this instance is slow.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I can guarantee everyone has a ‘oh I REaLLY shouldn’t have said that!’ moment in their past: I know I made some right clangers in my first job.

        The important bit is to realise why you were wrong, apologise then never do it again. What I’ve learnt is to not expect, or ask for, forgiveness for it or for it to be forgotten now you’ve apologised. Learning an apology isn’t a clean reset button is….one of the harder adult skills.

        1. Roy G. Biv*

          “Learning an apology isn’t a clean reset button is….one of the harder adult skills.” This is another solid gold quote going into my collection of wisdom gathered from the AAM commentariat.

          Yep. It took me a long time to realize it is OK to just straight up apologize. Do not couch in in reasons or whys and wherefores. Admit you were wrong, say it will not happen again (and mean it,) and thank the listener for their time. No pressuring for reassurances or “please, can you ever forgive me?”

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            yeah, the pressure is all wrong. Sometimes people need time to be able to forgive. Sometimes the forgiving can only happen once you’ve proved that you really have changed your ways.

    3. Batgirl*

      Yes, as Alison said they would be concerned about what the OP would do “if something doesn’t go your way”. Unfortunately, from this point onwards it will seem like the only reason OP is repentant is because they were still being considered. If they had just been met with more radio silence, it’s possible the anger would still be there.
      It’s a good point that OP’s feelings are absolutely valid. Job hunting makes you feel powerless, and a jab at someone makes you feel like you still have some kind of say in it all. This wish for control is still in play now with the hope that a prodigal son display of remorse will control their actions, if a telling off won’t. It’s just not like that. Your power exists in not giving up on yourself, in pursuing smart leads, presenting yourself well and upon recognising dead ends … moving on. I would also add: giving yourself a break, and some self care if you feel yourself reaching breaking point.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I wish I had paid more attention to behaviors in some candidates I reluctantly agreed to hire for my C-suite hiring managers. Some candidates were demanding and petulant about every little thing that didn’t meet their expecations, and I shared my concerns with the HM. No dice. We hired those folks and, sure enough, they were demanding and petulant over every. little. thing. Some of those new hires didn’t last 6 months, and others needed coaching.

        Candidates aren’t in control of the hiring process, but that doesn’t make them powerless. OP, a nicely worded letter, asking about the next steps, is appropriate and can work in your favor. A follow up acknowledging that hiring isn’t an exact process but expressing your continued interest would have done you favors, too. A snotty letter because your particular expectations were not met is never appropriate, and another apology won’t serve any good purpose.

        1. Artemesia*

          I hired a lot of people for my organization and one thing that became clear to me early on is that every misgiving you have during the process will be spot on when they are hired. The guy who wouldn’t shut up and droned on during the interview — yeah, he never shuts up. The woman who was ‘abrasive’ — she went on to undercut our department to curry favor with higher management. etc etc. They show you who they are if you pay attention.

          1. singlemaltgirl*

            absolutely! when people show you who they are, believe them (maya angelou).

            and my memory is long. i remember candidates who set off red flags and usually it’s related to attitude, tone, and communication style.

            it’s not going to get better later when they’re supposed to be trying to make a great first impression now. dodge. the. bullet.

          2. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Wish I’d listened to my instincts when I first started doing hiring people. One guy tripped all my ‘dangerous bloke!’ warning alarms but I couldn’t fault his CV or experience. He was fired 6 months later for showing up drunk, verbally assaulting a client, physically assaulting a staff member….

            Guts have brains.

      2. tangerineRose*

        The thing is, even when an emotion is valid, airing it is not always a good idea. For example, a co-worker once IM’d something to me that I found quite insulting. I didn’t reply because I didn’t know what to say and because most of my immediate thoughts would not have been appropriate. I mentioned it to another co-worker privately. He took a look at it and said that the other co-worker was obviously joking. It’s hard to tell through IM sometimes. It turns out he was right that the co-worker was joking. I’m glad I didn’t go with my emotions.

        I’ve had a couple of co-workers who respond angrily on a work forum. For example, person A asks a question, person B tries to answer, person A throws a verbal tantrum on the forum because person B didn’t really understand the question (sometimes the question wasn’t all that clear). Person A was probably sharing their real emotions, but now everyone else on the forum thinks person A is a real jerk.

    4. LifeBeforeCorona*

      I’ve had my share of job offer ghosting after being told to expect an offer. One time I did receive a job offer 4 months after applying. I replied that I already accepted another job. I restrained myself from pointing out that most people can’t afford to be unemployed for months while waiting for a call back.

      1. Mel_05*

        Yup. I’ve been surprised at how long some companies will wait to give an offer. But there’s no benefit to writing an angry email to them about it.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          Absolutely no benefit to angry emails. I think the AAM commetariat has many a story of a company seemingly dropping off the face of the planet for weeks, months at a time and then suddenly reappearing with an offer or to request a final interview.

          Personally, my own favorite is when a company contacted me nearly a year to the day after I applied to want to bring me in *the next morning*, having called in the late afternoon, for an interview. I didn’t even live in that state anymore. They were also very rude to me when I declined (after having to ask far too many questions to even figure out who they were, since they began it with “we want you to come in tomorrow morning, what time can you?” uh, who are you? what am I supposed to come in for?), so I’m not too upset about it.

          Heck, Hubs just got an offer yesterday (!!!!!!!!!) after applying in October, getting first interview early November, being told they’d bring him back to final interview before Thanksgiving (nope), getting second interview mid December, being told he’d have an offer the next day….. and it’s January. They also told him they wanted to move “super fast on this position”. I’d hate to see what they consider slow. Was he upset at being told “fast” and them moving at the speed of turtle? Yes. Was this also tinged with months of unemployment and fear of never being employed again? Very much so. Would he have gained anything with angry emails? Nope. He vented to me and his dad, I made him his favorite foods for about a month straight, we went on a lot of Anger Hikes in local parks… 10000% if he would have called or emailed this place he would have lost the offer.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            Whoops, that was a lot longer of a comment than I intended, but I feel very empathetic towards someone being angry that they were ghosted. There’s been a lot of disappointment and anxiety in my household for months now related to job hunting, and it can be incredibly disheartening when you’re waiting, waiting, waiting…..waiting……….waiting….. on *any* response, and especially if it seemed to go really well, and it’s been weeks or months since you’ve heard anything, no one’s responding to your polite follow up call/email, etc.

            But you cannot send that angry email. Write it out, sure, but do it in a word processor, not even your email, just in case. Angry journal, if that’s your thing. I find writing it out by hand does more for me than typing.

              1. Environmental Compliance*

                Thanks! He’s very excited. It’s the field & type of position & industry that he was hoping for, though also applying for oodles of ‘good enough’ jobs. So there’s a silver lining there, that he didn’t end up taking a job outside of what he’s passionate about (because they didn’t offer, but it ended up working out).

            1. SheLooksFamiliar*

              ‘… I feel very empathetic towards someone being angry that they were ghosted.’

              I will argue the OP was not ghosted, and that ‘ghosting’ has come to mean ‘anything that takes longer than I think it should.’

              2 weeks is a bit long, but that’s not out of the ordinary to get an offer confirmed. I took a new role this summer and my large, global employer does a lot of work behind the scenes for internal and external offers. It takes days even when things go quickly. We’re committed to equity and sensitive to internal compression, so we review salary grades for the division, the group, the function, etc., to make sure we’re not hiring external talent way above – or below! – what the people doing the actual job make. We do not create offers by tossing out numbers until one of them sounds right. We have a short chain of command, but when people are in meetings 12 hours a day, traveling, or on vacation, that can add a week to the process.

              I agree offers should come as soon as feasible, and employers should keep people informed of their progress. But 2 weeks is not the insult the OP made it to be. And the OP was not ghosted.

              1. Totally Minnie*

                And it’s still Covid time. A two week delay might well mean that one of the people involved in the onboarding process was sick.

              2. Junior Assistant Peon*

                I agree that 2 weeks is nothing in a typical hiring process. I suspect this was a final straw kind of situation where the OP has been getting jerked around by other companies for months, and lashed out at the hiring manager they were currently dealing with rather than one who was more deserving.

          2. Jaybeetee*

            I have to admit I laugh at normal-people timelines a bit, as I’ve worked in government for several years and it’s not uncommon for a year or more to elapse between sending in your application and actually starting your job! I still don’t know why it’s so slow, but in this industry, you sort of learn to send things off into the aether and get on with life.

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              Right? I was gov’t, and those always took forever. But this in particular was for a private company, not even a gov’t contractor. *shrug*

              (To be fair, all my gov’t positions had me interviewed & hired within 3 weeks.)

            2. cat lady*

              Not quite the same, but I’m in higher ed and it was six months for me from application to first day with my current job, and three months is considered *fast*

            3. Keymaster of Gozer*

              Took 6 months to process me getting my first job at the UK railway (which is pretty much government run and definitely has the red tape to prove it!)

            4. Jack Russell Terrier*

              Yup – one time my friend applied from one Federal job and started at another – she went from not being pregnant to having only a couple of weeks in New Job before she went on maternity leave … .

            5. Red Boxes and Arrows*

              I’ve applied to one government job, ever. It was for a low-paying entry-level position (starting salary was ~$40K). By the time they reached out to me to schedule an interview, I was on my 2nd job in my new career and making $85K.

              I always wondered if they’d hired someone, it didn’t work out, and so they just grabbed some applications from the first time the job was posted but, based on what Jaybeetee said, I guess it just took them forever to get from Application Period to Interview Period. Wild.

          3. singlemaltgirl*

            that’s the thing. when companies behave this way, it tells you, as a prospective employee, about them. will they do as they say? will they make unreasonable demands? is their process fair and reasonable?

            i get where you’re at in terms of an employment search. but whenever i’ve been searching for jobs, when prospective employers raised red flags like this for me, i asked pointed questions to determine whether i’d be happy there. usually, i learned that their way of handling things was going to feel disrespectful and i passed. sometimes that can feel like a luxury but i’ve had enough bad jobs with terrible cultures to ever deliberately put myself in that position.

            and absolutely vent personally and not publicly. as angry or frustrated as you may feel, never burn a bridge :)

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I work in higher education, and it is excruciating how long the hiring process makes us wait to extend an offer after we’ve selected a candidate. The departmental hiring committee makes a selection and it is approved by the dean; then the list of finalists has to be sent to the Equal Opportunity office with a chart of all the candidates’ qualifications and why one was chosen over all the others; and then the selection of the final candidate is ratified by some committee in upper HR or administration (depending whether it’s just a faculty appointment or an administrative appointment) — ALL while the final candidates wait and wait for the offer to come through.

  3. Ruby*

    It sounds like number 1 is a retail environment, not strictly an office. Is it a weird thing for a manager to do, though possibly something done out of a desire to help during hard times? I’m wondering if it’s possible the clothes purchases more closely match other female salespeople who had better numbers, and that the manager perceives would be more desirable to customers and result in better sales.

    1. Beth*

      Even if it was done as a sales tactic, it’s a big overstep. It’s one thing to tell your employee that you’d like them to adopt a certain style; that’s a dress code (or uniform, if it’s a very specific outfit), which isn’t that unusual. It’s a different matter to physically go out and buy them the clothes, without even checking in with them! You can’t know someone’s size, potential sensitivities to fabrics/materials, fit challenges (most of us aren’t perfect fits for one standard size, many people prefer a cut that has more room in the hips or a higher neckline or a narrower fit as a way to get around standard sizes not quite fitting their body right), potential religion-related modesty guidelines, etc. just by looking at someone.

      1. Tiny Soprano*

        I used to work in opera, so costume would often go out and source clothing for us. Even though they had our measurements, completely wrong sizes and shapes would often be bought. A retail manager has a) no business buying clothes for an employee and b) probably even less chance of buying a fitting garment than a professional costumer.
        If she wanted her employee to dress differently, this manager should have given her clearer dress code guidelines. If what she really wanted was to buy ill-fitting clothes for someone, she should volunteer at an amateur theatre company.

        1. UKDancer*

          Slightly OT but as an opera lover I’d love to hear more about what working in opera was like and some more of the background about what it involved. Any chance of it coming under the “people doing interesting jobs” series that Alison sometimes runs?

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            It would be fascinatong to get multiple points of view on the same topic too. In this case it would be a performer, a costumer, and someone from production management.

          2. AKchic*

            I’d totally get in on that discussion. I handle costuming for my section of a ren fair, and occasionally help with other people, too. On average, I outfit 25 people a season, plus other events.

        2. Totally Minnie*

          I do community theatre and this was exactly my thought. The costume designer who has all my sizes and measurements and has successfully made and altered multiple costumes to fit my body still gets some off the wall pieces sometimes that don’t fit me at all. I have zero confidence whatsoever that my boss would magically buy a pile of clothes that would fit me perfectly and make me look like a Professional Lady from a movie.

      2. nnn*

        Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Even with 24/7 access to my own body, about 90% of clothes that I try on don’t work for me – don’t fit at all, or don’t fit well enough to look polished enough to upgrade from “technically meets the dress code” to “the look we’re actually going for”.

        It’s out of scope for LW’s question and I don’t actually recommend that they try on the clothes if they haven’t already, but I’m super curious whether the clothes actually fit.

      3. WorkingGirl*

        Yeah. And like- I’m vegan, I won’t wear any fur, leather, wool, silk- and it’d be pretty tone deaf if someone bought me clothes I won’t wear!

        1. londonedit*

          Not even that – I won’t wear purple or pale pink or sky blue, my thighs are always WAY bigger than people estimate, I have a long body and short legs, I don’t like wearing tight tops, I struggle to buy things like sweatshirts because my hips are proportionally wider than my top half, so either I have to go baggy or they fit on the bust but cling around the bottom. My mum has known me for 39 years but even she bought me a jumper for Christmas that had to be returned because it was a weird fit and the wrong colour for my skin tone. I cannot imagine anyone – let alone a boss – being able to successfully buy clothes that would fit me and that I’d be happy to wear. Clothes are such a personal thing!

          1. Not A Girl Boss*

            Omg those pale colors that were all the rage in 2019 make me look like I have the plague. Lol. People would probably avoid me for fear I had covid.
            I also have long legs and a short torso which no one would guess until they tried to buy me clothes that look like dresses and pants that look like capris.

            1. Eleez*

              You are me! I have long legs and a short torso and am busty to boot, 99% of clothes don’t fit. And those that do look frumpy half the time.

              Don’t get me started on the quality of fabrics, and the thin shirts! (Why oh why should a shirt be see through throughout the ENTIRE thing.

              I’m actually learning to sew so I can have clothes that fit. Or I was pre-2020, now I just wear sweats at home)

              1. Not A Girl Boss*

                Ugh yes, thin polyester that turns see-through under fluorescent lights, why? I am learning that I just have to shell out the big bucks for high quality clothes in basics I can have tailored (eg cotton stuff in petite sizing from Brooks Brothers, Banana Republic, etc), and then I just wear them more often. But sewing your own clothes is awesome!

                1. JustaTech*

                  Ugh, the gossamer-thing shell tops that are see-through and too thin to wear without a blazer, but are also sleeveless, so if you do sweat, you’re sweating on your hard-to-wash blazer instead of your launder-able shirt.

                  I’m glad I work in a lab where I can wear my nice hiking shirts (plaid button-downs but in a wicking fabric).

          2. It's a fish, Al*

            Are you me? You’ve described my color preferences, my body, and my mother’s inability to shop for both.

          3. Dust Bunny*

            SING IT.

            The trend these days seems to be for very long T-shirts (I suspect so that manufacturers don’t have to make different sizes/lengths for men and women). I’m 5’7″ and have a long torso so a T-shirt that comes way down over my ample hips is not flattering, and what on earth do you do if you’re 5’1″? Wear it as a dress? I actively miss the midriff-baring 1990s.

            1. Cascadia*

              Ugh, and this is why bodies are different. As a long-waisted person I love and longer shirt and I loathe the crop tops. My belly is my biggest part and for most of my teens I couldn’t buy a shirt that properly fit. I wish we could all just easily buy clothes to fit our bodies!

              1. Gymmie*

                As a long torsoed person and a tall one at that, it has always been hard for me to find shirts that actually fit. Long shirts are soooo much better, especially since I’m no longer a teenager where short tops are acceptable (and also not thin anymore either!). I couldn’t come to work showing midriff skin (and chunks of it lololol)

                1. 1234*

                  Not sure how tall you are but I am 5’6″ and Reiss makes jumpsuits with a torso meant for women taller than I am. By a good 2 or 3 inches. I can wear the jumpsuit in a way where it’s “draped” nicely and looks natural but it’s probably suited for someone taller than me. I also don’t think I have a short torso. Who knows what else they might make that’s suited for someone who’s a bit taller!

          4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            Yeah, I dress the way I do at work partially to emphasize some aspects of how I look and de-emphasize others. This means that other people may not be able to accurately guess, for example, how busty I am because I make deliberate wardrobe choices to not emphasize my bustline. If someone decided to buy me a tailored button-up-the-front or v-neck top, it is both highly unlikely to fit and even more unlikely to look professional for my field even if I can manage to get it buttoned.

            My mother also buys me surprise clothes I don’t want. In her head, I think the loop goes “Hobbits is running low on pants to wear, and I know this because every time we go to a store that sells pants we always have to check to see if there’s anything Hobbits will wear, and there never is! Clearly I should help in the pants-search since it is so hard and taking up so much time!” Then I will get a pair of green capris or something as a present that are also something I would not have bought. (I have a hard-to-fit figure because my belly and rear are not in the proportions to each other that most manufacturers think they should be, so often pants will either dip low enough in the back to expose my underwear or bag in the front so loosely that it looks odd. I also have strong opinions on pocket size, color, length, washing instructions, and fabric. With luck, my mother will remember one of these constraints but she will never remember all of them. Sometimes she’ll buy me something like velvet leggings that meet none of them.)

            The only problem I have with people at work buying clothes is when we all have to get matching T-shirts, jackets, or other such things for some event or other. The person in charge of coordinating all of this is tiny and doesn’t know enough about how larger sizes work to figure out if the selected item is available in a size I can wear, since she doesn’t “get” the nuances between, say, XL and 2X. (We once ended up with Asian-sizing novelty light-up tee shirts to wear to a multi-site all-hands meeting. While those came in something called XL, they did not come in anything approaching my size, and the one I ended up with was so tight it looked like clubwear on me rather than anything I’d want to wear to a work function.)

            1. 1234*

              Anyone ordering “work clothes for employees” needs to get a sample of every size they’re thinking of ordering so that people can physically see “This is an XL and this is 2XL” and determines what works best for them.

              (Spoken from experience of being given work clothes that may as well be men’s sizing and meant for a group of ladies. I got a medium and it looked like a shirt for sleeping.)

            2. 'Tis Me*

              The simplest “fix” for that may have been to cut out a large rectangle from the front of the tiny shirt (including the image and light-up bits) and sewing it onto the front of a plain T in the same background colour that actually fits you – but it would probably still have been moderately obvious… (More comfortable, less likely to make you feel like you were wearing something painted on, but still clearly a fix, rather than the correct thing having been bought in the first instance.)

          5. many bells down*

            I’m also in the “long waist short legs” camp. And I have a weird sensitivity to anything that touches my throat, so no turtlenecks, mock necks, and even some crew- and boatneck tops are unbearable to me. I used to LOVE turtlenecks. It just gradually got worse over time and now I feel like I’m being strangled if my shirt even touches my throat and I can’t stand it.

          6. Quill*

            Heck, what with dressing rooms being mostly closed I’m failing to buy MYSELF clothes that don’t have to be returned.

      4. Momma Bear*

        Right. Someone might assume anything “petite” would fit, not knowing that I get almost all my workwear tailored. Or buy something that needs more than a hem, therefore costing me money if I ever wanted to wear it in public. Even small children have opinions about their clothing.

        Massive overstep. I would decline and ask for clarification on what was “lacking” and why it wasn’t brought up earlier/in a way I had the opportunity to mitigate it. If the office offered a budget for clothes that would be one thing, but to buy them outright? No.

        1. Dahlia*

          I’ve met SO MANY people who don’t know – or even argue with me – that plus size petite sizes… you know, exist.

    2. Batgirl*

      I mean, possibly the manager struggles to verbalize exactly what she wants OP to do differently with her wardrobe, but even then, the clothes she bought should be a reference point, not “wear only this”. It’s a lot less creepy if you say “this outfit/pictures of this outfit is what I show people as a reference point” as opposed to “I saw this and thought of you”.
      I mean, does the manager plan to buy all OP’s clothes when this outfit is in the laundry? Replace items going forward? It’s not feasible to refuse to coach OP on the dress code requirements going forward. The items OP mentions already wearing are typically so appropriate that it strains credulity that the manager can’t speak up about any tweaks. The dress up doll phenomenon is real, too. I had a female friend whose female boss would longingly talk about what she would buy “if I had your figure”.. which progressed to coaching meetings urging her to buy certain items online and “dress more provocatively!” ick.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        I am wondering if LW has clothes that are stylistically ok but just looking a little threadbare, and that’s why the manager took such a weird and in appropriate path?
        I was kind of horrified to catch myself in the mirror in broad daylight a few weeks ago looking…. run down? After a closet purge I realized that all my favorite clothes are just looking worse for the wear after a solid year of lot buying new ones. Pilled, stained, see-through, stretched out, etc. They all contribute to this general look of “not being put together” even though they’re perfectly acceptable stylistically, most “affordable” brands have a finite shelf life.

        But… Still…. One does not jump straight from “LW is looking a little rumpled” to “let me buy her clothes.” If anything, give her a gift card. But also, first maybe have a conversation and find out what’s up?

        1. Jackalope*

          Yeah, I’m really hoping that we are able to go shopping safely before my office opens up again. I did buy some new dressy work clothes about a month before the shutdowns began so assuming they still fit I’ll have those in fairly new condition, but a lot of my stuff is just getting a bit worn, and there are some things I just can’t buy online (have tried with 0% success rate).

      2. Momma Bear*

        But even so, it should be Manager’s job to figure out how to have a conversation with LW, and not just buy things.

    3. Allonge*

      It’s weird because it’s incredibly likely that it will not get the desired result. I am sure there are people who are good at looking at someone and figuring out the sizing and fit, but it’s super tricky. And unless there is a literal uniform, a better fit is almost always more professional than exact compliance with the dress code, two sizes up or down from the actual person.

      I buy clothes for myself online, a lot, even before COVID. It is possible, but takes a lot of experience, and that is for me, where I can tell if I like the thing!

      For the record, if a manager wants to assist, they can 1. show pics of what they think would be appropriate 2. offer to go shopping with the person but best of all 3. establish a clothing allowance and clear rules on what can be worn.

      1. WellRed*

        No shopping! That’s still a huge overstep. Managers all over manage to convey dress codes with getting personally involved.

    4. Mel_05*

      My husband is a restaurant manager. He once paid for pants for an employee who couldn’t afford to match the dress code. But, we’re talking about giving the employee some cash and sending them to the clothing shop next door. Not showing up one day with some clothing. And that only happened after he’d talked to the employee a couple times about needing the match the dress code and the employee admitted that he couldn’t afford it.

        1. Mel_05*

          It was pragmatic. Having that employee at work was worth more to my husband than the cost of pants.

    5. Observer*

      . Is it a weird thing for a manager to do, though possibly something done out of a desire to help during hard times? I’m wondering if it’s possible the clothes purchases more closely match other female salespeople who had better numbers, and that the manager perceives would be more desirable to customers and result in better sales.

      Weird is the KINDEST thing I can think of here. If you are right about the motivation, then i quickly veers into highly, extremely problematic territory. Because what you are saying, even if that’s not what you mean, is that the manager is trying to dress her in a way that is more “attractive” to customers and plays to their ideas or “proper” femininity.

      1. Rainy*

        I had a manager in food service who felt my underclothing didn’t appropriately flatter me and wanted to take me shopping for new bras and underpants. We sold bagels; I don’t think the fit of my bra was affecting my sales numbers. I felt that I was being sexually harassed, but no one took it seriously because my manager was a woman.

        This situation gives me similar vibes.

        1. many bells down*

          I once had a parent offer me his wife’s old maternity underwear when I was a broke, pregnant teacher.

          I was not that broke.

            1. Quill*

              At least the wind doesn’t have opinions about my crotch and is unlikely to get other people’s fluids on me!

        2. Zephy*

          You were being sexually harassed. I’m sorry you had to deal with that but I’m glad you’re not in that situation anymore (I assume).

          1. Rainy*

            This was almost 25 years ago, when I was just a kid and hadn’t yet finished university. I suspect these days people would have taken my concerns more seriously, but maybe not.

        3. Quoth the Raven*

          I worked at a neighbourhood coffee shop when I was 18; my boss (male) constantly hinted I should wear low cut shirts, tighter clothes, make up, and boots (for a job that had me work the bar AND do deliveries) because that would apparently result in more tips for me, since most of the regulars were men. He never said anything like this to any of the other staff members that I know of. He never voiced it, but I knew he saw me as nothing but eye candy, and these days I know I was objectified and sexually harassed.

    6. Anon Admin*

      I had a boss take me out clothes shopping. It was very weird. And in the end I wasn’t fully happy with them. But I’m also nowhere close to the size/shape that fast fashion clothing manufacturers design for. Things that I feel look flattering on me pretty much don’t exist, especially not off the rack.

  4. Aphrodite*

    OP #2, I was with a friend at a windows coverings store, a small, family-owned one here in town, when the postal carrier dropped off mail. The store is in an outdoor retail mall along the street. The carrier was not wearing a mask and the guy in the store told us that he never wears one. My friend, infuriated, told him that he needed to contact USPS and let them know. He just shrugged even though he is upset about it because he had already asked the carrier once to do so and the guy refused

    My friend contacted USPS that afternoon, provided all the details in a phone call, and the regional manager she spoke to promised to contact the carrier’s office about this. No one who does deliveries of any kind should be without a mask, and I think you ought to consider contacting both vendors immediately and filing official complaints. This is far too serious to brush off, especially with the new variant spreading like mad

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I will say it can also depend on the size of the city you live in. Where I live now (one of the biggest metro areas in the state) even calling the local office I have never gotten a person on the phone at the post office. However the two smaller towns I lived in previously in two different states (both of which were maybe a sixth the size of current large metro area) I was able to actually reach a person on the phone at the post office.

          1. Becca*

            I live in NYC and I have reached real people at the post office all the time! I’m not. sure size of city matters, I suspect it’s about how each branch is run.

        2. KayDeeAye*

          I have worked in publishing for years and years (newspapers, newsletters and magazines), so I’ve dealt with post offices a lot, and I can tell you that local post offices vary wildly in their responsiveness. It’s partly due to numbers (that is, how much mail comes through that particular branch) but it’s also due to the individual postmaster, who can make a big, big difference, positively nor negatively.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Yep. I tried to complain to our postmaster once and was told I wasn’t allowed to do that. No, he won’t return your call, no, we can’t guarantee a letter sent to him will actually be read by him. Later there was a newspaper article about some new postal initiative that wasn’t very popular and the postmaster said he hadn’t received any complaints about it and I thought WOW, I WONDER WHY.

            1. Zelda*

              If this was at all recent, that strikes me as a good case for a letter to the editor of the paper, as a followup to that article. In the public interest for the public to see the manner in which a public servant is (not) doing his job.

      1. Mel_05*

        Same. I’ve called the local and national numbers and found it impossible to get through. I had to physically go to my post office to complain about the situation… and the situation was that they were holding a package even though I hadn’t asked for signature delivery – because it’s difficult for me to get to the post office!

        1. Properlike*

          If you call your congressperson, they have this magic ability to get through and/or get the post office to take you more seriously. I’ve watched it work.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My experience is that they don’t care. I’ve reported my mail carrier (same guy) over the last three years for

      -pulling my mailbox off its post and throwing it into my yard
      -trying to yank my storm door open while I was holding it closed and yelling at him to go away
      -writing notes including curse words on my mail and throwing it into puddles in my lawn because he thought my neighbor parked too close to my mailbox
      -mocking me for not opening my door to him while he wasn’t masked, during a time when USPS policy was that he shouldn’t even be approaching my door, just putting things down and confirming they were delivered rather than demanding a signature

      All four of these events were recorded on my doorbell camera. This douchenozzle is still my neighborhood mailman. I have noooooo faith in our local post office, nor has escalating above them done any good.

      1. pleaset cheap rolls*

        Your Congressional rep might be able to help. Go outside the bureaucracy to people who need your votes.

        We got some help with our post office by via an elected official. He was in the state legislature, not Federal, but had Federal contacts higher up he talked to.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I’m in Indiana. I don’t have a whole lot of faith in our elected officials either :P

            1. Jennifer*

              They may not care about the mask thing but the out and out rudeness may get their attention. None of that stuff is okay.

              1. Jackalope*

                Yeah, vandalizing your mailbox and writing nasty messages on your mail (particularly curse words), then throwing it in puddles to destroy it, are things your rep might care about even if they don’t care about masks.

                1. Properlike*

                  And if, in Indiana, your complaints don’t work, send all your camera footage to your local news. The headlines write themselves. People get worried. Investigations launched.

      2. Anon for this today*

        The USPS has one of the strongest unions in the country. Most complaints unfortunately will go right in the wastebasket after the call. Our local post office has workers regularly just clock out and leave with an entire lobby of people waiting. One time I asked the worker, why someone would leave with a line of people waiting (I swear I asked nicely, bc I was genuinely curious). She said union rules require them to leave at certain times no matter the circumstances.

        1. Also Anon Here*

          The current Postmaster General has set a cost cutting policy of denying all overtime, even if it means mail, including absentee ballots during this past falls election, are left undelivered.

        2. Uranus Wars*

          I was the last person in line once and got kicked out after they were done with the customer in front of me. The guy said “it’s 5:00, I’m not waiting on you” and left his counter. It was a Friday, so I had to wait until Monday to mail my packages.

          I have noticed, though, that guy is not there anymore. The other workers are always accommodating – they lock the doors at closing but will wait on everyone waiting in the lobby, even if there are 10 of us. I don’t think that “required to leave on time” is necessarily at the peril of the customer, but certainly some workers will use that line.

        3. MK*

          Why is it odd that people clock out once their shift is over? Or for a an office with specific bussiness hours to close at, well, closing time? I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect workers to stay late or the org to pay overtime because a bunch of people happened to show up shortly before closing time. If it’s a regular issue, maybe they need more staff or more efficient, but that’s another matter.

          That being said, most offices I know of have some sort of system to avoid letting a huge line of people who won’t be served form. If e.g. it’s half an hour before closing and there are 20 people waiting, they don’t let more people in. It’s better to be told you won’t get in today than wait an hour and then face a closed sign.

          1. pancakes*

            +1. Particularly as to the post office, which has had self-service machines capable of printing labels, selling stamps, etc., after hours for many years now.

            1. Uranus Wars*

              Oh how I wish we had self-service. I was just visiting my parents and it’s a dream! The closest PO to me with a self-serve kiosk is 2 hours away. My post office is open 8-5:30, closes for lunch and the weekend. You can’t even get to your PO Box outside of hours. I am lucky I can run out during the day or move my lunch, but not everyone in my company is so lucky.

              1. LifeBeforeCorona*

                It works both ways. My husband used to have a general store/post office/gas station. People could pick up their mail and parcels outside of normal post office hours. Someone complained and the head office told him he couldn’t do that anymore or risk losing the outlet.

            2. Red 5*

              As others have said, depends on the post office. I can go about twenty minutes in any direction and end up crossing by a post office (or two) that have an APC. At my local one, during the business hours there are three but after hours one is always open.

              In my hometown, there’s two post offices for the entire county and neither has a machine. The next county over, same thing. I think if they drove an hour they might find one. So if that happened to one of my relatives, then they’d have no options to mail the packages until the next time it opened, there isn’t even a working old school stamp machine.

              The machines are great, I absolutely love them and they’ve saved my sanity and my schedule more than once, but until we put them in every post office we can’t really assume that they’re there.

          2. Me*

            It’s pretty normal to finish serving people who were in line before closing time. To let the person stand there in line and wait and then tell them too bad for you is horrible customer service.

            1. tinyhipsterboy*

              Definitely, yeah. Or at least, it’s a very normal thing to help people who were still in line. When I worked customer service, if there were still people in line at closing, we’d stop the line there but make our way through the rest of the people there. It would change on days that events were nearby (like 4th of July fireworks), where we’d have to set a complete ending and then also make sure people left the store. If you’re just ending a shift but the place is still open, it makes sense to finish with whoever you’re helping then clock out, but in this circumstance, rounding out the line is totally normal.

          3. Uranus Wars*

            Yes! I agree. In my case if they had sent me away upon arrival I would have been fine, annoyed but not upset. But letting me stand in line for 20 minutes and then saying “I’m not waiting on you” when I was the last person in line was really kinda crappy.

        4. Littorally*

          So? When I worked in a call center, I clocked out at the end of my shift even if we had callers in queue. How is this different?

          1. Red 5*

            I would assume that at the call center that those customers would then be routed to another associate who was still on their shift.

            Common practice in a retail environment is to either lock the door or find some way to signal to people coming in that after a certain point they will not be helped so they should come back at another time. One post office I’ve been in would put out a sign that they’d put behind the last person in line that said “this line is closed, come back tomorrow” since the PO Boxes were open 24/7. Others have gates they can close behind the customers that they open just for people to leave as they finish.

            They can start cutting off the lines before they officially close if they’re unable to do the overtime or continue working to serve everybody in line. Much like a restaurant will say that they’re open until 11 but the kitchen closes at 10:30.

            But to let someone physically come in before the closing time and stand in line for 20 minutes and then shrug and say “nope” is rude no matter how you slice it. Heck even at the grocery store when I’ve gone into a line where the clerk just hadn’t put up the rope yet to say they were about to close they’ve just verbally said “I’m actually closing this lane soon” so that I could move to another and wouldn’t just turn me away as I got to the front.

            And I say this as somebody who has worked in food service and in retail. Customers who expect you to help them after closing are a pain, but that’s not what’s being described here.

          2. nonegiven*

            Were you able to hang up on a call if your shift was over or did you have to finish that call, first?

          3. allathian*

            I did market research in a call-center environment in the evenings when I was in college. Outgoing calls stopped at 9 pm, but if I got someone to answer a call at 8:59, I was expected to complete it, even if it took an hour, which it sometimes did. The long surveys were the worst, because you’d spend early evening scheduling stuff, and then get one person to do the survey, and the other bookings would go to other callers due to time constraints. We had a margin of, I think, 10 minutes before a booking went to someone else.

        5. FB Stalked by Mail Carrier*

          Can confirm! The mail carrier at my office memorized my name off my work mail, found me on Facebook, and messaged me to inquire about my relationship status. I was incredibly disturbed, especially considering a) we’d only met a handful of times, exchanging nothing more than basic pleasantries, and b) I’d never introduced myself! I complained both in writing and over the phone to the post office many times. Infuriatingly, they maintained that they couldn’t remove him from delivering to our office because of unions — they even said this would be the case if he PHYSICALLY ATTACKED me! Mind blowing.

          1. Properlike*

            This is simply not true. Unions are not all-powerful, but they do protect the employment interests of their members. From the union side of things, problems get created when the *employer* doesn’t document the problems with the employee that would allow them to make the case for consequences (whatever that looks like within the agency.) “Because of unions” is a bad excuse for people unwilling to do the hard work, and there’s a benefit to making people believe that so they give up instead of escalate the accountability.

            1. FB Stalked by Mail Carrier*

              Oh, totally with you! I escalated it all the way to the head of my entire multi-state region, and they just kept insisting they couldn’t do anything.

        6. JustaTech*

          The folks at my old post office (which closed but they re-opened due to community demand) were completely the opposite. Super kind, super helpful, but also efficient. The only time I ever had to wait outside was when one person called out suddenly and they couldn’t find a replacement, so one postal worker had been working alone from open to like 2pm when they almost fainted from hunger/thirst and the customers bought them lunch and closed up so the poor person could eat.

          I think it really depends on the location.

        7. Ryn*

          God forbid a person leaves after they’re no longer paid. What kind of world are we getting into where workers know their worth and refuse to be taken advantage of because they’re department isn’t funded adequately! /s

          Strong unions are good. Workers knowing their worth are good. Workers not working when they’re not paid to work is good.

          1. tinyhipsterboy*

            I mean, there’s a difference between getting through a line at closing time and being forced to work without pay. It’s incredibly common for stores to finish ringing out a line of guests (while ensuring nobody new comes in) at closing time. You’re still on the clock, even if your schedule says it’s time to stop, until you finish. In all my food service and retail jobs, that’s been how it worked.

            Now, I know some jobs will forbid overtime or will attempt to make you work the overtime without being paid for it, and *those* are definitely an issue (and what unions are meant to protect workers from). That’s not what’s being described here, though.

      3. Mel_05*


        I thought my mom’s mail person was bad for leaving her packages in puddles all the time instead of on the covered front porch! Her post office didn’t care about that either. They said, “Oh, she’s so close to retirement”

        But yours is wild! They certainly should care. But, I also live in Indiana and I’m honestly just impressed you got through to the post office at all!

      4. Phony Genius*

        A couple of those things sound like they could be federal crimes. You can try the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to see if they can help.

      5. Malarkey01*

        Have you tried contacting the USPS OIG (office of inspector general)? It’s not for small delivery issues but specific things like a carrier destroying mail, writing curse words on it, and vandalism would be significant. A carrier like this could have much bigger problems like the o cases of undelivered mail sitting in car trunks and stolen mail.

      6. Momma Bear*

        It’s hit or miss. My neighborhood civic association has had multiple meetings with the local post office about a particular mail carrier. That person is a disheveled mess, misdeliverers mail all over the place, or not at all (for days), etc. They also don’t wear their mask properly. We get improvement for a short time and then that person is put back on our route again and it starts all over.

        Anytime you get a receipt with an opportunity to do a survey, fill it out. Sometimes they do respond to that.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      There are 2 package* stores I have not gone back to because of how many people weren’t wearing masks…and I just realized it was probably all delivery people. I wish I’d thought to tell the wholesalers not just the retailers. Maybe even the corporation whose logo is on the bottles.
      (*state name for a business that sells wine & hard liquor)

    3. Not A Girl Boss*

      I live in the Northeast where COVID precautions are very strong.
      I have literally never, not once, since March, received a USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, or Amazon delivery where the delivery person was wearing a mask. And I receive a lot of packages.

      Luckily it doesn’t really matter because they’ve all waved signature requirements, so I just tell them through the storm door to set it down. Its a good reminder to treat the packaging as if its contaminated though (I only set packages on the floor, wash hands after opening, etc).

      1. Alex*

        In cases where there needs to be no in person contact expecting a mail person to wear a mask almost certainly increases the risk of them getting the virus more than it reduces you getting it. It’s not realistic for them to wear it from the second they leave the depot until the second they return (because they are likely to need a drink at some point during the day) so they would be having to remove and replace it in a location in which they are unable wash their hands before doing so meaning they would be touching their face area with potentially contaminated hands.

        1. Bee*

          Yeah, I’m pretty stringent about masks – I stopped going to my local bodega because the employees would only put masks on when customers came in, which does nothing for the aerosols that accumulate in such a small space – but I have no problems with postal carriers who are either outside or alone in a vehicle going maskless unless they have to interact with anyone. And I haven’t had a single package delivery where they weren’t already headed back to the truck by the time I was able to get to the door!

        2. Koikoi*

          What?? In what world does wearing a mask increase workers’ risk? Couldn’t they carry hand sanitizer like the rest of us for times they need to remove their mask? And surely imperfect mask wearing (removing it to drink and so on) is better than zero mask wearing.

          Most people who work outside of the house wear a mask all day (where I live, right now). Yes it can be uncomfortable and is not ideal, but that’s just part of the job right now.

          1. tangerineRose*

            Yeah, I keep hand sanitizer in the car so I can clean my hands before taking off my mask. Either way, I think most people are capable of taking off a mask that fastens onto the ears without touching their eyes, nostrils, or mouth!

      2. doreen*

        That must really depend on exactly where you are- I also live in the Northeast , and I haven’t received a single delivery since March where the delivery person so much as rang my doorbell and went back to the truck. The packages just get left outside my door and I find out later Possibly when I get a text or email saying the package was delivered but more often, I don’t find out until I leave my house. when I leave my house.

        1. tangerineRose*

          I’m in the northwest, and that’s my experience, too. I wish they could ring the doorbell or make some kind of noise so I’d know to pick up the package.

    4. PT*

      The person who works the counter at my local post office doesn’t wear a mask while working. Needless to say my local post office recently shut down “due to unforseen circumstances,” the lobby was locked, and we didn’t get mail for three weeks.

      Gee I wonder what those “unforseen circumstances” were. Hm.

    1. MtnLaurel*

      Now i really want Alison to do a “Bosses without Boundaries” wrap up with the best of the worst bosses.

  5. M from NY*

    Did OP1 have picture of a typical work outfit? For the manager to go so far as to buy clothes I think there is definite disconnect between what OP and the manager thinks is work appropriate.

    They may not want to accept clothes from manager but they should have a video chat with someone they trust to tell the truth. For a retail position dependant on sales its worth making sure your appearance is coming across as you intend.

    1. Alice's Rabbit*

      You make a valid point. Like Alison said, sometimes it’s something as simple as color. I had a friend who loved to wear bright colors. Beyond bright, really. Hot pink, day glo orange, and lime green were staples in her wardrobe. Two problems.
      First, those violently bright colors aren’t really all that professional at the best of times. They can come across as immature, or just bug people to the point where they subconsciously dislike you for no reason except your clothing is an assault on their eyesight. Not ideal for a sales position, or really any role with a lot of personal interaction.
      Second problem, she looked awful in those colors. It wasn’t just a matter of them not being ideal for her, no she looked truly ill. The has the sort of coloring that looks best in earth tones. Vibrant, neon colors were extremely unflattering on her.
      Putting those two together, it’s not really shocking that she was never taken very seriously at work, or given opportunity for advancement. And of course, she refused to listen to anyone’s advice on the matter. She was wearing business appropriate attire; what did it matter what color her cardigan was?
      It matters. It really matters.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Violent orange triggers migraines in me and I’m wincing just thinking of how she’d look!

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          My poor eyes. I have a hard time when I see construction and outdoor workers suited up in their day-glow colours. I have to avert my eyes because it really does hurt. I’m glad that I’m not the only one.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        Yeah, I immediately wondered if the OP’s clothing is “junior” or cheaper versions of what the rest of the salespeople are wearing. That would be difficult to articulate and saying so may insinuate that the OP isn’t financially able to buy nicer things, and that is what prompted the manager to purchase the clothes. The OP’s clothes may technically be the same, sweaters & blazers, but if they look like a teanager’s version rather than an adult, confident, salesperson’s version, then there is a big difference in perception.
        But the manager should have found some pictures, or suggested some brands. It’s just creepy to buy clothes. Or maybe get a gift card for Ann Taylor or a store that would have the clothing they expect.
        (I’m so glad I do not have to have dress code conversations.)

        1. Observer*

          It’s actually not all that hard to articulate – you just did so very well. And, as you said, the manager could just have found some pictures.

          That’s really the big issue for me – the boss jumped into a real over-step instead of having a reasonable conversation about the matter.

        2. DesignerNewClothes*

          Those are all good thoughts. Although I am one of the youngest people in the showroom I have been in the industry for over ten years. I stick with pretty subtle patterns and colors. Because we are all interior designers there is even a note in the dress code to be creative and expressive- some designers wear hot pink suits and others are quite bohemian in knit ponchos. Which is part of why I’m so confused

          1. Momma Bear*

            I think you’re going to have to ask directly for clarification and reiterate that you’ll buy clothing that meets spec…if you know why your outfits currently don’t. A boss who can overstep to buy clothes should be able to articulate why or you’ll still be confused.

        3. armchairexpert*

          Yep, back when I was a junior lawyer I worked with another new graduate who dressed like this. She’d grown up very very poor and was super careful with money, and was a great lawyer. But if we both wore, say, a white shell under a black jacket, hers would be a cheap sateen that pilled easily under the kind of tight-ish ‘suit jacket’ that has lycra in it and faded quickly. The clothes weren’t too tight, in that they fit as they were meant to, but they were designed to fit in a certain way. Shorter, skimpier, stretchier.

          It definitely showed up as not complying with office norms, but I don’t know how you’d approach it with her except to say “please dress more expensively” which, you kind of can’t.

    2. hbc*

      Yeah, I think what’s missing here is an actual conversation. Boss apparently has done enough thinking about OP’s wardrobe that she thinks she has a solution to the perceived problem, and OP is doing a lot of thinking about this, and the extent of the information exchange seems to have been, “You’re not dressing right, wear these instead.”

      OP, I would go back to your boss and pretty much say what you’re saying here. “I honestly cannot see a difference between my business casual style and that of my coworkers” is a really good start, since it shows you’re willing but confused. Maybe add something like, “I want to comply with the code, so it would really help if you could be more specific about what I’m doing wrong.”

      Though keep in mind a major hint might be in the fact that you would choose other styles than what she bought for you. Right or wrong, she may think that your style is too [dowdy/young/busy/drab/whatever], and you’ll be better off if you can figure out a way to nudge your work clothes that direct without filling your closet with clothes you hate.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The conversation is key. This could actually go in the opposite direction. OP might be wearing clothes that are more formal than the store & its usual customers. I hope the manager can express what they mean.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          I agree. The conversation needs to happen. In hindsight my best conversation was my very first boss sitting me down and saying “You dress appropriately, but it would serve you better if you wore better fitting/slightly more professional wear.” I was *technically* in dress code, but my sweaters/cardigans/tops were really more appropriate for weekend errands and not really in the office. I was offended at the time, but listened and she was right. Plus I felt better about myself in clothes that fit. I did a lot of yard sale/consignment/Goodwill shopping – it was pre-facebook/online selling.

    3. Anon for this today*

      I sort of wonder if the boss prefers more on trend clothing. While the OP may have had nice outifts that were in dress code, perhaps they weren’t “stylish” enough for the boss.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I had a similar thought. Even if it’s not trend exactly, I once worked with a young woman whose clothes met the dress code but tended towards ill-fitting, frumpy, unkempt… she just didn’t look “put together”. She didn’t care much for fashion and since it was a back office job, that was no problem at all. But in a sales role that wouldn’t have flown.

        1. allathian*

          Pretty much describes me, except I’m not young. I’d hate to have to spend any extra thought on my clothes. I have worked retail, but only in jobs that had a uniform provided by the employer, and all except one even had laundry service. A big reason why I quit one job was that it required me to wash and iron the uniform, and I hate ironing. It wasn’t the only reason, but it was the final straw.

          I do have a couple of decent outfits I wear for bigger events and interviews, but I’m just glad that I don’t have to “dress up” for work, even when I’m at the office.

    4. Nia*

      Why would you entertain the idea that the boss is right about the employee’s work attire at all? The employee says their clothing is fine, the boss is so delusional they thought buying the employee clothing was an okay thing to do. There’s no reason to believe to boss is capable of correctly evaluating work attire.

      1. MK*

        The boss is the boss and the OP who wrote in for help probably cannot afford to dismiss them as delusional. To begin with, it’s not a given that because the manager’s solution was so weird, there is no actual problem. But even if it is, the OP still has a problem with a manager who believes they are dressing inappropriately.

        1. Nia*

          I dont disagree that the LW has a problem/disconnect with her boss. My issue is the absurd amount of people telling the LW that the boss is probably right about her attire. Telling the LW her boss is right and her clothes probably suck is very different from telling the LW her boss is delusional but you have to humor her so you’ll need to cater to her delusion even if the end result is the same.

        2. Observer*

          The boss is the boss, and so the OP may have to go with what the boss says – or maybe not.

          But let’s start with a simple fact – the boss did something so outlandish that it really brings her judgement in this respect into question. Which means that there is simply no good reason to believe that the boss is “Probably” right or “probably” has a legitimate point. MAYBE they do, but it’s not reasonable to assume that it is in fact the case.

      2. Generic Name*

        Okay, so who is the final arbiter of the dress code? Surely it’s not bottom level employees. Wouldn’t the boss have the authority to evaluate their direct reports’ adherence to the dress code?

        1. Nia*

          The boss is but that doesn’t mean the boss is correct just that the LW has to listen to her. My issue is not people telling LW that she’s going to have to change her work attire, my issue is people telling to LW that the boss was probably correct in saying that there is something wrong with her attire. There’s nothing in the letter that makes that a reasonable assumption at all.

      3. hbc*

        Why wouldn’t you entertain it? Just because someone majorly oversteps in a corrective action doesn’t mean that they’re objectively wrong that something needs correction. If your boss hands you deodorant and says, “You stink, I need to see you use this right now,” it means that they’re a jerk, but it doesn’t mean that you smell fine.

      4. MCMonkeybean*

        They said that they believe they are meeting the dress code and that they don’t see a difference between how they dress and how their coworkers do–and it’s totally possible that their boss is way off base! But as Alison pointed out it is also possible there there are things that technically meet the dress code but still don’t come across as professional. Ultimately it is their boss’s call as to whether or not the clothing is “fine.” But the boss needs to give them more specific notes if they want to see changes.

        Honestly my own personal style tends toward things that are professionally cut but in cutesy colors and patterns that would likely not fly at a lot of work places. But luckily I work somewhere casual enough where it’s okay.

      5. tiny cactus*

        I agree–based on the boss’s general lack of boundaries, it seems just as likely that the OP’s wardrobe is fine, but the boss has some weird desire to control how employees dress. That’s not to say that the OP shouldn’t try to clarify what the boss’s issue is, but I wouldn’t jump to assuming the OP isn’t dressing appropriately.

        1. Momma Bear*

          Women in particular are often told how to dress and I just had the thought that I wonder if it’s not about OP not wearing an appropriate shirt, but that someone somewhere complained to the boss (or the boss thought so themself) that OP’s attire is too revealing, when OP may just be a curvaceous woman who can’t/shouldn’t need to wear a muumuu to hid it. For example. Which would then be a whole different conversation. Which the boss should have, rather than buy clothes.

    5. Observer*

      They may not want to accept clothes from manager but they should have a video chat with someone they trust to tell the truth. For a retail position dependant on sales its worth making sure your appearance is coming across as you intend.

      The problem here is that the manager is so far over the line that it’s hard to trust her judgement.

      It IS a good idea to have a chat with someone the OP can trust to give them honest and useful feedback. But that’s only necessary because the boss has proven to have very poor judgement. Unless the boss had repeatedly spoken to the OP about the issue and the OP had repeatedly refused to comply, jumping to buying clothes is just ridiculous. It would be an overstep in almost any circumstances, but in this case it just doesn’t even make sense.

  6. Eric*

    #4, one thing you can do that might help is to use some of the referral money to take them out to a celebratory dinner, or something like that. Obviously harder to do know with COVID.

    1. lurker :)*

      I’d like to second this! A friend referred me to the job I’m in now and when the bonus came through reached out to my husband to ask if there is a gift that I might like. I think that helping a person who is unemployed/underemployed is enough and in some situations, your firm might really frown on splitting the referral bonus.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      Yes, a gift or giftcard feels more appropriate than sending a chunk of cash. If the new hire ends up working for the OP sometime down the line, it would be awkward to have a fat cash transaction in the past between the two.

    3. Turketron*

      Yup, my company is big on referrals and that’s the typical approach. With COVID, maybe a nice bottle of their preferred alcohol? Or another gift/gift card if they don’t drink.

    4. MCMonkeybean*

      That’s normally my recommendation but it sounds like this is someone they don’t actually know in person.

  7. Dan*


    For future reference, *any* talk of an offer is just that — talk — until it truly materializes in writing. And it almost never materializes at the speed they tell you it will.

    While your behavior helped you not in the slightest, I’m also not sure it cost you a job either.

    1. I love Sushi*

      I agree he will probably never know if the offer was lost because of his outburst but as a hiring manager, I would absolutely not move forward with the candidate after such an email was sent. If you can’t even keep your cool in the interview process (and honestly mad over 2 weeks yeesh) I’m not taking a chance letting that negativity into my team.

      1. Mel_05*

        Nope. It would be a super red flag. And honestly, he doesn’t seem sorry, so it’s probably great for them that he gave them that red flag.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Same. I work in a client services business where frustrating things happen all the time. I absolutely cannot risk someone losing it at a client or a business relationship manager when someone finds themselves in a challenging situation.

        That said, one of the reasons I love my HR recruiter is that they respond to call interviewed candidate inquiries promptly and check in with candidates we are seriously pursuing weekly to provide a status update and find out where the candidate is in their search. We had a position recently that involved a lot of dithering internally on the part of a key decision-maker (when everyone else had agreed on the hire already), and it took longer to extend the offer than I would have liked. We had HR touch base to at least let the candidate know the hold-up was on our end and they were still under serious consideration until we finally got the formal offer extended.

    2. Observer*

      You can’t know if it cost them THIS job for sure. But what I think the OP can be reasonably certain of is that it has cost them the possibility of ever getting a job with this company. There is also a really high likelihood that it could cost them down the line as they bump into people who were there, in other contexts.

      1. Heidi*

        Agreed about this kind of thing costing them about the line. Especially since he wrote it in an email, which basically documents the rudeness for all eternity. I sometimes wish my email would screen for snarkiness and ask me if I REALLY want to do this before it sends.

        1. HD*

          Yeah, sometimes I really want Grammarly or something to tell me when I’m sounding just a little too brusque and to reconsider sending the message until the next day.

  8. Not playing your game anymore*

    #2 Post a sign on your door.

    “Don’t even think of knocking until you mask up!” or words to that effect.

    1. Anon for this*

      one would think that would work but no.

      I ordered door dash last night. Contactless. Because — pandemic.

      The driver kept texting me to come out to their car and get the food. I’m all “just leave it at the door.” I had already tipped through the app (and I tip GENEROUSLY). Just drop it and go. The driver can then get on to the next delivery and we don’t have to see each other and take any risks. It went back and forth for much longer than it should have before the driver realized I meant it.

      1. Elenia*

        I really don’t understand this. I have always told them to leave it on the patio table and they are happy to make their transaction even faster, they don’t even have to wait for me to come out.

        1. lemon*

          I totally relate to the frustration– I leave contactless instructions (“Leave on table in lobby”) and figure that I’m making the delivery easier and protecting both our health, it’s a win-win, why is it so hard?!

          I think the issue is that restaurants aren’t consistent with what order information they give to the driver. Some print out the Grubhub/Doordash/whatever receipt with instructions and staple it to the bag. Many don’t. Some only include their own receipts, which will have incomplete info, like first name and last initial only, so the driver can’t use my building’s intercom because they have to look me up by last name.

          Drivers are often also doing deliveries for multiple services at the same time, so the Grubhub receipt prints instructions in a different spot than the Doordash which differs from the Uber Eats receipts, and so forth, and it’s hard looking for that info in different places while you’re driving. The one consistent piece of info that drivers are given is a phone number, so many just default to calling regardless of whether or not there are instructions.

        2. SimplyTheBest*

          I’ve had a lot of drivers who will not get out of their car. especially on doordash. When I first started using that I assumed that was their policy.

      2. Zona the Great*

        I have NEVER ever had a DD driver do this. Report him. You don’t ask single women or really anyone to approach you, a stranger’s, car.

      3. many bells down*

        We’ve had the same thing with UberEats in the last few weeks. After months of contactless delivery suddenly they’re texting us to come outside. I wonder if they’ve been getting complaints about missing food and the drivers are trying to cover themselves?
        (We usually assume missing food is the restaurant’s error but I’m sure people blame the drivers)

    2. JustaTech*

      My coworker posted a really cheerful sign on her apartment door that said “Thank you for masking up and keeping us all safe!” That sort of chipper approach works remarkably well. It’s like the thing Alison often says, where you start with the clear assumption that *of course* the person will be doing this very reasonable thing, which makes them more likely to do it.

  9. Hazel*

    #2: I agree with Alison’s ideas for dealing with vendors, delivery people, etc. I have never had anyone come to the door without a mask (except my lovely, but clueless neighbors), but if/when I manage to get myself downstairs to answer the door without a mask, I ask the person to wait a sec and run upstairs to get one. There’s no reason they should be exposed to any germs from me, and that should work both ways.

    1. Wine Not Whine*

      I rarely see *any* delivery person wearing a mask, except for a few local restaurants. There was one FedEx driver who put the package down, backed off, and asked whether I was okay with him marking it as signed for instead of having me touch the screen (fine by me!).
      I keep a mask for myself, and a paper towel for handling a pen/stylus, next to the door where I can grab them quickly.

    2. Cat Tree*

      Apparently we have extremely good mask compliance in my area because I’ve never seen a delivery person without one (wearing them correctly is a different matter). But one thing that annoys me is food delivery that is supposed to contactless. I don’t keep a mask handy because I’m expecting them to just do it at the door and leave. But maybe about one-third of the time, they way for me to accept it directly and if I have to open the door anyway to tell them to leave the food, then I’ll just accept it. They have always been wearing masks, but then I have to run and grab one for a 3-second interaction.

      1. Mel_05*

        Yes! I am promised contactless food delivery and about half the time I open the door and someone is standing there expecting me to take the food from them! Why?

        1. Elenia*

          I am so grateful I live in Upstate NY. Mostly anyway we have seemed to have gotten the hang of masks. I almost never see anyone with masks anymore. Last time I went to the grocery store I was pleased that no one was even wearing them below their noses!

        2. MCMonkeybean*

          Most of my food deliveries are swinging too far the other way–people keep dropping stuff off outside our door without even ringing the bell or anything! On at least two occasions we were literally sitting a few feet a way on the sofa and had no idea that our food was sitting outside getting cold…

    3. Anne Elliot*

      I recently ordered a large piece of furniture online that was delivered in a big crate that had to be brought inside. Neither of the two delivery guys were wearing a mask and when I asked where their masks were they said they “forgot them” and didn’t have any, even in the truck. I did not have disposable masks to offer, and if I had sent them away I would have had to reschedule the delivery and come home again on a different day. (I am still in an office building for my work.) So I felt like I had to let them in so I could get my furniture. I was really pissed off and immediately emailed the furniture company about it, but never hear a word back. My sister works in health care so I hit her up for about a dozen disposable masks that I’ve tucking into a kitchen drawer to make sure this never happens again.

  10. Viette*

    LW# 1: Your manager suddenly and unexpectedly purchasing new clothes for you is *so* weird that my immediate thought was that she came by some work-appropriate clothes she doesn’t want — her daughter/sister/cousin cleared out their wardrobe, or she cleared out her OWN wardrobe, or someone gave her a gift she doesn’t like — she decided that the brilliant thing to do was to re-gift them to/at you.

    It’s just so bizarre. Maybe she really went out and spent a whole bunch of money on clothing just for you, without ever talking to you about it, but the fact that she already has the clothing (not a gift card!) really makes me think she’s making up ridiculous it’s-going-to-a-good-home reasons to dump stuff she doesn’t want onto you. Which is something we’ve seen come up in these letters many times! Why people think that’s cool is beyond me but some folks love to do it.

    1. Jennifer*

      I wonder if she’s seen the clothes and can weigh in on whether or not they looked brand new or older and well-worn.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        LOL.. Or older and unworn. I think everyone has bought something in the wrong size, and many of us miss the return window.

        1. Mel_05*

          Yeah, that was my thought. She has these clothes, whether she bought them or someone else did and she needs a way to get rid of them.

        2. Jennifer*

          Good point. I have a few things in my closet with tags still on them that I need to take to goodwill. If I knew of a woman that needed professional clothing, I’d give them to her. But just going to someone that hasn’t asked for help and saying “here, I got you some clothes” is more than a bit rude.

          1. DesignerNewClothes*

            I am LW#1. The clothes were new and still in sealed shipping bags with tags. I was too intimidated to refuse them.

  11. AnotherLibrarian*

    I can’t help but wonder, OP#1, if you’ve noticed your boss has trouble with boundaries in other ways? Because this feels… like a pretty big violation of normal workplace activity. Some high end retail places require staff to dress in brand clothing, but they sell clothing- not furniture. The whole thing feels odd.

    1. MistOrMister*

      I was wondering if the boss could have a crush on OP and was getting them clothes they’d like to see them in. Just because the whole situation is so weird and really doesn’t make sense. How do you just buy a random employee clothes??? How would they even know the right size? I don’t have a single coworker that I know well enough to know what size clothes to buy them if I needed to get them something! I could maybe get lucky on sizing with a loose tunic or cardigan, but no way would I know what to buy for anything fitted.

      In fact, if OP can’t manage to get out of taking the clothes, they could easily fall back on returning them and telling the boss nothing fit correctly. Years ago I ordered a bunch of clothes from a catalog and when they arrived could only keep a few items because almost nothing fit properly. When it’s that hard to buy for youself, it is still so much harder to buy for someone else.

      1. TimeTravelR*

        Ew! Talk about boundary breaking behavior. If you’re right and the boss is crushing and just wants to see OP in those type of clothes, I am beyond skeeved out. You may be right, though.

      2. EPLawyer*

        I think that is a little extreme. I think this is more a matter of a clueless boss who doesn’t communicate well.

        “well I TOLD her to dress better and she is not. I’ll just buy her some clothes so she knows what I mean.” boss thinks she was specific enough that the employee should know what she meant about clothes.

        When in actuality the Boss just said “you know you should adhere to the dress code better.” Employee had no clue what Boss meant because she looks around and sees she is adhering to the dress code and wearing what everyone else is wearing.

        1. MistOrMister*

          The letter reads to me as if the first time the boss ever told OP there was an issue with uer clothes, she then segued into saying she had bought OP clothes. There was never any time between the boss telling OP to dress beter and mentioning the purchase. It would still be super weird if the boss bought clothes after having previously mentioned it and nothing changing. But it is much more weird to suddenly tell OP their clothes aren’t up to par, and oh,yeah I have a bag of stuff for you in my trunk. That is just outlandish. Maybe there is no crush, but I still think the situation is incredibly odd.

      3. ApplePie*

        I once had a styling appointment with a business-oriented clothing store. One of the sales people there told me that one time she had a C-Suite business executive show up and ask for an entirely new wardrobe. Turned out her *male* VP said that her clothing wasn’t up to par, asked her to make an appointment there, and gave her the company credit card so she could buy whatever she wished. While this is a slightly more sane example of this sort of behavior, I think this might happen more often than we realize. If the boss really wants to have that much say over their staff’s clothing, they either needs to provide them uniforms or an extremely clear cut dress code. Buying your employee clothes is so over the line… I cannot.

        1. DesignerNewClothes*

          I am LW#1. My company has a very vague dress code policy. I have several coworkers that I am close with here and at other locations and I just casually asked them about my wardrobe and ways to improve and they seemed very confused and said I always looked good. I think my manager prefers certain styles over others and may have just gone in to a mom mode and picked out clothes for me. Still an odd situation but I don’t think there was any ill intent

  12. Emma*

    LW#2 I’m surprised that they are still asking for signatures. Where I am, all the courier companies have said they won’t ask for signatures, instead the drivers take a photo on their phone of the person they handed the package to, holding the package, so that if there are any disputes later they have evidence that they handed it over to the right person.

    Of course, 90% of the time they still leave the parcel somewhere silly, don’t ring the bell and then take a picture of the inside of their pocket… but they did that with signatures too *eyeroll*

    1. UKDancer*

      Yes, I’ve not been asked for a signature since Covid started. They mainly drop the package on my doormat, ring the bell, take an out of focus picture of the doormat and leave by the time I’ve got to the door. So I’ve no idea whether they’re wearing masks or not because usually all I see is the back of them heading into the van to leave.

      1. Cat Tree*

        Same here, but I think it’s a legal thing that my state suspended temporarily. I had to take a medication that is a controlled substance (apparently it can be used in sports for doping), but my las delivery in April didn’t require a signature.

    2. Allonge*

      This was my first thought too, who even asks for signatures any more? Over here the delivery guys sign the thing themselves if it’s required, but mostly I also see their backs as they step into the elevator. Perhaps that is what should be discussed, even with the sending company, to avoid longer ‘meetings’.

      If someone really just drops a box off, rings the doorbell, steps back to see if it is being picked up, it matters a lot less if they have a mask on or not.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        I got a package this week that was supposed to require a signature. The delivery driver never even rang the bell, just left it on the porch and presumably signed for it themself. (The package contained a single item, worth a couple hundred dollars. I understand why the shipper asked for a signature.)

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I have been asked for one signature since the start of the pandemic (also a very expensive item, so I understand the shipper wanting a signature). The delivery driver was masked (I did too), and he had a disinfectant wipe that he cleaned the whole pad and pen with in my view before passing to me (he also recleaned the pad while walking back to his vehicle).

        I think the delivery people being unmasked is more on drivers than the company.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      It’s kinda still common in the UK for some deliveries, which is a bit hit or miss especially at the moment. There was one RM delivery guy who rocked up sans mask a few months back but he at least went ‘ah hell, sorry’ and went back to the van for a mask when I pointed at the sign at our door:

      “All visitors or delivery people coming to this door need a mask. High risk person inside”

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

      The last time someone asked me for a signature was on May, when a courier delivered an office chair. Unsurprisingly, he was also unmasked.

    5. LifeBeforeCorona*

      We still need to sign for food deliveries. The delivery has to be checked for quality and accuracy (12 heads of cabbage not 10.) The masked delivery person places everything inside and steps back. Someone else (masked) verifies the order (Where are the Roma tomatoes? The delivery person points to the box) and then signs off.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      Given that the person’s job is IT and he’s working on servers, it’s possible these vendor require signatures because of the value of the parts being shipped.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        I haven’t had to sign for a hazmat shipment since April. If FedEx can get away with that I have a hard time believing they can’t come up with a way to get around a signature for a high value item

        1. Sled Dog Mama*

          I should say they are still handing it directly to me which I appreciate (US DOT requires training to ship/receive HAZMAT) so at least they can verify that they handed it to the person who normally signs.

        2. LW2*

          LW2 here- My partner thinks they’re requiring signatures because they are delivering to XYZ Company, not him personally.

    7. C*

      My USPS driver still asks for a signature and will leave the slip saying that I need to go pick up in-person if I don’t answer within like 15 seconds. What I started doing over the summer was leaving a note in my mailbox stating something like “I authorize the delivery of the package I’m expecting from *company* today,” with the date, my address, and signature. It’s worked all except one time, though unfortunately I can’t say I’ve tried with any other courier services.

    8. Delta Delta*

      They may have to sign for highly sensitive things like medication, jewelry, or other highly-insured stuff.

    9. londonedit*

      I can’t remember the last time I was asked to sign for anything. Amazon specifically state that they will not ask for a signature and will leave the package at your door, and every other courier has done the ‘ring the bell and then take a photo of the package on the doorstep’ (with or without my slippered feet, depending on whether I’ve got to the door in time) or they’ve left the package at the door and stood well back while I’ve picked it up.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Scrolling through my Amazon delivery confirmations is like watching a time lapse video of my porch flowers dying.

    10. blink14*

      I’ve had to sign once so far during all this for a delivery that was over X amount of dollars. I knew this when I made the purchase and I actually decided to have the shipper send it to a local customer service center and went there to pick it up. That way, I could arrange to pick it up very early in the morning and could control the circumstances better.

      It’s funny what requires a signature – I have specialized medication that is shipped overnight to me every month, have never needed a signature, either before or during COVID times. I’ve had expensive food deliveries by FedEx with no signature needed either.

      It’s really up to the shipper, because it covers their potential loss.

    11. kittymommy*

      We’ve had to sign for some stuff at my office, generally legal documents. Certified return receipt/subpeonas/etc.

  13. Jinkys*

    Op3: I hope you take Alison’s advice to look at other areas in your life and see if this is a pattern. Job hunting can be at best annoying and frustrating, and at worst straight up demoralizing, so you have my sympathies there. However, even if they *were* ghosting you, sending a rude and sarcastic email served you no benefit except making you feel better in the moment that you told them off. You are never entitled to an offer (even if you killed the interview) and you certainly are never entitled to take out your anger on others.

    It’s interesting that you compared yourself to a character that is connected/rich, was already hired at the firm, is meant to be an entitled unlikeable heel, and most importantly is fictional. It’s evident here that you don’t mistake fiction for reality, but instead that you’re spinning your wheels because you’re mad at yourself. But ask yourself, do you EVER want to be the Pete Campbell?

    Please apologize expecting (and excusing) nothing and retry your job search. Check in with yourself and the people in your life if you have a pattern of losing your temper, or if your demeanor has changed recently. And if you find you do indeed have trouble controlling your emotions in other areas in your life, please look up help. I’m saying this not to make you feel worse, but because it can make things better for you (and those around you too). Good luck!

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Thank you for this. I don’t know Mad Men but just the title seemed not to be appropriate for quoting in a business context.
      OP3 I think you have indeed burned a bridge with this company. I know that as a hiring manager, I would never want to hire someone who wrote me an email that was sarcastic and rude, however much they might grovel in their apology. I can do without drama in the workplace.
      Also, loyalty is rather a has-been characteristic. People who demand loyalty are mobsters, like The One Who Must Leave By 20 Jan. My previous boss gained an extra six years of loyal service from me because of their wonderful attitude when my Dad died (“take all the time off you need”, which I presumed would be unpaid but no, they paid me for all three weeks I took!), even though I had been planning to leave at that point. They didn’t have to ask for loyalty, they earned it.

  14. EventPlannerGal*

    OP3: I think that if in almost any workplace situation you’re thinking “oh but maybe it’ll be work out like in Mad Men!” you need to rethink. Real life isn’t that deep. Nobody is going to go out of their way to give you a redemption arc; they just read a rude, sarcastic email and concluded that you’re the sort of person who sends rude, sarcastic emails, which is true. That doesn’t make you a terrible person or anything (we’ve all said or done regrettable things out of frustration) but it might be a good reminder that all people know about you is what you show them, and when you’re job hunting you want to be careful about what you show them.

    1. Shira*

      “Nobody is going to go out of their way to give you a redemption arc”
      +1. I was trying to think of a way to express this, and you nailed it on the head.
      Not to mention that, at least based on what I’ve read here, basing a business relationship on “loyalty” leads to more dysfunctional behavior than just basing it on mutual benefit. (I haven’t seen Mad Men, but the environment there doesn’t sound like something people should try to emulate.)

      1. Observer*

        I haven’t seen Mad Men, but I’ve seen enough to know that it’s one of those “places” where you do the exact opposite of what would happen in the show, if you don’t want a disaster on your hands.

        I’d say it’s much like Dilbert, just a different set of dysfunctions.

    2. Persephone Mongoose*

      Came here to say this. As a general rule of thumb, don’t assume anything in real life will happen the way it does on TV.

    3. Washi*

      Yeah, I know the OP is desperate and grasping at straws…but really, you want them to think of you as a Peter Campbell?

      I don’t think the analogy works anyway. Everyone at the company already knew Peter’s work and what he was like as a person, so keeping him was a risk, but a calculated one. No one knows OP like that at this other company.

    4. Delta Delta*

      There’s that lawnmower episode of Mad Men, so you do have to be careful with which episode you hope your life will pattern.

    5. Batgirl*

      +100. In fact, if you ever use any fiction as a life lesson make sure you understand narrative structure really, really well. As in, Real Life = people chose the most seamless and suitable option for them, causing drama goes badly, everyone’s the hero in their own life story. Whereas Fiction = People choose the most dramatic and entertaining option, causing drama entitles you to a rewarding opportunity to fix it, there is a very clear agreement on who is the Villain and who is the Hero.

    6. Observer*

      I think that if in almost any workplace situation you’re thinking “oh but maybe it’ll be work out like in Mad Men!” you need to rethink.

      Very much this.

    7. juliebulie*

      Yep. I think the only way this will still end with an offer is if the culture at that place is already so rude and sarcastic that OP’s angry email doesn’t faze them.

      1. MCMonkeybean*

        Yeah, honestly I think the most relevant cultural reference for this particular situation is “I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.” If they overlooked a red flag that big in the hiring process then you should probably feel wary of what they might have overlooked in your coworkers!

        We’ve all said things we regret and clearly OP has learned the hard way, but I think all they can do is try to recalibrate their expectations moving forward with future applications rather than trying to salvage this one.

  15. Bookworm*

    LW3: Just sending you some sympathy and letting you know you’re not the only one who has done this. I have done the same with interviews before reading up and seeing it has become more and more common for organizations to simply ghost applicants at any stage of the process.

    I didn’t follow up to apologize and I never heard back from them in any way. I don’t know if it has hurt me (to my knowledge it hasn’t) but I would also flip this around: if it took them 2 weeks AND a follow-up from you, is this really a place you want to work for?

    I’m not trying to justify what (or I) did, but I do think it can be helpful to reframe. There’s admittedly a lot going on right now but your story isn’t unusual and it’d be nice if hiring people understood that this is enormously frustrating and stressful for applicants.

    1. Workerbee*

      My only caution here would be thinking the two weeks is an egregious time to wait. Two weeks + no response to a nudge is frustrating, yes! Yet not, sadly, at all uncommon enough or personal enough to warrant any reaction other than to just keep moving and pursuing other avenues until/if you hear back. It feels personal, I know. It just doesn’t do you any good to get caught up in that kind of thinking.

      I’ve been a hiring manager bogged down in ridiculous practices that I’ve tried to change as well, knowing there’s a real live person waiting to hear on the other end. I’ve had to fight through higher ups with no stake in my game who insisted on sticking their oar in to bog down my decision—they of course considered themselves an authority on what I was looking for. (At the very least, I can say that my direct hire at OldJob that I fought for is still there and thriving, whereas the most in-your-business higher-up got the axe.) My point here is to say a company’s hiring practices aren’t always a microcosm of the entire org.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I don’t know if this letter was sent recently, but everything stops in December. People take vacations, work slows down. I’ve been interviewing at a few places and all communication slowed through December and stopped for the last two weeks of the year. But as of yesterday, bam! Everyone is back on the ball!

      2. Batgirl*

        There are any number of things that could tie up an organisation’s entire bandwidth for a few weeks. I mean, if they haven’t hired OP yet, they have other people and matters which outweigh him in terms of priority. Yes, they run the risk of him being hired elsewhere, but it might be that *a thing* happens which outpaces that consideration.

      3. Heidi*

        Two weeks is not a long time in the hiring process, to be sure. I like to believe that if I told someone I’d respond to them in a couple days and then found out it would take longer than that, I’d give them a heads up, but not everyone will remember to do this. It’s definitely possible that the silence meant they weren’t going to hire him, but it wasn’t safe to assume that based on the information given.

    2. hbc*

      Hiring people almost universally understand that–we’ve all been applicants ourselves. What most *applicants* don’t get is that it is nearly impossible to substantially reduce the stress and frustration, and a call saying “Why haven’t I heard anything?” will rarely make the situation better.

      Don’t get me wrong–plenty of companies have bad practices, including ghosting. But in my experience, a two week wait on an offer is very common, and a quick offer is a worse sign: capricious hiring, tons of churn, etc..

    3. Colette*

      If you’re not willing to work for a place that has a 2 week delay, you won’t be working anywhere. Two weeks is very little time in business terms, and the people doing the hiring usually are doing it as an add-on to their “real” job.

      Things that can cause a 2-week delay:
      – another candidate has to reschedule, and they want to talk to everyone before making a decision
      – someone is out of the office due to vacation, illness, or a family emergency (and this may not be someone you’ve talked to – it could be the director who has to sign off, or a coworker of someone you’ve talked to whose job now needs to be covered)
      – there is a reorg in progress – no one knows how it will affect the new position
      – there is a big business deadline that is all hands on deck

      Hiring takes a long time, and it’s unlikely they are deliberately treating candidates badly.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Yep. Good hiring takes time.

        I learned the hard way that snap hiring decisions can be signs of disfunction, because they aren’t thoughtfully considering qualifications and fit on both sides. ExToxicJob made me an offer very quickly, and in fact HR tried to push me to start immediately, several times. I wanted a couple weeks in-between jobs to relax and recoup, which I didn’t think was unreasonable. (I was being laid off, so I wasn’t worried about notice.) I ended up only taking a week. Should have taken two.

    4. Observer*

      As others noted, two weeks is not egregious.

      Also, being able to handle frustration is a part of any job. If the only place you ever will accept working for is a place that ALWAYS gets it perfectly right, you are going to have a hard time. And even in a place where the organization is perfect, there are external factors.

      I’m not suggesting that a company deliberately create frustrations for job seekers. But, when a person handles frustration in a bad way, it IS reasonable (and responsible) for the company to take that into consideration.

    5. biobotb*

      I’m not sure your reframing is always helpful. Can a long hiring process reflect on what it’s like to work for the company? Sure. But not always. Where I work, the hiring process appears to proceed like molasses, but it’s all down to HR’s process. It has no reflection on what it’s like to work in different departments at all.

      1. Le Sigh*

        There’s also stuff behind the scenes they may not be aware of. Even if the process isn’t especially slow, you can hit hiccups along the way that require pausing or regrouping — key candidates dropping out, an issue with a background check, a key executive who needs to sign off on salary has a family emergency, etc. Of course, employers should email people noting the delay or updated timeline. But in this case, OP could just have done what some candidates have done when I’m hiring — politely email me, inquire about any updates, let me know if anything has changed on their end, etc. I got back to them, apologized for the delay, and gave them a new timeline. I know how crappy it is to have this stuff drag out, but if OP had done that instead, they might have found out there was still have an offer coming but they were waiting on something key. At the very least, no bridges burned.

  16. agnes*

    LW #3 We’ve all done that one thing that haunts us. If you have learned something that will help you down the road in your professional relationships, then just consider it a life lesson, write the apology without any expectations of a response, and move on. We usually earn more from these moments than from the “wins” in our lives—it’s tuition in the school of life.

    I have a few “rules to live by” that I have gathered in my life, most based on my own missteps. One of them is

    Do not send any emails to anyone when you are in the middle of strong emotions. Write them if you want, but save them in draft until you’ve had a chance to calm down AND run them by somebody else you trust.

    1. Maeshowe Dragon*

      Agree about not sending emails whilst passionate, but also don’t fill out the “to” line if you do write a draft!

      1. Filosofickle*

        That is one of the most important things I’ve ever learned! Even if it’s not a highly emotional email, anything this is hard to say or sensitive, anything I wouldn’t want to get sent before it’s fully finished, should be drafted in a text editor or in an email w/o a ‘to’ address.

  17. frazzled person who says yes or no to people*

    This has been happening to me a lot as a result of my supervisors’ tendency to lie about things like response times and start dates. I’m not HR or in a personnel-related role in any way, but because I’m present during interviews and often the only person who DOES respond to anyone’s emails, candidates tend to blame me directly. I’ve been accused of scamming people, lying about whether the position existed (again, I don’t hire! I say whether or not I think the person should be hired, but I don’t ultimately make the decision), lying about whether the company existed, etc.

    As someone who has been in your recipient’s shoes, I can say with certainty that your apology would be accepted and appreciated and that I would still not advocate for you to get the position. Just wanted to be honest about that.

    (Yes, I’m planning on leaving my job soon!)

  18. LGC*

    Okay, here’s my bad take for today: LW2, have you asked the couriers to wear masks? Maybe put up a sign on your door? That would be my first response instead of going straight to the courier services.

    I can see the couriers being thoughtless instead of malicious – it’s the same effect, but I don’t think they’re anti maskers.

    1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      Yes it could be that they just didn’t think about it because the contact is usually very brief in this kind of situation.

    2. TimeTravelR*

      I think a sign on the door is a great idea! Even the neighbors might not think to mask up. And people will understand a sign that says “High risk household, please wear a mask.”

    3. Cat Tree*

      A sign wouldn’t hurt, but probably won’t be as effective as you’re expecting. People often assume that the sign doesn’t apply to them personally. For example, in this case the delivery person will probably assume that such a sign applies to long-term visitors, and since they’re doing a quick drop-off it won’t matter. Adding clarification to the sign will just make people less likely to read it.

      This is a case where people should use their words and just tell the person directly to wear a mask.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I did have one neighbour reckon my sign didn’t apply to them because “I don’t believe Covid is that serious”….

        (Not a neighbour I see often btw)

    4. Emilitron*

      I was also thinking a sign, but making it more explicit: “Couriers and visitors: I will not answer the door if you are not wearing a mask”

      1. LW2*

        LW2 here- I hadn’t thought of a sign- all food deliveries, etc. have been contactless. I’ll make one up.

        1. Malarkey01*

          For me, I feel rushed when there’s a delivery and don’t want to delay things, BUT I’ve gotten over that. When I look out the door by the window and see someone there unmasked I yell out and mime that I need them to put on a mask and also keep a few masks by the door to hand out (which I needed for some critical workmen and one inhome delivery person). There’s no reason you need to feel rushed when it’s an issue of them getting a mask on. That and an easy ready script have helped me get over those surprised moments like an unmasked person or asking someone to back up.

  19. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

    I’ve come to AAM twice today and both times managed to read “countries who don’t wear masks”. Even when I had already read the post and knew it’s couriers. Still I read it as countries and wonder why it’s countries in plural, when at this point I think Sweden is the only country left that doesn’t have (almost) any mask recommendations/mandates…

  20. Boof*

    Lw4; if you want to help the person out with cash and it’s appropriate for your relationship with them, go right ahead, but i would just phrase it as a gift rather than “splitting a referral bonus”. If there was a sign-on bonus, it would be weird to try to split it with the recruiter/ referring party; as we have seen in aam letters about a few souls entitled enough to demand it anyway!

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Yes, if cash seems too cash like? maybe a gift card to a grocery store. I received several at Christmas time and it was nice to have extra money to buy almost anything since most grocery stores carry many other things besides groceries.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      See, to me, “Hey, I got a bonus for referring you, what’s your PayPal so I can send you a cut?” seems way less fraught than “I know you’re broke so I would like to give you a gift of money.” The former gives a little more … plausible deniability isn’t quite the right word, but it lets the recipient … save a little face, maybe? Like, there’s a reason this person I don’t know super well gave me money that isn’t just me being broke, which makes me feel a little better and less embarrassed about accepting it.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        (Which is not to say that the LW should feel obligated to give their acquaintance money. Just, if they decide they want to.)

      2. Washi*

        I totally agree. I think framing it as like “my company is going nuts with the referral bonuses, I think you should get a cut!” is much more likely to lead to the person actually accepting it.

        That said, in my experience such generous referral bonuses go hand in hand with sign-on bonuses – did this person get a nice lump of cash already? Not that the OP couldn’t still share, but that might ease their mind about this person’s financial situation.

      3. Reba*

        I agree, with similarly fuzzy reasoning. Splitting the bonus, it’s like, hey, I got this free money bc of your hire! It’s extra. It’s still generous to share it, but you’re sharing it because it’s gravy, it’s just something between two friends/ acquaintances. I know you are thinking of doing it at least in part bc of this person’s circumstances, but this way gives the option of not pointing out their need–just saying, here we both were part of this!
        Whereas framing it as a gift it feels like the money is more OP’s personal money, that this is charity (which many people would be sensitive to). I realize this is not a real distinction in a practical sense, but it does feel different to me.

        Op 4 I think you should offer and it’s good you thought of this! SO many people are in such a terrible financial more. People in all our communities need help and here you have a nice way to offer it.

      4. Green great dragon*

        Completely agree. ‘Here is a cash gift’ sounds like charity. ‘I got this for something that wouldn’t have happened without you – shall we share it?’ sounds like (generous) friendship.

      5. LW4*

        Exactly my thought. I don’t want it to sound like charity or pity money, just “hey, I got some money for referring you and wanted to share”. Thanks!

  21. TimeTravelR*

    My former neighbor worked in a bank and was given a hard time about her shoes. She was a teller and no one really ever saw her shoes, so not really sure why that was a thing! She was struggling financially and entry level bank tellers don’t make lots of money so I thought it was a pretty petty thing to pick at. (Her shoes were professional in that they were heels or flats, but had seen better days.)

  22. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    LW5: I spent the last month applying to EVERYTHING, and was so embarrassed yesterday when a company called for a phone interview and I had NO idea what company it was or the position I had applied for and no chance to try and figure it out. Twas not a good day.

  23. Jennifer*

    #1 I wonder if the boss is one of those people who has very specific taste. Like maybe she prefers dresses instead of blazers with nice pants and flats, and instead of looking at people who have different taste as just being different she considers them out of compliance with the dress code. That would be strange, but I have dealt with people like this in the past. They need to be told that just because something is done differently it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.

    1. WellRed*

      There was once a manager at my company who criticized an employee for wearing brown boots with black pants at a trade show. It really boiled down to disliking the employee.

      1. Asenath*

        Sometimes it is personal, sometimes it isn’t. As someone with little interest in fashion (aside, sometimes, for observing it on others), it took me a while to realize that for some people certain clothing choices are just wrong. I remember the first time I was in a conversation like this about a new person in a higher position. It ended up like Me: So what’s he doing that’s wrong?” Her: “He’s wearing white socks!!” Me: “So? I wear white socks.” Her: “You don’t wear them at work, or with dark pants!” (She didn’t know me well, because I probably did wear white socks on inappropriate occasions, but somehow it was more inappropriate for a man.).

        Still, whatever her motivation, buying clothes for an employee is extremely weird. If she wants the employee to wear black socks, that’s all she needs to say (assuming that’s in the dress code). She doesn’t need to buy black socks for her.

        1. Jennifer*

          White socks with black pants drive me up the wall, lol, as do socks with sandals, but you’re right, if it’s not part of the dress code, people need to mind their business and realize it’s just a matter of personal taste. If it bothers her that much, then change the dress code.

          1. AKchic*

            Right? Everyone knows you wear novelty socks, preferably Doctor Who, Supernatural or Beetlejuice with black pants. At the very least, they have to be dark, unless you’re looking for a bright contrast because you’re wearing a bright top or cardigan, then go for a Lilo and Stitch theme.


  24. NYWeasel*

    OP #3: I know this isn’t the gist of your question, but what stands out to me most is that your default response was rooted in feeling that there was a lack of respect towards you.

    As I’ve advanced in my career, my biggest learning has been how rarely my “pain points” (ie ppl being unresponsive or unhelpful) were actually due to malice. Overwhelmingly, it’s usually a direct result of someone else’s pain point that they can’t resolve. My boss explained this to me as “developing a broad strategic view rather than only considering it through the lens of my own work.” Now that I manage a team of more junior staff, this also tends to be the number one factor in why certain people struggle to be promoted. If Sue and Sandy are both equally diligent in their work, but Sue assumes Fergus doesn’t care about providing his data while Sandy assumes that Fergus must have an obstacle on his end, Sandy is going to end up working better with Fergus over time, and that results in Sandy being perceived as a better employee. Don’t get me wrong—Fergus might very well be a slacker, but if you first approach with an intent to “seek to understand” there’s no downside. You can always escalate once you’ve confirmed the issue, and in the meantime, if he’s dealing with an unrelated issue on his end, he’ll always remember that you gave him the benefit of the doubt.

    Once you’re past the immediate situation, which Alison has given some great advice on, I recommend practicing a new way of responding. We’re all human, so sure, it’s fine to have that moment of utter frustration (internally or only with a close work pal) where you invent new curses against Fergus in your head. But after you get that out, pause and think about what logjams Fergus might be dealing with. In this case, perhaps a key stakeholder was unavailable so Fergus couldn’t get a final sign off. Or Fergus got pulled into a short term initiative that had to take precedence over the hiring process. As I said, there’s always time to escalate later if you find that the situation is truly malicious, and in the meantime, you’re going to find that you get much better results long-term by using this approach. Good luck!

    1. Sara without an H*

      This is good advice. In my experience, genuine malice is rare. Work-related issues are more likely to be the product of badly-designed processes, institutional inertia, and short-staffing, occasionally seasoned with laziness and/or stupidity. A conscious project to disrespect the OP is vanishingly unlikely.

    2. tangerineRose*

      “if you first approach with an intent to “seek to understand” there’s no downside. You can always escalate once you’ve confirmed the issue” This!

  25. hbc*

    OP3: “I still think they could have kept me in the loop and said so, though I did apologize before we parted ways.”

    It sounds like you already apologized with a “but it’s your fault too” spin, so I don’t think you can simply apologize again. If you do send anything, it will have to be both a full-on acceptance of blame for the original email and retracting the finger-pointing of the second. Basically, admit that you didn’t really apologize, and say you realize now that there was no fault on their end.

    If you can’t bear to own it 100% like this, it’d be better not to send anything at all.

      1. Elle by the sea*

        I see what you mean and it’s indeed a bad idea to write an angry email in that situation. However, it’s also rather strange that someone has been promised an offer and after two weeks of silence and a polite follow-up they still don’t get a reply. I’m not surprised that OP assumed that they had been ghosted. And although OP’s behaviour was an overreaction, trying to create a bit of context for that by pointing out that the they should have been kept in the loop is absolutely warranted in my opinion. I don’t agree that it’s a sorry-not-sorry type of response.

        1. A*

          I would agree with you, but I think it depends on the timing. If this was in November/December I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all that they did not get a response over two weeks (which may or may not have been two full business weeks). At my company, literally 95% of people were out the last two weeks of Dec because far more people than usual had a backlog of PTO due to the pandemic and we have a use it or lose it policy.

          If it was before that time, I do agree that it would be strange not to hear back on the follow-up even if it was just a ‘we’ll let you know’ acknowledgment of receipt.

          1. Elle by the sea*

            Oh, right. That’s a good point. If it happened at that time, I wouldn’t be surprised at a long period of silence.

  26. WellRed*

    No. 1 is another fantastically weird situation and total overstep. OP do consider if there are changes you should make in how you dress. Also, it might cheer you to read the letter from someone who’s boss frequently bought clothes etc for employees. She even went so far as to direct them to pick out underwear and have it set aside so she could approve it!

  27. Rubes*

    I love Alison’s advice but the scripts are always so long. Maybe it’s being a young woman in a male dominated industry but I’ve rarely been able to express more than a few words of pushback without getting interrupted and then rambled at for several minutes.

    1. Jennifer*

      I have found a firm “I was still speaking” works in that situation. But you need to practice at home with someone before trying it out in the real world.

      1. Elenia*

        Or just a “May I finish? I had more to say.”
        Assertiveness is not aggressiveness and this is a hard thing to overcome. I grew up a “nice” girl and somewhere along the line I had to learn to stiffen my spine. This comes from my family, who would just override me when I wanted to talk. (This is also where I learned to talk really fast – if you just spit everything out they have a harder time interrupting you. I had to unlearn that, too!) These days I just think of “Taking back my time.” Cause it is my time, dammit.

        1. Jennifer*

          Reclaim that time!! Lol

          I was raised as a “nice girl” too, sometimes around men who interrupted. It’s difficult to overcome but I did with therapy.

        2. AKchic*

          Don’t ask. “I’m not done” and keep going. Or just talk over them. If you don’t stop, they tend to get really irritated. When they try to interrupt, get a little louder. If they say “you interrupted me”, respond with “no, I just didn’t stop when you tried to interrupt me. I’m not going to repeat myself verbally, so I’ll just send it in an email and cc your supervisor. I’ll make a note that you didn’t hear me the first time since you chose to try to interrupt me and failed.”

          Take no ish. Yeah, you won’t be labeled as “nice”. You will be called a “b..”. But guess what? You probably already are being called that anyway.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I’ve had plenty of blokes try to talk over me – I normally stop, glare at them and VERY coldly say ‘Please let me finish’.

      Hours spent practising a very cold glare and voice at home was a good investment. Knew I’d got it when my husband said I was scaring him :p

    3. Batgirl*

      Putting a hand up (softly, it doesn’t have to be a cop hand) can get interrupters to stop and just saying “I really must finish what I was saying” or “Just let me finish please” works really well. If you squint and decide to assume that they just come from an interuppt-y family, (as I do) rather than it being sexism, it feels less rude to interrupt back.

    4. Just Another Zebra*

      I work with a lot of men who all like to interrupt me, repeatedly, and often. My golden phrase that seems to work best is “I’m sorry the middle of my sentence interrupted the beginning of yours.” In the time they pause to figure out what I mean, I move on with my thought.

      It’s not perfect, but it brings me joy.

      1. Jerusha*

        “I’m sorry the middle of my sentence interrupted the beginning of yours.”

        /applauds wildly/

    5. rarelycomments*

      I wonder if you could take them as a starting point and adjust to something you think might work better in your context? Her advice always seems great to me, too, very thoughtful and practical, but the actual phrasing would almost never work in my country or workplace – in part because of length, but also because of a level of formality which would come off as extremely odd in most situations in my low-power-distance culture. One would have to work quite hard to actually be taken seriously and not seen as taking the proverbial when speaking so formally to a colleague, or even someone higher up in the food chain. But tweaking for context while keeping the meaning, I’m sure that could be a viable approach :)

  28. Jennifer*

    #3 I definitely understand the impatience when you are waiting for an offer and a start date, I’ve been there, and maybe they could have kept you in the loop but you don’t know what was happening on their end either. I’m reminded of a letter from a few weeks ago where someone was upset by being ghosted by an interviewer and sent a terse email, only to find out the interviewer had suffered a horrible tragedy that day. If this ever happens again, just remind yourself that you don’t know the real reason for the delay, instead of assuming they are trying to screw you over.

    I understand sending polite, professional requests for an update, maybe with increased urgency since you do have to coordinate leaving your current position if you’re already employed, but just keep it there next time.

  29. Office Rat*

    #1, this literally happened to me when I was in my twenties.

    I started an apprenticeship for minimum wage at a shop doing body piercing. A couple of weeks in, the manager/owner bought me clothing because I ‘didn’t fit the image of the shop”. I was maybe 22, and didn’t have enough life experience to see the red flag as it was. She was my mothers age, and I thought maybe she really liked me and felt I was family, like she always said.

    It created a weird sense of control where she felt she could force me to wear exactly what she thought I should. I did not end up finishing the apprenticeship because that was just one red flag of many. Turns out there were dozens of “apprentices” and she had been a terrible boss for all of us.

    I’m not saying my situation was yours, but it will create a weird power dynamic. Hell, it might be weird already if she just thought she could buy you things out of the blue. I mean, there are issues of fit alone that make buying folks clothing difficult without trying them on. I wonder if your boss, like mine, has other issues that this is just the most obvious.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Gotta admit, I’m very curious about what you were wearing and what the owner wanted you to wear instead!

  30. Elenia*

    LW # 5, my best success was two applications a week. Yes, that low. I decided I would send out two job applications a week, every week. This gave me time to redo my resume, write a brilliant cover letter, and keep track of who responded.
    This ended up getting me a job with a $12,000 raise. No kidding.
    Patience is the name of the game in job hunting. Now this is super hard when you don’t have a job currently, I understand, which is why it’s always prudent to hunt when you have another job. It took me eight months to land my new job.

    1. juliebulie*

      I think that was the minimum requirement in my state – two per week. (Actually I think it was two job-seeking efforts a week or something like that – but I wanted to make that time count.) In my field, two per week is pretty tough. But it was just the right number to really be able to focus on and keep track of.

  31. alina*

    For the quality vs quantity of job applications – I’ve decided I’m firmly on the quality side. I know this is an incredibly privileged place to be in, but I was applying to jobs casually while working, not paying attention, and I had to turn down a job offer that I received but wasn’t a good fit. I’m going to keep looking for jobs, but I’m going to be more discerning about where I apply and continue the interview process so I’m not in the position of either spending a lot of time interviewing or turning down a job that isn’t really what I’m looking for.

  32. Observer*

    #3 – In addition to what Allison said, I think you should apologize to limit the fall out of your behavior.

    You jumped the gun – two weeks in not an egregiously long time, and chose to react with an email that was, by your own admission rude and sarcastic, which is not a really appropriate response even if they really were being rude. The you doubled down! Telling them that your rudeness was their fault, which is essentially what you are describing, really really makes you look bad. People are likely to remember you, and not in a good way.

    An honest and full apology – one that does make excuses or point further fingers but that DOES take responsibility and indicate that you would handle a similar situation differently going forward might help there. Because the thing is that the people who saw the whole thing go down, are likely to move on and you don’t know where you might bump into them again. They will also almost certainly tell others about you because what you have done is memorable. A good apology could help to mitigate these problems.

    Lots of luck! Job hunting is hugely stressful.

    1. Observer*

      I just want to add that I do think you should apologize. But if you do not really understand what you did wrong here or are unable / unwilling to offer a complete apology, you are better off not apologizing.

      You’ve burnt a bridge here. If you do a good apology it could limit the damage. If you do a bad apology, you could make things even worse.

  33. Delta Delta*

    #1 – If OP has a trusted coworker, it might be worth asking that person if her outfits seem okay for work, and if it seems like there are tweaks she might benefit from making. That might help also pull into focus whether there’s actually an issue or if the boss is weird. If the trusted coworker gives a few tips and they seem consistent with the clothing from the boss, it may be that some updating would be helpful. (I have been guilty of wearing borderline too-casual clothing at work and although nobody said anything, when I realized it I quickly adjusted)

    Also, it’s worth it to have a chat with the boss and find out about the origin of the clothing. another commenter mentioned that someone might have done a closet clean-out and OP may be the recipient of some nice things, albeit in a ham-fisted way.

    1. Observer*

      There can be no question that the boss is being weird. You simply do NOT decide to buy an employee clothes without extensive discussion before – and even that is unlikely to be appropriate.

      Is it possible that the OP *ALSO* needs to change how they dress? Yes, but it’s important for the OP to realize that their boss IS out of line here.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yes, that’s what I was thinking. It’s entirely possible that the OP has made a misstep – following the letter but not the spirit of the dress code, or they don’t understand it the way they think they do. But even if that’s the case, the manager was weird and inappropriate.

  34. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    LW2: you really should consider offering disposable masks if you can afford it. Of course I am pro-mask, but I worked in the gig economy early on in the pandemic before my current job.

    Instacart, DoorDash, Amazon, etc. nearly or always view couriers as independent contractors and thus do NOT provide masks or any PPE. The courier has to buy them themselves, and these jobs are often paying minimum wage and are jobs of last resort. The cost of masks/gear really ate into my costs and sometimes made my job more difficult if I had to carry heavy items. I also had to use masks far past the 4-hour effective time for paper ones because I couldn’t breathe in cloth (asthma) and couldn’t afford to keep buying disposable.

    I completely understand why you insist on masks. I just suggest if you mandate it, a box of disposable masks along with a sternly worded sign is cheap. And if you complain to vendors or companies, insist that they provide PPE.

    1. LW2*

      LW2 here-we do have some, and that’s a good point- though these are branded courier services. This area is full of anti-maskers, and deniers, so that colors my view of people showing up.

      1. Properlike*

        We have good compliance, but my basket of masks is by the front door. Do you have a peephole? If the person on my porch isn’t masked, I call out to them to please off the porch (it’s small) and I wait until they do it, then I open the door. “I need you to stay there,” is a perfectly polite line. If they’re dropping off, as others have said, have them put it down and then walk back to a point and then you pick it up/sign whatever/hand sanitize and close the door.

        This is not rocket science. You can and do have the power to set the terms of safety for your home.

  35. Elle by the sea*

    Look, a truly sincere apology never hurts, so it’s worth sending one, regardless of the outcome. I’m disheartened to say that it’s almost certain that your offer cannot be salvaged. You sent that email, and you know, written word is permanent, and as others before me have pointed out, the rejection is most likely a fait accompli at that point. But sending a well-written sincere apology will give you a peace of mind and might change the prospective employer’s impression of you. And who knows what the future holds. Otherwise, take it as a lesson to wait and not shoot off after a few weeks.

    I can really relate to your situation. I don’t know if it was a one off for you or a general pattern, but as for me, I had to learn the hard way that this sort of behaviour can seriously hurt my chances of employment. I used to write such emails, especially earlier in my career. With an advanced degree from a top university in my field, a plenty of research experience (a big plus in my field) and a rather adventurous past, I used to think of myself as some sort of a big shot. I lost my job for, in my own view, not being submissive enough to my manager. But in reality, even though my manager was extremely disorganised and not very honest, I myself have crossed the line by being stubborn, volatile and writing really arrogant-sounding emails when things were not going my way. Well, to cut the long story short, I came across a job which was tangentially related to my field but for which I was wildly under-qualified and the compensation was quite a meagre sum, too. I applied nevertheless, as I was feeling increasingly desperate to find something. I was rejected based on my CV. I didn’t even get an interview. The reasoning was as follows: they received a large volume of applications, and most applicants were more qualified than me. This obviously made me very upset and I replied by thanking them for sharing the good news and then casually explained that I considered this rejection to be good news because I don’t quite understand how any employer would assume that a person of my calibre and credentials would gladly and willingly submit myself to corporate slavery for this amount of pocket money they have the audacity to refer to as remuneration package. I didn’t receive a response, of course, but I’d wager the employer was relieved that the company just judged a bullet.

    Apologies for going off on a tangent, but the point I was trying to make that writing such emails, regardless of whether you think you were ghosted or you received a condescending rejection, maintaining your composure, waiting it out and staying polite in the process is incredibly important. My first lucrative job offer and work experience came after I managed to control my urge to express my indignation in a sarcastic manner every time I felt slighted.

    1. A*

      Hats off to you for being so self-aware (even if just in hindsight)! Very inspiring, something I need to get better about!

      1. Elle by the sea*

        Well, it’s a lifelong struggle, I suppose. And it’s a bit like an addiction, too. You can’t imagine how much satisfaction I used to get out of writing such emails or talking like this face-to-face. Honestly, the only time I felt regret is when I lost my cool with my manager. Generally, believe it or not, I’m a pretty stoic person. I’m not an angry person in the classic sense of the word. I appear well-mannered, even-tempered and soft-spoken. But at the same time, I have an acerbic wit, have routinely ran into problems with authority and am extremely task-oriented at work. Screams lack of communication skills? Yes, it certainly does. The reason why I used to react to being slighted in a rude and sarcastic manner was that I got uncontrollably angry. It was because I was convinced that people who don’t do that have no courage, self-respect and dignity. And because my angry emails or face-to-face diatribes have always been eloquently worded, I didn’t quite see a problem with them.

        1. Elle by the sea*

          It should be “the reason wasn’t that I got uncontrollably angry”. I have the tendency to write the opposite of what I mean these days. :)

  36. CS*

    #4, I referred someone who ended up being hired by my company a few years ago. The referral bonus was $250 at time of hire and then $250 at the completion of new employee’s first 6 months/end of training. I kept the first bonus (because student loans) and then split the second bonus with them, by way of paying for a very fancy congratulatory dinner (~$100 each for dinner and drinks then the remainder toward tip) where we both agreed on the restaurant location. It was nice to catch up and celebrate together.

  37. Jane*

    Re LW5 – What industries are people in when they apply for a hundred jobs a week, or even one job a week? I’m in Higher Ed in the UK, in a specialist role, and there’s usually less than one vacancy *a year* for my specialism in my geographical region.

    It’s very frustrating when you see people talking about focusing on two or three applications a week – I’d love to be able to apply for that number of vacancies!

    1. londonedit*

      Same…I work in publishing in the UK, quite a small industry, and jobs I’m actually qualified for/could apply for come up maybe every two or three months. If you look on the website for our industry magazine (where the vast majority of publishing jobs are posted) there are currently only eight ads for jobs at my level, and I wouldn’t be a suitable candidate for any of them.

      1. Jane*

        Just checked our equivalent website. Seven vacancies in my sector in the UK, two of which are for new graduates, one is a director, and only one is similar to the role I’m doing now. So effectively there’s one vacancy that I could apply for in the whole of the UK, and it’s hundreds of miles away. Sigh.

    2. WellRed*

      Seriously! I’m in media. Even if I wanted to relocate, I’m lucky to have anything to apply for.

    3. Sled dog mama*

      Me too, and in my case if I limit myself by geographic area I might get 2 openings a year if I’m lucky.
      In my field it’s all quality unless you are willing to make a major move, every time you change jobs. Of course my job also tends to be one where you move 2-3 times early in your career settle in one place for quite a bit and then do more specialized projects as you advance (which often require long term travel but not moving).
      It’s the sort of career that is specialized enough that there are 80 members of my professional organization who list NYC as their location.

    4. Jane*

      Thanks for the replies – very reassuring to hear it’s not just me/my sector.

      I’m looking to move on from my current position, but the lack of vacancies means competition is very high and employers hold all the power. The ‘supportive’ comments from friends in other sectors are also very difficult: the assumption that all you need to do is sign up for a free online course (in your highly specialist sector where you and hundreds of others already have a postgraduate degree) and suddenly you would become incredibly employable; or that you ‘just need to sell yourself’. Sigh.

      I would not like to be starting out in my sector right now!

      1. Jennifer*

        When I say that many – I’m referring to five or six, sorry. That’s probably out of 100 or so openings so that’s being a bit selective.

    5. OyHiOh*

      When I was applying over the summer, I was looking at entry level office admin-type jobs across several industries that I have familiarity or experience in. I have some manager experience, but it’s been more than a decade since I’d worked in a professional office environment. During my job hunt, there were a surprising number of vacancies posted at the level and industries I was looking at. I applied thoughtfully (8 or 10 apps over a two month period) and got a job I’m quite happy in, that has more room for growth than I originally expected.

  38. I'm just here for the cats*

    #4 are you sure that your employer hasn’t incentivized the person you referred? A past employer would give $600 to people who referred someone ($300 upon hire $300 after 90 days probation) and $600 to the person who signed on after completing all training.

    Now it might be different with you since it seems to be a much larger referral bonus. But maybe take the person out to lunch or buy them a gift card to someplace they can get lunch at?

  39. LW3*

    LW3 here- luckily our Postal guy is fine with masks. Thanks for answering, Alison- timely, as he’s getting a delivery tomorrow, and we will def. use one of the scripts you provided, as spread has gotten worse here.

  40. blink14*

    OP #1 – a few suggestions. First, have your husband ask his company if they can have the vendor waive the signature requirement OR if your husband is able to do that online. Many times you can fill out a waiver or even print a signature page for a carrier and leave it on your door. Sounds like someone is home almost all the time, and that provides extra assurance that you won’t miss the delivery.

    If that’s not a possibility, have your husband let his company know and the vendor know what’s going on and that you will print a sign to hang on your door that politely says you will not answer the door if a delivery person isn’t wearing a mask. Simple. It’s your house. They are required by their own companies to wear a mask. And if they aren’t, refuse the delivery. I get the sense that your husband’s company at least will back him up on this.

    If that doesn’t work, have your husband’s company or the vendor call the carrier directly. It’s nearly impossible to get in touch with UPS these days due to COVID as the receiver, so any complaints or requests have to go through the shipper. This also holds more weight, they are the paying customer for the shipping – and will be a similar situation with any carrier. No carrier wants to have a PR nightmare that one of their drivers isn’t following protocol. I saved this for last because it’s not the time for people to potentially lose a job, but at the same point, safety is paramount and directions aren’t being followed.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      Thing is, they said it’s not UPS or FedEx. The big guys in my experience ARE all waiving signatures. You don’t have to ask. They’re doing it by default and have been for several months. And they’re wearing masks. And they keep their distance. I’ve had multiple “would normally require signature” deliveries and the person rings the bell, steps WAY back, says “are you FirstName LastName?” I say yes, they say “I’m going to mark this signed for now”. Then they leave. Either OP’s husband just happens to be getting a noncompliant delivery person or the courier they’re using is way lax by comparison to the big carriers.

      1. blink14*

        Ah, I misread that part! Still, I think my advice applies, and maybe even more so. Hopefully a smaller company wouldn’t want to lost a customer.

  41. Anon123*

    LW#1: This may or may not be in play but I have had “dress code issues” when I was a larger size before in the work place. Everything fit fine and was in line with what other people were wearing. I even shopped at a Plus Size women’s professional dress store. In my performance review, I was told I needed to dress more professionally and I asked what I could do differently and my manager couldn’t articulate it. I wore the exact same style shirt that was deemed “unprofessional” after I lost 50 lbs and instead got complimented on how “nice” it was. I’m not saying that’s what is going on here but unfortunately, sometimes people with different body shapes are held to a very different standard.

    1. Batgirl*

      That really stinks. I hope you said icily “Really, I’ve been told it’s unprofessional” at least in your head.

    2. Just Another Zebra*

      I had a similar issue at my last job. I tend to lean “curvy” in terms of body shape and wore black business pants to work with boots. Another coworker who was a) taller and b) thinner wore the same pants. Literally the same – brand, cut, color, etc – with similar boots. I was told not to wear them again because they were inappropriate. When I pointed out the discrepancy, boss said it was a matter of fit. HR was not happy when I presented my evidence and apologized.

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

    I love going to the gas station and getting dirty looks because I’m 15 feet away from people while filling my truck and not wearing a mask.

    These are the same people who are touching gas nozzles that have been handled by a hundred other people, using the debit/credit card reader that has 100 fingers touching it, then getting back into their cars and spreading those germs all over their cars.

    Just don’t open your door.

    1. A*

      Yikes. I’m in a state that requires masks when outside regardless of social distancing, and glad for it. The majority of people I know (as well as myself) use hand sanitizer after using gas pumps, touching doors, payment equipment, anything outside their home etc.

      If you’re in an area that doesn’t require masks outside so long as you are social distanced, then you do you – but please don’t act like it’s ridiculous for people to be concerned or expect otherwise.

    2. tangerineRose*

      I wonder how many of these people are using hand sanitizer when they get back in the car. I know I carry hand sanitizer in my pocket nowadays and use it before touching my car keys.

      There is a really easy way to stop the glares – wear a mask.

  43. Didi*

    To OP3 and all the other impatient job applicants out there – a couple of weeks is NOTHING. There are often many hoops to jump through when hiring, such as sign-offs at multiple levels, salary offer benchmarks, background checks, reference checks, etc. If the hiring manager or recruier has a lot of hiring or other things on their plate, it also can take a while. Stop thinking that you’re so important.

  44. KitKat*

    I am an RN who has worked exclusively in acute care hospitals. Regarding the referral bonus, I think it would be a wonderful gesture to split the money in some way, even if not 50/50. This was extremely common in the facilities I have worked in, particularly for front-line healthcare workers such as nurses and CNAs. I wanted to chime in because I have read several responses saying that sharing a bonus is unheard of and not expected—while certainly not expected or required, it is fairly common in healthcare. The organization would certainly not be upset about it, and depending on the size of the organization, will probably never even know it happened. LW, you are a kind person and I’m sure the CNA will appreciate the gesture!

  45. Batgirl*

    Both this dress up doll letter and the boarding school letter show that when managers can’t verbalize their reasoning, dissatisfaction will be the result.
    It does make me think of teacher training though, when two of our course leaders were trying to change the image of a particular student teacher. One suggested she wear makeup, the other suggested she not wear bulky outdoor scarves inside. Both suggestions were discounted by the student, who was horrified by both ideas. I would say her image needed a tweak but neither of those things was the whole remedy. It was more that she looked disractingly ill and cold and the body language required of a teacher was totally absent. She was very pale (but so am I, I go without makeup and I was told my appearance was fine) but I doubt makeup would have materially altered that. The scarves needed to go, but she would have bulked up even more in another way, and it was really her huddled stance and not making direct eye contact that was the issue.

  46. OyHiOh*

    #2 – good lord, please push back! If nothing else, keep a box of paper masks by the door and hand one to any courior or other service person who shows up without a mask. “I’m sure a mask just slipped your mind, I know how crazy delivery has been the last couple months. Here’s one of mine!” My parents own a business that takes deliveries/sends out deliveries of things that generally require a crew of at least two people and sometimes more, if the move is tricky. They’ve had a box of masks by the delivery door since early summer for “forgetful” drivers/crew. My work is in an office with good COVID precautions. Our lobby has been locked to visitors for months and none of us with authority to open the door are supposed to let people in unless they’re wearing a mask and that goes for contract service technicians, etc.

  47. RagingADHD*

    LW3, there’s a vernacular for this -you showed your butt.

    Your “fear response” didn’t lead you to act out of character. It led you to reveal a truth about your character that you would prefer to keep hidden.

    Showing your butt is always embarrassing. And yes, you should apologize.

    But apologizing isn’t going to fool anyone about the reality they saw – you are impatient, you get angry over unreasonable things, and when you’re angry you lash out with rudeness and sarcasm.

    You are focused now on trying to change the employer’s perception. The only constructive response is to work on actually changing those habits: becoming more patient, becoming more gracious, becoming more polite.

    The experience of being embarrassed this way can be useful and healthy if you choose to grow in response.

  48. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    #1 I was going to suggest regardless of what size the OP is or what size the clothes are to just as nicely as you can muster state they don’t fit. “I’m sorry I can’t wear these; they aren’t my size.” and keep saying it no matter if the manager brings in a new size. If they have the temerity to ask what size you are, looked shocked as hell. If you’re really bold, indicate your bra size — because bras are expensive so get a free one if you can :-)

  49. Person from the Resume*

    LW#2, you should report the problem of delivery drivers not wearing masks to their own company and your husband’s company should speak to them about their contract/service as well.

    You should handle the problem in the moment by asking the maskless person to stay back more than 6 feet and leave the package on ground. If you have to sign for it after asking if you can skip it, ask them to leave the signature pad with the package on the ground, and you do the same to return it.

  50. PX*

    OP4 – a couple of people have said this, but just check that your company doesnt also reward the person who gets hired. In my field, referral bonuses are handed out to both parties, either split (X amount at hire, X amount after passing probation) or all after they have passed probation.

  51. Lauren*

    LW 1: It could also be about the *type* of fabrics you are wearing in comparison to others. While you might be wearing sweaters, blouses, shirts, etc. that you view as being the same as your coworkers, is it possible they are made of a more casual fabric and that’s what your boss is seeing? For example, there’s a difference in the appearance of a cotton button down shirt and a silk button down shirt. Not saying you need a silk one, but there’s a difference in appearance and formality of different fabrics and perhaps this is a factor?

    1. 1234*

      I had a boss who once made a comment that knit blazers (the ones that look like they’re made with the stretchy material) looked cheap. That propelled me never to buy knit blazers, which were fashionable around the time she was my boss and a lot of stores were selling it.

      Now every time I see one of those, I can’t get the idea out of my head that they look cheap.

  52. stiveee*

    For LW1, I think it’s important to call out that women, POC and queer people get policed on their clothing more often and for reasons that have to do with gender/cultural/hetero norms. The boss not being able to articulate her reasoning makes me wonder if it has to do with unconscious bias.

  53. Leela*

    OP #3 – You don’t want to work at a company that would take that as a sign of tenacity or something. You don’t want a bunch of coworkers who were hired with that screening process, trust me! I used to work at companies that would make hiring decisions like that.

  54. EmmaPoet*

    LW3- First, do not take advice from TV shows about how things work. Especially shows like Mad Men, which was set 50+ years ago and also has award-winning writers to steer the script where they want it to go.
    Second, you have probably burned your bridges with this company. Not just this job, they now know that when you get mad you send rude and sarcastic emails to people. That tells them you’re not a good candidate.
    Third, given that your follow-up to being rude and sarcastic had you complaining that they didn’t inform you in what you considered a timely manner, I’m not sure you can pull off a sincere apology. You could try, but your best bet is to consider this a wash and let it go.
    Fourth, right now, the best thing you can do is look at your patterns and see if getting rude and nasty is a frequent default for you when you’re impatient or stressed. If so, this is something you need to work on. Start coming up with better ways to work this out- maybe you journal, or take long walks, or buy a punching bag to hit; anything that keeps you away from your email when you’re not at your best. One message board I used to frequent called it The Coke Rule- when you’re about to send a flaming denunciation, step away from the keyboard and slowly drink a Coke, cool down, then think about whether this is the best approach or whether you can handle things better.

  55. Red 5*

    I once worked at the front desk of a place that got few, if any, visitors on a regular basis. I was in the middle of some medical stuff causing my weight to yo-yo and I also was really, really broke. So my clothes were what I had left of my previous professional wardrobe, which fit from a certain point of view, but could have been better. But it was certainly business casual and would have been fine in 90% of the places I’ve worked (including where I work now in a town famous for everybody being conservatively dressed).

    The male bosses didn’t like it, and one mentioned that perhaps I should go more towards the business end of business casual. I tried, but my clothes were my clothes and I didn’t say that I couldn’t buy more but I couldn’t buy more. Then one day the bosses mentioned it again (though they couldn’t tell me what was wrong with it, just that it wasn’t “nice enough”) and they gave me cash to buy new clothes. It wasn’t enough to buy more than maybe two things full price because I think they didn’t understand how expensive plus sized women’s clothes can be, but I found some good sales and bought a few days worth of new items, mixing and matching with what I had.

    A month later one of them says “What happened with the new clothes?” while I was wearing new clothes. I just said “I got some new things, hadn’t you noticed?” or something like that and again, no specifics, no exact advice, nothing, he just left.

    About a month later they decided that we should all wear uniforms (including them) and to their credit they bought the uniform shirts for us (we ordered ourselves so that we could get the right size) but I went from wearing various blouses and sweaters with dress slacks to wearing a weirdly cheap feeling polo shirt (definitely not cotton fabric) in some truly off beat pastel colors. There was no way I would have come to the conclusion that these were appropriate for the job based on what they had told me, so it was clear at that point that the problem wasn’t my clothes it was that they didn’t like how _I_ looked. And I couldn’t do anything about that.

    I left that job a few months after that.

    1. Batgirl*

      This has happened to me! Same dynamic with male bosses and ending up in cheap polo shirts. I had a few conversations with them (they were wearing really expensive men’s suits and ties which it wouldn’t have been possible or appropriate to copy) and I always came away thinking they just couldn’t read women’s clothing. I had a smart sweater, well cut, in smooth wool worn with dress pants and they’d say “Well I can’t wear a jumper to work” like I was wearing a gym hoodie or fleece. I found a smart cashmere mix shift dress on sale, was pleased it had three quarter sleeves, (they’d already tutted about sleeveless shift dresses, even with cardigans etc) and I got: “What is that? Is that a house dress?”. They had a conniption when my colleague wore pants cut above the ankle. We were minimum wage call centre; we weren’t even customer facing! The polo shirts were god awful, but they seemed happy with the uniformity.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Apparently they’d been watching Mad Men, too. They wanted you in pencil dresses and stilettos.

  56. Red 5*

    LW 2- obviously every courier and company will be different, but I’ve had multiple occasions with the big three (USPS, UPS, FedEx) over the pandemic where they needed a signature and the delivery person (who was masked) would stand away from me and say “Can I get your name? I’ll mark here that I signed for you.”

    Honestly, I have no idea if they’re signing my name, but the signature field is generally just a documentation of the acknowledgment that a specific person received the item, so it doesn’t bother me if that’s what they’re doing because I verbally agreed that this is indeed what took place. I honestly have no clue how that shakes out legally or with the company policies, but the first guy to do it specifically said “You don’t want to touch this scanner, I’m sure…” and he was right. I was ready to sanitize my hands after, but it worked out better that way.

    Anyway, I’m saying all of this to say that even with packages that require signatures there seem to be workarounds so it sounds like that specific courier is not taking precautions themselves and you can very much insist that they do. You can tell them to wait while you go get gloves (or you could keep gloves by the door) and tell them to set the thing down so that you can sign with them standing six feet away. Whatever makes you the most comfortable. Delivery companies can and do accommodate people’s needs right now, so you and your husband can ask for what is necessary for you to get deliveries. Good luck!

    1. Nic*

      Yeah, in the UK right now, all couriers have stopped asking for signatures and have started getting the couriers to document delivery differently/more thoroughly – e.g. photos of where they left it + photo of the package’s bar code.

      Aside from that though, I’ve been finding a stepladder VERY useful in the last year. When you’re expecting a delivery or similar (takeaway food, someone doing a government statistical study on COVID infection(!), etc) you put the stepladder out in front of your door to be used as a handy shelf-cum-social-distancing-enforcer! They lean in to ring the doorbell and then put the food/package/swabs/paperwork/whatever on the steps, and when you open the door there’s a good amount of space between you already.

  57. In my shell*

    #1 “… as I probably would’ve bought other styles.” jumps off the screen for me and I suspect it is exactly explains what the disconnect is with the (very weird, inappropriate, overreaching) boss!

  58. Just Another Zebra*

    OP #1 – First and foremost, your boss definitely overstepped and was very much out of line. Full stop.

    As for how to handle it, I’d request another meeting with your boss, and ask for specifics for which part of the dress code you aren’t in compliance with. Bring a copy of your employee handbook and review it with her. It’s possible her interpretation is different than yours on what is “appropriate”. Some people above have mentioned that color/ fabric/ fit choices might be at play here. I once had a manager who thought pants should be worn with blazers, dresses with cardigans, and never the two shall mix. It wasn’t dress code, but it was one of her nit-picky rules (this was for bridal sales, so a similar high-end retail vibe). I ended up wearing a lot of dresses and skirts because I hate stiff blazers.

    I’m not sure how long you’ve worked at your current job, but if you’re new-ish (a year or less) it’s possible that this issue has been on your boss’s periphery for a while and is just now addressing it (in, again, a horrible and boundary stomping kind of way). It may be something that she’s noticed for some time and is presenting it really, REALLY poorly.

    But having a second conversation should clear up whether it’s a technicality, or your boss is a bigger jerk than we already think. Good luck, and I’d love an update!

  59. AKchic*

    LW1 – Are you and this person similar sizing? Did this happen right after the holidays? Does this manager have adult female children (who may be around your size)?

    Why am I asking? Because I don’t think these clothes were originally intended for you. I think you are the new target for these clothes. I think that someone bought them for either the manager, or even the manager’s child(ren) and they said “oh hayull no”, and with no gift receipt, the manager is trying to regift them in any way possible without actually donating them. Especially if the manager herself bought them or received them (maybe from an in-law who refuses to learn her true clothing size and taste?).

    Regardless of how the manager acquired the clothes – no, you do not have to accept them. All you need to do is dig into why the manager believes your specific clothing choices aren’t acceptable.
    We are 9 months into a pandemic. Furniture buying isn’t exactly a thing people are able to afford right now, so of course sales are going to be down. If manager thinks it’s your clothes, then she needs to articulate exactly *why* she thinks it’s your clothes that are hindering your sales.

  60. dustycrown*

    #2: Put a sign at eye-level on your door that says, “If you need us to open the door for deliveries, you must be wearing a mask.” Then stick to it.

  61. In my shell*

    Regarding #1 – were the clothes even the right size? How would a boss know and have nerve enough to assume about sizing? Clothes from relatives is bad enough, but having a BOSS guess your size and buy you clothes – hard pass.

  62. employment lawyah*

    1. My boss bought new clothes for me
    That is… odd.

    In my view there are really very few clothing-type things a boss can properly give as a present other than, perhaps, a fancy briefcase, scarf, or gloves.

    I don’t have any advice but I hope you’ll post a “what she gave me” update!!

  63. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

    Maybe the boss in #1 needs that party-planning intern from the holiday party post to create a look book for the dress code!

  64. 1234*

    I have been the recipient of one shirt as a gift from my employer. A higher up, Karen, gave it to me as a birthday present, came new with tags, bought specifically with me in mind. Imagine my surprise when I got it during a company get-together to celebrate birthdays that happened around the same time frame. (This happened before COVID)

    I accepted it because it was a birthday gift but I held it over my face as if I was inspecting it to hide my surprise and shock over receiving this gift that did not suit my tastes whatsoever. (1) The empire-waisted top made me look like I was hiding a baby elephant under my shirt. That is just not a flattering cut for me. (2) It was presented under the guise of “you wear a lot of [solid color] so I thought you would like something a little different.” And different meant “more printed.” The solid color that I like a lot and pretty much always wear is one that you would see most work clothing come in. So not hot pink or orange.

    I did NOT receive this because someone thought I dressed “not appropriate for work/clients” but because someone thought I should wear more prints/change the color choice of my outfits! I am VERY picky about prints and own exactly three things with prints on them. I was also told by the gift giver to “give it a chance and wear it at least once to an all-staff meeting” which I did at the next all staff meeting, and I left the tags on. To make it more flattering, I threw a blazer over it and brought something else to change into after this meeting/when the higher up departed for the day. Luckily, everyone else at my job understood that the top is/was not my style and that I was being “nice” and “gracious” for accepting/humoring Karen the Gift Giver.

    What ended up happening with this top? I had a coworker who said she liked it and if it didn’t suit me, she was glad to take it off my hands. I agreed, and gave it to her that day, with the stipulation that she is to never wear it to work, put a photo of it on social media, show Karen any photo where she is wearing the shirt or have Karen otherwise find out that she has the shirt. I never saw that shirt again but my coworker did say she wore it on vacation one time. I’m hoping she gets much use out of it outside of work.

  65. tangerineRose*

    OP 3, please think about what Alison said “sending an angry email and using a rude and sarcastic tone … it crosses a line and will make them think you’re going to be angry, rude, and sarcastic on the job if something doesn’t go your way.” She’s right. They expect you to be on good behavior when you’re trying to get a job. They’d probably assume you’d be worse on the job.

    You may want to think how many times you’ve used a rude and sarcastic tone in e-mail or in real life. If this is your general go-to, there are probably a LOT of people who don’t like working with you.

  66. insertusername*

    For the couriers, just be like oooooh… I have covid, that’s why I’m home….. even people who shun masks usually back off when they think you are highly contagious and it’s THEIR health on the line. ;)

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