updates: the micromanagement, the fertility treatments, and more

Here are four updates from people who had their letters answered here in the past.

1. We have to send three updates a day while working from home

I originally wrote to you in March and things have changed a lot since then. In regards to the 12pm check-ins, we were able to compromise with our direct supervisor that these were unnecessary a few weeks after I wrote to you. But the 9am and 4pm emails were required until October!

My initial direct supervisor left in June and one of my coworkers was promoted. My new direct supervisor also despised the morning and afternoon task emails and was finally able to end them in October. The emails eventually became a basic list of my job duties that I copy and pasted each day.

I mentioned in my first letter that my organization had a brand new executive director start in March. We only had one week in-person with her before we transitioned to all remote. I eventually learned that the daily task emails continued as long as they did because she didn’t understand what we did all day long. She thought that if I said I was free Thursday afternoon or Friday morning for a meeting that I had no other work to do during that time. She never fully grasped the understanding that if I wasn’t scheduled an internal or external meeting, that I had other work to complete. Overall she wasn’t a great fit for our organization and will be moving on after only nine months. I’ve been at this organization for over five years and there’s been A LOT of turnover. I’m trying my best to keep my head down and get my work done, and will be moving on in less than a year when I finish grad school.

2. How do I approach my boss about time off for fertility treatments? (#5 at the link)

I’m the writer who was trying to figure out how to ask my boss for all the time off I’d need for upcoming fertility treatments, since they were going to be pretty frequent.

I talked to my boss, and initially I followed your script – I’ll be taking some doctor’s appointments pretty frequently, no cause of concern, etc. She was very understanding and said of course. During one of my 1:1s with her, I eventually just told her what was going on because she had been so understanding, and she immediately said (as many commenters had guessed) that she thought that was what I had been going through since she, too, had been through infertility treatments. So the support I got from my boss was amazing. As my brother said, this is why it’s great to have women in leadership positions.

As the treatments went, many commenters were also right on this front – I was able to get many of my appointments in before I even started the work day. I thank so many of the nurses and doctors who continued this work even through COVID, and who were so kind and supportive through the process.

Finally – I am pregnant! It’s still early, but after almost three years of trying and months of infertility treatments, my husband and I are so grateful. Thank you for your advice and all of the commenters support! It means so much. I hope everyone has a much lovelier 2021 than 2020.

3. My disgusting boss touches and chews on everything on my desk (first update here)

As an update to my update…my boss has probably given me COVID. 😡 He came to work very sick on Monday (and probably over Christmas break while I was gone). I was in the office long enough to hear how sick he was and left immediately. It still didn’t help because I’m sure he was in there touching everything. I suddenly lost my sense of smell yesterday, so got tested today. Unbelievable!

I’d like to add a message to employers as well. Please stay home if you’re sick! It doesn’t matter what you have, just stay home! And if your employees are sick, make them go home until they’re better.

4. My coworker showed up at my house when I wasn’t there and served my housemates bad food (#2 at the link)

I came back from my vacation and confronted her about it. Just put my foot down, saying something to the effect of, “You crossed a boundary, please don’t do it again.” All is well, she has since moved to another town so I’m not worried about her showing up out of the blue.

{ 124 comments… read them below }

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        All I can say is YUCK!
        I’ve had managers who chewed on pens and such, but she kept her own pen and didn’t do it to others. And it was always on her own desk, never shared area.

      2. Arts Akimbo*

        I move that OP #3’s boss be REnominated for the Worst Boss of the Year in 2021, seeing that he probably gave them COVID!

        I’m so upset for you, OP#3, and I hope you have an easy and speedy recovery!

      1. CoveredInBees*

        That is completely understandable. Just a note from someone who fled a dysfunctional workplace and a boss with no boundaries: Don’t let this lower your standards on where you go next. I’m guessing you’re a regular AAM reader, so you know what to look out for but don’t let “Probably won’t slobber all over my stuff or give me COVID.” be your only criteria.” I accepted a job in complete reaction to a bad place (and desperation) only to find myself in a different but also poorly-fitting place.

      2. Sal*

        When you leave, please at least try to sue him.

        A lawyer who knows that some lawyers only understand the language of lawsuits.

      3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Wishing you luck on that job search, and a full recovery.

        Also agreeing with the others – please don’t lower your standards so much that you jump at the first thing to get away from Mr Gross. When I had to leave a prior bad job I made a list of all my wants and absolute no-go’s. It served me really well.

      4. ScarJo Yummy Pops*

        It may be worth trying to contact your state’s labor authority – this could conflict with whatever opening restrictions your state has in place.

      5. Working Hypothesis*

        I’m relieved that you’re looking elsewhere, because you should absolutely not have to deal with this guy ever again!! I don’t know exactly how long ago you sent Alison that update — obviously after the start of January but it could be a day or two weeks by now. But I reallyreally hope that you’re either all well again by now or very soon will be.

        Best wishes!

      6. allathian*

        Good luck! I sure hope that losing your sense of smell for a while is/was the worst of it and that you’ll find a new job soon.

      7. raincoaster*

        Was the test positive? Here’s hoping that if it was you escape most of the symptoms and heal quickly enough to interview for good jobs soon.

      8. Faith the twilight slayer*

        Perhaps you can get some of that nail polish people could buy to deter folks from biting their nails? It’s not toxic but I hear it’s either really spicy or just plain disgusting. I’m so sorry. Just thinking about what your boss does is making my skin crawl

    1. Code Monkey the SQL*

      Ugh! Is right.


      OP, I hope you feel better soon and find a new job ASAP, because that is beyond the pale.

  1. GirlfromIpanema*

    OP #1- doesn’t understand open time in your calendar/schedule doesn’t mean ‘literally no work to do’? Sounds like you and your org are much better off with this person having moved on. How obtuse. I understand her needing more frequent updates about the work everyone’s doing as she gets to know the org and teams, but twice daily emails and that lack of understanding about how, you know, jobs work are red flags all around. Glad you’ll be moving on!

    1. Lynn*

      I had the same thought! Like how does one become a senior leader with that fundamental misunderstanding of how work happens?

        1. Jessica will remember in November*

          SAME. Does this person think that all her employees need to do is go to meetings and there are leprechauns who come in at night and perform the rest of the actual job duties? I don’t know how this person got into a leadership position, but they’re clearly striking another blow to the myth of meritocracy.

          1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            Haha, I love the leprechauns imagery.

            This reminds me of an episode of the 90’s cartoon, KaBlam!, that made fun of executives and how all they did was take naps in their office while their EA’S told everyone they were in meetings all day.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Right there with you. How do you spend even more than 2 weeks in the working world and not realize that time for a meeting does not mean sitting around twiddling thumbs?

        Further, instead of you know, learning what everyone does all day, they resort to wasting time with pointless emails?

        9 months sounds like too long for this person to have been there.

        1. SweetestCin*

          I hate to say it…but I’ve seen a few people who’ve been promoted “beyond their competency” have similar thoughts. “Well, you’re not in this meeting so you must have time to do this ::ridiculously complex task that by telling me I have time to do it means you know nothing about what said task entails::”.

      2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        That was really baffling. Every job I’ve ever had, no matter the industry, has always had other background work that I could do when I wasn’t immediately engaged. No customers in the store? Clean and restock. Nobody in the restaurant? Work on prepping for the dinner shift. No calls in the queue? Work on the incoming mail. This is bonkers.

    2. Letter #1*

      We were genuinely all dumbfounded when we realized this was her logic! We tried to explain it to her in many different ways, but it really comes down to the fact that she never fully understood what our organizations true role and mission one. Big thanks to our disconnected Board who hired her with no employee input!

      1. SomebodyElse*

        Honestly, I can laugh only because I didn’t have to deal with this personally. But OMG that is really funny that she thought this. I mean wow… I’ve had some misunderstandings professionally but this is just wow.

        I feel sorry for the next team that she manages!

      2. Filosofickle*

        Sometimes I get eyerolls for my work, which encompasses projects like “defining our purpose” and “storytelling about what we do and why our work matters”. This work may seem silly to some, but this is why.

      3. Angry Birds*

        That’s more than a lack of understanding of how 1 particular organization works. Has she ever had a real job before?

    3. JSPA*

      If it’s misunderstanding a free block in the calendar, then I completely agree.

      However, in speaking, I make a point of saying “I have a lot of flexibility Tuesday and Thursday mornings” (jargon-y though it may sound) rather than “I’m totally free, Tuesday and Thursday mornings,” specifically to avoid giving the impression that there’s a gaping hole with nothing much filling it.

      People who have a hard time pausing a task to take a meeting, in particular, can be quite disbelieving of the idea that others don’t need to block out chunks of time to get work done. Offsite, with no direct observation, you’re always potentially fighting the presumptions that come from someone else’s default process, and their own “If I said X, it would mean Y” assumptions.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Yes – this. I have changed from telling people that I’m “free” to saying I have flexibility or that I can adjust my schedule on days that work for meetings.

        People don’t value your time unless you value it, basically.

        1. Anna Karenina*

          If I said I had flexibility I think it would imply that I can rearrange my schedule if needed. If I am free for a meeting, that’s just it. I can totally talk to you because I’m not engaged in another meeting (or working on something for deadline or something). We always have work just constantly rolling from day to day to day so you are never “done” with work. Meetings mean I can’t be doing all my other work, but they are also a necessary evil in many cases.

          1. JSPA*

            “flexible” covers, “no meetings or appointments as yet,” “no specific tasks foreseen,” “meetings or tasks that are easy to shift.”

            As the situation can shift between any of those, and your boss doesn’t need to track those shifts, all your boss definitely needs to know is that there’s nothing blocking you from talking to them, then.

            Thus, “a lot of flexibility” is a fine default statement (except when you no longer can be). It’s not misrepresentation; and if makes you sound slightly busier than you are to some ears, depending how they use the phrase…that’s probably not a negative.

            1. TL -*

              Yeah, I usually say “I’m pretty flexible on X days” and no one has ever taken it to mean I have to shift things around, just that i’m open to suggestions then.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Yeah, that is just bonkers. I hope everyone in the org scheduled twice daily “meetings” on their calendars that they used to complete write the check in emails.

    5. Danish*

      Same. That’s less “doesn’t understand our org” and more “doesn’t understand office work in general”. Baffling!

    6. MassMatt*

      #1 Ugh, it sounds as if this director thinks work=meetings and meetings=work, and virtually everyone I know thinks that with few exceptions meetings take them AWAY from their work.

      Or maybe she thinks everyone should put every task they do on a calendar?

      I get a new director needing to get up to speed on what people do but expecting 3x daily emails from them explaining it is nuts and assuming they are not doing anything because they are free for a meeting is idiotic. You need to take the time to get to know the managers and employees and what they do.

      Sounds like it was good riddance to bad rubbish! Major side-eye to your board for making a crappy hire, I can’t imagine there was a shortage of applicants.

      1. DocVonMittens*

        I had a manager early in my career who was like this and it’s resulted in me putting just about everything in my calendar as a habit. I’m in a director level role now with a ton of autonomy and STILL do this out of habit.

      2. comityoferrors*

        Yup. I actually do log and/or plan my work on my calendar most days because it helps me stay organized, but I’ve had periods (days or sometimes weeks) where I don’t keep my calendar up-to-date. My boss has never doubted that I’m working on those days, to my face at least. I’d be pretty mad if she did! I know she looks at my calendar and it helps her get a sense of what I’m doing, but ultimately it’s her job to determine my productivity *through my work output*, not my calendar.

        I’m jealous that the ED managed to get her role with, apparently, no actual work experience to inform her choices.

    7. willow for now*

      I had to explain this to my boss recently. Him: “Well, I don’t see any appointments on your calendar, so how do I know you’re available?” Me: “If I don’t have anything on my calendar, it’s because I am just slogging along with regular work duties.”

    8. clogerati*

      Unfortunately, a lot of my coworkers & some people in more senior positions than me at my workplace think this same way. Most of my coworkers have specific tasks that need to be done at specific times or they need to be in a certain area at a certain time (i.e. a front desk). I’m one of the few people who has an “email” job and I can generally get my work done at my pace and, for the most part, make my own schedule and set my own deadlines. My coworkers just can’t fathom having a job as flexible as mine.

    9. Cercis*

      It’s cases like that which caused me to develop a habit of saying “I can be free” because I similarly had a boss that would think I either wasn’t working or that he could spring a last minute meeting on me because “you said you were free”.

      1. Zephy*

        I usually phrase it as “I have some availability,” but most of my job is external client meetings and my clients are young people who don’t know how scheduling appointments works, so they force me to make the first move in the dance of Guess My Schedule.

    10. embertine*

      It’s really odd, isn’t it? Having a workload that you can adjust around meetings doesn’t mean you’re doing nothing unless you’re in a meeting. Perhaps having pointless meetings was literally all this manager was doing herself all day?

  2. NYC Taxi*

    Congrats OP 2!!!
    OP 3: Horrible. Hope you have a full recovery. What is it with people coming into work sick STILL after a year of being in the middle of a pandemic.

    1. OP*

      Thank you. I’m slowly getting back to normal. I never really understood why people went to work sick even before this pandemic. NO ONE wants a cold or flu or anything else.

      1. I edit everything*

        It takes a long time, even with mild cases. I had it back in November, and I still can’t smell as well as I used to and my brain doesn’t quite work right. It’s really hard to be an editor when words keep disappearing from your brain. Be kind to yourself, and expect to feel the effects long after you stop coughing. I hope you bounce back quickly!

      2. Roy G. Biv*

        I hope one good thing to come out of the pandemic is it will now, and forever more, be acceptable to tell the sick person “Go home! You cannot be here coughing and sneezing all over everyone.” Or at least for the boss to say it, instead of the rest of us just gritting our teeth and Skyping each other with each new coughing fit. “There he goes again. Typhoid Todd is going to make us all sick!”

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I will say only hopefully we can also allow some leniency for those of us with chronic allergies. I will sniffle non-stop from September to May every year.

          (I will also say that I do stay home anytime I am actually sick, I just can’t take off 8ish months.)

          1. Filosofickle*

            I have bad allergies, year-round, just different symptoms depending on season. It’s been hard this year being confident I can tell the difference between allergies and virus. For example, I was going to the dentist for emergency work but woke up with a scratchy throat — totally normal allergy drainage for me, but could I be 100% sure that’s all it is? What if I’m wrong? That’s been messing with me since the pandemic started.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              What I generally use is a combination and any change in the pattern that I’ve lived through since childhood. In my case I get stuffy noses and sneezing, with a very light tickle in my throat only at its worst (and I will feel the buildup to that tickle). Anything outside that narrow set of symptoms I evaluate more closely – and fever is an automatic “calling off sick” response.

              However, I recognize that I am fortunate to have sick time available to me, not everyone does – which is why we end up with the “Typhoid Tom/Mary” who come to work even when they don’t feel well. Landlords and utilities unfortunately do not accept sick notes as augment for your bills.

            2. 'Tis Me*

              Yeah, I’ve had to get a couple of tests for this sort of thing (“One of the kids has a cold so of course I’m coughing etc. I always get their colds, usually worse, and almost always with an accompany chest infection.” and “Pretty certain this is an ‘it’s cold, I’m coughing, even though I’m mainly staying inside’ cough. But it is also a new dry cough”).

              It’s a real pain in the bum when you wake up on a day you had an appointment with no voice and a nasty cough – just coz this may describe me about a quarter of the time and it’s not been Covid yet doesn’t mean I don’t need to cancel that appointment and get tested.

              1. Roy G. Biv*

                Chronic allergy and asthma sufferer here, as well. The throat clearing and dry cough almost never lets up. I was thinking of the coworkers I have had who just would NOT take a sick day, despite generous PTO, and were clearly glassy-eyed with fever, coughing all over the place.

                1. pandop*

                  My former team leader was one of those – hardly ever called in sick, hardly ever took anything to make himself get better sooner either. I can only hope that as he left us for a promotion he now has his own office, otherwise I pity his new colleagues.

        2. Suzanne*

          Yes and more work from home options. You might have a cold but still be able to work but still no one wants someone sneezing and coughing all day.

        3. Faith the twilight slayer*

          I know plenty of people who still get side-eye after taking time off for illness. I guarantee people who would still require folks to work even when they’re sick are rabid conspiracy theorists who secretly believe covid is either fake or was intentionally sent here.

  3. Aquawoman*

    That is lovely news, OP2! And great to be at a supportive job as a parent.

    #1 blew my mind a little bit with the boss who thought that “available to meet” was the same as “not working.” Wowza.

  4. Jam Today*

    “She thought that if I said I was free Thursday afternoon or Friday morning for a meeting that I had no other work to do during that time.”

    What on EARTH.

    Although, that certainly would explain a lot about my own job, where I think I’ve maxed out at 11 hours of calls in a single day, and average 6-7. All of those meetings usually have work that comes out of them, in addition to the day to day of my actual job. When do mangers expect employees to do the stuff they discuss during meetings?

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      Who thinks I’m free for a meeting means that the person isn’t working. Obviously it means that there is nothing so time sensitive that I must do it at 11:00 on Thursday! Where did this person work before hand

      I wonder what the boss would have done if COVID didn’t happen? Would she have been going around to people’s desks asking what they were doing?

      I’ve heard (maybe here?) of new directors or managers asking employees what their day to day looks like. And I think that is what the director should have done here.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        From some other comments the OP has made I think they actually tried this and it didn’t work/stick. It sounds like the board is very detached from the day to day, and hired someone from outside their industry who was from very outside of the industry and wasn’t able to adapt. Unclear if they were a bad employee on top of just a monstrously bad fit.

        1. Letter #1*

          She came from a long history in non profit, we are also a non profit, but this was her first leadership position.

    2. Esmeralda*

      If I need to get work done, I block off the time on my calendar: No Appointments / Work on XYZ Project. Or, Work on XYZ Project /meetings ok (message me)

      1. Anonapots*

        That’s great, but in no world of anything remotely normal does someone equate being free to meet with not doing anything at all.

        1. 'Tis Me*

          Depending on how your calendar is configured, people may only be able to see if you’re blocked off or not (I think you need to share your Outlook calendar with people to let them see more than that, for instance)…

  5. JGWave*

    #1 has me flabbergasted. Thinking “I’m free Thursday” means “I have no work to do” is something that I would maaaaybe expect from someone brand new to the workforce–and even then, it’s a little silly. (I know by the time I got a job, I had already spent a lot of time working on group projects or even social events outside of school, so scheduling wasn’t exactly knew to me!) Someone with enough experience to be the DIRECTOR? What?!

    1. Filosofickle*

      And regardless of prior experience…literally one week of these reports should have immediately shown what the people actually do all day. How was that not enough to correct this misconception? That’s a special kind of cluelessness.

  6. Daffy Duck*

    Gross boss – the “show up no matter what” attitude does so much harm in the long run, it is really very self-absorbed. My heart goes out to you for this situation. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  7. JSPA*

    OP #3,

    per a legal website I’ll link, if boss’s behavior violated your state’s OSHA regulations on Covid, you could have a case.

    ” An employer is obligated to take such steps as are required by OSHA or an OSHA approved state plan, not more. In other words, an employee who doesn’t “feel” safe has little basis to demand further protection if, in fact, the employer is fully compliant with its state and federal safety obligations. In the event that the employer has policies in place, but the policies are not followed, the employee will have a basis for a complaint.”

    Get well…then get yours. (Or let a family member know and maybe pick someone you trust with both your health care POA and limited POA for this, so they can start the process, if you’re sick for a while.)

    1. OP*

      Thanks. I’m recovering now and there’s no need for a POA (thank goodness!!). Our office is small – only 3 employees – but the health department has been notified. I expect them to make a surprise visit soon. Ironically, my boss is a lawyer and should know better than to put anyone at risk like this. He doesn’t seem to grasp the fact that this stuff kills people.

      1. SMH*

        Every time he touches anything or chews on it throw it out. Cost him a fortune in office supplies if needed.

        1. JustaTech*

          I’d be tempted to order some biohazard waste bags to throw away stuff, but then you’d have to *actually* dispose of it as biohazardous waste, which is really expensive (it has to be incinerated). On the other hand, that would certainly make the point!

      2. Not Australian*

        Lawyers are the *worst* for thinking they’re above the law. In my first job I had one blatantly instruct me to violate copyright law, and in one of my last they allowed an employee to continue smoking in the workplace long after it had been banned everywhere else in the country.

      3. Anony-Mouse*

        Glad you’re recovering! I can’t help but think that your boss is putting himself at risk too. Ie, he probably does this when he’s out and about (getting groceries, etc) and did this to himself.

      4. Roci*

        I’m so glad you’re recovering. Unfortunately your boss is a disgusting animal and it was only a matter of time before he gave you COVID (or worse, honestly). Hope you can find a better job with humans and sanitation standards.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Given that he’s categorically been proven to have no sense of hygiene; how many others has he spread Covid to? I hope they’re getting through it ok too :(

          1. OP*

            That thought crossed my mind, too. We work in a pretty small town and he goes everywhere – post office, restaurants, the gym, you name it. No telling how many others he’s infected.

  8. LGC*

    I haven’t read the comments yet, but I’m a little afraid the response to LW3 will melt my phone.

    Did LW4 ever tell us the tales of Laurie? She teased it in her original letter.

  9. KuklaRed*

    OP2 – CONGRATULATIONS!! So thrilled for you! I hope you will come back and let us all know how you are doing.
    OP3 – He is disgusting and that is all there is to it. My hope for you is that you get a very mild case and recover quickly and get a new job and get away from him. In that order.

  10. Ryn*

    Ya know both of today’s letters with people getting COVID from coworkers is making me rethink the letter of the person who wanted to socially freeze out her colleagues not taking it seriously. Like honestly yeah, with these new, even more highly contagious variants, I don’t want to share air with people not taking it seriously either.

    1. tangerineRose*

      I think the general thought on the person who wanted to shun those colleagues was that it’s OK to say “Stay back 6 feet” and/or “wear a mask around me”, and even to want to work with them remotely, but the LW still had to be able to work with them.

      If it were me, I’d be wanting to work remotely.

      1. allathian*

        In an office this would be entirely reasonable, but they were working in a furniture warehouse.

    2. Roci*

      The issue wasn’t “I don’t want to work with them”, it was that OP’s proposed plan of action was to stand facing away from them with their arms and legs crossed. Not exactly COVID-proof.

  11. I'm just here for the cats.*

    So boss in #1 sounds nuts and I hope that new boss will be much better. Hopefully there will be more employee perspective given, as LW said before that they were hired by the board with no input from employees.
    But I had a thought about the boss. Maybe she is one of those people that does put blocks on their calendar for stuff. Like marking blocks off that they are busy and working on x? And she just expects that others so this too. Especially if she worked someplace where others managed her schedule,such as front desk making client appointments.
    But I also wonder what field she’s worked in before that she hasn’t come into how people typically use their time and scheduled.
    For example, at my current job I work with counselors. So, they do put blocks for projects, case management, etc on their schedule so that they don’t get booked for clients when they need to work on something else. I can see medical field or maybe even law that could do something like this.

    1. Letter #1*

      We had a shared calendar where we could all share our schedules and availability, and she never used it!

  12. RedinSC*

    Oh man, LW #3. I am so sorry. He’s disgusting and now you’re possibly sick. I am so very sorry.

    1. OP*

      Thank you. I did test positive and had a somewhat mild case. I still don’t have my sense of smell and taste back. I’ve recovered for the most part, working only half days. And if the lingering fatigue gets the best of me, I go home. He knows he did this and doesn’t dare say anything to me about when I leave. I won’t even acknowledge him now unless he has on a mask.

      1. allathian*

        Well, at least the mask will stop him chewing on your stuff. But honestly, that habit is really gross. I wonder how he justifies it to himself? (Rhetorical question, no way to find out.)

        Have you been able to figure out a way to lock up your supplies so he won’t chew on them anymore when you’re not there?

        Fingers and toes crossed for a speedy and complete recovery and a successful job search when you do recover.

        1. OP*

          Yes, I hide all my office supplies in plain sight. The other update I sent in has info about that. I put all my pens and things like that in an empty Clorox wipes container. He’d never touch that in a million years. He says arthritis in his hands is the reason for putting paper in his mouth. Makes no sense to me. It’s beyond gross. If I ever get anything with teeth marks on it, I give it back. I put a binder clip on it to hold it…I won’t even touch it.

          1. JustaTech*

            Teeth marks!? What is he, a giant guinea pig?
            I’ll admit I’m bad about holding things in my mouth when I’m knitting, but those are my things and then I wash them!

            If there’s one thing working in a lab with human blood will cure you of right fast, it’s putting pens in your mouth.

  13. Gymmie*

    OP1, that new director is not…very swift? When people say they are free for a meeting it typically means they don’t have another meeting or appointment during that time. I’ve never known it to mean “I have no other work.” What on earth?

    1. Ama*

      The only thing I can think of is she worked in environments previously where everyone’s time was rigidly scheduled or where the cultural norm was to say “oh I can move something and make time” instead of “I am free.” But even if that is the case, once it was explained to her that that’s not the cultural norm in the organization, a good director would have adapted.

  14. Amlan Gupta*

    Regarding #2, I resent the implication that I as a male manager would not be able to understand the needs of a woman reporting to me. By that logic, I should only have a male supervisor who could understand the medical treatments that I might need. This whole categorization of people by immutable characteristics that are then supposed to yield a certain kind of expected behavior is very dangerous.

    1. Considered Secularist*

      I had the same reaction. Super thrilled for OP #2, very glad she has a supportive manager, could easily see that manager being male. Both my current and my just previous male managers would have been equally supportive in the circumstances.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      *Face palm*

      Ya’ll, this is the “not all [fill in the blank] are like that” when someone who has a history of being oppressed, suppressed, misrepresented, misunderstood, etc. says “This is a thing that happened.”

      Yes, it’s great that you would be supportive. Seriously, you rock.

      That doesn’t change the fact that TOO MANY PEOPLE WOULD NOT BE because they don’t have the shared experience and wouldn’t think to ask the right questions. Having diverse leadership helps those people who don’t understand what you do identify their blindspots (sometimes) because now it’s their peers or seniors who are bringing that perspective. And that matters because we all have blindspots.

      A cis-man

      1. MJ*

        We shouldn’t have to rely on diversity of leadership or multiple perspectives when good old (if they ever were) decency, compassionate, and humanity should suffice.

    3. Jules the First*

      I think you’re setting up something of a straw man here. As someone who is, like the OP, now pregnant after fertility treatment, it is genuinely useful to have a manager who viscerally understands how physically debilitating it can be, in much the same way that I’d imagine it would be easier to deal with a prostate cancer diagnosis with a male boss who’d also had it. It’s less about gender and more about how useful it is to broaden the base of human experience in your management team. For the record, I have split reporting with one male manager and one female one, both of whom have been wonderfully supportive…but the senior partner who kicked off when I left a late-running meeting in order to make it to my appointment was a man and the senior partner (same age, same number of offspring) who went to war on him in my defence was…a woman.

  15. Lizard*

    OP 3: Candidate for worst boss of the year? Suspecting (probably rightfully) that your boss gave you COVID is pretty bad, in my opinion. I am stunned at the level of grossness the OP has had to endure.

    1. Persephone Mongoose*

      Candidate for Worst Boss of the Year AGAIN — he was nominated last year!! I’ve no doubt he’ll eventually be a contender for Worst Boss of the Decade in 2029!

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