quitting would destroy my company, I gossiped about a coworker, and more

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

1. Taking a better paying job would destroy my current company

I’m currently working in a small private practice as an optician. My manager is currently transitioning out because she found a better-paying job in a different field with room for growth, and I will be moving up to the manager position soon. We are trying to hire an optician for the role I’m moving up from. However, we are struggling to find anyone willing to work for such low pay; the pay is many dollars an hour less than the average. Furthermore, they are not willing to pay me the same wage my former manager was making, despite the fact that she was only working here two months longer than I have been and we have the same amount of experience in the field. It’s an accepted fact by people who have worked at the practice for over 10 years that there are no raises here. I’ll be paid $2 less per hour than my former manager, despite doing the same amount of work, if not more, as we can’t find anyone to take my current role. As a manager, I will still be making less than the average would be for my current role.

I also would like to find a better, more fairly-paying job in a field in which I can grow, but I know that if my manager and I were to both leave right now, it may actually ruin the small practice, as nobody would be in the role anymore, and despite the low pay, the role is crucial to the survival of the business. What should I do?

You’re feeling strangely loyal to a business that hasn’t treated you well!

If you leaving causes business problems for them, they’ll need to figure out how to solve them. Maybe they’ll realize they need to increase what they pay. Regardless, that’s for them to handle. You are not obligated to stay in a job that underpays you because they might struggle without you! If you’re that valuable to them, they should be paying you accordingly and they’re not. Don’t invest in their success at the expense of your own, especially when they’re not even remotely returning that favor.

(And for the record, even if they paid you well, you get to leave whenever you want to leave. These are business relationships, not personal ones. That’s by design! It’s okay to be okay with that.)

Read an update to this letter here.

2. I gossiped and upset my coworker

I work in a mid-sized office with about 25 people. We are all roughly in our 20s and 30s. I was talking with a supervisor in another department when she expressed frustration with one of her employees — not that much, just that she is dealing with a lot. I then went to lunch and saw an ad for the same position posted on Indeed (previous employee trauma, I always check to see if my position is up there), and talked about it with a coworker in my department. We generically speculated what it might be. The office is growing, so we thought it could possibly be an internal transfer and they put it up for them to apply. But it’s also common knowledge that the employee in reference was on a PIP and we thought they might be heading out. The conversation was definitely very general and not specific.

I come in Monday to a full blown rumor mill situation with that employee thinking they are being fired and the supervisor upset that I would say that! I take full responsibility, I was the one that spoke about it and that’s on me, regardless of who spreads it. I apologized to the employee and their supervisor and said I truly didn’t mean to upset them and am so sorry they had to deal with it. I was given a verbal warning and told to not do that again.

Here is the thing, I’m not a gossiping person! I mostly stick to myself, but I made a poor choice and hurt someone. How do I let my company and the hurt employee know that this won’t be a pattern without completely walling myself off from everyone?

I know this isn’t a satisfying answer, but now that you’ve apologized, the only real way to show it is by demonstrating it through how you operate and that takes time. Going forward, be scrupulously professional and discreet and you should be able to repair any reputation damage.

But also … that supervisor who shared her frustration with you about the employee? That was a bigger breach than anything you did. She’s the one who had the real responsibility for discretion. Yes, you shouldn’t have shared what you heard, but she shouldn’t have said it to you in the first place. If she’s the person who chastised you, I hope she acknowledged her own responsibility as well.

(On top of that, if she’s already advertising someone’s position when they don’t know they’re going to be replaced, there are bigger problems here — although it’s not clear if that’s what the ad was.)

Read an update to this letter here.

3. Negotiating salary when a job has less work from home than originally stated

I was recently approached by an in-house recruiter regarding an open position at an organization about 1.5 hours (one way) from my home. Since I live in a snowy climate and we’re in the middle of a pandemic, I asked during the initial phone conversation about the ability to work-from-home. She assured me that this position, an administrative one, would have the opportunity to work from home most days of the week. That sounded perfect! When she asked my salary range, I told her what I know to be in-line with the area and my needs, and she said that my range falls within their salary range as well. Perfect!

I was then contacted by the hiring manager for a Zoom interview, and it went really well. I have now had a phone call and another Zoom call with other members of the team, and everything seems to be moving closer to an offer.

However, through the course of these discussions, I’ve discovered that the recruiter was overly optimistic regarding the amount of work from home this position includes. For the first few months, I would be exclusively in the office — which are, of course, the worst months for winter weather. And even after that training period is over, I would still rarely be able to work from home more than one or two days per week, due to the nature of the position.

I’m still really interested, but would need more money than I originally stated due to the drive and extra time away from home. Assuming I receive an offer, is there any way to negotiate a higher salary, given the new information I have? I know you have said in the past that you can’t ask for more than you originally give them as a range. But I’m working with new info now.

Yes. You can say, “When we originally spoke, Jane told me I’d be able to work from home most days, with one to two days a week in the office. We’d discussed a salary range based on that understanding, but if the position is on-site most of the time, I’d be looking for something closer to $X.”

That said … a minimum of three hours a day commuting is a lot. Be sure you’re really up for that. (Would you have been interested if you’d known that from the start? Sometimes after you’ve invested in an interview process, it’s easier to convince yourself you’re okay with significant downsides like this. But make sure you really are because that is a huge bite out of your quality of life.)

4. When should I say that I’m interested in my boss’s job?

We recently found out our supervisor is transitioning to another role within the company. His supervisor told our team that as she starts looking for his replacement, we should let her know if we had any names of those we felt might be a good fit. They will only be posting the position internally for now.

I’m certainly interested in the position. Is it a good idea for me to speak up and sort of toot my own horn here? Or should I just silently apply for it once the job listing has been posted?

Speak up now and don’t wait. There’s rarely a downside to making your interest known at the outset, and there can be a risk in waiting (like that they may start to envision someone else in the job, get further in talks with someone else than you realize, etc.).

5. Changing my name because of a complicated family situation

My first name was given to me by my estranged father and was not the name my mother had planned for. Due to complications with my birth, she was not doing well and he swooped in to decide on my name when filling out all the official paperwork. In the end, she decided to go with it, but this has always bothered me. Coupled with the extreme abuse I suffered from him, it made me resent my name my whole life. I have tried different iterations and nicknames and they have all felt the same.

Recently I decided on finally going by a different name. I don’t plan on changing it legally, more treating it as a nickname using my initials. Think first and last initials L. U. and starting to go by Lu. In my personal life this has (mostly) gone swimmingly. Being referred to by a name I truly like and not feeling a gut punch every time someone says my name is completely life-changing to a level I never could have guessed beforehand.

The difficulty is at work. I am on a small team who aren’t social but are very familiar and casual with each other. I also have a lot of interactions with a large section of a company. Thus far I haven’t asked anyone at work to call me by the new name and I can’t seem to figure out how to do it without it being totally socially awkward and/or stressful. This isn’t a gender transition and the reason behind the name change is a lot to explain to coworkers. I had originally not planned on transitioning my name professionally, but it is wearing me down to hear my old name all the time.

Good for you for making the switch! You can do it at work too. You don’t need to give everyone the back story — it should be enough to say in a cheerful, matter-of-fact way, “I’ve been going by Lu in my personal life and I’m now making the change professionally as well. Going forward, please call me Lu (which is the name formed by my first and last initials). Thanks!” You could give your manager a heads-up first (not because you really need to, but just because sometimes changes are easier when your boss is in the loop first).

If anyone asks what prompted the switch, you could just say, “Some family stuff — a long story” or “I’ve used Lu for while socially, just hadn’t made the change at work yet.”

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 368 comments… read them below }

    1. allathian*

      LW, if you’re matter-of-fact about it, so should everyone else be. But that depends on the company, some employers are much better than others at allowing employees to use a professional name that isn’t their legal name.

      1. PollyQ*

        I can see them maybe being fussy about changing her email, but they’re not going to care if she asks her colleagues to call her by a nickname. It’s no different than an Anthony being called Tony or a Judith being called Judy.

        1. Huttj*

          One of my friends has a common first name, and thus for decades has gone by a nickname version of his last name.

          The first time he was referred to by the nickname in an office meeting he was wearing a huge grin for a week.

          1. Steve*

            I have a coworker who was going by his last name because when he joined, someone else worked there who already had his first name. But when that other person left, he started going by his first name. There was a transition time but it didn’t bother anyone.

            There was another time I worked with the same guy at two different companies, a few years apart. The first time he went by his first and middle initials; the second time by his first name. He found it easier to switch when he switched jobs.

            During one paid internship in college, I went by a completely different first name (Stan) just because. Most people knew my real first name but had no problem using the alternate name just because I asked.

        2. SummerBee*

          I had this same thought. “Oh, please call me Lu!” will sound like a friendly invitation to use a less formal nickname, and so I think will be well received.

          Some Michaels, Matthews and Christophers I know have a much harder time making the move in the other direction, (“My name is not ‘Mike/Matt/Chris’.”), because it gets interpreted as a move away from friendship and to more formal distance.

            1. Momma Bear*

              I’m one of those. “I’m not really a Gabby. Please call me Gabrielle.” I also make it a point to have my full name on everything, including signature. If you never sign off with a short version, then chances are that’s how you will be addressed.

          1. jojo*

            We are contract and have a lot of former military. So a lot of last names or military titles. One guy got tired of being called his title. Said his name was Gary. The guys asked what his problem was. He said “my momma chose it because she liked it” now he gets called his name most of the time.

    2. Sara without an H*

      I once had a colleague (“Kate”) who managed a name change by sending an email to the all-staff list, announcing that, as of X date, she would be known by her full name, Katherine. No drama, no fuss.

      She had already briefed her own manager and the HR people, and after that it was just a matter of letting people know her preference.

      1. GhostGirl*

        I had a friend I’ve known since age 4 by one name (think Lizzie or Katie) decide after college to switch to a more professional sounding nickname (still not her full name, more like Beth or Kate). She started going by that with friends she saw regularly, then sent an email to a broader group of friends that she didn’t see/speak to on a regular basis (I was in that group) asking to be called X going forward. And of course any new people know her only by the newer nickname.

        I still think of her, 20 years later, in my head, as the name I knew her by at age 4 (and have to refer to her by that name to my elderly parents), but seeing her no-longer-new name daily on FB makes it very easy to refer to her by that name in communication. In the end it was really no big deal because she was so matter-of-fact about it.

      2. Momma Bear*

        It’s probably less uncommon than OP thinks. I always ask people what they want to be known by – Not all Michaels want to be Mike. I agree to just be matter of fact – this is how I want to be known at work now. My mother never uses her first name and it doesn’t take long for people to adjust to what she actually goes by. If IT can change someone’s email (and forward the old) when an employee changes their last name (marriage, etc.) then they can certainly change a first one. Heck, they should have that policy for people who are trans and changing their names. It would not be hard.

        1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

          I think so, too, particularly because OP has such an unpleasant reason for it. Kind of like, “everyone is staring at me because I walked into the meeting late, they must know I had a fight with my husband this morning and got a late start.”
          They really don’t.
          They think, “oh, ok, you’re here now.”
          and they will, for the most part, give the same amount of thought to the name change.
          and some will think, “I wish I could tell people to call me Katie, but I thought I had to put Katherine on my resume and didn’t speak up when I accepted the job and now it’s on everything.”

          1. Sparkles McFadden*

            Yeah, nobody cares as much as we all think they do. I often think the key to general happiness is to remind myself that hardly anything in the world has anything to do directly with me.

        2. jojo*

          Women have been changing their name since the dawn of time. When they get married. When I got married everything at work was changed in the computer within a week. From email to payroll. Any company having a problem with it computer wise is just being an ass. They delete the original and rebuild the new and transfer the backup of old e mail to new name. Or enter an exception into code to reidentify you. A knowledgeable IT person has no problem with it. In fact, IT does this plenty of times when the computer screws up.

        3. Hester Mae*

          My HR department required legal paperwork to change my name, and wouldn’t change my email until they got the form from HR. But personally, no issues at all. Also not a first name change, not gender change as the OP. But I work in a government agency.

    3. Malarkey01*

      Another answer to why you’re doing it is a shrug and a “I’ve never really liked my name”…that’s not that uncommon and is true without revealing any of your backstory.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Or, similarly, that you use the new name socially and decided you’d prefer to use it professionally as well.

        From experience, the vast majority of people will adjust quickly and without comment.

        1. IL JimP*

          Did Anne Hathaway recently announce this very thing? I agree people do things like this all the time. Call me Michael not Mike; call me Jim not Jimmy etc

          1. Mr. Shark*

            Yup, she says that she goes by Annie for everyone except her mother, and that’s only when her mother is mad at her.
            I don’t think it’s that difficult. Sometimes you have to drill it into people’s heads. I had a co-worker that dealt with over e-mail, who went by his middle name, and I’d call him a nickname version of his middle name (think Mike versus Michael). He didn’t correct me except started referring to me over e-mail by a nickname of my preferred name (think David instead of Dave), on a regular basis, so I finally started using Michael, and then he called me Dave over e-mail, and everyone was happy. A little passive-aggressive, but it worked!
            I think Lu can just put that in her e-mails, and just have people start using it, and it will eventually stick. There might be some people that are stuck, but that number will dwindle until everyone knows her by Lu.

    4. SnappinTerrapin*

      I’ve known several people who went by first name at one stage of life, middle name at another stage, nickname in some contexts, and initials at another stage. People who know them well recognize the context of other relationships by the name a third party uses to refer to them. One of my Dad’s cousins was in this category. My current wife is another example, although the fourth usage, the Southern custom of feminine double names, adds another layer.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        Ah, maybe I should say, a fifth usage, but you get the point. Most people will adapt with goodwill. Just express your preference matter of factly.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Oh, hi, this is me – my Southern family likes to give people the same names, so the family uses middle names and most everyone else uses our firsts. If someone in my family uses my first name, they’re talking to the relative for whom I was named. If someone at work or in my social life uses my second name or the nickname based on it, I assume they’re talking to someone else entirely. I try to give people a heads up if the circles ever overlap.

        My in-laws’ whole family still call my 50-year-old BIL by an -ie (like Mikey or Willie) nickname to distinguish him from his father, which he obviously does not use in his professional life.

    5. SheLooksFamiliar*

      OP, I changed my last name years ago for the same reason you’re changing your first name, and chose a meaningful name. Most people took it in stride and didn’t even ask why. For those who did, I simply said I did it for very personal reasons.

      It took me a while to get used to using and saying my new name, but it felt great. I hope you find the peace I did with your name.

    6. Snuck*

      OP 5 as a person with a similarly complicated reason to use an alternate name I can relate!

      My given name is a complicated old fashioned spelling of a name that if you googled it up until literally a couple of years ago there was NO LISTING of it. Less than 5 people are registered with it in the western world each year. The problem is that this name is so heavily tied into my abusive family, that I shudder every time I see it written thus. Toss in the fact that it is easily mispronounced and yeah, I hate it.

      For many years I went with a ‘preferred name’ wherever I could, but my legal name remained the same, so any documentation (tax, banks, registrations, insurances, education certificates) bear this name. My preferred name is similar enough to my legal one that people quickly work out it’s me – they see my legal one and think “I don’t know ANYONE with that name, oh wait, it sounds a bit like…” and when I start a new professional relationship (any relationship!) anywhere I automatically put in my ‘preferred name’.

      If your preferred name is similar you can just brush it off – I would say “oh my legal name is too complicated to spell and no one can pronounce it” but you could just as easily say “oh all my family and friends have always called me Amy, so I thought I’d simplify things, please just stick with that, Amapanrandra is too complicated”. Find a couple of polite scripts that end in a closed statement so they don’t invite further discussion and be done with it. If your preferred name is wildly different I’d announce it a bit like a marriage name change “I will be on leave for a fortnight from x to y, when I return I will have legally changed my name to Amy. No other changes are being made, this is just a personal preference and I am bringing family, friends and work in line with this.” And then when you return from work be VERY busy to avoid the gossips, it will die down when the next exciting thing happens, and let people get it wrong for a few weeks before gently correcting them “Oh, I’m sorry, I changed my name to Amy *smile nicely*”. ANd change all your auto signatures etc. Work email address and business cards – ask work to set you up a new email address under your new name and divert the old one to your new one – that should mean you clean up most of your address book fairly fast (and send your ‘going on leave’ message from the new one if you can). Offer to pay the cost of new business cards if needed (most employers will just waive that cost). Reconsider hanging that degree paperwork on your wall if you have clients in your workspace, that’s too confusing.

  1. MJ*

    LW#1: Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm. The company’s business model assures its destruction; don’t let it be yours.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, this. The LW is definitely overly invested in the fate of the company. Look for a new job and don’t look back.

      1. The Spirit of Free Enterprise*

        LW: it’s called a “failing business model.” One of the great things about free enterprise is creative destruction. Failed business models fail, rather than sticking around forever!

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          It’s called “economic Darwinism”. Any living organism, or organization (social or business), or corporation that does not adapt to its surrounding environment – will be taken out.

          If an optometric practice can’t pay its professional employees adequately, it’s doomed to fail.

          Same with any business, any group. If they can’t pay you somewhere near market value, unless they can find others to do the same job for the low pay – THEY DON’T BELONG IN BUSINESS.

      2. Joan Rivers*

        Yes, it’s a Fact of Life that most of the time one is not “indispensable.”
        A person can get some gratification from feeling that powerful, even if not aware they do. But it’s holding them back from their best life.

    2. Daffy Duck*

      They are not going to pay you more because they know you are willing to stay at the low pay rate. The owners/managers are banking on your loyalty to pad their pocketbooks. If they need to hire someone from outside they would find the money to pay for what they need.
      Any business that goes under because two employees need to be replaced is neither well run nor a viable business model. Either way, you should leave and not look back.

      1. Artemesia*

        Most of us who have been around can think of women who worked for a crappy salary for years and then were replaced by. some young guy with no experience who magically was worth 50% more out of the blocks.

          1. Red Boxes and Arrows*

            When I was in my 20’s and didn’t know any better, I busted my butt at my first two jobs. In the first one, they hired two people to replace me. In the second job, they hired three people.

            It was only in my mid-40’s, after I had to take 3 months of FMLA leave because of what work stress was doing to my body that I realized I wasn’t doing myself any favors by working that hard for a third of the pay (if it takes three people to replace me then I was making a third of what the job should have paid).

        1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

          ::Raises hand::
          Do I get bonus points for having trained my replacement?

          The only reason I ever got even close to where I needed to be was that legal reviewed the job offer for the predecessor to my eventual replacement. They’d just adjusted my title because they finally realized that my previous title on my business cards was a detriment to my ability to actually do my job (hello, sexism). Legal looked at the job offer, reviewed my compensation, and threw up huge red flags because it looked awful to pay the woman 60% of what the man with no experience was being offered.

          I’m employed by a much better employer now. And I’ve learned how to negotiate ;-)

        2. Kiko*

          Yup. I remember meeting an acquaintance who was starting his own business. He mentioned, in semi-jest, that he liked employing women more than men. Why? Because, according to him, they did twice the work but only asked for half as much. *insert vomit emoji*

          1. cosmicgorilla*

            Kiko, was your acquaintance my former boss? Only his comments were about brown people (he said foreigner, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about white people from the UK, knowing what a dumpster fire he was). Said to his underling who was both brown and foreign.

          2. Dust Bunny*

            The business manager at one of my former jobs not-really-joked about trying to hire married women only so they could be on their husbands’ health plans instead of that workplace’s plan (workplace did not tell me they had a health plan; I lost money paying for my own insurance out of pocket). I was out of there in less than a year.

          3. Chaordic One*

            I’ve heard the same things said about GLBTQ people, as well as about people of color. (It’s not like anyone else will hire them and they’ll just be happy to have a job.) *rolls eyes in disbelief*

            1. AMT*

              I’m a queer therapist and mostly work with a queer clientele. The horrible thing is that this is sometimes true! I can’t count the number of times my clients have bent over backwards to make people at their jobs happy because they feel like they have to work twice as hard as other people, or because they’ve been made to feel guilty about who they are (and therefore feel that they have to “make up” for it or show loyalty to anyone who throws them a bone). You’d have to be a truly awful person to even think about exploiting those feelings for budgetary reasons.

        3. Texan In Exile*

          That happened to me. The guy they replaced me with – who accomplished nothing in his time in the job (job was to license vendors outside of the US and there were no new ones added to the company website) – was paid 35% more than I was.

          I am still furious.

          1. Texan In Exile*

            And my boss had asked what he needed to do to keep me. I was moving to a subsidiary of the company for a $25K increase.

            Boss offered me $3K.

            I turned it down.

            He found $17K for the new (male) person.

          2. cabbagepants*

            I swear, sometimes the logic is “if you are able to do it, then it clearly is easy and doesn’t need to be compensated well. If he can’t do it, then clearly it is hard and needs to be compensated at a higher rate!”

        4. jojo*

          Yes. In my home town a woman worked at the hardware store for minimum wage most of my childhood. 50 years of working and her retirement check was paltry and she got food stamps. Don’t be like her. You want to enjoy retirement, not starve your way through it.

      2. Observer*

        If they need to hire someone from outside they would find the money to pay for what they need.

        Maybe – but maybe not. As you can see, they are not willing to pay the new person a fair rate either.

        But none of that matters! What matters is that “Any business that goes under because two employees need to be replaced is neither well run nor a viable business “. And that the owners are not willing to do what it takes to be able to actually replace those employees.

        They have a bad model and are not willing to change. That is NOT your responsibility to deal with.

        1. Birdie*

          Yes, I think that’s the key thing. If OP leaves and it does cause serious damage to the business…that’s not on her. She didn’t cause that to happen. The business owners not paying staff a fair wage is what caused it to happen.

      3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        And you might be surprised – once you give your resignation, many times the money to retain you suddenly “appears out of thin air.” Most companies will perform risk assessments, and they may be done under “double secret probation” rules – but if they know what they’re doing, they will assess “what will happen if (LW) leaves over money?” They likely have a plan in place. Either let you walk, or counter-offer.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      There was a letter here several years ago I think from someone who was stopping their health insurance, pension etc because the company they worked for was in financial trouble….and getting annoyed that their coworkers wouldn’t do the same.

      The advice there was the same as this: don’t hobble yourself for a company. They won’t give a toss about you when you’re unemployed and broke.

        1. MassMatt*

          That update made me so nuts I had to refrain from commenting in order to keep from dumping on the LW! Wow.

      1. Lady Heather*

        Was that the same person who was getting angry at their coworkers for eating pizza when the company sprung for a pizza party?

          1. LifeBeforeCorona*

            Also walking 5 miles with heavy equipment to save spending money on public transportation.

            1. Finland*

              Yes, and the time spent walking 5 miles would likely be 10x the cost of public transit. People really underestimate the value of their labor.

      2. DefinitelyEnoughDetailToBeIdentified*

        I believe there was an update as well where the OP didn’t seem to have taken on board the message either! (I did a site search for the word “pizza” because I believe that was the key sticking point.)

        I’m struggling to wrap my head around this. Promoting OP is going to leave them without the single role vital to keeping the business going, but the promotion is not going to result in any increase in salary? What’s in it for OP?

        1. EPLawyer*

          That;s what I am asking. LOWER salary than the person already doing the job, no raises ever., doing both jobs because no one else will come work for the crappy salary. Why would you stay?

          OP you are not an owner of the business. Whether they succeed or fail is not your concern.

          Here is what you owe that business – being a professional WHILE YOU ARE THERE. That’s it. You do good work in exchange for a paycheck. Nothing more, nothing less.

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      The only conceivable exception would be if the company provides a lot of services to patients who can’t pay: effectively a charity, funded by those patients who can pay. It would be reasonable for an employee of such a company to make a considered decision to accept lower pay as a de facto charitable contribution. But there is no hint of this in the letter. Assuming it is a conventional business, it either is a failing business, or the owners are exploiting their employees (or both).

      1. Forrest*

        Yes, that was my thought. Why aren’t they paying market rates? What’s your interest in the business staying afloat? If you’re serving a low-income population who otherwise wouldn’t have access to healthcare, and that’s something you’re committed to, that’s a good reason to accept lower pay (though it would also be totally ok to say that that’s not for you!) If it’s that the business is badly managed, or that the owners are taking twice as much profit as the other clinic in town, why is them staying open a good thing?

        1. JustaTech*

          And if they *are* serving a low income population, there is probably a non-profit or NGO or local government offering grants to people doing that work.

          1. comityoferrors*

            Yes. Hell, I work for a hospital system that serves a low-income population; we *are* a non-profit. We also pay well, especially our medical staff, because our quality of care is inextricably linked to our reputation, and our reputation allows us to bring in grants.

            OP, your employer sucks and you should go somewhere better.

      2. Natalie*

        I completely understand why you might think so, but this is actually a bad model for a charitable organization unless it’s just the clinician themselves. I work for such an organization, and we pay market rate for clinical staff. It’s the only way to retain good staff, for one thing, and warping your pay scale has all kinds of negative effects.

        (Any staff member who wanted to donate to the organization is free to do that directly either in cash, or by volunteering in an area outside of their sphere of work.)

        1. JohannaCabal*

          I was going to mention this, good non-profits and charitable organizations pay market rate and treat their employees well (makes sense to me, do you want unhappy employees interacting with people in need or hire turnover).

          Years ago, there was an article in Cracked of all places about how so many people donate to charities and specify “no overhead.” Yet quality non-profits have to have overhead. You want your charities to have working computers that don’t crash, functional copiers, etc.

          1. Boof*

            Yeah, I think people are trying to avoid “charities” with, oh, 90% overhead 10% actually materially benefits the cause. I am so thankful to charitynavigator for helping to sort through which charities have a good balance of these things (and if charitynavigator is unreliable, IDK I hope there’s SOMETHING out there that helps to navigate what groups actually do what they say they’ll do in a reasonably efficient manner)

            1. Evan Þ.*

              There’s also GiveWell which looks only at results (and if they get good results with lots of overhead, good for them). They only look at a few types of charities, though.

          2. Filosofickle*

            I had a pro bono client that was extremely proud of their 9% overhead….that is not actually a good thing. Single digit overhead is not enough to run a business. They were losing devoted employees to burnout and low pay, and they were all stretched beyond imagination. But that’s not the kind of thing I was brought on to advise on, so I could only bring it up as a side note. :(

        2. Artemesia*

          Charitable organizations usually pay their top executives well, often VERY well and often those who found them do so in order to give themselves 6 figure incomes. My old home town had one of those ‘save the children’ type organizations that collected a lot of money and paid the 6 SIX members of the founding family huge salaries — the couple, their two kids and their two kids’ spouses — while paying staff a pittance and providing almost no actual service to the ‘children’.

          In this example, the LW is taking the position of someone who was paid more. Of course, the organization could pay her THAT salary at least if they chose too, but why should they if she will work for less.

          1. Artemesia*

            And of course there are good charities — but there are LOTS like this one that are basically sinecures for wealthy people to stay that way.

      3. cabbagepants*

        I don’t follow this. Seems like a recipe to accumulate staff who can’t get hired elsewhere and end up providing inferior service to the needy.

    5. MissGirl*

      Definitely reframe this to, the company I work for may fail because they can’t or won’t pay a marketable rate.

      1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

        For real. I just kept waiting for the rest of the sentence from LW1. “If I get a better job, my company will fail…” AND? And then what? And they are holding my firstborn hostage? And they are all that stands between humanity and dimension devouring otherworldly terrors?

        I suspect the real answer is “and somehow I feel bad about people who massively underpay me and responsible for people who take no responsibility for treating me fairly, because capture bonding is a real thing, and I’ve been in this ‘no raises’ hell cult long enough for it to warp my sense of what is normal.”

        LW1, don’t worry about it. You’ll deprogram in a few months, and these people will be fine.

      2. MCMonkeybean*

        Yes, if the company falls apart it is 0% because the OP left and 100% because they can’t pay people a reasonable salary.

        OP ask yourself: would you blame your boss at all if the company falls apart? Your boss who was making even more money than you would be and still left because she wasn’t being paid enough? If you wouldn’t think this was her fault, then you shouldn’t think it would be your fault either. We often hold ourselves to higher standards than those around us, and sometimes we should, but definitely not in this case. You both should look out for your own interests first.

    6. Cat Tree*

      Yes, this similar type of reasoning comes up in discussions about raising the minimum wage.

      Many (most?) small businesses fail. That truly is unfortunate and we should have a strong safety net so business owners don’t become destitute when things don’t work out. But, the employees should NOT have to be paid less just to prop up someone else’s dream. The employers knew that there was a risk of the business failing and chose to accept that risk. The employees just want a steady paycheck and benefits. It’s unfair to shift the burden to the people who have the least power.

      1. Ash*

        THIS! Also most states have small business exceptions to minimum wage increases, even though I think that’s ridiculous.

        1. Natalie*

          I don’t actually think that’s true! The US DOL has a handy chart that I just scrolled through, and most states have one wage rate regardless of business size, just as the FLSA does. I saw a handful that exempted very small businesses and a handful with separate large and small employer rates, but the latter differ by a dollar or two, not a full on exemption. (I’ll link in a reply.)

      2. KRM*

        This x 1000. If you can’t afford to pay your employees market rate and benefits, then sorry, you can’t yet afford an employee. It’s a tough situation, but you can’t underpay someone just to make YOUR dream come true. Maybe you need to start with someone part time, or some other solution. But you don’t get to ask people to accept less money just because you want to be MORE profitable than you would be otherwise.
        LW, you can’t accept less just because the business needs you. If they need you and respect your work, they’ll pay you fairly. If they don’t, then you get to walk. It’s OK to walk. You SHOULD walk! You can’t prop up a business by sacrificing your own comfort and financial position in life.

    7. Mel_05*

      Indeed. The reason the business fails won’t be that she left, it will be that they didn’t pay their employees enough!

    8. Sara without an H*

      I was struck by this sentence: “It’s an accepted fact by people who have worked at the practice for over 10 years that there are no raises here.

      Why, oh why, does anybody stay 10 years at a firm that gives no raises??? OP#1, the owners here seem locked into a business plan that relies on grossly underpaying staff. Is this a family business, that relies on the work of relatives? The fact that the owners are not willing to pay you at least what your predecessor in the manager’s role was making is a huge red flag. Start a job search, now.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Even my lowest-paying jobs have had annual reviews and small wage increases — sometimes it was very small, but it was something.

        Now, I will say, my husband has been at his job for almost 10 years without a raise. It’s a smallish university and nobody on staff has gotten a raise. It’s definitely not ideal and he knows it, but there aren’t a ton of jobs in his field, he’s struggled with depression and the motivation to find a new job, and he likes the actual work he does and his coworkers (even though the administration kinda sucks). He deserves better, but I can’t force him to look for a new job.

        1. Aggretsuko*

          Seconded. We only get raises when the union negotiates for them here. We stay here because options are limited and the benefits are great.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      OP, if a business can fail because of ONE person leaving then their stability as a company was precarious anyway. So let’s say you stay. All you are doing is waiting for them to turn out the lights and lock the doors.

      I suggest that your level of worry about them should match how much they worry about YOU. (Tip: It’s at/ near zero.)

      1. Morticia*

        I’ve always said that no business should call itself successful if it can’t (or won’t) pay its employees a decent living wage. LW, you are subsidizing your employers’ business (and probably their lifestyle) by accepting a below market value salary. Please feel free to move on to a business that values you, and subsidizes your lifestyle.

    10. Momma Bear*

      Very much this! If their own business practices are taking them down, then that’s them and not you, OP! You do what you need and let them deal with the chips as they fall. You are not responsible for the survival of the practice.

    11. Lizzie Bennett*

      I have left two jobs knowing that the companies would likely fold after I left and in both cases, I had stayed much, much longer than I should have because I felt like I owed it to my coworkers to keep the company running. It took me a while to realize: this company is not mine. This is not my burden to carry. I am literally paid to be here, and can take my labor and skills elsewhere without it being personal.

      Also, if a business is totally dependent on one person, they’re doing it wrong.

    12. pleaset cheap rolls*

      “It’s an accepted fact by people who have worked at the practice for over 10 years that there are no raises here. I’ll be paid $2 less per hour than my former manager, despite doing the same amount of work, if not more, as we can’t find anyone to take my current role. ”

      Also, with inflation it means real wages slowly drop. There hasn’t been much of that in the US economy recently, but if all goes well and prices rise, it means the real pay at this place will decline even more!!!!!

    13. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

      I love this. I do.
      My favorite is “you can’t care more about someone’s career than they do.”
      If the company doesn’t succeed, because well, they suck, do you think it’s because you didn’t work hard enough or should not have been paid as much?
      OP. You need a break from this place to reset your expectations.

    14. Observer*

      Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm. The company’s business model assures its destruction; don’t let it be yours.

      This x 10,000

  2. giraffe*

    LW 1, get out of there. If you don’t own equity in the business, like how many partners in law firms pay in and receive a share of the profits, you are not in any way responsible for the health of the business. The owners of that business are putting themselves under by being unwilling to invest in retaining talent, and they are taking advantage of you. Don’t let them guilt you for one second; you deserve fair pay and a career path with upward mobility.

    1. Firecat*

      Yes this!

      My spouse once worked for a small non profit who, like OPs company, didn’t give raises and underpaid. They also rarely followed through on other promises like training and conferences.

      But oh boy were they good at guilt tripping! They found out from our landlord (small town) that I had applied to a job out of State. They went off on my spouse! How could you after everything we’ve done for you. We’ve only just got you trained (he’d been there three years) yada yada.

      I didn’t even get interviewed and found a job an hour away. We eventually moved to be half way between both places. The week after we moved I was rear ended and our car was totaled. My spouse had told the owners all of this and had asked to work from home until we could save up for a car. They refused so we had to buy a second car for him to commute at a bad rate. A week after that – they laid him off.

      Yes – laid him off! It turns out that since before we had moved, they were planning to lay him off that day. They didn’t give him advanced notice, they didn’t recommend that we wait to move, pressured us to buy a car to commute in, knowing full well they planned to lay him off.

      When my spouse asked why they didn’t let him know before we moved so we could have moved closer to my job and why on earth they insisted he commute in their answer?

      We thought you might not work as hard if you knew we were laying you off in a month. We needed to get our moneys worth it’s just business.

      That’s where loyalty to that type of company gets you OP.

      1. Artemesia*

        I had a close relative who got fired the day before his equity vested — it was a start up that paid minimum wage (really below given the hours) and he had build their entire on line presence for an on line business. They just stole a year of his labor on the promise he would have equity in the business. I was never so happy as to see this business fail the next year.

        1. Grand Mouse*

          This happens so often and it’s so transparent, I really wish law would address this. And shame on these employers

    2. Elenna*

      This! LW1: Not your circus, not your monkeys. (Possibly the “circus” party is more literal than usual, with all the water shenanigans going on there…)

      1. Elenna*

        Wage shenigans! Wage!

        I should reread my posts before posting… especially when using swiping to type…

        1. Elenna*

          And of course that post has a typo too *facepalms*

          Anyways, the point is, LW, feel free to let go of your worry about how the company will do. It’s not your company. And if they can’t survive without paying decent wages, well, maybe it’s best for everyone if they do go bankrupt.

    1. Fried Eggs*

      Yes! If you leave for a better paying job, you’re not the one who destroyed the practice. Whoever makes the decisions about pay is.

      1. Jemima Bond*

        Exactly – if the practice collapses, it won’t be because you left, it will be because they don’t pay their staff properly. Not your fault!

      2. Littorally*


        Realizing that they can’t fill your old role because the pay is so far below market rate should be a major wake-up call for whoever is in charge of setting pay (my guess is the owner, if this is such a small operation).

        Now, maybe it’s possible they absolutely can’t afford to pay market rate for that job. That means that having the job filled is less important to them than whatever else they’re spending that money on! And maybe that’s okay — if it’s something like rent, or required licenses, or paying their taxes, that’s genuinely more important than filling a lot of roles. But unless you are now in charge of the budget, this is a worry that’s above your pay grade.

    2. Myrin*

      Exactly. I feel like this is quite the bitter pill to swallow for a lot of people (and might sometimes even expand to being a general mindset!) but it is indeed not the worst thing if a badly run, exploitative firm goes under. Also goes for “But if I do X, Y won’t like me anymore!” which is… often a good outcome, even!

    3. Annie Moose*

      Yup. If you can’t afford to pay your employees, then you can’t afford to run a business. (and I say that as someone whose parents ran a small business when I was growing up!)

    4. lazy intellectual*

      Yep. I’m way more vindictive than OP1. I would leave and watch the company collapse in glee.

  3. Four lights*

    LW 1: Remember that they company owners have taken on the risks associated with owning a business, and they also reap any rewards. Whereas either way you would get paid the same.

  4. Mr Jingles*

    LW1: My husband stayed for years at a company that made him miserable, for job security and out of loyality. Now they’re moving their headquarters out of town for no dicernable reason. Gues who won’t get severance pay?
    Those company showed you clearly again and ahain that you’re not valued. Why do you care if the drown when you go?
    They don’t care either!

    1. EPLawyer*


      OP this company may well die anyway because their business model is not sustainable. Then what will your loyalty get you? Bupkis, nothing, zero, zilch, nada.

  5. Rich*

    LW1: The way I have always considered a relationship with an employer was, “If it’s good for the company, it should be good for me.” If that consistently fails to align, I’m in the wrong job. Right now your work arrangement is good for the company _because_ it’s bad for you. That is not how it’s supposed to work.

    1. Cat Tree*

      Exactly. Good employers understand that employees are an investment, and often the most valuable resource a company has. Smart employers pay more money/benefits to attract and retain top talent. Average employers pay for (generally) mediocre employees. Cheap employers that pay bottom dollar fill the position with terrible employees or it goes unfilled. Occasionally they will snag a good employee and occasionally that good employee will stick around out of a misguided sense of loyalty. Sometimes during a recession a cheap employer will get multiple good employees, who promptly leave en masse when the economy recovers.

      If an employer can’t understand that you get what you pay for, they have no business making decisions about salary or anything financial.

  6. Panda Bandit*

    LW 1, if the company is destroyed they did it to themselves. Underpaying everyone and nobody ever gets a raise! How do they keep employees on, by guilting them into staying??

    1. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

      That was my thought too. Small business, long-timers… is there a whole bunch “but fammmmmmily!” and all the guilting that goes along with it? I wonder if OP wrote in because they could sense the upcoming “I can’t believe you’re doing this to us! After all the opportunities we gave you! We’ll be destroyed thanks to your selfishness!”.

      Because if so, that’s a different pep talk.

    2. Batgirl*

      Companies either do this overtly with “our success is more your responsibility than ours” messaging, or they rely on contextual pressures. For example teachers and health workers often care about their students or patients too much to let institutions crash. Very recently wasn’t there a fun fair worker handwringing about the future generations who wouldn’t get to enjoy the place as they did if it failed? It’s laudable to be invested, but you can’t be more invested than the owners and management.

  7. Rich*

    LW4: Always speak up, always early. I have made a habit to make my plans known up the management chain at all my jobs. Sometimes nothing comes of it. But more than once, the grandboss says something along the lines of “If the first I hear of your interest in an internal promotion is when you apply, you won’t get the job.” It sounds short sighted and harsh. But with good management, the idea behind it is the sooner they know, the sooner they can start helping you prepare, developing into the role. If you don’t speak up when offered the chance, you squander that opportunity, which means your application for the promotion comes with the subtitle “I know I ignored an important opportunity, but…”

    1. Snow Globe*

      I have seen that if you don’t get this job after expressing interest, you may still be top of mind when the next job opens up, because they now know that you are interested in taking on more responsibilities. So, it’s a good thing to let the grandboss know your interest, even if it doesn’t work out this time.

    2. Quinalla*

      Definitely speak up! In my experience, many in leadership place a huge value on people expressing interest. If they don’t know you are interested, they may not be thinking of you for that job at all and not have prepared you or themselves for it. For a lot of promotions, leadership will want to prepare you for it prior to getting it.

    3. Sara without an H*

      Yes, LW4, this is really not the appropriate place for modesty and self-effacement. Go to your manager and express your interest in the role. If she doesn’t think you’re ready for a promotion, ask for explicit feedback about what you would need to do to position yourself for the next possible promotion.

    4. OP#4*

      Thank you for your comments! I have expressed my interest to her before that I would like to continue on a path of more leadership opportunities and she did respond positively to that, so I’m hoping that will be in my favor as well.

  8. MH*

    LW2: It might take time for your co-worker to trust you or feel comfortable around you again. Stay professional but understand if she doesn’t want to socialize with you. I was in a similar scenario where I overheard my co-worker/friend and our boss joking about whether or not I would have a job at our company after a major work conference. They realized that I heard them and my boss later denied it. I felt awkward and didn’t talk as much with them about my life outside of work. I eventually did get let go and I cut ties with both of them permanently.

    1. Artemesia*

      And be kind to yourself. Everyone has done something that makes them cringe in retrospect. Overheard saying something unkind. Sending an email to the wrong person. Screwing up a visible project. Commit a gaffe in a meeting or at a party. EVERYONE has something to be embarrassed about. You have apologized — go forth and behave well and give yourself some grace — and when someone you know does something awful — give them a little grace too.

      1. Mel_05*

        This. We’ve all been jerks at some point, even if that’s not typically who we are. I personally have a couple memories that I still cringe over – even though they never caused a problem for me. I just feel awful that I said it.

        And what you did was careless, but it’s really unusual for it to have blown up the way it did. You weren’t the only one behaving badly in that scenario, so don’t take the whole weight of that guilt. Just be sure and be more cautious in the future and eventually this really will be forgotten.

  9. periwinkle*

    LW5: Why not make the legal name change? If you retain your original name, you WILL be addressed that way frequently. Even if your current employer allows an email address and/or display name different from your legal one, a future employer might not.

    I was named after a relative whom, as it turned out, I would rather not have been named after. At some point I started using a different first name in social settings, but the legal name was always in my face because it was on my school records, driver’s license, credit cards, and work email addresses. When I worked at a hospital we were required to have only our legal names on our badges as well, which confused the heck out of my co-workers who thought I was two different people. (Wakeen can sympathize…)

    A simple filing in the county family court, a few weeks of having the notice published in a local publication, and I ditched the unwanted name in favor of my preferred one. No more cringing. It’s lovely.

    1. Cedrus Libani*

      Seconded. I’ve changed my name; it was a simple court filing. A college friend legally changed her middle name to Danger, as in “danger is my middle name”, because she was an adult and she could. It’s that easy.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        I knew someone in college who changed their first name to Volt because he wanted to be a rockstar, literally. We didn’t keep in touch, but I’m mildly curious how that whole thing turned out.

      2. Momma Bear*

        Same. As long as you aren’t dodging the law, it’s pretty simple. I didn’t even have to publish the notice myself or show up in court. It was just a money exchange and paperwork exercise. After the name change is granted, start with changing your Social Security card (if in the US) because that seems to be the long pole.

      3. Aggretsuko*

        *applauds Danger*

        I’ve heard of a few kids–my friend’s kid being one of them–with that. (Even funnier: he’s “Harvey Danger.”)

    2. Myrin*

      Depending an OP’s location, that might simply not be possible.
      I know that at least where I am, even changing surnames outside of a wedding, a divirce, or an adoption is only possible in very rare and pretty specific circumstances, and as far as I’m aware you can really only legally change your first name if you’re trans.

      1. 'Tis Me*

        Where do you live?! In the UK you can legally change your name whenever but I think if it’s not for marriage or adoption reasons, you need to pay a fee (apparently £89)… I’ve heard of somebody who changed their name because they lost a bet, for instance (that was the agreed forfeit)! And there was a story in the news a week or two ago about a man who got very drunk and legally changed his name to Celine Dion: https://metro.co.uk/2021/01/01/man-changes-name-to-celine-dion-after-having-too-much-to-drink-13834459/ (apparently he needed to sign the papers in front of a witness to make it official, and was sober when he did that because he’s a superfan and thought it was hilarious and brilliant).

        1. Inksmith*

          You don’t need to pay a fee, just sign a deed poll with witnesses and you’re done, in the UK – I did it to change my name.

      2. Sue*

        In my State, it is a very simple process. File a Petition, appear at a hearing, done. It’s only complicated if you’re on the sex offender registry or doing it to defraud.

        1. londonedit*

          In the UK you don’t even have to do anything in person as long as you’re over 16. You can change your name by what’s known as ‘deed poll’ – in its simplest form, anyone can do it just by writing and signing a declaration of their new name. There is also a more official way to do it – something called an ‘enrolled’ deed poll – where you apply to the Royal Courts of Justice and pay a small fee, and then your new name is on the public record (which can make it more straightforward to use your new name with some institutions like banks etc, although many will accept the simple declaration).

          1. Bluesboy*

            I’m a UK citizen and would like to change my name – but I live abroad, and so can’t do it in the UK anymore.

            I wish I had done it when I was there. Where I live now, you actually have to go up in front of a judge and justify it, and then they will decide whether they agree or not. So you’re probably fine if your name is offensive, or if you are trying to escape an abusive partner…anything else and they will probably decline and tell you off for wasting their time…

            It’s incredibly difficult even when you do have a good reason. A friend of mine wanted to take her husband’s surname when she got married – it took months, and she even needed a letter from her father-in-law as the ‘head of the family’ before she could get approved (this is in a Western democracy by the way…)

            1. pancakes*

              Please don’t assume that most name changes in your area are refused by judges without doing any research as to whether this is true. People who are not lawyers are very often wrong when they guess at how legal processes work or how case law tends to go. A single anecdote from a friend isn’t research. I did a quick search just now and deedpolloffice dot com explains two ways for UK nationals living abroad to legally change their name and passport.

              1. Bluesboy*

                Thanks, you’re right to say that, but I have done my research. My tax code here has to correspond to my name, so if I changed my name in the UK, then it would just introduce a sea of bureaucratic problems here, I would need to get a new tax code, which is a nightmare.
                Fortunately I’m not desperate to change it.

                The reason I say I wish I had done it while I was in the UK is that then, when I arrived here, I would have been issued a tax code based on my new name – obviously it’s too late for that now!

          2. Quoth the Raven*

            I live in Mexico. Outside of marriage, errors in your birth certificate, or someone who has transitioned, the only reason that you can change your name is if it exposes you to ridicule or can be taken as disparaging (so for example, if your parents named you Dumbo or Pol Pot). In some states it requires you to file a suit against the Vital Records Office clerk, and is left to the judge’s discretion. Even when it goes smoothly and there are no suits in place it can take months, even years, and then you need to officially notify all government offices and bodies (IRS, Social Security, the Electoral Institute that issues our legal ID, the Foreign Office that will issue a new passport, etc.) and updating all your documentation and records. A hassle, in few words.

            1. Jemima Bond*

              I’m so sorry if this makes me a terrible person but I am genuinely in fits of laughter at the thought of someone being called Dumbo or Pol Pot! The poor person! “Hi, I’m Pol Pot Rodriguez, but you can call me…Pepe?” Thanks for the lolz

              1. Quoth the Raven*

                It’s not unheard from! That’s precisely why it’s one of the few reasons you’re allowed to change your name down here. Maybe not Pol Pot, but there have been kids registered with names like Aquaman, Naruto, Covid, Stalin, Bin Laden.. although the clerks can refuse to register a name like that if they believe it would make a kid’s life very difficult.

              2. Cat Tree*

                I know someone who’s first name is Nixon. And that’s not as bad as Pol Pot, but still unfortunate. He’s one of those people who ages well so I have no idea how old he is, but I’m guessing he was born after the election but before the scandals. He’s also one of the nicest and most ethical people I know.

                1. In COVID Quarantine*

                  Don’t underestimate the ignorance of the younger generation. My own daughter wants to name her hypothetical future child “Nixon”! I cannot get through to her! To her it’s just some cool name and she has zero understanding.

            2. MK*

              It’s the same in my country, though in recent years judges have become very lenient about what constitutes a good reason for changing your name. Frankly, I don’t think it’s egregious that one needs to follow a process to change their legal identifier. That and state provided identity cards is what makes identity theft all but unknown here.

          3. Keymaster of Gozer*

            That’s how my husband changed his surname when we married: enrolled deed poll. (Because I could change my name easily upon marriage but blokes couldn’t). It was a few decades ago but it cost about £80 iirc and took a few weeks to do.

            1. Bagpuss*

              It’s only £42 now! But yes, in the UK it is very easy – you can be called by whatever name you want as long it it isn’t with the intent to defraud anyone, and while banks etc won’t always accept home made deeds/documents I’ve never had one reject a change of name deed drawn up by a solicitor, or demand an enrolled one. The only situation I’ve come across where an enrolled one is needed is for people who have transitioned and are applying for a gender recognition certificate and even then I think it’s that it is seen as stronger evidence, it’s not a legal requirement to have registered the new name in that way.
              Even the passport agency and tax office don’t require an enrolled deed.

              My brother and his fiancée are similar to you and your husband – they decided to change their names as they want the same name but didn’t want her to have to take his name, so he’s changed his by deed but she is waiting to change hers legally on marriage when it’ll be simpler.

              1. Keymaster of Gozer*

                Glad to hear it’s got easier! We got several notarised copies of the deed poll just in case but the only ones who required it were the DVLA and his firm I think.

                1. Fieldpoppy*

                  Did you see the news story about the guy in the UK who changed his name to Céline Dion by deed poll when he over-imbibed one night during lockdown?

      3. Roeslein*

        Where I’m from, marriage is not a reason to change your name. Needless to say, I got very confused when I started meeting more people from elsewhere as an adult! I still get confused occasionally – I used to work with a red-haired English woman with an Indian last name, and for the longest time I just assumed she had Indian adoptive parents – the obvious explanation (she married an Indian person) had never even crossed my mind.

      4. Reba*

        That is wild to me!

        Like, what is the government’s interest in telling Marie, no you can’t be Sandra, it’s Marie forever?

        Restrictions on allowable names for parents to give their children makes sense (I don’t think I totally agree, but it at least makes sense). But why prevent adults from using a name they prefer?

        (Obviously, Myrin, you are not responsible for answering for the government’s policy! I’m just expressing my bafflement.)

        1. Myrin*

          This is just a guess but from what I can tell – and that really only stems from this and a few other English-speaking sites I frequent – our general… attitude (?) towards names and naming seems to be quite different from the American or British one. (Whenever the topic comes up here, there are bound to be many comments I can understand intellectually but which I instinctively (??) can’t wrap my head around because the cultural framing is very different from what I’m used to.)
          Also, we are just strict and bureaucratic in everything, especially legal matters.

      5. jojo*

        Actually all you need to do is file your name preferences with the social security office. They will issue you a new card with your preferred name and you can use that to change your drivers license. It may be slightly more difficult now since 9/11, but it is legal as long as you let SS know so they credit your earnings.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Probably because nicknames don’t require paperwork. Also Op is possibly delighted to have a new name, but not quite happy to leave the old one entirely behind.

      I know there are a lot of people with serious Name Changes, where the old one is verboten and the new one is the only acceptable thing. There are also a lot of people who just start going by a new nickname, and that’s ok too.

    4. LW5 L.U.*

      LW5 here. I am still toying with the idea but in my state it isn’t as simple outside of a change for marriage or divorce. I had already been going with an iteration of my given name, and everyone professionally I’ve ever dealt with called me that without hesitation so I’m hoping this is the same. I do love the idea of never having to see that name again, but I have to weigh just how much I want to put in the work. I appreciate the insight, maybe I will take the legal change idea more seriously.

      1. Nea*

        I have to chime in and say that depending on where you live, changing a first name isn’t as easy as it sounds. I say this because I loathe my first name and have been going by my middle name for decades – but the thought of the paperwork to not just legally change the name, but to change my driver’s license, social security card, health care cards, passport, voting registration, etc overwhelms me. And I’m just trying to cut a piece off – a piece that already isn’t on my bank accounts and credit/membership cards!

        Of course, I don’t have your emotional incentive and cannot make the judgement call of what your time & labor are worth to you. I just wanted to warn you that there’s far more paperwork than you think.

      2. JustaTech*

        If a major NPR reporter can change the name she uses without a legal name change, I bet you can do it to (she went from Lordis to Lulu).

        Good luck finding the best path to getting called what *you* want.

    5. Angry Birds*

      Depends on where the OP is, the process can be a pain in the butt. For example, in Quebec, if you weren’t born here and want to change your name legally, you’ll have to first submit your birth to the civil registry. Then you’ll have to submit a request of preliminary analysis to the Directeur de l’état civil. After the analysis is approved, you then can submit your application of change of name. It’s cumbersome and it takes time.
      Most companies nowadays are pretty flexible with people’s preferred names. If OP doesn’t want to change it legally, there shouldn’t be too big a risk where future employers are rigid about legal names.

    6. SW*

      It really and truly varies immensely by US state. In California you don’t need to publish but the filing fee is over $400, and certified copies are $25+ each. In New Jersey, changing your name is over $200 for court fees, $20 per certified copy, plus the cost to advertise in the the newspaper twice, once before and once after. The name-changed has to also take off time to go to the social security office to change their name. Plus there’s the fun of changing your birth certificate, so that’s another $50 down the drain.
      The org that I volunteer with that helps trans people with their name changes just tells the Upstate NY trans people to hire a lawyer because it’s too complicated to do it yourself. North Carolina only allows you to change your name once, and you have to submit proof from 2 people who know you that you’re a person of good standing. Many states require that the name changer get fingerprinted and/or get state & federal back checks.
      It was a 4 month process to get my name changed, and I’m still getting mail under my dead name, three years later. I still haven’t changed my diplomas and my professional papers are still under my dead name.
      We also don’t know whether the OP would be safe publishing the name change in their state; abusive dad or his family might find out and do bad things to the OP. And not all US states will waive the publication requirements, even if the person is worried about violence against them as a result.
      So if the OP is in the US and is a US citizen, they can expect to sink $200-600 and 20+ hours to get everything changed, including driver’s license and passport. Plus the OP will have to explain to hiring managers every time they’re on the job hunt that their supervisors knew them under their former name and not their new one.

  10. Aphrodite*

    OP #3, I’m going to confirm Alison’s final note. Do not underestimate how that commute–15 hours per week or 60-75 hours per month–is a horrendous thing to take on. You can get quadruple the amount of money and after a while it probably will not that commute any more palatable. In fact, I predict that if you take it you will leave within one year if you don’t move closer. I know you think the money will more than compensate you but I fear you will find it does not.Think very, very carefully about this tradeoff.

    1. Viette*

      I agree specifically since it’s referred to as “due to the drive” — 1.5 hours each way on a train up and down the East Coast is enough of a drag, but at least that’s time you can use to be productive or to relax. A 3-hour round trip driving commute is something that only a very certain subset of people will tolerate well long-term. If you think you’re not one of those people, you’re almost certainly not.

      1. Amaranth*

        Also, budgeting 3 hours round trip is a minimum estimate if storms roll in, and with a 90-minute trip the forecast can completely change by the time she gets to work. LW#3, if a big storm hits the area while you’re at work, would they allow you to leave early or WFH completely? Would you have time to get home or need to camp out at the office?

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        I did a train/bike commute that was about that distance for a year, and while it was better than driving for sure, it was still a huge hit to my quality of life.

        I actually spent a lot of the time on the train figuring out what I actually wanted to be doing with my life and making plans to apply to grad school. So it wasn’t wasted in the end, but that year was a slog.

        1. JustaTech*

          I had a commute like that in high school, car to train to subway, then reverse. It worked out fine for me, because school let out at 3:30, so I could do my athletics and still make my preferred train home. But I did have to make sure I did all my decompressing and at least some homework on the train every day.

          And I was in high school, so it wasn’t like I had to make dinner when I got home (sorry mom). But it also meant there was no way to have a job or anything like that. Having that kind of commute pretty much eliminates your ability to do any kind of structured activity after work (exercise, classes, meeting friends).

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            I had a similar 1.5 hours each way bus and train commute for two years. (I took the job with the intention to rent an apartment nearby, but was unable to find something suitable and had to eventually settle for something that at least had frequent bus service.) Fortunately, I’d had a 45 minute each way bus commute in high school and had already developed the skill of sleeping on a bus without getting your stuff stolen or missing your stop (only missed my stop once in 2 years, and not by too much to fix it). I also bought a handheld video game system and spent a lot of time playing Pokemon.

            I don’t know if I could have done it for longer than 2 years, though. Eventually you just need your time back. (I pretty much gave up cooking meals during the week and grabbed take-out on both my morning and evening commutes each day. I had to transfer downtown anyway, so there were lots of restaurants to choose from, but that wasn’t a sustainable lifestyle for me foodwise.)

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I once held a job for over 2 years that had a 5-6 hour round commute per day. It caused several issues physically and mentally that I have to this day.

      (Never am I ever going to London again)

      1. starsaphire*

        Echoing. I had a job with a five-plus-hour commute once: 2.5 to get there and around 3 to get home, IF there were no major transit issues. Which occurred about once a month.

        It wasn’t the time ON the train that was the problem; it was the time waiting *between* trains, in all weathers, with little shelter, and lots of big-city… complications.

        I am still suffering physically and mentally because of that stupid job.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Love and hugs to you mate. I know that pain very well. (‘The 05:28 service has been cancelled. Please squash in like sardines to the 06:10 service”)

    3. WellRed*

      Three hours is way too much time to spend in a car and it doesn’t sound like there’s any huge career advantage for you or desire to eventually relocate. Instead, you should take some confidence forward knowing they want you and channel it into a search for something closer.

      1. Elle by the sea*

        I often had such long commutes. But since I have no interest in learning how to drive, it has always been a combination of walking, biking, and public transport. Part of it was a a great way for me to get exercise, and I was relaxing or working while sitting on the train. I do enjoy commutes like this, but I also agree that it’s draining for most people and I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. But I always prefer to live in the nature, far from city life and I have no other option than working in big cities.

        Actually, I’m in a pretty tricky situation right now – it’s kind of the reverse of OP’s problem. I accepted a job offer before the pandemic and I was offered a higher salary than what I had negotiated because of my long commute. However, the pandemic broke out before my start date. I’ve been working from home ever since, but my salary remained the same. To be honest, I’m feeling a bit guilty because now I don’t think I would want to go back to the office every day even after the pandemic. I’m a lot more productive at home than in offices, regardless of the commute time. I wonder if I can negotiate going back to the office only twice a week and if my salary would be reduced if I did so.

    4. Mel_05*

      So true. I drove 45 minutes each way for years and that was just at the edge of tolerable. My sister got a tremendous promotion, but had to drive 1.5 hours each way and quit in under a year.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        I commuted 50 miles each way for an internship one summer and it was AWFUL. There are times in the city where I live now that it might take me 45-hour to get home because of slow traffic, but that’s pretty rare, so I can deal with that. To drive miles and miles each day back and forth was miserable, especially considering that gas prices were really high that summer. Luckily it was only 8 weeks. I’m never doing that again!

    5. Khatul Madame*

      Absolutely this! Even with WFH two-three days a week it is not sustainable long-term – not only due to the time in the car, but also the risk of longer drive and accidents every time you have to commute in the snow, in a pouring rain or during a thunderstorm. You’ll be shocked how quickly the tension and anxiety of driving will add up even if you start out with perfectly robust mental health.
      You mentioned family, so picture a situation where you take your kid to a mid-day appointment, or go to a parent-teacher conference – not even an emergency! on a day when you have an important presentation and need to be in the office. With a job closer to home, it’s easy to WFH or take leave for half a day and come to the office for the rest. With this job add in 90 minutes in the car, in prime working time.
      IF this is the dream job and you are set on taking it, consider moving closer to the office.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I missed so many PTA meetings when they fell on my office days. If you have young kids, you need to make sure you have a back up plan for pick up because any little thing on a long drive (even something like leaving 5 mins late) can really hose your arrival.

    6. Delia K*

      As a counter point, my dad has driven at least an hour each way into work for the past twenty years and is perfectly fine with it. My fiance and I bought a house that’s half an hour from work. The LW said that she’s from somewhere snowy, which often (not always, but often) lines up with places where people don’t mind driving long distances.

      An hour and a half commute is a lot and it’s definitely something to consider carefully, but I don’t know that it’s the deal breaker a lot of commenters are making it out to be.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I’ve done that for six years and I didn’t terribly mind it, and I get the sense from the letter that OP is somewhat similar – she doesn’t sound enthused by it and if there’s another way she’d prefer that but it wouldn’t be a dealbreaker for her, either.

      2. Lisa Poe*

        Your dad literally has no comparison, so to say he’s fine with it doesn’t mean much. I doubt he thinks about it – he just does it. My husband used to have a 1.5-2 hr commute each way and thought he was fine with it… until he quit that job and got one that was a 30 minute walk or 10 minute drive from home. Let me tell you, he realized quickly that he had been miserable, but just kept on keeping on without thinking about it.

        The traffic stress, the weather stress, the construction stress, the fact that he could never make it to happy hour or impromptu hangouts with friends, he never had any free time during the week because he didn’t get home until 7… and then we did the math on how much this all cost, because wear and tear on your car (in addition to your person) is a real thing (use the government mileage reimbursement rate). He was spending thousands of dollars a year to sit in traffic.

        Too many people do this because they don’t think about the costs and because they know other people who do it.

        1. Stardust*

          Huh? How do you Delia’s dad “literally has no comparison”? If he has a daughter who comments on a work advice forum and has bought a house he has probably been in the workforce for longer than twenty years and had different experiences before that.

    7. Firecat*

      Yeah I had a 1 hour 5 minute commute in New England. It was often 2 hours one way. Between snow, wrecks, and road repair season it was miserable. My bosses were always on my case for not being on time (you should know there is road work!) Well sorry since I don’t live in 4 of the 5 towns I drive through to get to work I actually never knew where there was road work. I was usually 15 minutes to 30 minutes late each day.

      They even started getting on my case about going to the bathroom as soon as I got in the office. Like do that at home was literally said to me. It’s 8am. I’ve been on the road since 6 and have drank my coffee so yeah… I have to go now! Plus if this is a salary job where they expect you to work past 5, days get long really fast. Just an hour of OT means you aren’t getting home until 8pm. Also typically if I didn’t leave at 4:30 I was better off staying until 7pm to get home at 8:30 it was miserable.

      I have a 9 minute commute now and love it

    8. Momma Bear*


      I’ve done commutes over an hour and I know I dislike them – by train, by car, by bus…doesn’t matter. I prefer a drive that’s highway over heavy traffic, so that would also be a factor for me. When I was job hunting a few years ago, I had an interview where they hedged a lot on the WFH option and it quickly became clear that they wanted more in the office time than I wanted to give them. I’d done that commute before and knew I would quickly hate it. The offer I took gave me 3 days WFH and 2 days in the office. If that had changed, I would not have accepted the offer. It would have had to be a stunningly phenomenal opportunity to accept it with out that much telework. At this stage of my life I really value my time with my family. If you can negotiate something that works for you, great! But if not, I’d keep looking and let the recruiter know why. Your time is invaluable.

    9. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      And that’s 90 minutes one way in good weather! Could be all day in the snow! And then you’d need to invest extra into making sure your car can handle daily long drives in snowstorms. That sounds like a lot more work than this job can possibly pay. I would take myself out of the hiring process if this were me.

      I also live in an area that gets a lot of snow, and the longest commute I had in my career was 65 miles that were mostly freeway; also in the middle of winter. It was also a bait and switch like OP’s job seems to be, where I’d thought I was going to have a 20-mile commute, and was informed of the 65 miles on my first day. Was initially told that it would be a temporary, part-time arrangement, and then two months in, was told that it was in fact going to be full-time and permanent. I found another job and left after three months. It was absolutely not working out for me.

    10. Adrift in the snow*

      OP here. I think you’re right. Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, and take a step back, the commute is just too much. There’s a bus I could take post-Covid, but it’s not running right now. And that’s a lot of time to lose, even if there are many people in my town that do it every day. Thanks!

      1. Gumby*

        If there are many people in your town who do it each day – is there some sort of rideshare program? In non-covid times those can make an unbearable commute bearable. Even more so than public transportation because they are a smaller group of people and usually don’t take off without you if you are 2 minutes late. I’m not suggesting you change your mind, it’s still a long commute to take on. But there are ways to make it easier for people who don’t have a choice.

        I know several people who did mega-commutes on a regular basis pre-covid. Mostly because the SF Bay Area has horrible housing prices and used to have very little housing availability even if you could afford it. There is a reason the major tech companies have (had?) employee busses.

  11. Bob*

    LW1: When someone is addicted to drugs we talk about how enabling them is counter productive.

    You are doing the same thing in a business sense. You want to leave because they are not treating you well but are afraid to stop enabling them. Its time to take care of yourself and by doing so they will learn the error of their ways through the school of hard knocks. It is not your job to save them form the consequences of their own actions.

    1. Joan Rivers*

      Yes. It feels good to think one is so powerful that the business can’t survive w/o you, or the addict, but in fact they can. Or they don’t.

  12. MK*

    OP1, apart from everything the comments above say about you not owning loyalty to this company, the reality is that it’s highly unlikely your leaving will ruin the company. They might have to increase the pay they offer or settle for less experienced or quality candidates or scale back their operations or the partners will have to work longer hours to cover the work. One of the reasons labor relationships are so stacked in favour of the employer is that ultimately employees are not indispensable.

    1. Bagpuss*

      And if the effect is that the business closes it is because it wasn’t a viable business, as it could only stay afloat by underpaying staff. It wasn’t *because* you left, it’s that it was already failing before you left.

    2. Batgirl*

      It’s quite likely that they are waiting until circumstances force their hand before they up the pay. That’s sort of contingent upon OP leaving; a nice message indeed. I would go and not look back.

  13. Julia*

    LW2: I’m confused; I don’t understand what exactly you did. Alison seems to get it, so it may just be me. You said you “generically speculated” that an employee on a PIP might be about to be fired. Did you say to your coworker “X manager told me she’s frustrated with that employee”?

    If you didn’t actually say that, I don’t understand why you’re accepting full responsibility for sharing the info, as you didn’t share it.

    If you did say that, though, then maybe it’s worth asking yourself why you didn’t explicitly admit to that in this letter. It seems like there’s some distancing language here, and also some language that downplays what you did.

    To be clear, I don’t think you have to beat yourself up about this; you apologized and faced consequences. But it might help with your guilt to own up to yourself, rather than telling yourself you’re not the sort of person who does this and emphasizing how general your conversations were.

    1. Venus*

      I have to wonder if the manager screwed up by posting the job, and is now trying to deflect the gossip on LW2.

      People aren’t stupid, and often know who is underperforming. If the underperformer also has their job posted, especially if it is known that they had a pip, then many coworkers would have made the connection without LW2. I question if LW2 was the primary source of the gossip, yet the manager doesn’t want to deal with the bad employee and is giving them someone else to focus on as a problem instead of their manager (who else knows that the manager said anything to LW2 except themselves?).

      I know I’m speculating, but based on experience I wonder if LW2 is taking blame for a problem that Manager has shifted as they don’t want to deal with things.

      Gossip is a fact of life with humans. We shouldn’t spread lies or hurtful comments, but talking about movement within the company seems reasonable to me and happens often.

      1. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

        Yep, I could see how something like this would spread like wildfire because it’s in line with what everyone else already suspects. Even something innocently phrased could be spat out the other end of the gossip mill as something much worse than what the OP originally said.

        I’m not saying OP shouldn’t take responsibility for their part… gossip is gross, unprofessional, creates toxic environments, contributes to mental health issues and everyone has a role to play in shutting it down. But the supervisor’s actions seemed far more egregious in the circumstances! Also, if I’m reading the letter correctly it was OP’s coworker who spread around the gossip following their conversation, yet somehow they’ve been spared in all this because the goss is “OP reckons Cecil’s getting fired!”. Did that coworker also get a verbal warning?

        I don’t think OP should be beating themselves up over it. They did the right thing by owning up and apologising, so just accept the lesson and move on. But I’d also add to that lesson: be very, very careful what you discuss with that coworker in future because they’re clearly a sieve.

        1. Venus*

          “Also, if I’m reading the letter correctly it was OP’s coworker who spread around the gossip following their conversation”

          That isn’t stated anywhere, and I’m wondering if the coworker said anything at all. I still suspect others figured it out themselves and the coworker said nothing. Or maybe the coworker told one person, who told someone else, which isn’t ideal but no different than the LW or the manager.

          1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

            I made that inference from where OP says: “I was the one that spoke about it and that’s on me, regardless of who spreads it”
            I took that to mean it wasn’t OP who talked about it beyond what they’d discussed with their coworker, but they feel terrible for calling attention to the job post discovery in the first place.
            But you’re right, it seems silly to suggest that others wouldn’t have figured it out on their own when the PIP is common knowledge and the ad is publicly listed. If you don’t want staff the draw incorrect conclusions, then don’t post an ad like that without first giving the team a heads up for context.
            I just don’t get why this is bad enough for OP to get a verbal warning over, yet what everyone else did to contribute is apparently fine.

            1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

              I just don’t get why this is bad enough for OP to get a verbal warning over, yet what everyone else did to contribute is apparently fine.

              I think perhaps there’s an element of the company (naively imo) not expecting current employees to be searching out the company’s current vacancies on places like Indeed, and “scapegoated” the OP for that?

              It’s an interesting one – OP, does the company normally advertise open roles ‘internally’ (like on an intranet or noticeboard) but not this one, or is everything just advertised externally only?

              I was once in a situation where I found (completely by accident, I was walking in a high street nearby my town and happened to see it in the window of a recruitment agency!) an advert for my own role, it was hit and miss at that company whether roles were advertised internally or not, but I brought this up with management and it turned out to be an additional person (so that we would have 2 of that role instead of just one), paying 20% more though… (I said I’d like to apply for the open Llama Groomer position!). My mind did go first to “I’m being replaced” (I wasn’t on a PIP or anything) but glad I didn’t go in guns blazing – I was young and stupid, so it was possible!

              1. Sandi*

                If the company thinks that no one is looking at job postings then I think it’s definitely naive, although I also think it’s likely.

                There are plenty of reasons to look at job postings. Helping friends, curiosity, etc. My workplace posts jobs to at least one website, and I have signed up for any job postings for my department on that website (technically I filter based on type of job, but the IT filter finds job postings for my department so it’s the same thing). I’m very happy where I am, and they are happy with me, so this is purely a curiosity thing on my part as I often know which senior managers are planning to leave before it is announced internally. I know quite a few of my coworkers do the same, as I found out about this from one of them. There isn’t much benefit to knowing about changes a week or two before they happen, but it takes no effort so why not?

      2. Jennifer*

        I agree. I really don’t see what she did that’s so horrible. Management is at fault here. People are going to talk about what’s going on at the office. Yes, it was gossip, but it didn’t seem vicious. She didn’t talk negatively about her appearance or anything equally nasty. I think the manager is trying to cover herself.

    2. Amaranth*

      OP also mentioned that it was common knowledge the employee was on a PIP…makes me wonder how many times the supervisor has vented.

      1. Momma Bear*

        This. I worked in an office where the managers were a little too open about who was in trouble and the thing about it is if they will vent TO you, they will also vent ABOUT you. It made for an uncomfortable workplace. OP, I would not sit through any more venting sessions with this supervisor.

    3. Rez123*

      Yeah, I don’t get it either. A job posting was put up to the public. If nobody has recently left or department expanding so that there is no obvious reason for recruitment, people are going to talk. If PIP is general knowledge, supervisors previous discussion was not specifically mentioned it seems only natural that people talk. I feel like my whole office would be on verbal warnings if this type speculation was worth a warning. Sounds to be that LW is getting blamed for supervisors bad communication.

      If I understood the whole situation correctly, I do think her am warning was over the top. I understand apologising cause it turned into a thing and being sorry that the person on PIP was hurt. But I don’t anyhting else needs to happen.

      1. KWu*

        Same, it’s some chatter and speculation, but gossip already seems like a strong term to me, and seems strange to get a warning over sharing that you saw a public job posting.

    4. Allonge*

      Yes, I was also puzzled by the whole situation a bit – is it that out of line to draw a line, out loud, between ‘underperforming employee’ and ‘job posted’? Both these seem to be public information in the company, so…

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        is it that out of line to draw a line, out loud, between ‘underperforming employee’ and ‘job posted’?

        Not sure where I come down on this… in a previous company I worked in, one of the things in the list of example disciplinary “issues” (such as persistent lateness, rudeness to customers, reckless mistakes etc) was along the lines of “making adverse comments about someone’s job security” (in a similar sense to harassment). Having had anxiety induced by that myself I can see the thinking behind it.

    5. londonedit*

      I’m a bit confused too. Where I work, if an advert was posted for a maternity cover Llama Groomer, you can bet we’d all be on our team chat going ‘Ooooh, who in Llama Grooming is pregnant?’ Or if an advert for an Assistant Llama Trainer suddenly went up and we hadn’t heard someone in Llama Training was leaving, then yeah, there absolutely would be gossip about whether someone’s leaving or whether they’re bringing in a new assistant (and if so, hey, why have we been told we can’t have an assistant but the Llama Trainers can have two, etc etc). The idea of advertising someone’s job without that employee knowing is totally alien to me, anyway, but how can that employee not be aware of the job listing? And isn’t it pretty normal for people to gossip about who’s leaving and who’s hiring? Unless the OP had been the only one who knew the employee was on a PIP and the only one who knew that the company was about to advertise for their replacement, and that’s what they divulged, I can’t see how it’s all OP’s fault.

    6. Quinalla*

      Agreed, it doesn’t sounds like LW2 actually shared what the supervisor told her. Perhaps it was more they were seen talking earlier and when LW2 “confirmed” for the person she was talking to, maybe it was assumed she had inside info. But yeah, if it was common knowledge this person was on a PIP (was it though?) then I don’t think LW2 should be taking on so much blame here. Is blame being taken because the rumor was that LW2 said X was getting fired?

      Also, I used to be one who thought all gossip was bad, but I don’t anymore. “Gossip” is often how employees attempt to stay informed when management isn’t being transparent or when management won’t get rid of someone who is problematically racist/sexist/etc. There is certainly bad gossip that is just mean and ill-intended, but other types of gossip are really just people trying to get information and are often a reflection of a company not being transparent enough, which honestly sounds like the case here…

      1. Venus*

        Years ago I worked with someone who was a Bad Gossip, and that’s when I realized that discussions between coworkers about changes to staffing and work are in my mind rumours, which can be a problem if they are constantly overly negative but otherwise this seems quite normal to share, especially when places aren’t transparent as you suggest. Gossip in my mind is personal, and that I disagree with completely. The awful person I worked with years ago was speculating on who was sleeping with who, and other types of things, and if you refused to speculate with her then she wouldn’t help you with work stuff. It was very difficult!

      2. Jennifer*

        I did feel bad for the employee that is on the PIP. The boss shouldn’t be speaking to people about that. But again, not the OP’s fault.

      3. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        I personally think that the gossip litmus test is how embarrassed you’d be to discover that the person (or people) at the centre of your fact-finding mission were standing behind you and heard what you were saying.

        It doesn’t have to be mean or ill-intended to be bad gossip, just something that’s not your business to discuss. I think we all know on some level when we cross the line from need-to-know to curiosity-sating entertainment.

        1. Malarkey01*

          I like that. I think another litmus test is on you informing others of things that wouldn’t normally hit their radar that isn’t really anyone’s business. We have a particular conference room that was used for disciplinary discussions because of its privacy. The reservations for it were viewable by anyone but no one took notice…except Marsha. Marsha reviewed the conference room reservations twice a day (she had zero business reason for this) just to be nosy, and then would mention to everyone that ohhh John and Bill are in conference room 2, what do you think that’s about?

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

            That’s on HR/management (whoever has influence over these things). Those type of meetings should be marked as “private” (or the calendar not viewable at all, if it’s something like a dedicated HR meeting room).
            People like Marsha could still (in theory and depending on the size of the company) correlate that room being booked with a private appointment from (say) 10-11am on Tuesday, and then go through all the free/busy information to see which likely people also have 10-11am on Tuesday blocked out as busy in their calendar…

    7. BRR*

      I didn’t get it in my first read through and thought I was just not awake yet. I reread it and am still not entirely sure. I think the worst interpretation of the letter would be the lw commented to a coworker about a publicly posted job opening and wondered if it was either for the PIP employee’s job or for the PIP employee to apply for. “Hey did you see we’re hiring a teapot maker? Is this John’s role?”

      So the lw possibly errored a tiny bit in speculating on another person’s employment (why is the PIP common knowledge???), but talking about a posted job in a small office is incredibly normal. I’d feel differently if the lw had privledged/secret information and shared it but that’s not what happened here.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      OP #2. Echoing what everyone else has said here.
      I’d like to point out that you had this conversation with ONE person and apparently no one else. So your one person told one more person, who in turn told one more person and so on. If there is fault to pass out here, then reality is that everyone is this chain has fault to bear.

      Please reread Alison’s words, until you feel a peace settling in. Any place I have ever worked has had things like this happen. We all knew when someone’s job was being advertised. We all knew when someone was on PIP. And we were able to tie it together. ANNND we talked about it. Eh, *I* even knew and I try to avoid drama.

      There’s a number of reasons why we talked about it. NOT the least of which is that the herd tends to protect each other from foes. There is an underlying message here, “Hey, management can put someone on PIP AND advertise their job with NO guilt on their conscience. Watch yourself around this place!” This boss and the boss who advertised the job should be HUGELY embarrassed, not you OP. It’s not up to you to cover up PUBLIC actions of other people.

      I will say it again: It’s not up to you to cover up public actions of other people. If you hadn’t commented someone else would have. I remember one larger company I worked for that at LEAST THREE people would tell me, “Oh they are advertising so-and-so’s job and they aren’t even done with their PIP yet.” Groups behave this way when there is an on-going disgust and mistrust of management anyway. The underlying message is to point out how careless and unthinking management is.
      At this company we’d all make jokes about knives in our backs. I used to say, “I am good here, they can’t fit any more knives in my back. There’s no space left.”

      OP, to my way of thinking this is just a normal workplace event. You will probably see it a few more times before you retire. Eh, I am in a good place now and STILL stuff goes around that this person or that person is being pushed out of their job. Herds protect each other.

    9. Chilipepper*

      Also came here to say that I don’t understand the situation in #2. It sounds like the OP thinks they are the problem because they are the one to notice the indeed posting and had what sounds like a normal convo about it.

      I have also been quick to take the blame, apologize, etc when someone lays the blame at my feet because I did have some role and the other person is upset and I want to be a responsible coworker and don’t want my actions to harm others. But that tendency has NOT served me well.

      What I would do if someone pointed the finger at me in this situation is I would repeat what they say. Example: someone says: you did x (which I am not clear about here) and we are all upset you did that!
      you: You are all upset, there are rumors, and you are saying that I did that? Wait, what do you think happened?
      someone: you said x, y, z . . . (here is where they might say something inaccurate that you can clarify)
      you: I did notice an indeed ad and coworker and I talked about it. I am so sorry if talking about the job opening caused problems!

    10. John*

      Same I read it twice but don’t understand what OP2 did wrong at all. Theyre like “I know I made a mistake” and im like “when??”

    11. Rob*

      LW2 here! I just wanted to clarify a few things here.

      1. We generally speculated about the job overall. Are we growing? Are we transferring? Are we replacing? Multiple reasons. That’s why I was shocked when I came in Monday to that situation.

      2. I really took a lot of responsibility because the coworker I spoke to about it, she is very young and is known to talk, and I shouldn’t have brought it up. I can see them asking who she heard that from and just said me.

      3. The ad was not for employee on PIP. That’s why it turned into a warning. My supervisor abhors any sort of talking and takes a strong hand, and it was another department which it made it worse because it wasn’t any of my business.

      It’s a very strange situation that I never expected to be in. Thank you all for your comments. Definitely will not do that again.

      1. Firecat*

        So you speculated about why a job was posted with a younger colleague about why a job may be posted, sticking to typical business reasons, growth, transfers, and replacements.

        Said young colleague ran around telling everyone someone on a PIP was being fired?

        And you took full responsibility because…? I’m still not seeing that you did anything wrong here. You are not responsible for the bad behavior of the younger employee – if they are punishing you for her actions than she will continue to be a problem.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          Yeah, I’m still not clear on exactly what OP did wrong. Maybe it’s because I work in government and our job titles and descriptions are super vague and the listings aren’t always clear about where in the org chart the job will fall, but when the internal job listings come out it’s pretty common to ask “hey, does anyone know what X job is all about?’ Usually people don’t get too caught up in gossipy speculation if they don’t have any actual information, but wanting to know if colleagues are leaving or changing job duties or if they’re hiring someone to help spread out the work load is totally normal and not gossip.

          In my office, if you said “I know things haven’t been entirely smooth for Lucinda, maybe she’s decided to leave” as one part of that kind of normal workplace conversation it would be totally normal, but if you said “I bet they’re finally going to fire Lucinda” it wouldn’t be, especially if your impressionable coworker repeated it around the office. And “Lucinda’s PIP isn’t going well, so she’ll be fired any day now” is even worse. I think the vagueness about what you and your younger coworker actually said is causing some confusion for those of us trying to understand the situation.

      2. (No Longer) Some Sort of Management consultant*

        Hey LW, nice of you to stop by :)
        So basically the two events had nothing to do with each other other than they concerned a particular person?
        You got in trouble because you brought up the employee who was on a PIP, who happened to be the same person the manager complained about? but you never shared that conversation with anyone else?
        Am I getting it right?

        1. Rob*

          Yes unfortunately. It’s a law firm, so the atmosphere is always partial because we don’t have a formal HR, and everyone is pretty close.

          My supervisor is also new to her position and takes a hard line on everything, so hence verbal warning.

          This whole situation is really having me rethink my future because I’m not trying to say I’m innocent, but I definitely felt singled out for all consequence.

          1. Observer*

            This is not a reasonable “hard line”, it’s just stupid stuff.

            I wonder if the warning was verbal because your boss knows that it’s ridiculous and doesn’t want to defend it if someone looks at it and asks what on earth?

            1. Guacamole Bob*

              Yeah, going to a formal “verbal warning” instead of telling you “if you have questions about something like a job posting I’d rather you just ask me instead of speculating with colleagues, because that conversation you had started some unfortunate rumors” is not necessarily a good sign for her management style.

              1. Joan Rivers*

                It being a law firm does make it better not to speculate.

                But it being another dept. to me seems less bad because it’s removed from you.

                A law firm w/chatty newbie is not a good mix, btw. She could be headed for future problems if she doesn’t learn from this.

      3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        The ad was not for employee on PIP. That’s why it turned into a warning.

        I don’t understand this – what would have been the consequence (instead of a warning) if the ad was for the PIP person? A harsher outcome? Or no warning?

      4. Deanna Troi*

        Thank you, Rob, for providing these points. To me, however, they still don’t clarify what happened.

        1. You saw a job was advertised and you speculatived about why the position was open. Totally normal, as long as you didn’t say “Manager is frustrated with Jane, so I wonder if it’s their job.” If you didn’t mention anyone in particular, then you didn’t do anything wrong.

        2. Someone asked your coworker “who they heard that from” – heard what? That a job was advertised? I’m confused by this. Was the advertisement a secret? Again, if I’m interpreting this correctly, you didn’t do anything wrong.

        3. The job wasn’t to replace the coworker on the PIP. Again, so what? If you didn’t mention the coworker on the PIP, then I don’t understand the relevance.

        If I’m understanding the conversation you had with your coworker correctly, you didn’t do anything wrong. I’m sorry that you felt you had to apologize and I think that it is unfortunate that you took so much responsibility, because now others will think that you said more than you did. I feel bad for you and I hope it blows over soon. As Alison said, the manager is the most responsible here because she never should have complained about one of her employees.

  14. Artemesia*

    #1 Please please please do what is in your interests without a thought to the struggling business. THEY CAN pay you the $2 more since they actually paid your predecessor that — they just don’t. Either the business is not viable or is badly run — and you are subsidizing it. Get a better offer and get gone.
    #4. By the time the job is posted, they will almost certainly have someone in mind for it — I have rarely seen situations where that is not the case. As soon as the boss has acknowledge they are leaving the position, have a chat with the hiring manager about your interest and if graceful why you think you would be good. Don’t let them have thought through what Dennis would look like in the job, or enthusiastic about Fergus they met at the conference. Make sure your name is in the mix from the beginning; may not get the job, but at least you won’t be assumed out of it.

  15. MollyG*

    #3 This is a good example as to why you never give a salary number before the interviews. Things may change, or you may get more information, but after you state a number it is hard to walk that back.

    1. MCL*

      I don’t know. It makes sense to me to discuss a range with a recruiter to make sure I’m not wasting my time with a company who isn’t going to pay that. I’d say that a range would probably be better than stating a number. That said, the recruiter misunderstood or misrepresented the work from home situation which significantly impacts quality of life/work balance for this op, so I think revisiting salary in light of that is totally reasonable.

    2. Chilipepper*

      I think I have seen Alison suggest saying, “I would need to know more about the position to be sure but my range would likely be x to y.”
      “From what I can see so far about the position, my range would likely be x to y.”

    3. Adrift in the snow*

      OP here. I stupidly fell for the “range” idea, rather than asking them first. And of course, she was quick to come back saying that my range “fell within their” range. I should have asked. Lesson definitely learned on that one.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        Are you sure it was an internal recruiter? If you’re going on just their email address, you could be wrong. (And regardless, recruiting is a sales job, and sometimes sales people are incentivized to do less-than-right things to get the sale.)

    4. Firecat*

      It’s very common for orgs to verify your salary range before moving forward with interviews. Refusing to name a number isn’t likely to get you anywhere and won’t prevent this issue if the job is majorly different from the description and the first interview. OP really did nothing wrong here.

  16. Stev*

    LW 5 — You deserve for your coworkers to call you Lu. It’s your name! If you were one of my coworkers I’d definitely want to know so that I could treat you respectfully by calling you what you want to be called.

    I can totally imagine that it might feel uncomfortable to ask for a change–but just think how you will feel once people at work start calling you Lu. It’ll be worth it.

  17. Call Me Tag*

    LW 5 – I agree with Alison to let people know that you’re going by “Lu” because your initials are “L.U.” People are likely to remember it. I have been called Tag by my loved ones since I was a baby because my initials are T.A.G.

    But my grade 3 teacher decided “it’s an odd name for a little girl” so she told me that I would henceforth be called “Theresa” (pronounced Te-REE-sa) which is not my birth name of “Therese” (pronounced Te-REZ). Being an obedient child, I came home and told my parents that was my new name. But I immensely disliked being called Theresa, and after a couple of decades of being called “not-my-name”, I started asking everyone to call me Tag.

    But just asking acquaintances or co-workers to start calling me “Tag” was a struggle. Because it’s an unconventional name for a woman, it wasn’t memorable for most people, who would then refer to me as “Peg”, “Pat”, “Tad”, or some other “not-my-name”.

    Once I started introducing myself with “I’m Tag. Everyone calls me Tag because my initials are T.A.G.” people started getting it right! (I sometimes also add a comment to make it more memorable e.g. years ago I might say “It’s like telephone tag” and nowadays I might say “it’s like tag your photos on Facebook”.

    I hope you enjoy being called by the name of your choice!
    Best wishes,

    1. Homophone Hatty*

      Wow! What the heck was wrong with your grade 3 teacher that she thought she could name a person who was not her own infant child? That is all kinds of wrong.

      1. Bluesboy*

        Maybe she is related to the coworker on a fairly recent letter who insisted on calling a colleague by their birth name “out of respect for their mother”…

      2. londonedit*

        My elderly great-aunt refuses to call me by the simple shortening of my first name that I’ve used since I was 11 (I’m nearly 40). She ‘doesn’t believe’ in shortening names and thinks everyone should go by the name they were given at birth. I think she believes nicknames are somehow vulgar.

      3. Chriama*

        Haha I’m reminded of a Judy Blume book (I think Superfudge) where the kid’s teacher wouldn’t call him Fudge because it’s not a proper name. His name was something like Farley Drexel and she would accept FD or other variations on his name but not Fudge. I think the principal got involved and they ended up transferring him to another teacher’s class.

        That long comment was just to say that I think teachers refusing to call students by names they find inappropriate is evidently a long-observed tradition!

        1. Batgirl*

          Apparently, my grandmother who always hated her name of Emma, simply told the teacher on the first day of school (age 5) that her name was Irene. She got to be Irene for a whole year until she took her report card home and her mother said: “This is for another little girl with our surname” and she just airily said “Oh no, I go by Irene at school”. Her mother apparently put an end to it!

        2. The Rural Juror*

          My father insisted on naming my brother after a family member, but the name was pretty old-fashioned and my other didn’t like it (think something like “Jedediah”). She compromised and added his middle name to match with her grandfather’s initials, J.D., which is what she wanted to call him. But for some reason everyone just kept calling my brother by his full first name…which he’s never really liked, either.

          I’ve kind of tried to ask my Mom in the past if she just got steam-rolled by my Dad’s overbearing family (who all probably liked that my brother was named for the family member). She hasn’t admitted one way or another why no one called my brother the nickname. Most of the time he just goes by “J.”

        3. Lady Heather*

          I think there’s a military joke about that.

          “What’s your name, Recruit?” asks the drill instructor.
          “People call me Josh, sir.”
          “Do I look like the type to care about first names? What’s your LAST name, Recruit?”
          “Darling, sir.”
          “Very well, Josh. Your turn on the firing range.”

        4. Adultiest Adult*

          I actually remember this particular exchange from that book, which I read as a child, to this day: “I can call him Farley, or I can call him Drexel, or I can call him FD, but I will NOT call him Fudge!” It was certainly memorable! Don’t mess with people’s preferred names.

        5. Clisby*

          Back in the late 1940s, my mother was a 4th grade teacher. On the first day of school one year, she had all the kids in the class introduce themselves. One little boy said, “My name’s Fatty, but my mama calls me Harold.”

      4. Quinalla*

        I dunno, but it is definitely a thing. My nickname which is a common shortening of my full name (think Ali for Alison) was something a teacher fobbed off on me. My parents liked me going by my full name, but this teacher insisted on the nickname (I don’t really remember this, my parents told me when I was much older) and it stuck forever. I actually experimented with going by my full name for a summer school class since no one in the class knew me and that was kind of fun, but I’ve gotten used to the nickname too so it is what I go by.

        1. Hazel*

          Until I started reading these comments, I had forgotten that I had an experience kind of like this. When I was in college, there was already a “Susie,” in the glee club, so the director decided I would be “Susi.” I liked the spelling, and I kept it through college and several years after. Also, when it happened, I was old enough to have refused the new spelling.

          (In case you’re wondering, I used “Susie” as an example because the spelling change doesn’t work with “Hazel.”) :-)

            1. Lady Heather*

              And I’m amazed by the existence of a glee club. I thought that kind of thing only happened on TV!

          1. Marillenbaum*

            My high school theatre teacher used the shortened version of my name that I cannot abide: think something like “Betsy” for Elizabeth. It is a very common diminutive for my given name, but one I hate. My mother never let anyone call me that, and neither had I. I tried insisting, but he kept up with Betsy. He was generally a lovely enough man, but that set my teeth on edge until graduation.

      5. Cat Tree*

        I’m hoping this was a long time ago. I knew someone who had a nickname as her regular name, think Dani instead of Danielle. She had one teacher who refused to believe it was her true given name. But this was decades ago, I think in the 70s. That attitude would be especially ridiculous today when there’s so much more variety in kids names.

        1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

          I watched a friend argue with our school’s version of Dolores Umbridge (she was a building substitute) about what her name was and wasn’t. DU insisted it was Katherine. Friend looked at her like she was a dummy and said “then why does my birth certificate say “Katie” is my first name?” This went round and round far longer than it should have. Seriously no idea what DU was arguing with a HS senior who knew darn well her name.

          And this was in the 1990’s.

          1. Artemesia*

            I used to work with a Robert who sometimes went by Bob but whose birth certificate was ‘Bobby Ray’ — he was incredibly embarrassed by it. I really think parents should give kids more or less formal names and not nicknames — name her Katherine, but call her Katie. This gives the kid the ultimate freedom of determining her name and not being in the position of having what looks like a childish or unprofessional name. Our rule was it had to work with ‘X has just been appointed to the Supreme Court or Our new company president X’. Cute names for girls might not be a name a grown woman wants to go by (or may be) — the formal name leaves all options open.

            1. Filosofickle*

              It’s the y-sounds that do it the most. Chris as a nickname doesn’t sound young. But Crissy does.
              Growing up I had friends named Tammy and Bambi. Bambi is now an MD. Tammy is a pharmacist. We’re all in our 40s. It feels weird. (Well, Bambi is unfortunate at any age. Sorry, Bambi.)

          2. fhqwhgads*

            Same. Also in the 90s…actually might have even been 2000. Kid’s name was Alex. Not Alexander. One teacher didn’t believe him even though it was in all the records that way. Kid brought in his PASSPORT. Teacher suddenly does a lot of mumbly bumbly sputtering.

      6. EventPlannerGal*

        Some people are just weird and entitled about other people’s names. I have the inverse problem, I have a long/slightly unusual name which I happen to like and strongly dislike people shortening it, but every so often someone will be like “oh, your name is Francesca? I’ll never remember that, I’ll call you Fran” (or whatever, that’s not actually my name.) It’s like, sorry but your inability to process more than one syllable at a time isn’t my problem because that isn’t my name. It’s bizarre, I wouldn’t DREAM of telling someone else “oh no I’m going to call you X” – some people are just born rude, I guess.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          Same! I have a four syllable name with a common diminutive. Anyone who uses the diminutive clearly does not know me. It’s like how my grandmother, when she was alive, always knew strangers were calling when they asked to speak to Elva (her given name) and not Ellie (what she went by). She was mysteriously never home to those people.

  18. Just Another Commentator*

    To L.W. # 5: I’d just tell them. I’d always hated my first name and when I was in my 20s I finally worked up the courage to go by my middle name.

    It took some people a while to get used to it, but now it’s just my stubborn mother who calls me my first name.

    1. EPLawyer*

      My mom too. I started using my middle name at 16, finally legally changed it several years later. My mother’s excuse was “it’s so hard when you’ve called someone X name for 16 years.” At 32 I pointed out I had been using my middle name for as long as I has used my first name, so it was time to change. She STILL uses my old first name. My dad, no problem. Started using my middle name from day 1.

      1. Artemesia*

        I had a nickname through college and then decided to use my full name. Now only my brother and people I knew as a kid call me by the old name. My mother actually struggled to get it right and I appreciated that although I would not have cared if she had continued with the nickname.

    2. LW5 L.U.*

      LW5 here, I am lucky that in my personal life my name change has gone really well. It helps that my partner and close friend are extremely supportive and have helped me muster up the courage. At one point my mom was on the phone with my step dad and I overheard her refer to me by ‘Lu’ and I teared up. She may not agree with the change or fully understand it, but she is trying and that is a huge deal. It just feels so big at work because the history of the name is so personal (and more than a little fucked up). I like Alison’s and a lot of the other suggestions I’m seeing in the comments.

  19. Anono-me*

    Op5: If you don’t really want to deal with discussing “The History of Your First Name” at work; you could just approach using your better name as a request to be less formal. Maybe next time you have some quiet time at work with a closer coworker, you could say , ‘You know, I wish that you would call me ‘Lu’. I used my legal name on the paperwork and so everyone here just started calling me ‘Lucifer’; but outside of here most of my friends call me ‘Lu’.”

    Whatever you do, congratulations on your better name.

    1. virago*

      jojo, your comment is short and to the point, which is always appreciated.

      But when you’re referring to bureaucratic rules and regulations that apply only to people in the US,, don’t forget to mention that. This blog has a worldwide readership and your advice wouldn’t necessarily pertain to everyone.

      (This happens a lot. A recent example was a question from a woman who had to go into the office for the first time since March and believes she was exposed to COVID by a manager who was there at the same time.

      The question didn’t state where OP lives. But the responses in the comments were US oriented in that they assumed that health care bills would be the biggest concern — “make sure this manager has to cover your co-pays,” etc.

      OP never mentioned paying for health care as a challenge, though, which led some people (including me) to conclude that OP was not from the US.

  20. Ess in Tee*

    LW 1, I’ve been in your shoes. I spent years at a company that didn’t pay well and didn’t treat employees well. I stayed because they had been (and, at the time of writing, still are) circling the drain. If this was a teapot designing company, I had the biggest load of teapot design work, so I thought that if I left, they would fail. Eventually my patience for how I was being treated ran out and I did leave. At the time of writing this, they haven’t replaced me, just shifted my workload to other employees, who are also not paid enough to deal with it all.

    They’re trucking along so far, but if losing me had caused them to fail, that would be sad but ultimately not my responsibility. Upper management had a history of poor business decisions and that’s what has gotten the company in the state it’s in now. I wasn’t paid nearly enough to act as a load-bearing support for an entire company, and eventually I had to leave for my own sake.

    I got a new role (during the pandemic, even, which was tough going, let me tell you) and left and it was like a weight fell off my shoulders. I could see all the ways my current company blows my old one out of the water. While my pay and workload were the obvious problems I left over, I’ve since realized through working at a new company that there were other things I didn’t even think about at the time that were definitely problems. I was just so used to them that I had no idea how bad it was until I left.

    1. Niniel*

      Similar boat here, only I was the only teapot designer. I don’t know who they have now, but I do know that the same toxic people are in charge. I stayed far too long because I was young and dumb and didn’t have the money to move….because I wasn’t paid enough. It was awful and I don’t wish it on anyone.

      LW1, I’m sure you can find other jobs. Find one quickly and don’t look back!!

  21. Allonge*

    LW1 – if your company was feeding hungry orphans, paying you a million dollars a month and have an award for Best Employer for 20 years running, you still would not owe them your whole working life. If a place is built on one person, it will inevitably fail. That’s ok, and not your problem. Go and find a good job where they treat you right. In a month or so this will be just a bad memory.

  22. Tamer of Dragonflies*

    Op 1…Does your employer spike the drinking water with happy pills? There must be something to garner such loyalty.(Nothing wrong with loyalty as long as it goes both ways) They can’t expect to be successful while paying below market wages. Sometimes you have to take care of you and yours and let others take care of their own for better or worse.Find yourself a better job, and don’t feel guilty if old job burns…It sounds like they’ve been smoking next to an open gas main for awhile now.

    1. Artemesia*

      They are actually doubling her workload by moving her to the old managers position (but not paying her the old manager’s salary ) and then expecting her to continue to do her old job since they can’t find someone to fill it.

      I hope we get an update next week that she has doubled her salary in a move.

  23. Bluesboy*


    There are two options, either the company is financially struggling, or it is not.

    If it is not, then there is no excuse for them underpaying you so dramatically, and certainly no reason for not giving you the manager’s salary when you take on that job. They are not treating you well, and you owe them no loyalty.

    If the company IS financially struggling, then it is in your interests to get out before it gets worse, and you should do so. You do not owe the company more loyalty than you owe yourself.

    There are times when you might reasonably feel you owe a company loyalty, although of course you still remain a free agent. But this is not one of those situations.

  24. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP1 – this is NOT YOUR FAULT.

    The company chooses not to pay what its staff are worth. That’s on them.

    If you can’t/won’t pay business expenses, the business will fail.

    That is not your responsibility.

  25. Keymaster of Gozer*

    LW1: time to reduce your debate down to the bare basics so you can make a clear decision. Which in cases like these is one of the two:

    ‘Do I stay in a company where I love the job but the pay is abysmal?’
    ‘Do I stay in a company that IS abysmal but the pay is fantastic?’

    Note that neither question features what the company itself thinks and feels about things. There are a number of times in life where we really should make decisions based on what some would call ‘selfish’ reasons, I.e. what is best for you, personally (this is why I’m against ‘selfish’ being used so broadly as a negative term).

    If you find you’re making a lot of ‘what if’ points that skew more toward ‘stay’ or ‘leave’ it’s sometimes a good exercise to stop and think why you’re more invested in trying to argue one side so much. Because THAT could be the real bit that helps you make a more reasoned choice.

    But ultimately, leave the company out of your deliberations. Focus on what’s best for you as you’re likely to survive longer than a firm.

  26. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

    Hi OP1.

    You mentioned that you “will be moving up to the manager position soon”. I assumed this was a promotion that was discussed and agreed between you and the owners, but based on the rest of your letter I’m inclined to think that they simply informed you of your new role, pay and responsibilities.

    I can’t imagine that you willingly agreed to take on more work for a lower salary than your predecessor – and you don’t sound at all happy about it.

    Honestly, unless you want management experience, and can’t get it anywhere else, please start looking for something else immediately. If you decide to accept the manager role, decide NOW how long you need to be in the role to get the experience and the resume upgrade you want, plan your exit, and then leave. Unfortunately, if a new optician is not hired to replace you, you’re not likely to get the experience anyway – you’ll be too busy doing your old job to make a success of the new one.

    If it helps, I completely understand the feeling you have right now – you have an obligation to the company, you don’t want to let them down, you’d feel responsible and guilty if the company failed and somehow you could have prevented it (I used to have the same sort of misguided and unbalanced loyalty to my employers, and it caused me to stay in jobs and companies that were no longer a good fit).

    None of that is true, but your company is relying on this. If they can keep you feeling guilty about whether the business thrives or fails, they never have to pay you a decent salary, or get another optician to replace you. That sounds like a profitable outcome for them.

    Sometimes we accept bad treatment at work that we would never accept in a different context.

    If your landlord made you feel guilty for not renewing your lease, you would move to a new apartment anyway.
    If your yoga studio couldn’t find a new teacher, you wouldn’t teach the class yourself (while continuing to paying fees). Providing a yoga teacher is not your problem! You’re there to do the classes you paid for.
    If you bought a new couch, and the couch that was delivered was more expensive and the wrong colour – you would send it back.
    If you decided to cancel your Netflix subscription because you want to read more books, you wouldn’t worry about Netflix losing money.
    If someone bumped your car you wouldn’t apologise for not getting out of their way.
    If your company decided that you should work 2 jobs to keep their business afloat, at an insultingly low salary, while they rake in any profits that result – say no!

    1. mreasy*

      OP 1 – I worked for a small business that paid breathtaking low salaries in one of the highest COL areas of the country, and of course, sometimes we would have to “wait” to cash out paychecks. The owner of the company was also emotionally abusive toward me and others. The staff had dwindled down to 3 people plus an intern, and I was ostensibly the second-in-command. I quit, and the company did fold about 6-12 months later. But it was fine! It was a badly run company and it needed to change or go out of business!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OP, I had a similar thing happen. The business was losing money. We all assumed it was because the owner’s son was stealing from the drawer to buy drugs. (The shortages happened on days the son worked. Plus there was other evidence.) One day I did not collect a customer’s money fast enough to suit the owner. He started his screaming stuff that he usually did, “Why don’t you just leave?” I went for my coat. “What are you doing?” I told him I was leaving. At 5:30 am with no other staff in sight. The customer whose money was causing the upset also left vowing never to return. This was a regular customer who was friends with other regular customers.

        About 6 months later I went by and the place had folded. Out of business.

        I wanted the guy to succeed. I tried really hard to help his business along. He did not think about the fact that the customers could hear his screaming rages. And they could hear the dishes land after he threw them.
        NO regrets, OP. I could not fix all that was wrong there. Additionally, we cannot interfere with other people’s learning experiences. The owner had numerous learning opportunities here and it was up to him to grab those opportunities or not.

        My own learning experience was that if I try to help people who are not helping themselves along, then *I* will get injured in the process.

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t see any good reason why someone prone to screaming rages should succeed in running a business that brings them into contact with potential targets for their screaming rages. Far better for all for a person like this to work in a position that involves minimal contact with others. Also, it doesn’t sound like the guy needs learning opportunities so much as intensive remedial help from a professional with regard to managing his own emotions. CBT or something.

    2. Sara without an H*

      Sometimes we accept bad treatment at work that we would never accept in a different context.

      Yet another candidate for my rapidly-expanding list of future needlepoint projects.

    3. pieforbreakfast*

      I wanted to make a similar comment- why take the manager role if there is no benefit really? I’ve been a manager in a situation like this- all title and responsibility increase, minimal pay and no power- and it was not worth it. I feel like we’re expected to take offers of promotion no matter what because it means you’re succeeding or something. Just say no if there is not benefit to you and your interests.

  27. Medanon*

    LW1 – I am not a lawyer, but if the practice will fold when you resign or if there will be no licensed practitioners left to see patients, be careful about patient abandonment. This is not to say you can’t resign, but you will have to give *much* more notice than 2 weeks. I have been in this position before. I would recommend contacting your licensing board for more details about how to transition out of this role without being on the hook for abandonment t (if it even applies to you based on the details of what will happen to the patients when you quit). Commenters are saying you owe them nothing, legally this may not be not true. The medical field is different than the business world and sometimes career advice misses the mark slightly :)

    1. Chriama*

      Why would OP, as a brand new manager, be on the hook instead of the previous manager? And why would an employee be on the hook instead of the owner of the business? Patient abandonment is an issue for medical providers with their own practice, not employees working for someone else. Getting OP to freak out about a situation that doesn’t apply to her isn’t helpful.

      1. Barb*

        For physicians this is incorrect.
        Even an employed physician has a legal and moral responsibility to their patients.
        In my state it’s 30 days to notify and help facilitate transfer to another provider.

        I don’t know the rules for opticians but as a licensed professional there indeed should be a licensing board that can advise.

    2. Miniature House*

      This is inaccurate and dangerous advice and does not apply. She is not the owner. If they do not have a doctor on staff after she leaves it will be up to the PRACTICE OWNER to inform clients. I am in the medical field and it does not apply at all in this situation.

      1. Medanon*

        Sorry, miniature horse that is not true! It doesn’t matter that she’s not the owner. I’m not saying she can’t quit or she has to stay forever, but it’s not the same as an office job where you give two weeks notice and dip out. She can definitely resign! but if she were the only licensed practitioner in her office she would need to give extra notice. As you work in the medical field, you may want to check your licensing board or professional association’s advice on patient abandonment as you may be surprised on your obligations (I was surprised when I was in a similar situation, I called my licensing board’s ethics department and got good and sound advice straight from the source for planning a successful resignation)

    3. RabbitRabbit*

      Opticians are not doctors, they are trained technicians. They are a step below optometrists (who are not the same as ophthalmologists, which are medical doctors), and are generally limited to things like taking eyeglass prescriptions from optometrists/ophthalmologists and fitting a patient for glasses or contacts. They can’t even perform (most?) eye tests. Most patients could opt to order from an online glasses store if the local eye doctor can’t create their glasses at that time.

      1. Medanon*

        Thank you for the extra insight, I knew that an optician is not a physician but I was not fully aware of the distinction between optometrist vs optician. I see online that in some states, opticians do hold a professional license. abandonment may still be a consideration, but I am not a lawyer. I still feel Alison’s advice and many commenters advice is (accidentally!) reckless when applied to quitting a job in the medical field. If I were OP 1 and I had a license, I would certainly still call my board to verify my obligations. Even if nothing comes of it, it’s much better to check and make sure your license is protected.

        1. Doreen A Kostner*

          Although I won’t say the OP shouldn’t check with the licensing authority, there are plenty of licensed professions where abandonment isn’t an issue. There are the common, non-medical ones such as barbers and beauticians, but there are also plenty of sort- of- medical professions where abandonment isn’t an issue. Abandonment typically refers to leaving a patient mid-treatment without sufficient time for the patient to find another provider. If a doctor I see once a year or once every five years retires/leaves a practice without giving me notice, it’s not going to be considered patient abandonment. That’s really not going to be an issue with an optician, as they don’t provide ongoing treatment – they fill prescriptions for eyeglasses and contacts in much the same way a pharmacist fills prescriptions for medication. And I have never been individually notified that a pharmacist is leaving the pharmacy or that the pharmacy is closing.

    4. Natalie*

      I think people saying the LW doesn’t owe them anything aren’t thinking of quitting without notice. Just that you’re not an indentured servant, required to work there indefinitely because the place might fold without you.

      If I’m reading your comments correctly, their license might require a longer notice period, but they can still quit. So they should still look for another job; presumably any practice in the same field and state will be at least glancingly familiar with the notice requirements.

    5. blink14*

      This actually happened to me as a patient. I was going to a small and very busy practice with two ophthalmologists, they did not have an optician or optometrist on staff, all optician needs were sent out (so for instance, if you purchased glasses, they contracted out to a local optician). They had one office manager as the only other staff.

      The owner of the practice, one of the ophthalmologists, moved to a different state, leaving the other ophthalmologist and the office manager. The second ophthalmologist, so technically an employee of the practice, left unexpectedly and the practice shut down with no notice. The state licensing board charged the ophthalmologist that owned the practice with abandonment, and one of the major reasons is that they hadn’t contacted the board to transfer files. I actually ended up contacting a local business association to find out what happened because I hadn’t been able to get in touch with the practice for weeks and needed to renew a contact prescription. The business association put me in touch with the licensing board investigator, who was working with another practice in town to transfer the records. They were able to find my records and give me a temporary prescription renewal.

      In this case, under my state’s laws, the optician wouldn’t be charged for abandonment.

    6. Observer*

      Please don’t make up reasons for the OP to accept more abuse. And make no mistake – what the practice is doing IS abusive.

      The OP does not own the practice. They are not the ones responsible for the patients. MAYBE they need to give more than 2 weeks notice, but I would check with a lawyer about that. Beyond that, the onus is on the PRACTICE to make sure of continuity of care. And, they actually DO have an option – pay a fair wage and they will be able to find someone. There is simply no legal basis whatsoever to claim the the OP needs to stay in their job because their employer won’t pay a fair wage.

  28. Dorothy*

    OP1- If they needed to fire you they would not hesitate. They would not say “oh if we fire OP it will destroy them”. They may say that but they would still fire you.

  29. Batgirl*

    OP1 that’s actually a great reason to leave! You’ll no longer be propping up a broken and unsustainable system. Some businesses should fail! If on the other hand you imply that the optician should just sacrifice themselves and all opportunities for their noble leaders, guess what theyre going to require from your successor?

  30. Chriama*

    OP1 – Sometimes the way we stay in dysfunctional relationships is by telling ourselves we’re more important than we really are. It’s a coping method for abuse victims. You are not saving this business. There are 2 possible truths here:

    1) The business will not collapse without you. The owners will find another patsy, or grudgingly up the pay.

    2) the business is already collapsing, and there’s literally nothing you can do to stop it. You’re making $2/hr less than your boss was. That’s about $4k per year. If $4000 is all that’s standing between the business and total bankruptcy, please believe me when I say the ship is already sinking and no matter how hard you swim there’s no way you can save it.

  31. SF*

    Regarding letter #1, I love that statement “don’t invest in their success at the expense of your own”!! I think that one statement says it all.

  32. DCParalegal*

    OP3: I feel like this is a bad fit for both sides.

    If you’d described this as a dream job or one where the salary was insanely good, I could maybe see the willingness to make that commute. (Personally, a 90-minute drive each way even one day a week would be a dealbreaker for me. But I get that’s not universal.) But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Spending at least 15 hours a week in a car for the first few months, which presumably means leaving at 7 AM to account for delays and not getting home until 6:30 PM at the earliest, plus the snow, plus the natural stress of a new job, plus risking Covid exposure at work…well, if it seems like I’m trying to make this sound horrible, I am. And of course, the nightmare scenario is that after those first few months, your boss decides to nix work-from-home completely. Someone, either the recruiter or the hiring manager, has already misrepresented this aspect of the job once. Would you still want it if you knew this commute would be forever?

    And from the employer’s point of view, it seems to make little sense to hire someone when the potential for burnout is this high. I’m curious if they know how far away you live. It’s not on you if they don’t. But during this time where people are doing video interviews even if they live five minutes from the office, it seems like something that could have been overlooked on their end, and might factor into their decision making.

    Tl;dr: I don’t see this ending happily for anyone.

    1. Adrift in the snow*

      OP here. Thanks for some helpful insight. It’s always good to look at the good and the bad, right? I can’t see myself doing this job forever with that commute, and moving closer, at least right now, isn’t an option. They knew where I live, and a lot of people in my town work at this location. There’s a bus that runs during non-Covid times, but it’s shut down right now. Plus, 4 hours on a bus (it makes a few stops), doesn’t sound like a great use of my time each day. Thanks!

  33. Madeleine Matilda*

    #5 – I recommend just nicely correcting people when they call you the old name. Along the lines of “Please, call me Lu.” or “I’m going by Lu now.” I started a new course last weekend as part of a small group of 13. One person had a name with a slightly different pronunciation than I had heard from others with the same name. People would mispronounce it and she kept saying “My name is …” with the correct pronunciation then immediately going on with whatever she had to contribute to our group discussion. Everyone got it after a few times.

    1. Batgirl*

      I agree. I don’t see why it needs any more explanation than “Oh, I hate Lucinda, so just call me Lu”.

  34. Anti anti-tattoo Carol*

    Op5: is there anyone at work with whom you feel particularly close? That is what I did with my name. I don’t like it, and don’t use it in my personal life, but somehow it stuck in a professional setting. I just asked a few coworkers I trusted if they could please start addressing me using my nickname. It’s catching on more slowly than if I’d just told everyone, which might not be tenable for you given that your name is attached to such deep trauma, but wanted to put it out there!

  35. Sunflower*

    Putting aside how they treat you and are not loyal to you, what will happen if something happens that you can’t work anymore? Illness, accidents, moving, and winning the lottery happens.

    A business cannot and should not survive by depending on one employee. If they can’t find someone to replace you, you will end up doing two jobs for one low salary or they will fold anyway.

  36. momofpeanut*

    LW1 – I was once in a position similar to yours; I had given and given and given to an employer and received pats and smiles and praise. Then I needed them, and I got shrugs and frowns and whispering campaigns. I ended up going to our department psychologist who told me something I will never forget:
    [Blank] doesn’t love you. It’s an organization, incapable of feeling. It survives by inspiring devotion but has none to give back.

    Those words gave me an enormous sense of freedom. I hope they do for you as well.

  37. JohannaCabal*

    #5 Good for you! I’ve heard of similar situations happening like what your father did. That was horrible.

    (In the one instance closer to me, the parents divorced when the child was older and Mom started using her original name for the child, so kiddo had one name at Mom’s and another at Dad’s. In the end, kiddo rolled with it and are more well-adjusted than I thought they would be.)

    I actually go by one first name professionally and another personally (long story). It could be I’ve just read too many fantasy books where characters have more than one name (e.g., Earthsea).

  38. B Wayne*

    Removed. This is unkind. You’ve been warned before and you are now on permanent moderation. – Alison

  39. Eclecticism is a Virtue*

    LW #1, I understand the impulse to want to protect the people. There is a difference between loyalty to the business and loyalty to your coworkers. That said, Alison is right, you have no obligation to (essentially) protect the business from itself.

    LW #4, Yes, definitely speak up! A different context, but I had something similar happen to me. My company had a large project and there was an overall project manager, and I was a project lead under the PM, for just a section of the work. At a meeting one day, the PM announced they were leaving the company. In the middle of the project they were overseeing. Within 30 minutes of the meeting, I went to my director (two levels above me, with my manager’s knowledge/encouragement) and said I wanted to take over the overall PM. He actually confirmed they were already thinking about that. By going so quickly, A. I showed good initiative (as opposed to bad initiative, like calling a prospective employer every day) and B. it helped confirm their plans, demonstrating that I was the right choice. Of course, in your situation, don’t expect they are going to just hand you the job because you spoke up, nor expect to skip any interviews, but this is good initiative because they know your track record and as Alison said, there is really no downside to speaking up immediately.

    LW #5, An additional option, if you don’t mind your legal name staying in your work email signature for a bit is to include your preferred name there. Actually, there are different ways to do it. Listing your name as:

    Lisa “Lu” Underhill
    “Lu” Underhill
    Lu Underhill

    Etc. People usually understand that what you have in your email signature is what you want to go by. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on your company’s policies about signatures and your company’s culture.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      I understand the impulse to want to protect the people. There is a difference between loyalty to the business and loyalty to your coworkers.

      I didn’t really get a sense from the letter of what, specifically, the LW1 feels guilty/concerned about. Is it the future of the ‘business’ in the abstract? The owners? Their co-workers (who will be out of jobs in the middle of a pandemic if the place shuts down)? The patients/customers (I am not sure how easily they could find a new provider; I know it’s not the same situation but here in the UK, people in certain areas have a lot of difficulty getting registered with an NHS dentist. I had cause to register in May last year and was told the first time I could be seen was October, and this was with a dental ’emergency’!)?

      If it’s concern for the ‘business’ or the owners I think a lot of the comments here have addressed that. If it’s concern for the co-workers keeping their jobs or for the patients/customers (?) I can see more where LW1’s coming from.

  40. RagingADHD*

    LW1 – the natural consequence of an owner/leader making terrible business decisions is that the business fails. Paying too little to retain employees is a terrible business decision. It’s not your job to absorb the consequences of their choices.

    If they have any employees who have been there 10+ years, knowing they are being substantially underpaid, then I suspect there’s some brainwashing going on. Does anyone perchance claim that they’re “like family?”

    Exploiting your workers is not a wholesome family value.

  41. Liz*

    “despite the low pay, the role is crucial to the survival of the business.”

    Well, I see two options:
    1) raise the pay
    2) if #1 isn’t possible, shut ‘er down.

    Not to sound like the Grim Business Reaper, but if a business’s long-term survival hinges on paying staff well below market wage, it needs to be put out of its misery.

  42. Infrequent_Commenter*

    LW1, businesses do not have a fundamental right to exist, and non-ownership employees do not have any obligation to the bottom-line. If a they charge a reasonable market price for a quality good/service, people will buy it and if they offer reasonable pay for quality work, people will work there. Subtract, and if the result is positive they stay in business and if it is negative, they don’t. From your description, this company could be in a death spiral and maybe it should go out of business.

  43. Ruby314*

    Are you willing to relocate closer to the job? If so, you could ask about a relocation bonus as part of the package.

    1. Adrift in the snow*

      OP here. I totally wish that were any option, but my husband works here, and my kid will be going to University here and living at home for a while. I would love to live in the town where the position is located, but it’s not meant to be!

  44. straws*

    LW5 – I just did this at work, essentially! The difference was that I prefer to be called my legal name, which people preferred to shorten for their own ease for my entire life. I finally decided to put an end to that. For work, I just made a quick post on an open company channel telling everyone that moving forward, I’d prefer to go by my full name, that the nickname everyone called me is not what I preferred, and that I’d appreciate everyone’s help making this adjustment. For me, there’s no back story to ask about. I just hate the nickname and have tolerated it for many, many years. Part of my hesitation was that it wouldn’t be a good enough reason for people to put the effort in and change. But, I found that no one even asked for further information or reasoning! So I’d just be vague and factual – you prefer to go by Lu and would like everyone to do so going forward.

  45. Chaordic One*

    LW5 – Just do it! It’s not that big of a deal. Most people will be happy to accommodate you. There may be an awkward transition period where there is some forgetfulness and you will have to remind some people. You might have to let people who missed the first announcement know about it. And there may well be a handful of people who are resistant and obnoxious.

    My advice is gently remind the resistant and obnoxious of your new chosen name as often as necessary (in a way that makes it seem like you’re assuming the best of them and that they are merely forgetful, instead of the jerks that they really are). It may be necessary much more often than it should be.

  46. not neurotypical*

    #1 reminds me of the need for both universal health care and UBI.

    It’s probably not the case for OP, but I couldn’t help but imagine this all going down in my small, rural, low-income town where there is exactly one optical practice. In such a case, one might feel obliged to stay in order not to deprive the denizens of the town of that vital service.

    That reminded me of a friend who was a veterinarian in an even smaller and more remote low-income town. She took over the practice when the vet who had hired her retired, but she couldn’t find anyone to move there to join the practice for what they could afford to pay. So she worked as the only vet, with a team of steadfast vet techs, wearing herself down until she had a health crisis of her own. Why? Because if they closed, that would mean no veterinarian at all, in a county where the vet also served as the de facto humane society (taking in, fixing up, and adopting out strays and discards). She eventually had to quit, but not before finding two other vets who I am sure are not making anything close to industry standard. And there really isn’t any solution to the situation except structural change.

  47. Jennifer*

    #5 I think the best solution would be just to legally change your name. As others have said, it’s not expensive and takes little time. It is just easier to explain that way imo.

    1. pancakes*

      “Not expensive” is very relative. Whether they change their name legally or not, the letter writer doesn’t owe anyone an explanation as to why they’d prefer to be called by their initials. Anyone rude enough to push for an explanation can be told “it’s personal,” or “I just like it better.”

  48. Observer*

    #1 – Why are you even wasting one second worrying about the survival of the practice? Even with decent employers, you should think about the fact that if they needed to they would fire you, even if they did so with great reluctance. Here, you have an employer who is…. I’m not sure what word to use, but decent is not one of the words I would consider.

    These are people who are unwilling to pay people a fair wage, and will insist that people take on whole new areas of responsibility without their pay reflecting that. That’s a garbage move. This is not a great economy, so the fact that they are struggling to fill the position is TOTALLY on them – They could solve this problem in days if they just acted like reasonable people. You should not even THINK about holding yourself back in any way to protect garbage employers from the effects of the disgusting behavior.

    On a related note, you don’t have to take on the manager role unless YOU WANT TO! And I would only take it on if I thought that it would help me move into another, better job elsewhere. By the same token, you SHOULD NOT take on the manager job while continuing to fulfill your current duties. It’s not reasonable or realistic. They may tell you that you “have to”, but you REALLY, REALLY do not.

  49. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    LW1: I agree. If you’re not happy with the current arrangement, and they’re unwilling to adjust then go.

    I assume you’re in the US, many states prohibit corporate medicine, and even in those that do not it would be unusual for an optician to have any ownership within a medical practice. Other than the fact that this is a job you have, there should be nothing holding you back.

    However, I do encourage you to look at it big picture. You’re $2/hour less than the outgoing manager, but are you compensated better in other ways? Better healthcare, retirement offerings, commission on product sales?

    You also need to look at the workload. Are you going to be doing everything the outgoing is doing? Will the MD/OD owner take on a portion of that workload to transition to you later, or are they using this as an opportunity to align with a BPO or other form of outsourcing?

    From experience, physicians are hesitant to put trust into, or pay, those people that haven’t proven themselves in a role. Right or wrong, it’s usually brought on by the pressures of constantly increasing admin burdens coupled with decreasing payer contracts.

    I also encourage you to face perspective of the transition. You may have the same amount of time there, as the outgoing and within ~2 months, but in a completely different role. There’s no guarantee that you’ll hold the same competency levels as the person you’re replacing.

  50. agnes*

    LW #1 Loyalty is a commendable trait in your marriage, your family, and your friends. It can be a real detriment in your work in circumstances like you describe. . The responsibility for keeping the business running sits with the owner of the business. If they don’t recognize your worth to the business, shame on them. They would not hesitate to let you go if it met their business interests. Do not hesitate to leave if it better meets your personal interests.

  51. Engineer*

    To LW #5:
    Annie Hathaway did an interview yesterday (Jan 14th) saying she HATES being called Anne. When she was 14 yrs old, and signed up for SAG, they told her to choose a professional name. As a 14 yr old…her legal name is Anne, however her mom only calls her that when she is in trouble. Everyone in her life calls her anything but Anne, and she clued the public into that too.

    Long story short, just tell your coworkers that everyone in your personal life calls you ‘Lu,’ and that’s what you prefer at work. Changing names at work is not legally binding! See if your IT can change your email address too, and don’t forget to update your email signature.

  52. Jaybeetee*

    LW3: I would advise you to be *very* circumspect about taking on a regular commute like that. I also live in a northern clime, and years ago took a job that was a 90-minute one-way commute. I’d had longish commutes before, I’d worked long hours before, I’d worked multiple jobs before, I didn’t have any particular driving anxiety…

    … and within a week I was just about having a nervous breakdown from the drive alone. Now, there were other things going on in my life that probably contributed to that. And since it was the height of the Great Recession and I’d had trouble finding any permanent work, I really felt like I couldn’t quit. (I looked into moving to the area, but even my colleagues discouraged it – real nothing town in the middle of nowhere, I was living in The City.) Anyway, it was a *very* bad few months, and actually the only job I’ve ever been fired from because I just couldn’t get the hang of it either.

    From now on, if someone around me is considering taking on a commute like that, I advise them to drive to that location and back every day for a week, and see how they feel.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Second that!
      Sometimes the commute may look very doable on a map. But when you drive it, you quickly see the nightmare because of traffic, construction, or that it’s just not a healthy stretch of road to drive daily.

      I used to live in Los Angeles, and 20 miles “by the map” could easily be 2 hours driving each way!

  53. boop the first*

    1. Everyone always thinks we’re the one thing holding up a company.
    I left a job in a similar condition: I was there the longest and had the most training, but I was paid $1/hr less than the person I replaced, and $2/hr less than the STARTING WAGE… for new hires!!!! I wasn’t naive enough to think they were in any dire position by far, but what happened after I left is they hired three more people, which costs a heck of a lot more than one, but it’s never really about just scraping by. It’s usually about one person’s dream of living lavishly. People can be clever and conniving, which is how we get down to these situations in the first place. They’ll work it out really fast, or they’ll deserve to close.

  54. Choggy*

    LW3 – I noticed a woman in my company changed her signature to reflect the name she goes by (just a shortened version of her name), which I thought was a great way to announce her preference. Definitely find a way to include it in your emails if you would like others to follow suit with using it so you can reach a wider audience than those you share the change with.

    1. Choggy*

      I just remembered, we have a company directory which includes a “Preferred Name” field. We’ve had people use nicknames over the years as they never used their given name, and I remember one woman who would make a huge stink about it if anyone did (not that this is you, LW!). :)

  55. MissDisplaced*

    OP#1 You need to take care of YOU and stop feeling bad about leaving. It can take some months to find a new job, so it’s not likely you’d be leaving at exactly the same time anyway. But even if you should find a job and want to leave, getting your replacement is their problem to solve, not yours. All you can do is give them a fair notice. Typically in the US, that means two weeks, but if you wanted to be extra proactive, you could give a month’s notice.

    OP#3 Be realistic about the commute! That sounds very far and long in all kinds of weather. Maybe 1 day a week would be fine, but it sounds like this job is not a WFH as advertised or as initially thought. I’d have some second thoughts about taking this job, even if they were to offer you a higher salary.

  56. AngryOwl*

    I saw LW2’s clarifications above, and I’m still not really clear on what they did that was so wrong and deserved this kind of response. It doesn’t sound like they shared the info the other supervisor gave them…?

  57. AliceBD*

    LW5, if someone asks why you’re changing your name, you can just say that you like it better! No need to go into detailed reasoning, and it’s what it boils down to.

  58. B.*

    LW5: We’ve had one person in my office change the nickname they go by (think from Betty to Liz) and another change the spelling of their name. It’s totally fine. It took me a little while to get used to but now I forget they were different before.

  59. Nicole*

    LW#1, I’m a 12 year optician veteran who finally left the field for good last year. At one point I was managing a practice and making less money than my male assistant manager (I’m female) despite him being out of the field for nearly a year and not having his state dispensing license. If the practice needs you that badly they should be willing to pay for you. In the 2 offices I worked at after my management position I was making equal to, and eventually more than, what I was making in management. If you’re not worth it to them, the job isn’t worth it to you.

  60. IrishEm*

    LW1 Not sure if this is helpful or not but back in 2018 I was working in an opticians’ and found out there is a HUGE demand for experienced qualified opticians in Ireland if you were looking to relocate to somewhere with potentially better pay and likely better benefits, seeing as we’re in the EU. Just something to consider if you want to look at comparable pay rates outside your local area. Back in 2018 my employer was bringing a lot of people over here from Brazil where there’s a lot of opticians without as much chance for getting raises (and also it’s safer for LGBTQIA+ ppl here than under Bolsonaro, but that’s a side effect).

  61. My Boss is Dumber than Yours*

    LW #1: If you leaving will cause this company to go out of business, not only can you do it but you absolutely should do it. Given how this company treats it’s employees, it does not deserve to stay open. I hope you find a good job elsewhere, and your hopefully soon to be former company goes bankrupt.

  62. it_guy*

    LW1: It’s not _your_ company, it’s the _owners_ company. You just work there. If the owners have no interest in paying fairly, and want to reap the rewards of not paying people, they should get results of their actions.

  63. Anonymity*

    OP 1: I mean this in the nicest way. Don’t be a martyr to your job. Move on and get paid market rate. Their business survival is up to them. Not your concern.

  64. Anonymity*

    I guarantee if you quit they will offer a higher salary when they post your job. You have options.

    1. Observer*

      Maybe they will. Maybe they won’t.

      It DOES NOT MATTER. The OP should leave regardless because the problem of the employer is THEIR problem and it is THEIRS to resolve.

  65. Des*

    “we are struggling to find anyone willing to work for such low pay”

    Good! That’s great news. *off to read the rest of the article*

  66. Hate my name*

    OP#5 At 60 with an international reputation in academia, I wish I could get a new name. I do have a nickname at work that I love. (wouldn’t work professionally or socially- too much explaining) I grew up in a physically and emotionally abusive home. Anytime I hear my name called from afar (say the spouse from upstairs) it is a trigger. I have had years of therapy. At this point it is like a chronic illness. I just live with it. I agree with the advice- this is what they call me in my home life and I will be using it at work.

  67. Caradom*

    1) The only reason the business would be ruined is that they pay extremely low wages. Instead of being concerned, you should be disgusted. If this business went down it would be a good thing.

    2) You can’t tell people it was a one-off and won’t happen again – you’ve already done that with management. Only time will fix this, where people see for themselves you’re not gossiping.

  68. Karak*

    One thing people forget is that it’s ok to lie by omission to your coworkers. You can tell them anything that’s an easy to understand. “I’ve always gone by Lu, someone told me I had to use my “legal name” at work, but I’ve finally decided I don’t want to” is very understandable! There’s a lot of people like that out there that use nicknames and middle names. They’ll figure it out.

  69. Last name change*

    I changed my last name – legally because of family abuse. I chose a last name I liked and switched over. I just filled a name change form at work, sent out a cheery announcement that no one had a problem with.

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