my ex-friend is my new boss, employer sending rides for us in the snow, and more

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

1. My hostile ex-friend is my new boss

My ex-friend convinced me back in the beginning of 2020 to take a job in the same office as her where we would be peers. Unfortunately, we’ve had a falling out since then and are no longer friends, but have kept it cordial at work and have kept our conflict out of the workplace.

However, she has been promoted and is going to be my boss, which I’m extremely uncomfortable with as she now has access to information I would prefer she does not, and has control over my promotions, raises, etc. I’m not sure how to navigate this situation but it’s extremely distressing as she has been, for lack of a kinder way to describe her, a generally vindictive, spiteful person since I’ve known her and I believe she will use her newfound power over me to make my life miserable. I’m actively trying to get pregnant and absolutely do not want to have to have any conversation with her in this regard, as I am fearful she will share information with mutual friends before I’m ready. Do I have any options here or am I stuck trying to make the best of a bad situation?

(The falling out happened because I didn’t text her to tell her about a significant life event before posting it on social media. We were friends but not close enough where that would even be a thought in my mind. She has since blocked my phone number and has me blocked on all social media platforms. I haven’t tried to address this problem outside of work as I have no way to contact her to do so.)

You said your ex-friend “is going to be” your boss, so it sounds like this hasn’t formally happened yet. Talk to someone above her, right away, today. That might be her boss or the head of your department or it could be HR (depending on the available players and what you know of each of them). Explain that you’re concerned about reporting to her because the two of you have a difficult personal history that turned hostile — that you used to be friends but she became hostile toward you, froze you out, and blocked your phone and blocked you on social media. (Don’t be tempted to gloss over those details; they’re important in illustrating exactly what the situation is.) Say she’s been hostile toward you, and you don’t think she can manage you objectively or without bias. Ask if there are other options, like reporting to someone else.

Any halfway decent manager or HR person will be seriously concerned upon hearing this, because your former friend cannot manage someone she has a hostile history with. (Frankly, I’d also be doubting her judgment since she didn’t think to disclose this herself.) If they’re not halfway decent and they leave the situation as is, I’d ask what safeguards can be put in place to protect you … but I would also be actively trying to get out from under her (even if that means taking a job at another company at whatever point you can).

2. Employer driving us to work during a snowstorm

I work in a nonprofit non-emergency healthcare organization in Texas. We are one of those areas that was hit hard by snow last week — over 10″ in three days, and our area is definitely not prepared for something like that. Our office declared an “Inclement Weather Day” for Monday-Wednesday, meaning if you couldn’t make it into the office you could use a PTO day without being dinged as a no-call, no show (though some people could work from home like we did during the past year with COVID). However, I’m writing this on Thursday and today it seems like our executive director wants more people in the office and is sending out staff with 4×4 vehicles to drive other staff members around and ferry them back and forth to the office.

This is insane, right? I’m talking about office staff, not nurses or other healthcare workers (although some healthcare workers are also being driven around). What do you think?

Eh. It’s a thing some employers will arrange when some vehicles can drive though snow and others can’t. No one should be pressured into being a driver or a passenger if they don’t feel safe or if they’re dealing with aftermath from the storm, but otherwise offering rides in vehicles equipped for the snow isn’t an outrageous thing. (That said, if your E.D. was pressuring people to come in when they could have worked just as effectively from home or when they needed to be dealing with consequences of the storm, that’s not okay.)

3. How to resign when my great manager just went to bat for me

I received a job offer for a position that is perfect for me. The pay and benefits are much better than what I have now, the commute is shorter and will be almost fully remote post-COVID, and the description is what I love to do, with lots of opportunity to grow.

The only con of leaving my current position is my manager. Things here can be a little … less than professional. I feel like the two of us are friends. We were in similar roles and worked together closely before she was promoted to her current position, so it’s been an adjustment getting into the manager-staff roles.

After my previous supervisor left, she worked really hard to get me on her team and ensure I’m only doing the work that was in my job description (I was previously doing two positions worth of work). She’s done a lot to help me, and I’ve only officially been on her team for less than a month.

I know she’ll understand my opportunity, and I know I’m internalizing this because I tend to over-empathize, but I don’t know what to say to her. The reason I’m leaving has absolutely nothing to do with her. I feel like I need a “script” to follow on how to resign when my manager is absolutely wonderful, that I can personalize. If it’s not obvious, this was my first position after college and I’m still learning how to navigate the professional world without getting over-invested in emotions and feelings. Do you have any tips for me?

It can be hard to give notice right after your manager expended a lot of effort and capital doing something for you, but sometimes that’s just the way the timing works out. (Also, for what it’s worth, managers usually have business reasons for those efforts too; she’s unlikely to have done it purely a favor to you.) The best thing you can do is acknowledge that your boss went out of her way for you, you appreciate that, and you know the timing is bad.

Here’s sample language: “I have some news to share. I’ve been offered a job that would be a big step up for me, and after a lot of thought I’ve accepted it. I know the timing is bad — you went to bat to get me on your team and I’m very grateful. I was really looking forward to working more closely with you! But this fell in my lap and was too good an opportunity to pass up.”

(If any part of your manager thinks you should have turned down the job since she’d just brought you onto her team,” the “too good to pass up” language is helpful in reinforcing that it’s foolish to expect someone to turn down a better opportunity.)

Also, for any guilt or awkwardness you’re feeling about resigning, read this and this and this. And congratulations!

4. No salary increase while on an improvement plan

I’ve recently been put on a PIP. I was expecting an automatic salary increase (this is customary in my field and is applied to everyone at my level), but was informed that I would be paid at my current salary during the duration of my PIP. Is this normal? I also recently returned to my role after taking time off for health issues. I’m not sure if this is just a case of weird timing, but it was strange that this was never brought up, as my work performance has been directly impacted by my health issues.

It’s not unusual to be ineligible for a raise while you’re on a performance improvement plan.

But I’d look closely at the issues your manager is raising with your work. It’s certainly possible they’re legitimate issues since you note that your health issues did affect your work, but make sure you’re not being penalized for the time off itself (which would be illegal if you took the time under FMLA or the ADA). If the details seem vague or are things that you’ve seen other people get a pass for doing, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with the laws protecting medical leave.

5. How do you handle resume items that used to be a big deal but aren’t anymore?

I’m a journalist, and I’ve been in the business for two decades, during which our industry has changed a lot. Updating my resume recently, I noticed older items like “helped build internet traffic by writing breaking news stories for daily web posting,” a new and interesting thing back in aught-five or so, and just part of the job now. Or “adept at use of emerging platforms like Facebook and Twitter to break news and promote stories,” a major selling point as recently as the early 2010s, and just expected now.

The obvious solution is to simply delete those lines … but at the time, these things were a radical change to the way journalism had been done for decades, and a lot of reporters resisted those changes, some quite aggressively. Is there a way to reflect what that work said about me then — that I’m flexible, comfortable with technology, not afraid to try new things, committed to doing great journalism with whatever the best tools are — without sounding like I’m embarrassingly out of touch with industry norms now?

Yes! Add some language that puts it in context — like “was one of team’s first reporters to write for the web” or “early adopter of social media, pushing paper to break news on Facebook and Twitter, leading to X and Y.”

You might also touch on your comfort with new tools in your cover letter and/or in a profile section of your resume if you have one.

{ 370 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Chilipepper*

    Re #2, is part of the issue that your home was damaged (pipes, etc) or that you lack water for showering and that that is making it harder to think about going into work? Post hurricane down here that would be one reason not to ferry ppl to work.

    Reply
      1. Forrest*

        I’d also question whether “4×4” and “vehicles equipped for the snow” are the same thing? I’m in the UK where we get snowy roads maybe a handful of times a year, and my understanding is that where there is SERIOUS snow, people change their tyres, have chains, etc, plus of course there is far more infrastructure in terms of things like snow ploughs ready to go.

        My assumption would be that a 4×4 is less likely to get *stuck* in snow, but if it’s simply a 4×4 with no other modifications or snow-readiness, and it’s being driven by someone with little experience of driving in snow, I’m not convinced it would be significantly safer.

        Reply
        1. Richard Hershberger*

          This is pretty much right. While a 4×4 is less likely to get stuck, it is just as likely to slide. And there is the old observation that when a 4×4 *does* get stuck, it is likely to be really and truly stuck, and further away from civilization than a regular car that got stuck.

          The observation about infrastructure is the real point here. Every area that gets snow can be shut down, but how much snow it takes varies wildly. Areas that get ten inches routinely will be equipped to deal with it quickly and efficiently. Areas that get two inches routinely will struggle with ten inches, taking a day or two to clear it. Texas? I have no particular knowledge, but I wonder how many roads have been ploughed at all. Are they even set up to salt the roads? I don’t know.

          And as always, the danger isn’t the driving of the vehicle you are in. It is the driving of everyone else. Driving in snow is a learned skill. People not in snow country don’t have the opportunity to learn it.

          Reply
          1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

            Living in the midwest where we DO often get significant snowfalls (example this previous week? 8″ overnight), I can’t imagine driving with someone with no experience driving in snow. Heck, most of the time, I hate driving around folks who SHOULD have experience driving in snow but forget come winter, every single year.

            Also, 4×4/4WD/AWD does NOT mean 4-Wheel-Stop. This is lost on a lot of people.

            Reply
            1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

              Right. You need 4W ABS for that, and even then it is no guarantee. (I had a 4W ABS car back in the early aughts and it was just as good in bad weather driving as my Subaru – couldn’t drive over snowbanks, though …)

              It’s not just experience driving in the snow, though (although that’s a big part of it). There’s a reason that certain communities in the Northeast and Midwest fare better after big snowfalls than others. I went to college in the eastern part of the Great Lakes belt and drove an econo-car in low gear with a sandbag in the trunk a few hours after a major snowfall. Where I live now, which doesn’t get as much snow but is otherwise a similar climate (and only a few hours away), and driving in poor weather here you’ll take your life into your hands because they are downright rubbish at cleaning up the roads in comparison.

              Communities that deal with this all the time have a system and they have it down pat. So when people make fun of others for freaking out, they need to remember that they also live somewhere that is dealing with it like it’s just Tuesday.

              Reply
              1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

                I can’t stress enough that 4 wheel ABS (which many cars do have) does not equal 4 wheel stop when in snowy conditions. ABS keeps the wheels from locking up and slipping in relative to each other, not the road. While they certainly help with stopping in many slippery conditions, they do not override the laws of physics.

                If you try to stop quickly on a patch of ice under all 4 wheels, ABS will not be effective. Low and slow is the go. The more snow, the more low. Err on the side of not traveling. My rule of thumb, if the top of my foot disappears when I step into the road, it’s too deep to travel.

                Source: I was born in the Midwest, molded by it. I didn’t see Christmas palms until I was already a man.

                Reply
              2. PhysicsTeacher*

                You will slip just as much stopping with 4 wheel ABS. It is a physics problem of not enough friction with the road. The only solutions that actually help you stop are those that add friction between the tires and the road, like snow tires.

                Reply
              3. L.H. Puttgrass*

                So much this. And because people driving 4WD vehicles often think it makes them impervious to snow and ice, they often drive worse than people in little front-wheel-drive econoboxes.

                I’d be especially reluctant to someone who wanted to drive me around in a snow and ice storm because they have a 4WD vehicle.

                Reply
                1. TardyTardis*

                  Roger that. I am personally terrified of people who are way too confident in snow and ice and let them have all the room they want (which has worked out well on numerous occasions). I only have front wheel drive, but studded tires and suitable caution have helped me through quite a few exciting times.

            2. kt*

              Yes, Midwesterner from snowy state here; my family just laughs at 4x4s as a way to get stucker. The first snow of the year in this snowy state that has produced Olympic skiers is always a… slip-show. Slide-show. Crash-show? Whatever, you get the drift (right off the separated highway into the ditch between the two halves). I’d be nervous to get in a coworker’s 4×4.

              Reply
              1. Momma Bear*

                In snowy climates, it is also common for people to have specific snow tires and/or chains to help with traction. 4x4s might be able to get through more snow, but as has been pointed out they are not immune to ice or driver error. I would decline these rides except in a true emergency as any accident will not only endanger the employees but take away from emergency response to the community. We are “essential workers” but really office drones and on days where the weather is bad, we just stay home. There’s nothing so important in our work that would make risk of injury or worse worthwhile.

                Reply
            3. AKchic*

              Being an Alaskan, my thoughts on 4WD is this: your vehicle can be equipped with everything you need, but it doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t know how to use it and don’t actually have the skills necessary to drive safely.

              The majority of ditch divers during and after a snowfall are those pretty 4×4 trucks and SUVs driven by transplants to Alaska who don’t understand how to drive their $60k+ road decoration, and the smaller vehicles that had to join them in the ditch to avoid hitting them (or got hit when the idiot sideswiped them).
              I ended up in the ditch once. Because some guy decided to speed on ice and I chose to avoid him rather than crush him (he was in a small CRV type vehicle, I was in a suburban). I don’t regret taking the ditch, but I do kind of laugh that he ended up in the ditch a mile down the road anyway because he couldn’t handle the road curving and didn’t learn his lesson.

              Reply
              1. EchoGirl*

                My dad (who has done driving jobs for a living and has consequently seen a lot of other people’s driving) says that one of the biggest issues with 4WD/AWD is that it causes people to be over-confident in their car’s ability to handle conditions, so they take more and bigger risks. The extra power can give you a little bit of help, but it’s no substitute for judgment or caution.

                Reply
          2. Miss Betty*

            I lived in Texas for 4 years and wouldn’t want to ride with anyone in any amount of snow there. I grew up and learned to drive in the upper Midwest and I didn’t like driving in Texas with just an inch of snow and definitely not with ice. Native drivers couldn’t manage well and endangered everyone – and how would they know better when that inch of snow is rare enough to be commented on in the news? Barely an ability to clear the roads, no salt – most offices would close for the day and if they didn’t, wouldn’t ding people who couldn’t make it in. As far as I’m concerned, a 4×4 attempting to drive on snow or ice in Texas is just a bigger vehicle destined to slide into me. (This was in the Dallas Metroplex over 30 years ago.)

            Reply
            1. tangerineRose*

              That would worry me, too. Driving on ice, which they probably have a lot of in Texas right now, is dangerous.

              Reply
          3. Insert Clever Name Here*

            I’m a native Texan (though not currently in the state) and unless OP is in the northern part of the state, there is little to Absolute Zero infrastructure for snow. A flurry with no sticking shuts everything down. I’m comfortable-ish driving in the snow now because a flurry doesn’t shut everything down here, but there is no way I’d drive in the snow in Texas because people just don’t need to know how to do that…and I’d CERTAINLY not get in a coworker’s car to have them drive me in the snow.

            Reply
            1. A Simple Narwhal*

              It’s crazy when you realize how much invisible infrastructure is built into an area’s weather preparedness. I was visiting San Diego a few years ago during a little rainy streak – it wasn’t raining that hard but water was pooling in the roads and flooding slightly. I’m from New England and it blew my mind that so little rain was overwhelming things – until I realized that at home we have storm drains everywhere, and all of the roads are built so liquid won’t pool and instead automatically flows to the drains. San Diego doesn’t get a lot of rain so none of the infrastructure is built with precipitation in mind, which meant a small amount of rain pooled and drained very slowly.

              Same thing for snow. I was visiting South Carolina in the early 2000s when it started flurrying. Barely enough to stick to the roads, and the whole area shut down, people were on the news telling everyone to remain calm and stay indoors. We were laughing that less than an inch of snow caused the state to shut down, but it’s the same thing. In New England we have fleets of plows and salt trucks ready to be deployed at the drop of hat, areas are built with snow removal in mind, and well-established plans for snow removal and disposal are already in place.

              Really highlights how important infrastructure is!

              Reply
              1. ThatGirl*

                And even just people having basics to be prepared for cold/bad weather. I have spent most of my life in the Great Lakes Midwest, but lived in northern Kentucky for two years. One winter we got a pretty bad ice storm and nobody around me knew how to deal with it AT ALL. People didn’t have ice scrapers/snow brushes for their car, they didn’t know how to drive on snow or ice, I witnessed a neighbor trying to scrape their car off with a piece of cardboard. Snow that would have been a minor nuisance in northern Illinois was a disaster in Kentucky.

                Reply
                1. Quill*

                  To quote my (wyoming raised) cousin upon moving to kentucky “Things are okay here except that they call a pepsi a coke and nobody knows how to drive if the snow doesn’t melt before it hits the ground.”

              2. Forrest*

                Same with driving conditions! Twenty years ago, I (northern English) was dating a woman from rural Illinois, and she often talked about the snowfall she was used to. I have barely ever driven in snow: if it snows in most of England, you just stay at home for 36 hours until it’s all melted (or at the very least, been properly salted/gritted.) We were driving over the M62, a motorway that goes up and over the Pennines, and it was classic M62 weather: started off in sunshine, turned into driving rain, then into really dirty, heavy drizzle with tons of spray and low visibility, then stopped, then started again. But like, there was little enough traffic that I was able to stay at 50mph right the way across. At some point I said, “Traffic’s not bad today,” and she was like, “I was just thinking I’ve never seen traffic this heavy! There are so many cars! If I can see another car on the road anywhere I count it as busy! And this rain! You can’t see ANYTHING! How are you COPING!”

                Reply
              3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

                Road design is also a matter of trade-offs, so it’s not just “well designed” or “poorly designed” infrastructure, either. For example, I live in the PNW, and the roads where I am are aggressively crowned (middle of the road is a lot higher than the edges) so rain will quickly roll off of them and into either storm drains or (on less improved roads) drainage ditches. This is helpful for the many, many days of the year when it rains as it prevents standing water on roadways. However, that same design means that when we get an ice storm, cars will now start drifitng off the road into those storm drains or ditches and it’s more difficult to drive in ice/snow/slippery conditions than it would be on flatter roads. We get many fewer days of ice storms than we do rain, so this trade-off makes sense, but it also means our roads will never cope as well with snow/ice storms because that’s the price we pay for less standing water.

                Sure, some places just plain have spent more time and money on infrastructure than others, but it’s also true that good road design is a constant compromise between cost, handling common problems well, and handling rare problems well. My family lived in Anchorage for 6 years and moved back to the lower 48 part of the PNW, and stopped driving in the snow unless it was an emergency as soon as we moved back despite having considerable practice. Anchorage infrastructure is designed for snow, western Oregon and Washington are not, and those same driving skills don’t apply on roads not built for them (and surrounded by drivers who also have fewer snow driving skills).

                Reply
                1. Janne*

                  A similar trade-off: we in the Netherlands have asphalt (“zeer open asfalt”) that is designed to let more water through and to be less noisy, because it rains a lot here and the country has a high population density. Two weeks ago we had a couple of unusually cold days, so the water in the asphalt froze and expanded so there were lots of holes in the roads. It caused a lot of traffic jams and partial road closures because they had to repair all of it, but this trade-off still is useful for us with all of our rain and the noise regulations.

              4. Self Employed*

                Former San Diego resident–the problem with storm drains in California is that the seasonal rainfall means they don’t get flushed out year-round. Stuff clogs them up and the first rainfall can back up.

                The last time I was in San Diego, I drove down there for a conference from the Lost Coast–in January. I was very familiar with the hotel and the way the lower parking lots always flooded (they were in the Mission Valley floodplain) so I made sure to park in the upper parking lot. Well, a lot of people’s cars got flooded and others were just stranded. At least nobody from the conference tried to ford the river in a 4×4 and got swept away. (I got rear-ended stopping for a pedestrian on the other side of town, though. I forgot that the only place pedestrians have right of way at an intersection without a stoplight is Ocean Beach, where the stoners just wander into the road.)

                Reply
            2. GothicBee*

              I live in Virginia and we get snow somewhat regularly here, but it’s still not often enough that I trust other drivers. Knowing how to drive in the snow (or ice or whatever) is way more useful than what car you drive. I’ve driven my old (very lightweight) rear wheel drive sedan in major snow before and it wasn’t fun but it was doable. Whereas I’d feel incredibly unsafe riding with someone who thought that because they had a 4wd or awd they would be immune to the snow/ice.

              Plus having the infrastructure to handle it is hugely important. I have family that lives further north and the difference in road conditions when it snows there vs. the road conditions here when its snows is night and day.

              Reply
              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                In my personal experience, the difference between rear wheel drive and front wheel drive is much more noticeable than the difference between 4WD/AWD and front wheel drive.

                Reply
              2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

                Yeah, experience with the driving conditions matters a lot more than the vehicle. I’ve gotten a RWD tail-light minivan home safely in snowstorms twice because I knew what to do, and while those same situations would have been easier for me to drive in with a different vehicle, 4WD is not a “get out of winter driving problems free card”. I have always politely declined offers to have a co-worker with 4WD come get me, but so far I’ve been lucky in that such offers have always been made in situations where I felt comfortable driving myself. (Mostly happened when I worked in a small town and people kept forgetting that I lived in town, and thus did not have to drive in from the nearby bigger city and could skip the somewhat-dicey rural drive into town in favor of a short trip down the plowed main street once I got off my particular residential road.)

                If you’re curious, the key to driving an elderly tail-light RWD minivan safely in the snow is to put as much extra weight in the back as possible so the tail will wiggle less, and then to drive with a weird sense of calm vigilance. You have to be constantly scanning for all possible upcoming problems from as far away as possible, since you will need to react to all of those problems very, very slowly and smoothly by changing your speed and direction in extremely slow increments with lots of time for the car to get used to the idea. When I got caught in a surprise snowstorm on I-5 between Seattle and Portland, I pulled over at a Walmart and bought about 10 gallons of water to add weight in the back, and if available gallon jugs of water are my favorite form of traction weight since they double as emergency drinking water supplies, don’t cost that much, and are also easy to carry. (I also bought fleece pajamas, toilet paper, nuts, and potato chips in case I got stuck and had to sleep in the car, but that wasn’t about weight.)

                Reply
            3. EchoGirl*

              I’m also a native Texan, though I’ve lived in the Midwest since I was a toddler. When I was about six months old, the Texas city that we lived in got something like an inch of snow, and the city basically shut down for two days until it melted because they had no infrastructure to deal with it, no system in place to plow or salt the streets so they’d be safe to drive on. And that was one inch, with barely-below-freezing temperatures that got back up high enough to melt everything within a couple of days, and none of the power/water issues that Texas is facing right now.

              Reply
          4. Coder von Frankenstein*

            YES, this. The main risk factors of driving in snow are:

            a) How well the roads have been plowed and salted.
            b) The driver’s experience and skill at driving in snow, which is very very different from normal driving.

            The car does matter, but not nearly as much as the roads and the driver. And one of the most important characteristics of the car is the tires – snow tires are better than all-weather, and all-weather is better than regular tires.

            Reply
            1. Chinook*

              There is a third risk factor – the experience and caution of other drivers when it comes to specific driving conditions.

              Even in Alberta, the most dangerous driving conditions are after the first snowfall of the season because at least half the population seems to have forgotten how to drive for the conditions. And even deep in winter, most accidents are collisions caused by people not driving for the conditions and hitting someone else. DH’s job as a highway cop is most dangerous in winter for this exact reason. His close calls that don’t involve the driver texting and driving always involve winter roads and the other driver sliding on ice and snow towards him.

              Basically, stay off the roads until it melts unless absolutely necessary. I have seen the photos from Texas homes and they prov that you guys are lacking both infrastructure and practical experience with dealing with this.

              Reply
              1. Self Employed*

                California is dangerous during the first rainfall of the season because nobody can remember how to drive on wet roads. Also, the accumulated grease and dirt get really slippery when wet.

                Reply
              2. EmmaPoet*

                Yeah, I grew up in Alaska and our first snow of the year was always a relearning experience for people. I made sure not to take one particular road the first few days of snow, because it was horribly steep on both sides and I was always nervous about either sliding myself or someone else losing control.

                Reply
        2. CupcakeCounter*

          I live in Michigan and we get tons of snow every year (we currently have about 1 1/2 ft on the ground). The chains are for very rural and hilly areas (its actually illegal to use chains on paved city/county/state roads) and not a “normal winter accessory”. As for the tires, that is dependant on the vehicle. When I drove sedans, I nearly always got winter/snow tires because they helped with clearance and traction but I don’t have them on my All Wheel Drive SUV.
          The biggest thing is the infrastructure – you are dead on there. While I am being slight facetious, basically every person who works for landscaping companies in the spring/summer/fall drives a plow truck all winter. On my way to work on a bad day last week (I live local and am the only native to the area and my coworkers have an hour commute so when things are bad but we must have one team member on site, I go in because I have the shortest commute and most winter driving experience) I saw no less than 14 plow, salt, and sand trucks. That is what really makes the difference in a snow belt state.
          As an aside…I need a car wash badly.

          Reply
          1. Chinook*

            That’s right – winter tires aren’t required here in Alberta, even in the mountains, just recommended (though required for semis, but that is because odds are good they are going through that highway featured on the tv show “Highway thru Hell”). All seasons are highly recommended, though, because they can grip better than the cold than summers. In fact, the tires arecrated for temperatures, not snow. My parents, who live in rural Alberta, have never had them though they did adopt “all weather” tires because they are developed for a larger temperature range.

            The most important equipment is always the driver and their ability to slow down and drive to the conditions. If anything, snow tires and/or 4×4 just make drivers cocky and dangerous.

            Reply
            1. knxvil*

              As a New Englander who once drove from Vancouver to Banff in mid-March (I’m a sadist, lol) and truly experienced the Highway thru Hell sh*tshow of “the 1”–although 5A/97C heading to Kelowna is its own sadistic joke, too–every last car off the road along the way sped past me at one point despite the snow and ice, because I suppose everyone loves seeing that “100” and up on their reverse speedometers (km/h, which equates to 60 mph). Jamie Davis Towing can pull your BC-tagged X-Drive BMW with a “Novice” magnet on the back out of a ditch, but he can’t resurrect you from the grave. Slow. Down. In. The. Snow. /TEDtalk

              Reply
              1. Self Employed*

                BMW, so true. I think about half the cars I’ve seen wiped out on our local twisty mountain road are BMWs. I think 80% of the cars that pull around me because I’m only driving the speed limit are BMWs. They seem to appeal to the demographic of tech bros with too much money and not enough sense who bought up all the cozy cottages by the beach and bought a sports car for a daily driver because they have a 50-mile commute.

                If they can work from home from Santa Cruz indefinitely, Hwy 17 will be SO much safer!

                Reply
        3. kittymommy*

          Amen. I live in central FL and 4×4’s are VERY common among general pop and my coworkers and as much as I like them and trust them, there is no way in hell I’m getting in a vehicle with any of them unless I KNOW they know how to drive in snow (and probably not even then).

          Reply
        4. Amy*

          I’m a very experienced driver in snow.

          If I had to choose between 4-wheel-drive and snow tires, I’ll always choose snow tires. The ideal situation is 4-wheel-drive, snow tires and and experienced driver with good judgment (including the judgement about when not to drive.)

          I don’t find just 4-wheel-drive very appealing.

          Reply
          1. mf*

            Yep. For people who actually live and drive in snowy areas, we know that 4WD is not all it’s cracked up to be. It can help a little but there are lots of other factors that have a *much* greater impact on your ability to drive in snow.

            Reply
        5. AskJeeves*

          Yes, this was my thought. It’s extremely valid to say no to driving in snowy conditions in Texas (where getting to work after a snowstorm is not a normal expectation), regardless of the vehicle. A company directing an employee who has no experience driving in snow to chauffeur other employees in a huge car…this is a recipe for disaster *and* legal liability for the company.

          Reply
          1. Chinook*

            That brings up a vital data point, considering I know many Albertans whom have worked in Texas – where is the designated driver from and did they learn to drive in winter conditions? I still wouldn’t recommend it due to the “other drivers on the road” factor, but it would be a lot safer if the driver is from away.

            Reply
      2. coldsassy*

        My company has actually “banned” carpooling right now because of Covid. I say “banned” because there’s really no way for them to enforce it, but there you have it.

        Reply
      3. NotActuallyEssential*

        My workplace in does did this often, but I have never participated, despite sometimes heavy pressure from above. I know the people with 4×4 they send out to get other co-workers – I wouldn’t ride with most of them on a normal, let alone in a major snow/ice event. And I’m not riding with anyone during covid. If they were to wreck with a car full of employees, is the company paying the various auto/medical/insurance bills? No. Is the company going to cover time off for people if an accident occurs and recovery is need. Not likely. If I die trying to get to a non-essential job (we’re manufacturing, and technically considered essential workers, but shutting down for a few days isn’t going to hurt anything but the production schedule and the bottom line) is the company going to take care of my family for however many years it would have taken me to reach a normal lifespan? Nope. There is no benefit to me taking the multiple risks to get to work – only less hardship on my employer. Not at all equal/fair/reasonable in my view.

        Reply
    1. Snow OP*

      I didn’t have any water or electric issues, thank goodness. My biggest concern was sending out people to drive their coworkers around and all those accompanying issues. Who pays in the care of an accident and to what extent? Are the drivers getting reimbursed for mileage? How are they vetting the drivers?

      Reply
    2. an infinite number of monkeys*

      Texan here. Snow isn’t really the issue, it’s the black ice that was lurking underneath it. We got a lot colder this go-round, but when we do freeze we usually hover back and forth over the freezing point (thaw during the day, freeze at night) and because we don’t have massive fleets of equipment or large stockpiles of treatment supplies, the approach is to ask people to just stay off the roads for the duration of the event. Officials were pleading with everyone to stay home if at all possible and leave major routes clear for emergency responders, statewide. A lot of people had to take their chances just to get to a friend or family member with heat, though.

      Reply
      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, I’m in Houston-ish and my commute is full of highway overpasses, which of course freeze first since there is no ground underneath to insulate them. I’ve lived in Colorado and Iowa in the past and, yo, even northerners die trying to drive on black ice.

        Reply
      2. Coder von Frankenstein*

        Ooh, yeah. As a Midwesterner dealing with this stuff every winter, ice is much worse than snow. Especially when it’s patchy; the road looks clear, and your tires are gripping fine, and you let yourself take the speed up a bit. And then all of a sudden there’s no traction, and you’re entirely in the hands of Newton’s First Law. You will continue in your current motion unless acted upon by an outside force, and you better hope there aren’t any outside forces in your way.

        Reply
    3. Ground Control*

      I’d also be really concerned about someone helping you get to work, then being stuck at the office until they’re available to drive you home. Or getting stuck at the office indefinitely if conditions worsen.

      Reply
    4. Nesprin*

      Speaking from the parts of California that lost power last fall (for 10 days over 4 outages during 100F+ weather), lack of infrastructure at home (my plumbing requires electricity, so no showers, fresh food, dishwashing etc) would mean that work was not an option, even if the commute was possible. The days I did make it into work, I was a very stinky zombie with 0 ability to complete assignments.

      My heart goes out to the folks in Texas- I hope you stay warm and that your employers are sane and sympathetic!

      Reply
    5. Native Texan*

      The issue is likely all of the above.

      Most (if not all) of Austin lost water due to damaged pipes in the main reservoir. It was a major crisis, and the water is only JUST NOW being restored (it’s still disgusting, and I haven’t washed my hair in a week). Outside of this, many homes experienced damaged pipes even though they let their faucets drip.

      Water aside, people who grew up in this state are not prepared to drive in these conditions, regardless of the type of vehicle they drive. I would absolutely refuse to let someone drive me with ice on the road even if they had tire chains and actual experience, because there are a lot of inexperienced people braving the roads right now and so many accidents have occurred! It’s not only your driver you have to worry about, but other drivers as well.

      Add COVID to the mix, and it’s just a tragedy waiting to happen.

      Reply
  2. Llama face!*

    Hi OP#2, I realize it’s different when you aren’t used to snow, but as someone who lives in an extreme winter province (we made records this year for cold as well as had a blizzard that gave us waist to roof deep snowdrifts) heck I’d love for an employer who was considerate enough to give both multiple snow days without penalty and rides to work afterwards. I made it to work even in -50 and snow because I could walk but my coworkers who drove and were snowed in or whose cars wouldn’t start due to cold didn’t get any consideration of the situation (my bosses have the ability to give “ordered to stay home because emergency” exceptions so it doesn’t cost us sick or vacation days but chose not to even when the city declared a no travelling unless essential emergency status one day). Of course this may say more about my terrible employer than anything about your situation.
    But the point I wanted to make was: Even though winter weather is scary when you aren’t used to it, with properly equipped vehicles- and good drivers- it isn’t overly dangerous to travel to and from work in even deeper-than-usual snow. You’d be the best judge of whether your company is providing that, but watch out that you don’t let unfamiliarity cause you extra stress and fear that may not be warranted. I think we can all agree that there’s been more than enough things to cause us stress these past months as-is!

    Reply
    1. anone*

      It’s not necessarily about not being used to snow–what has happened in some areas of Texas is a natural disaster that has severely damaged infrastructure as well as has been traumatizing for people trapped in their homes without heat and access to food and water. I think it’s more akin to having your office expect you to come to work a few days after a tornado or severe hurricane. I’ve also lived where it’s -50, but that was where it was completely expected and normal and there wasn’t widespread infrastructure failure. Also, it wasn’t happening during a deadly pandemic.

      I don’t know what it’s been like where OP is exactly, but the stories I’m seeing start to come from people in Texas who have been in the worst-hit areas are scary. It might not be dangerous to travel into work that way, but it’s not necessarily healthy or humane in a disaster scenario (I about called it a “post-disaster scenario”, but tbh it seems like it’s still unfolding in terms of infrastructure failure and longer-term consequences.)

      Reply
      1. Willis*

        Yeah, this. If OP is in an area dealing with the impacts of a natural disaster (no power/water, home damage, people having to leave homes or take care of family, etc.) expecting people to come to work is pretty ridiculous. It’s not just a matter of feeling safe driving through snow. I can’t tell from the letter if OP’s main objection was to the rides themselves or being pressured to come in to the office. But honestly, after the last year, it’s just exhausting that people’s safety can’t be prioritized.

        (Plus, AAM is usually pretty pro-social distancing…wouldn’t being pressured into this carpooling situation be pretty bad even without the snow?!?)

        Reply
      2. Emilia Bedelia*

        I think Llama face is making a fair point though in that part of the question is: “Is it crazy for my company to provide a ride in the snow?” The answer is, no, this is not inherently crazy… but for the specific situation Texas is in right now, it could be. It’s comparable to saying, “I’m allergic to wheat, and my boss ordered pizza for a lunch meeting without getting me anything and refused to let me eat my own food. Is it crazy that my company is supplying food for a lunch meeting??” No, buying food is not the weird part, but when you add in the rest of the situation it gets worse.

        People who don’t deal with snow regularly wouldn’t be familiar with what is reasonable to expect. My reading of Llama face’s comment (and Alison’s answer as well) is that they’re just commenting that “There is snow on the ground and my employer expects me to get to work” is not an inherently ridiculous statement. With everything else going on, the situation quickly becomes very different – but it’s not because the premise of getting a ride to work in the snow is an automatic no-go, so OP should not push back on that basis alone.

        Reply
      3. annabanana*

        Currently living in Houston, and can speak to some of what’s going on. On the roads, it wasn’t the fact it was just an inch of snow, there was also a layer of ice underneath that made things particularly precarious, as evidenced by the 100+ car pile-up in Fort Worth (Dallas area). The local news still showed people driving at 50+ mph on the highways (in Houston) with trailers and RVs, who were eventually (inevitably?) spinning out of control. Houston infrastructure definitely doesn’t have snow plows or salt trucks to help the road situation, and much of the highways are overpasses which freeze significantly faster.

        Most folks here were heavily impacted by power outages (on the order of 40+ consecutive hours at times), water shortages, burst pipes, lack of internet and cell service (because who knew the generators for those weren’t winterized?), and insane electrical bills if you weren’t on a fixed rate plan. Dishes (i.e. cooking items) and laundry pile up pretty quickly without water and power. We only just received notice that the boil water notice was cleared yesterday afternoon.

        In the aftermath, plumbers and even plumbing supplies are in short supply, any drywall and insulation repairs are also taking considerable time. I can understand a lot of folks struggling to make it back to work while trying to simultaneously deal with getting their kids back to school (because there’s no virtual learning when the electricity is out), checking on elderly parents and/or neighbors, trying to restock on groceries (which in times of COVID and SNOWVID can mean 40+ min lines), calling the repairmen and trying to get a slot to get things fixed (potentially in order to shower/do dishes/do laundry/drink water), dealing with the electrical company and/or FEMA on the electrical bills, and dealing with the piles of laundry and dishes.

        Reply
      4. Autistic AF*

        I agree… I live in northern Canada as well and I would never compare what’s happening in Texas to the winters I’m used to, even after having survived a week of -20C and below this month.

        I actually think it’s irresponsible for drivers to be on the road unnecessarily in the middle of those disaster conditions. Going to the grocery store is a necessity at some point, but the more drivers on the road who aren’t familiar with winter driving, the more likely collisions are and the more emergency resources are required. I’d be staying inside as much as I could, and I say that as someone with decades of winter driving experience.

        Reply
        1. Chinook*

          Exactly. We just survived a week long polar vortex down to -45 that literally killed my new car battery and I am shocked by the photos out of Texas. The good news is that the cold will end and the ice and snow will melt. Mere days will fix the driving situation, even if it feels like forever. The boss and the OP just need patience.

          Reply
        2. tangerineRose*

          “I actually think it’s irresponsible for drivers to be on the road unnecessarily in the middle of those disaster conditions. ” This!

          Even people who are used to driving in the snow may have problems with the ice.

          Reply
      5. Simonthegreywarden*

        Right? Children have died. Elderly people have died. This isn’t just an overnight with no power. I live in Iowa and we’ve had several ice storms in the past (thankfully not for several years where I am now in the state) that would take out power for a day or two, and it sucked to live in a blanket fort, not be able to wash, and eat cold food but we weren’t at risk of dying from it. This is an actual disaster. It isn’t “weather scary, hop a ride!”

        Reply
    2. Lil*

      This is coming off as tone deaf. Saying it’s “not overly dangerous” isn’t really accurate. I don’t live in TX (but am from a northern Midwest state), but I would assume the roads are not being salted and plowed as effectively as they are in states where it snows, and even with salt/plowing the roads are not ultra safe. And how many of these people have extensive experience driving in snow? Probably not most.

      All of these factors make it much more dangerous than it is in your state where snow is expected and dealt with.

      Reply
      1. SimplyTheBest*

        Yes, this. I don’t live in Texas and I don’t live in the Midwest. I live in Seattle. And every time it snows in Seattle, even just a little bit, everything shuts down. And people from places that get lots of snow give us tons of shit. But they don’t understand what snow in Seattle is actually like. That because it’s an unusual occurrence we don’t have people who have four wheel drive. We don’t have people with chains. We don’t have enough plows or road salt. Seattle has hills that rival San Francisco’s. The entirety of Seattle is composed of several microclimates so it can be snowing in one neighborhood and a mile away have the weather be totally different. When it snows in Seattle, it’s not like it’s down to zero degrees. It hovers at 32. So it snows and then melts and then refreezes into black ice and then snows again. So unexperienced drivers are driving without properly equipped cars on roads that are not properly plowed and salted on massive hills on hidden black ice. Nothing about that is safe.

        Long story short, if you live in a place where snow is common, you don’t know what it is like to drive in snow in a place where it is uncommon. It is nothing alike.

        Reply
        1. TechWorker*

          Yes, hovering around freezing definitely makes it worse! I remember thinking the same when (unusually) we had temperatures low enough to keep the snow powdery for a few days one year – that’s tonnes safer and easier to get around.

          Reply
        2. Violet Fox*

          Nordic here — you don’t need chains or all wheel drive to be safe in the city in the snow, just good winter tires. Where things are deep and haven’t been ploughed, or heavy vehicles are a different story.

          I also personally would not trust someone who has all-wheel drive but no winter tires and zero experience driving in those conditions to drive me to work.

          And yeah, I agree, melting and refreezing time is super-dangerous and where we see the most accidents, and get regular advisories to not drive.

          Reply
          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah, am chuckling. I have an AWD and I would not go anywhere in snow without snow tires. AWD is not a miracle fix. FWIW and I live in snow country.

            Reply
            1. pleaset cheap rolls*

              I’m chuckling. I have AWD but no snow tires and I’m fine in most snow. Snow tires are better, sure, but by slowing down and being careful we’re fine. We in a LOT of snow the last few weeks.

              Reply
            2. DarthVelma*

              I drove a Jeep with 4WD for years when I was younger. And I will pass on what my dad told me when he handed over the keys to that Jeep…”4WD just means you can get stuck in places where it’s even harder for the tow-truck to get to you”.

              Reply
            3. Violet Fox*

              Front wheel drive on a hatchback here. Also good winter tires, and regular practice driving in the winter.

              We also have lower winter speed limits on a lot of roads, partly for safety, partly because when the roads aren’t snowy winter tires kick up a ton more dust than summer tires. They aren’t just different tread depth, they are made differently to deal with the cold.

              Reply
            4. The Other Dawn*

              Yes, I’m in New England. The number of people with AWD or 4×4 who think that means they won’t slide is astounding, my sister included. I see them speeding by me on the highway or tailgating me on a suburban road all the time. I have an AWD SUV and I’m just as cautious as when I had a regular car.

              Reply
              1. EchoGirl*

                Exactly this. I said something similar upthread; if you drive an AWD vehicle the same as you would a front-wheel drive, then it does give you a little extra help, but too many people assume it makes them basically immune to weather-related road problems, and it really, really doesn’t.

                Reply
        3. londonedit*

          Yes, definitely. We don’t get much snow in the south of England, so when it does snow and it does settle, things grind to a halt. And then you get all the wailing about ‘Other countries are prepared for snow!!! Why are we so crap that we can’t deal with a bit of snow!!! This doesn’t even count as snow in most places!!! Why don’t people here know how to cope!!!’ But it would be totally pointless for the government and councils to spend millions on snow equipment and preparation when the last time things were seriously impacted by snow in London was during the Beast from the East storm in 2018. And even then it was a couple of days of disruption. And it would be stupid to expect someone from Devon to have any experience driving in real snow. I think the last time the south-west got any significant disruptive snowfall was 2010. So it’s not surprising that people struggle when it does happen, and the ‘Pah, that’s not even snow, come to *insert very snowy and cold country here*’ condescension doesn’t really help either.

          Reply
          1. Violet Fox*

            As someone from a snowy, cold country I’d mostly say that being prepared for snow and cold is actually very expensive from every single point of view, so I totally understand folks not doing so if they don’t have to. Mostly I just want everyone to stay safe.

            When everything happened in Texas and I started reading the standard moralising about cold (which is really very much not helpful), I started adding up the cost of coats, boots, gloves, mittens, thermal layers, scarves, shoe studs, winter tires, 2x tire change a year, etc for a single adult who lives in an apartment to be winter prepared, and well.. it was a lot just getting through the boots. I don’t fault anyone for not having it if they don’t need it.

            Reply
            1. Observer*

              As someone from a snowy, cold country I’d mostly say that being prepared for snow and cold is actually very expensive from every single point of view, so I totally understand folks not doing so if they don’t have to.

              It’s not just expensive, it’s often very impractical. Someone noted, for instance, that snow tires interact with the road differently than “standard” and “all weather” tires, and those differences are significant. One of those effects is reduced fuel efficiency. So you do NOT want people keeping snow tires on most YEARS (not months.)

              Or take the issue of inexperienced drivers. How do you even prepare for that? I mean, it’s theoretically possible, in the real world it’s just not practically possible.

              Reply
              1. Gray Lady*

                And plowing equipment can’t just sit idle in a shed somewhere for five years at a time and then be pulled out when needed. It has to be maintained just like any other motorized equipment. It’s really, really impractical and really unreasonable and as someone who lives in a snowy area it irks me a great deal when people from around here mock people from other climates for having a hard time with unusual (for them) weather conditions.

                Reply
                1. EchoGirl*

                  I mentioned above that I originally come from a Texas city that rarely sees snow, but at one point while my family was living there, we got a little bit. They did have a snowplow (yes, literally one) in storage, but it had been so long since they’d last needed it that they’d lost track of the keys. And that’s not even getting into whether it would have worked even if they had been able to start it.

              2. Violet Fox*

                We’re not supposed to use our winter tires here all year, but legally we can’t use summer tires in the winter. They do random tire checks, especially right around the cut-offs. This is for non-studded winter tires too. Studded ones carry extra fees to drive them in anything resembling a city because they tear up roads even worse than the dust winter tires kick up. The parts of the tire that make all the dust, increases fuel cost, and tear up the road are also the parts that give them so much better grip on ice and packed snow.

                Since I live in an apartment, I pay a “tire hotel” (actual translation) to store my off-season tires, check them for faults, change them properly and safely, as well as any other tire-related needs. Also if there is a late snow after I’ve changed to summer tires, I either take the train into work or I home office because there is no way I’m driving in snow with those things.

                I can actually feel the difference between the summer and winter tires when I drive. I love the feeling of driving off from the tire hotel after getting the summer tires put on. It’s the car equivalent of taking off heavy winter boots and putting on sandals or running shoes.

                For inexperienced drivers, while we learn in driver’s ed, there just is no substitute for regular experience, and even so, we have an absolute ton of collisions and people being pulled out of ditches for the first snow of the winter every single year. This is a place that gets serious winter weather every year. Snow/winter aren’t exactly a surprise

                I really do not expect people who live in places where they do not need winter tires to go through this fuss and expense.

                This is without getting into the fuss and expense of clothing for adults, let alone growing children. The truth is that when you live in a place with a lot of winter, the warm clothes aren’t considered such a big deal because they are just your clothes because that’s what the weather is like, but there’s a big difference between needing that for four or six months out of the year and getting real wear out of it, and having a lot of that just in case.

                This reminds me I need to do a round of cleaning/waterproofing all of my boots again.

                Reply
            2. Dust Bunny*

              We have snow clothes because we used to live up north–decades ago–and we never throw anything away, but we also have room to store them.

              It does freeze here, but it’s like two days every five years–yesterday was 73 degrees in Houston, two days after a major freeze event–which means your kids will wear all that stuff maybe two days and then outgrow it.

              Reply
            3. EmmaPoet*

              I’m an Alaskan who lived in Texas for a year as a kid- it snowed while we were down there, and Bro and and I were utterly bewildered as to why everything shut down. Our parents had to explain that the normal temperature that time of year was 65F, and this was the first time it had snowed in that region in twenty years. Nobody was even close to equipped. Our friends were all bundled in every sweater and light jacket they could get on, because winter gear there wasn’t a thing, and few people even had mittens, much less winter boots and tires.
              We were eight and ten, and we got it. I’m pretty unimpressed with the moralisers as well.

              Reply
          2. Not So NewReader*

            I am some what willing to drive in snow. I don’t deal with ice and I don’t do well in white-out conditions.
            That said, there is no way in heck I would drive in Tx right now. The number one reason is the amount of inexperienced bad weather drivers. That’s not their fault, it’s not a failing, it just IS that’s all. I would calculate my chances of getting hit as very high.

            I can’t believe this company is putting everyone’s lives at risk in this manner. Since they haven’t thought of this on their own, I am thinking it’s probably not a great talking point for OP. I think Covid concerns are a stronger point with this as a distant secondary point. But for me, the idea that there could be an accident, would be at the forefront of my thinking.

            Reply
            1. Not playing your game anymore*

              I am perfectly willing to drive on snow, less so on ice, but if I have to I will. But only if I can be certain that the few other people on the road have a base level of competence with snow and ice. That’s not to be expected in the sun belt. The roads have not been treated, the drivers have little or no experience with this and … so yeah. Stay home if you can.

              I have a great deal of sympathy for folks caught in a terrible situation. But I will admit to sending several rude memes to a cousin who’s prone to saying and posting things about how pathetic “snowflakes” are.

              Reply
          3. UKDancer*

            Yes I fully agree, the wailing about “why can’t we deal with snow” is very annoying. I lived for a time in a part of Germany that had regular snow in winter and it fell and settled. Everyone was used to this and had the relevant kit because it happened every year. So it caused minimal disruption to daily life.

            If you’re somewhere that doesn’t routinely have really bad weather, there’s no point in hard stretched local authorities spending money on the equipment.

            You prepare for the weather that experience tells you is common and expected. In London that’s a lot of reasonably temperate weather with occasional outbursts of snow and occasional heatwaves.

            Reply
            1. EchoGirl*

              Agreed 100%. We got pretty walloped by the storm in the Midwest, but, like, the roads were a little treacherous for a while (because the snow was falling faster than the plows could clear it), but there were no service disruptions in water or power and the plows were working the streets; once the snow stopped falling, the streets were clear within a few hours. Because the Midwest knows how to deal with snow and cold temperatures, so for us it was just a question of magnitude. It’s totally different from a place that’s completely unprepared for those conditions.

              Reply
          4. Third or Nothing!*

            I am 31 years old and have lived in north Texas my entire life. I have only seen snow like this twice in my lifetime, and it has never stuck around this long nor been coupled with massive infrastructure failure.

            Reply
            1. jojo*

              I was in Kingsville tail end of the 80s. We had an ice storm in maybe 88. Closed the place down for 3 days. My car was about the only one on the roads. I learned to drive in Minnesota.

              Reply
          5. Yorick*

            “it would be totally pointless for the government and councils to spend millions on snow equipment and preparation…”

            This is what my relatives who live in Southern states say when it snows and everything shuts down EVERY YEAR. In Texas it’s not as common as in some of the more northern parts of the South. But this is becoming a more and more common occurrence and people should be asking their local governments why they’re not prepared.

            Reply
            1. tangerineRose*

              How long do things shut down? When it snows, is the temperature hovering around freezing, because if it’s icy, that would be really tough to drive on.

              Reply
        4. Marion Ravenwood*

          We had a similar thing in the UK earlier this month where there were two snowy periods (two to three days) a couple of weeks apart). Even here in London, which doesn’t tend to get much snow, there were real variations – where my boyfriend lives it really didn’t stick for more than a day and wasn’t particularly icy afterwards, whereas where I live half an hour away it froze over and hung around for a few days and was actually quite dangerous. And I’ve had friends who grew up in places that get a lot of snow be like, “ah, this is nothing!” But we are not equipped for extreme weather (my Australian friends had the same reaction when people complained about the heatwave last year) – our homes are designed for milder climates, our cars usually aren’t equipped to drive in anything worse than moderate rain – and so even though it happens more than it used to, it doesn’t happen enough for people to have the experience of how to deal with it and instead just have to manage the best they can.

          Reply
        5. EventPlannerGal*

          Yeah, the lack of infrastructure and experience makes extreme weather events so hard to deal with. Telling people that it’s perfectly fine if you have X, Y and Z isn’t helpful when 99% of the time they have no reason to have X, Y or Z. (My country isn’t exactly known for good weather so whenever we have an unexpected heatwave we get this exact thing in reverse, people from hot countries/areas descending to tell us to just turn up the air conditioning!! Cool, we don’t have that.)

          And black ice is no joke. We’ve had so many black ice accidents here after the recent snow, both with cars/vehicles and with people falling and breaking bones. And we’re semi-used to it. A whole bunch of people out driving on probably-not-gritted black ice roads who haven’t done it before? Nope! No thank you!

          Reply
          1. Not So NewReader*

            I have had family members who have only lived in the southern states ask me what black ice is.

            It’s ice you cannot see. You don’t know you are driving across an icy spot. Then suddenly your vehicle fish tails (the back end swings back and forth) or you find yourself sliding and have no control over your direction of travel. One time I lost it on black ice and ended up spun around facing the opposite way – so my direction of travel was like being in reverse gear. Another time I lost it on black ice and ran against a guard rail for several hundred feet. Fortunately, I was going slow enough that I did not go through the guard rail and down that embankment behind the rail.

            I can name a few people I know who have lost their lives on black ice.

            Reply
            1. Chinook*

              Th only way to spot black ice is to be aware of places it has occured in the past. There are a few spots around here notorious for it and usually marked only by a flipped vehicle. Sometimes it looks shiny because it has been polished slick by the snow and wind.

              And it can kill. Dh has had two incidents (that he has told me of) where he was at a crash site and had to leap out of the way, pulling someone with him, while watching the look of horror of a driver careening towards where he had been standing. The only warnjng he has is the drjver hitting their horn.

              Reacting to it is also counterintuitive – you take your foot of the gas, ignore the brake and steer away from any obstacle you are sliding towards. New drivers around here learn how to deal with it in giant, empty parking lots filled with snow and ice.

              Reply
          2. UKDancer*

            I get that with the air conditioning. I used to work in a castle and it got quite warm in summer when we had big groups going around. I always remember the tourists who asked me to turn up the air conditioning. The castle was built in in the 16th century and air con was not an option.

            Most homes in the UK don’t have air con because the temperature is such that it’s rarely needed. There are about 3 days per year when there’s a problem and we might miss it, but otherwise it would be very expensive for the amount of benefit.

            Reply
            1. Quill*

              And unfortunately the reality of climate change is that everywhere the weather is getting more severe in BOTH directions, so your initial outlay for heatproofing or coldproofing, whichever your region has previously required, isn’t going to cover both scenarios.

              Reply
        6. Quoth the Raven*

          I’m in Mexico City; we don’t really have extreme temperatures on either end.

          The last time we got snow was in 1967, and even that was an extraordinary event. We do NOT have the infrastructure to deal with any amount of snow; it would grind the city to a halt (and did, back then). Most of us do not have the clothes to deal with that kind of cold, and our houses and apartments are not built to keep heat in. Most of us have never seen snow in person, let alone driven (or walked, for that matter) in it or on icy roads. I would not trust anyone I know down here to do so, let alone when they’re already stressed out, tired, and nervous, in a city that is already chaotic enough as it is.

          Reply
          1. Ariaflame*

            Are they built to keep heat out? Because that will help to a certain degree. While there’s usually a little variation between out and in R values, insulation is insulation.

            Reply
            1. lifelongtexan*

              In Texas we do have insulation, but if you look at the Department of Energy guidelines, it is not as much insulation as northern areas, although most folks here get radiant barriers under the roof to reflect the sun. Plus our pipes are in the attic. I’ve never seen a basement in my life. The reality is if anyone loses power for many hours or days when it is below freezing, it’s going to be dire.

              Reply
            2. kt*

              No. I lived in southern California for some years, and some of the places I lived were basically only cinder block. No insulation at all. No central heating. We had space heaters for when it got into the 40s at night. Hallways were open-air, not closed off to the elements at all, in some of the apartment buildings.

              Reply
        7. lifelongtexan*

          Let’s not forget that there was a 130+ vehicle pileup with multiple fatalities near Dallas a week ago due to icy rain, and another large pileup near Austin.

          A lot of people don’t even own a coat and just wrap themselves in a blanket when they go to the store, let alone have snow tires for their vehicles.

          Reply
        8. Clisby*

          Pretty good description of Charleston, SC in the snow, except for the hills. We got about 5 inches of snow in early 2018, and it shut down the airport for 5 days. Since then, some municipalities invested in plows (really pickup trucks with plow attachments) to hedge their bets – and of course, we’ve had zero snow since then, so I guess they’re just taking up storage space.

          Reply
        9. Archaeopteryx*

          Yes when I moved from Spokane to Seattle after college, I was ready to scoff at Seattle people’s snowdriving skills – until I tried to drive up Marion in the snow. Don’t… don’t attempt that.

          Reply
        10. Sleepless*

          I live in Atlanta and this is a favorite rant of mine. Snow in GA is scary and unpredictable for many reasons that are not “those dumb Southerners don’t know how to drive in the snow.” One of them is that when it snows here, it’s usually fairly warm, around the low 30s. That turns the roads into slick ice patches. Atlanta is also fairly hilly, plus we have very deep roadside ditches because we’re prone to flash floods.

          Reply
        11. emmelemm*

          As another Seattleite, thank you. Just say no to smug Midwesterners who come from *extremely flat places* and tell us that we’re dumb about driving in the snow. Everything in Seattle is a hill. EVERYTHING.

          Reply
      2. Retail Not Retail*

        I’m not in Texas, but we got hit with rare snow levels and what did get plowed led to worse messes on the intersections!

        At work, the policy is it comes out of the personal/vacation bank unless your manager tells you not to come in. For my department, that happened three days this week. Our job would have been clearing it which was pointless until yesterday and it was super dangerous.

        When I lived in a more mountainous but still southern area (snow once or twice a year), we did not get paid if we called in for snow (retail). I called in once – everyone knew where I lived (close by!) and how I got to work so they said no, stay home. During one storm, our manager told my friend he could get through my friend’s street in his vehicle so my friend should come in. My friend was like okay, good for you, I can’t? (My friend’s road had a ridiculous dip at the railroad tracks.)

        Stay safe Texans! And remember, you may have a snow worthy vehicle and know how to drive but that doesn’t mean everyone else does.

        Reply
      3. Coder von Frankenstein*

        Agreed. Even if you, personally, know how to drive in snow, that doesn’t keep you from getting T-boned by the guy who thinks he can just barrel down the road at 60 and screech to a stop any time he wants to.

        Reply
    3. nonegiven*

      We’ve been flushing the toilet with melted snow. I have not showered in a week. I’m running out of dishes and wasn’t able to do laundry last week because of frozen pipes. If you want to be in any size room with me, I promise you will suffer.

      Reply
      1. an infinite number of monkeys*

        My husband and I tested positive for COVID shortly before the storm hit, so we were soooooo lucky not to lose heat/power. We had no water for a few days and I was remarking what a good thing it is that we can’t smell! I hope, hope, hope things are back to normal for you soon. It’s been eye-opening, and not a little terrifying, to realize how thin our veneer of civilization is.

        Reply
        1. Yessica Haircut*

          “It’s been eye-opening, and not a little terrifying, to realize how thin our veneer of civilization is.”

          This x 1,000. I’ve been really struggling with the issue lately of nation development phases, and whether we’re in a place where we can confidently describe the U.S. as a “developed country,” and even if so, for how long we’ll be able to do that.

          Reply
    4. scmill*

      Texas and the rest of the south is not set up to function smoothly in snow, ice and extremely cold temps. The south is normally much warmer, and housing is built to shed heat, not hold it in. Comparisons to the rest of the country are not useful.

      They are dealing not only with snow and ice on the roads, but also with frozen pipes, no water and no heat. People are dying because their houses are not insulated for extreme cold and ice.

      Reply
    5. Llama face!*

      I do understand those who are saying my comment is tone deaf and I apologize that it came across as minimizing the very bad situation in Texas for many people. Obviously I did not do a very good job at communicating what I had hoped would be a reassurance to the OP. I agree that all the other factors involved could make this more than a “getting to work in bad weather” question. However, when I read this AAM question, my understanding was that the OP was quite worried about the safety of travelling in “10 inches of snow” which was a big concern for that location since it wasn’t usual weather conditions. Being expected to go to work without access to power/running water/etc and no way to bathe or prep food or any of that is absolutely a whole ‘nother matter but also the OP didn’t say that was a factor for them. I’d have a different reply altogether if they had described that as being the situation and their bosses still thinking they could work!

      Reply
      1. Retail Not Retail*

        One reason your comment kind of came off that way is we know. We hear it every time we get any snow or ice and it’s a lot tiresome.

        And frankly, I lived in a snowy place for two winters and they still couldn’t drive on ice! Ice is no joke!

        Reply
        1. allathian*

          Yeah. I live in a place where we get ice on the roads every year. But we also use winter tires with studs, and when I got my driving license, I had to practice driving in slippery conditions on a closed track. I definitely wouldn’t want to drive on snow or ice with summer tires.

          Reply
        2. Lacey*

          Yeah, no one can really drive on ice. There’s not enough traction! We drive when it’s ice-y and the roads have been salted to melt the ice… but we’re not driving anywhere on sheets of ice. We stay home.

          Reply
        3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Seriously. I’ve lived in Michigan and Indiana for over 30 years combined and nobody in either state can drive in the snow either.

          Reply
      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That was my interpretation of the question too — I’d read it as the OP asking about the idea of sending a colleague around in an SUV to pick people up during/after a storm (which I can certainly see questioning if you don’t usually get snow and have never encountered before), not about expecting people to go in while they’ve been without power and water for days. Hopefully the OP will clarify!

        Reply
        1. Wendy*

          Question: let’s assume Alice doesn’t feel comfortable driving in, so the company sends Bob to pick her up in his 4×4. Unfortunately, they get in an accident on the way to work and Alice gets hurt. Who gets stuck holding the bag? Bob’s insurance, even though he was driving at his employer’s request? Workman’s comp? Alice? Does it matter if Bob usually drives for work or not?

          It seems to me that unless your job really is essential, it’s not a great idea to participate in this even if the company is helpful :-/

          Reply
          1. LifeBeforeCorona*

            I wouldn’t want to be in a car with Bob if he feels like he was coerced into giving rides with his minimal winter driving skills. Just because you have a 4×4 it doesn’t mean that you know how to drive in adverse weather conditions.

            Reply
          2. PspspspspspsKitty*

            I’m not a lawyer, so maybe my info isn’t exactly correct. But, I don’t see how this would be any different than carpooling. It’s not talked about a lot in the US but carpooling is a pretty common thing here. Many states have a comparative negligence laws for holding the proper people at fault. It’s not that black and white as you are asking. This is one of those, lawyer up if it happens type of thing. This alone doesn’t mean that it’s a bad idea to participate. (Outside of Covid 19, carpooling is great way to be green!)

            Snow, ice, Covid-19. Those are things that may make it a bad idea to participate.

            Reply
            1. AskJeeves*

              The difference would be that Bob is acting at the direction of the employer. There’s a significant legal distinction between that situation and employees voluntarily organizing their own carpool independent of the employer. It’s a bad idea for the employer to be doing this from a safety perspective, and it’s a really bad idea from a legal liability perspective.

              Reply
          3. Nina*

            idk how it would be in Alice’s hypothetical company, but where I work the explicit vehicle policy is that if your boss asks you to use your vehicle for company business, whether you normally drive for work or not, you are covered by the company’s vehicle insurance. So that’s not unheard-of.

            Reply
            1. Snow Globe*

              That is only true if the company is specifically paying for insurance that covers its employees in their personal vehicles. Not all insurance policies will cover that.

              Reply
            2. CDM*

              Hired & non-owned auto coverage provides secondary liability coverage to the business when employees use personal vehicles but the personal auto policy of the vehicle owner will be primary. So, don’t expect the company’s insurance to protect you if you use your vehicle for work. If you have an accident, you’re still on the hook for the deductible to repair your damage and your liability coverage may pay out damages to other parties.

              And the standard personal auto policy in the US explicitly provides liability coverage for your employer when using your vehicle for business purposes, except for food delivery. Most policies have added exclusions also for gig driving type work also. So if your employer is deemed negligent for sending you out in ten inches of snow, your policy may pay out to cover their negligence.

              Also, Texas doesn’t require all employers to carry workers comp coverage, so there may be no recourse for medical bills there.

              Reply
              1. Natalie*

                I believe employers who do not carry workers comp policies are simply self insured, it’s not the same as having no recourse for a work related injury.

                Reply
          4. Asenath*

            I’m sure it depends on local law, but when I worked in a place in which employees had been in the habit of giving rides for work purposes, our employer stopped it completely for legal reasons. We could arrange carpooling among ourselves to get to and from work if we wished, but we were NOT permitted to do any driving for our employer. Only those who were hired for that purpose and had the “permitted to transport people” thing on their license could do that. Now, I do know that other employers do sometimes arrange transportation during bad weather – it’s usually for essential personnel, like getting nurses to a hospital for shift change, and sometimes the weather is so bad they can’t do it and the original shift just stays on. I don’t know what arrangements they have for insurance and licensing. I do live in an area with frequent stormy and cold weather, so the issue comes up from time to time.

            Reply
          5. Not So NewReader*

            This.
            My husband was a former insurance adjuster.
            I am sure he would pick up a friend if a friend asked for a ride, ON THE BASIS of friendship and helping each other.
            But if asked by THE BOSS to transport people that is a game changer. Now this is becoming an work task.

            I had a situation at work where I was informed that I would be transporting people. The first thing I said was “License and insurance?”. They also failed to calculate in the time in transit- I said, “And of course you will pay me my time for driving these people to our destination, right?.”
            And that situation just went away.

            Reply
          6. doreen*

            There’s something else I wish the OP would clarify – I’ve never had (or even heard of) an employer sending people out in their own vehicles to pick up other staff, but it’s not uncommon in my experience for an employer to send Bob out to pick up Alice in an employer owned vehicle.

            Reply
            1. Snow OP*

              Our organization doesn’t own vehicles – people were going out in their own, personally-owned vehicles, to pick up coworkers.

              Reply
              1. Self Employed*

                I am wondering if your employer figures they don’t have to pay leave to people who are “stuck at home due to storm” if they offer them the option of a ride to work–after all, they have chosen to stay home when they COULD have gone in.

                I agree with the people who pointed out potential liability and staying off the roads unless it’s absolutely necessary.

                Reply
          7. Lacey*

            I believe the company is liable, although you might have to force them to accept that responsibility. They wouldn’t necessarily automatically pick it up (I have learned the hard way).

            Reply
        2. pleaset cheap rolls*

          I read it the same way – and bristled at the “insane” part. Depending on details, the organization providing snow-ready vehicles is a great idea. Not if it cause them to be reckless, but if done carefully to help oeple who cannot travel due to the snow.

          Reply
            1. Colette*

              Agreed. A 4×4 without winter tires driven by someone who sees snow rarely is not safe. Particularly during a pandemic, given that it’s an enclosed space.

              I live in a place that gets snow for … at least 2 solid months every year, with the possibility of snow for 5 or 6 months. The first snowfall of every year is marked by numerous accidents – even though most people have winter tires and have been driving in snow their whole lives.

              Reply
            2. lifelongtexan*

              I’d be surprised if you could find a place that even sells snow tires in Texas. I would bet it is just a regular 4×4.

              Reply
              1. Tib*

                When my family visits the Midwest in winter we turn down rental cars with southern plates. We learned that one the hard way one snowy visit: our car with Arkansas plates didn’t even have all-weathers. We slid all over the place.

                Reply
              2. Sylvan*

                I live in NC and I’ve never seen snow tires or snow chains in person. :/ If snow isn’t common in your area, stores just don’t even sell snow-related products.

                Reply
                1. Self Employed*

                  I live about 50 miles south of San Francisco. Costco sells snow tires because people go to the snow for skiing etc.

                  I kept my steel rims when I got alloy rims in case I need to get snow tires to drive to Oregon or something. I have all-weather tires that are fabulous on Hwy 17 in the rain in my AWD wagon. (Michelin Premier A/S I believe. Cost me less than $450 at Costco a couple of years ago. Lovely ride, amazing traction, quiet. My previous tires were Bridgestone Ecopia and I effing hated them–noisy, harsh ride, mediocre traction. Want your Audi to ride/handle like a [your least favorite car]? Put Ecopias on it.)

          1. cabbagepants*

            The additional factor is that even if the letter writer’s ride is a safe driver, there are probably still some people on the road who are TERRIBLE drivers in the snow. I live in New Mexico, which gets only a very little bit of snow per year. When we do get some snow, there’s always some guy who thinks that his big truck means he can drive like normal… and then ends up rear-ending someone at 45 mph because he doesn’t realize his stopping distance will be way longer than on dry pavement.

            Reply
          2. Observer*

            I don’t think it’s necessarily “insane”. But give what we know, it’s probably a VERY bad idea, because it’s almost impossible for the driving to ACTUALLY be safe.

            Read what everyone else has been writing (some before you posted, many others after) to understand why.

            the organization providing snow-ready vehicles is a great idea

            This line highlights the major issues. You are assuming the 4×4 vehicles are “snow ready”, which is NOT necessarily the case. And you are also assuming that “snow-ready” vehicles is enough to over-ride the infrastructure problems and the lack of drivers who are fit to drive in these conditions.

            Reply
        3. Snow OP*

          Snow OP here! I was mostly concerned about my employer sending out random people to pick up their coworkers. It seemed weird to me because 4×4 doesn’t equal good driving ability. Also, heaven forbid there was an accident – does the employer pay? Would they pay for any traffic tickets or give me time off to deal with having to get my vehicle fixed? It seemed like offering this just opens the door to all sorts of issues, health and safety aside, and I was thrown off.

          Reply
          1. Insert Clever Name Here*

            You’re right to be very, very wary about that OP. FWIW, given the fact that this is Texas and not a Snow-Ready State, I think your employer was probably more naïve than insane but neither of those are good reasons to get in a car with a random employee driving. And even if it was the employee who just moved to Texas from Anchorage and brought their fully winter-ready vehicle…the other people on the road would still make it dangerous.

            Reply
            1. AskJeeves*

              This. If you can turn down the offer, I definitely would. There’s just no justification for the safety risk here, especially if people can do their work from home.

              Reply
            2. An.On.*

              Yes, as my mother who doesn’t drive likes to say, she has no problem driving, it’s the other drivers she’s most worried about. Maybe OP can use that as an excuse, “Oh, I’m just not comfortable with all the other people on the road who don’t have the experience driving in these conditions.”

              That being said, if you’re not the one driving or using your car, then some of the liability issues aren’t your problem to solve. I’ve often carpooled to a client’s place or another office without a lot of fanfare, and my boss has picked me up for work when my car wouldn’t start in the 2014 polar vortex, to my displeasure, ha.

              Reply
          2. Colette*

            If they’re asking you to pick up people, check with your insurance before you agree, as they might not cover you if you’re driving for work.

            Reply
        4. hbc*

          Yeah, I think some people are responding as if the question is, “In all the situations where transportation is an issue, do I have to go into work if the company provides transportation?” And of course the answer is no, a company vehicle willing to show up at your door doesn’t mean you have to go in while you are unshowered, the road is an ice rink, you don’t trust the vehicle or driver that shows up, or any number of other factors.

          But arranging rides for those who might not want to burn another PTO day and all that’s keeping them from coming in is a vehicle with traction? Perfectly reasonable.

          Reply
          1. Starlike*

            There’s also the fact that in many healthcare scenarios, administrative work of some type still needs to be done. I work in healthcare and by the end of last week we also had people going to pick up staff because the few administrative staff who’d been able to make it the rest of the week were exhausted from doing everyone’s jobs. I’d been acting as social worker, receptionist, and admissions, along with helping out housekeeping and the kitchen and the nursing staff with anything that didn’t need licensing, and couldn’t keep up that pace any more.

            Reply
        5. Amy*

          In my experience, SUVs can be far more dangerous in these conditions. Give me my low center of gravity Subaru Forester any day here in New England.

          Reply
          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Or pickups! I know so many people who think a 4X4 pickup is a good choice for snowy/icy driving conditions. Spoiler alert: it’s not.

            Reply
            1. Quill*

              *Full body cringe of memory about the last time I drove my parents’ canoe-hauling beast in the rain, let alone snow*

              Reply
      3. Llama face!*

        Regarding the driving situation, deep snow is less dangerous* than minimal but thawing and refreezing snow. Not without danger, but less. We have terrible plowing in my current city and in something like 10 inches we end up driving through the piled up snow and whatever ruts the previous vehicles made for days if not weeks. A fair amount of cars get stuck for sure (especially if they were the first few to drive on a particular street) but the snow slows momentum down a lot so you are not as likely to get into serious impact-type accidents. And stuck cars can get pushed out with a little assistance. Since the OP’s employer is offering winter-driving-friendly vehicles for the ride, the OP needs to consider whether the route is too isolated (possibility of getting stranded for a long time without help coming by) and whether the driver is competent to drive in these conditions. Again, I’m not trying to minimize legit dangers or other factors, but to give a more experienced view of what the actual travel risks might be in following their employer’s direction.
        *For drivers. Don’t try snow shovelling if you have heart issues because that can be really dangerous. It’s high intensity exercise.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader*

          Right on about snow shoveling. Even in our area, where we are “used to it” people have been know to keel over and become a 911 call while shoveling. Those of us with heavier snow removal equipment try to watch out for neighbors who we see hand shoveling after a big storm, for this reason.

          Reply
      4. PspspspspspsKitty*

        This is how I read it too. I had to call my dad last week because it snowed and iced and snowed. I was trying to figure out if it was safe to drive because I don’t drive in this weather usually. My neighborhood was terrible but once I got out of it, the road was fine. I also had my car emergency kit.

        Reply
        1. Llama face!*

          The car emergency kit is a good thing to mention. If OP decides to travel with the workplace ride, all of the vehicles should definitely have emergency eauipment in the vehicle that includes emergency flares or flashlight, sand or kity litter (or cardboard in a pinch) to help get unstuck, candles and lighters or matches, some food to snack on, and blankets to keep warm. And they should dress for the outside weather not the office (can change @ work if necessary).

          Reply
          1. Not So NewReader*

            Can I just add? Know how to use your emergency equipment. I carried a portable tire inflator. Standing by the side of the road, nervous and worried with cars flying by is NOT the time to figure out how the equipment works for the first time.
            I ended up not using it. It was more dangerous for me to try to tinker around with it than it was to walk some where and call for help.

            Reply
      5. Observer*

        However, when I read this AAM question, my understanding was that the OP was quite worried about the safety of travelling in “10 inches of snow” which was a big concern for that location since it wasn’t usual weather conditions.

        I actually read the question the same way. But I still think your answer is tone deaf. Because I think that based on what we know, the OP is probably dealing with drivers who are more that typically stressed out already and are also inexperienced with driving in snow, driving in the worst kind of snow conditions (ie where the roads have not been properly cleared.)

        Reply
    6. Observer*

      , with properly equipped vehicles- and good drivers- it isn’t overly dangerous to travel to and from work in even deeper-than-usual snow

      That’s a major over simplification. I don’t care how good of a driver someone is – if they don’t have experience in certain types of driving conditions, it IS going to be more dangerous for them to drive. That applies to snow. The fact that you have a terrible employer AND drivers that are used to handling much worse driving conditions every year MATTERS.

      Also, snow per se is not the only issue. In NYC, a snow that drops 5-6″ can cause storm alerts and requests to stay off the roads. In Montreal that doesn’t happen. One of the reasons is that it actually IS significantly safer – because Montreal has the infrastructure to get more roads properly cleared more quickly.

      It’s pretty obvious that the Texas infrastructure is NOT capable of handling this properly. And, at the very least, if people are in areas that normally have stop lights, but those lights are out because of the power problems, you’ve got a problem on your hands.

      Reply
      1. PspspspspspsKitty*

        Llama Face! was pretty clear that it’s up to the OP to decide how safe it is. I don’t think quoting her out of context is useful.

        Reply
        1. Allonge*

          I agree – also, if I have the choice between driving to work in my, say, VW Beetle and having someone drive me in a 4WD, the latter is safer. I don’t think it’s the ideal solution (the ability to work from home would be that) but it’s better than nothing.

          Reply
          1. TootsNYC*

            actually, a Beetle does OK in the snow, if you don’t over-drive. It’s got a low center of gravity, and it’s a compact wheelbase. And because it’s small and feels fragile, and you also sense the speed you’re traveling more dramatically, it encourages you to drive like a bomber pilot instead of a fighter pilot.

            The only drawback: It doesn’t have a ton of clearance. But on roads that have been driven on by someone else already, it does OK.

            Source: had a Beetle in southern Iowa.

            Reply
        2. Observer*

          Llama Face! was pretty clear that it’s up to the OP to decide how safe it is. I don’t think quoting her out of context is useful.

          Please. This is NOT “out of context.”

          It’s very kind of Llama Face! to “allow” the OP to make their own decision. But the fundamental problem is that @Llama Face! is just WRONG in assuming that there is not significant danger in this situation. Sure, a 4×4 is probably less dangerous that a similarly equipped 2 wheel drive, but there is a lot more to the situation here. And that’s what the comment totally leaves out.

          Reply
              1. anon for this*

                I am not sure if you are aware of this, but your writing style (with the FREQUENT ALL CAPS and responses like “Please.”) often comes across as very aggressive. That is probably why you are coming across as ‘slamming’ this person, because even while clarifying your comment you continue with things like “the fundamental problem is that @Llama Face! is just WRONG”.

                I presume you are just using caps for emphasis but as a long-time reader of the comments section this is just something I have noticed and I am not sure if the effect is intentional.

                Reply
      2. Violet Fox*

        It is also much more dangerous for them to drive in those conditions without winter tires. All wheel drive can help you when you get in a slide, the idea of winter tires is to not get into one in the first place. Winter tires are also made differently to better deal with the cold.

        A lot of it is also we’re actually taught how to drive in these conditions and practice regularly. It’s totally reasonable for someone in Texas, in the middle of a natural disaster, to want to stay safe and stay off the roads unless they have to for the sake of finding food, water, warmth, or medical necessity.

        As I said above, around here we get alerts to stay off the road when things start to melt and re-freeze because that sort of slick ice is dangerous no matter what you are driving and what sort of tires it has.

        Reply
      3. Not So NewReader*

        I am between NYC and Montreal. Ten inches of snow triggers warns about downed trees and downed powerlines. Just because the roads are fairly clear does not mean a person doesn’t have to remain vigilant.

        And it’s always interesting when a vehicle that is not running but parked on a hill, decides to slide down that hill on its own. Sometimes things just “break free” and slide with no human involvement.

        Reply
        1. Observer*

          Downed trees and power lines seem to be relatively uncommon in either city, although I can image that in many areas it’s a big deal. Which speaks to the issue of knowing the environment.

          I may be wring, but I don’t think that this is a problem that’s likely to be at play here, though.

          Reply
      4. I'm just here for the cats*

        Also, The person who is driving may be the best driver in the world and has driven in snow before. But there are others on the road!

        Reply
    7. Richard Hershberger*

      Yes, your employer is terrible, if they are telling you to flout an emergency order. But for the case at hand, when you walked to work, you had appropriate clothing for the hike. I did cold-weather backpacking, back in the day. It works fine, so long as you are equipped for it. The point with non-snow areas that get snow is that they simply aren’t set up to deal with it. The roads department doesn’t have the plows and salting equipment they need, and individual civilians don’t have the winter clothing to go on hikes.

      Reply
    8. Boof*

      Yeah; i live in snow country now and am safely toodling around in many inches of snow. I have also lived in texas when they had a rare few days of freezing weatger; not even a lit of snow.
      I couldn’t get out of the parking lot in my 4×4 suv . I nearly crashed trying.
      They dont have road sand/salters; they don’t have snow plows. The road was a layer of ice with nothing to grip.
      I don’t know the current road conditions beyond a lot of people have lost power and burst pipes, so i don’t know if driving in a 4×4 is more doable now then it was then; but work should probably let folks work from hone if it’s an option. Of course, if work has power and water and home doesn’t, maybe a ride into work is preferable to staying home!

      Reply
    9. tg*

      I live in Ireland and we had bad snow about 10 years ago (there was the Polar Vortex in the States at the same time). This was unexpected, no-one had winter tires (the shops don’t sell them, there’s nowhere to keep a second set of tires). Many people with four wheel drive set off to drive somewhere thinking that having a four wheel drive made them safe, and crashed because without knowing how to drive or having winter tires or snowchains the four wheel drive isn’t enough on it’s own to make driving safe.

      Because the snow lasted a few weeks that time, by the end of it I was quite happy driving, carefully, on regular tires in a regular car, but most people didn’t know how to drive on snow in the beginning.

      Reply
    10. Snow OP*

      Snow OP here! I’ve actually spent a lot of time driving in snow – I grew up in it. I haven’t had to in years though and I know our local area just doesn’t have the resources like snow-prone places do. I was mostly concerned about having people on the road just because they had 4×4 vehicles and then what would happen if they were in an accident.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia*

        I am moderately skillful driving in snow and did my career in Nashville where lousy drivers are legion and no one knows how to drive in snow. I remember a big storm where I was driving home from work slowly steadily cautiously and had to go up a shallow long hill and was doing fine about half way up when some yutz backed into the road and stopped — of course once you stop on ice and snow and an incline, you are done. I ended up having to back down half this long hill, abandon my car in a church parking lot and then walk the last mile home in the snow. People accelerate and end up in ditches, stop and then no one can move again, brake hard at corners and go sailing into yards. It isn’t whether you can drive in snow or now — it is who you are surrounded with in these conditions.

        I retired to a big northern city where we have a couple of feet on the ground and the traffic is zipping along just fine because the city is well equipped to cope. I watch the phalanx of salt drugs and plows sweep up the artery outside my windows at 4 am — by rush hour, the major roads are ready for traffic. The sidestreets get done eventually too.

        Reply
      2. meyer lemon*

        Yeah, I would be skeptical of your company for deciding that some employees should act as a snow taxi service just because they happen to own SUVs. Do they even feel safe doing this? Does their insurance cover it? Do they even know how to drive in the snow? Do they really want to be driving around all day and made responsible for the safety of their coworkers?

        Reply
        1. meyer lemon*

          Not to mention–they might also not want to be stuck in a car in close proximity to other coworkers given the current, you know, global health crisis. Why not just let people stay home.

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

      The thing is, who are these drivers? What does their insurance cover? Whose going to pay medical and other expenses if there is an accident? If the drivers are also native Texans, they (probably) arent used to driving in the snow and ice. It takes skills to drive in that type of conditions. You have to remember that most of Texas doesn’t have the equipment like northern states do. They don’t have snowplows or salt/sand mixture to put on the ice.

      Reply
    12. sofar*

      Hi, I grew up in a very snowy area and learned to drive there. Now I live in Texas and was affected by Snovid this week. So I wanted to provide some context.

      I’m usually the first one to usually offer to drive my fellow Texans around and volunteer to drive in bad weather, given my blizzard-driving experience.

      But, this week, I stayed off the roads from Sunday to Friday until the snow melted.

      Nobody, not even me, should have been on the roads last week. Nobody should have been arranging “car pools” for their employees. My office closed 100%. Every other non-emergency employer should have been too. The roads by me were the worst I’ve ever seen (and I grew up in the upper midwest).

      This was (man-made) a natural disaster. Hospitals were without water for days. Every single emergency vehicle needed to be dedicated to medical emergencies — there were no resources to spare for dragging cars out of the ditch because they were out on the roads for unnecessary reasons.

      Reply
  3. RC Rascal*

    #1: Uggghhhffff. You have my sympathy. This is not a great situation. While I agree with the advice, be prepared for them to turn it around and ask you if you can work for ex-friend. If your answer is “No”, then they will likely start looking to force you out. This is more likely if there is no logical alternative for you to report to.

    In the event there is no logical alternative boss I would frame your discussion with , “ My job is important to me and I want to try to make this work but I’m concerned about being treated fairly.”

    Reply
    1. NewYork*

      This. If all that has happened is blocking someone on social media, many people will consider this a junior high type complaint.

      Reply
        1. hbc*

          I don’t think it’s childish to interact professionally with someone at work but remove them from social media because you’ve had a personal falling out. I’m assuming OP has seen vindictive behavior from the ex-friend in other situations, but cutting off personal contact with someone you no longer consider a friend isn’t particularly alarming.

          Reply
          1. EPLawyer*

            She cut off all contact because the OP didn’t share personal news with her first. You can be disappointed about that. You can realize you are not as close of friends as you thought you were. Blocking on all social media AND phone number because you didn’t get treated as important as you thought you were is way over the top. It smacks of drama queen. Which is always a good trait for a manager right?

            Reply
            1. hbc*

              It’s still not vindictive, at least in my book. She’s allowed to have whatever dumb reasons she doesn’t want to be friends anymore, and not wanting to hear from your ex-friend (who you’ll have to be civil to at work) isn’t that big a deal.

              I think OP should raise this as “We had a personal falling out so this isn’t the greatest setup for me” and she’ll be fine. I think if it comes out as anything like “This person decided not to be friends with me anymore and is therefore vindictive and not management material,” it will not go well. Especially if the extra evidence of awful behavior comes from at the time when they were friends.

              Reply
              1. LTL*

                Yes, this. While cutting someone off abruptly over a small issue doesn’t show great emotional maturity, I wouldn’t call it hostile and I don’t think it’ll serve OP to bring it up.

                If OP has good examples where her ex-friend has abused power over people she’s had falling outs with in the past, that might be a better go to. If not, I would flag the personal falling out with HR/higher ups and then document any funny business if the ex-friend does become the boss.

                Reply
              2. Frankie Derwent*

                Right. Blocking someone is hardly vindictive. And if that’s the only concrete example of acting vindictive that LW can present, she would look really petty before her supervisor.

                Reply
      1. SomebodyElse*

        Agreed, Honestly, without any other information, this could backfire a bit on the OP if they play this hand too strong.

        I think it is good to go on the record with the disclosure that there was a friendship that didn’t work out. But absent of any additional details, I could see the new boss/ex friend actually being looked on more positively than the OP. Maybe I’m missing something but I don’t see the hostility that Alison mentioned (many many times in her response). Again without additional information as an outsider here’s what I see happened.

        OP and coworker were friends. OP and coworker had a personal falling out. Coworker ceased friendship with OP and blocked on SM. OP and coworker have remained cordial and professional at work.

        With any peer to boss transition there is going to be some conflict as relationships are redefined, and the grandboss/hr should be expecting this. So it is ok to get this on the record in case there are problems, but I wouldn’t go overboard.

        I’m also confused why the OP is worried about disclosing that she is TTC, that doesn’t sound like anything that has to be disclosed, at most this a time when the OP explains that ‘she has some medical appointments coming up (if that is the case) and will need to take some time off of work to attend them. (Assuming of course that the OP doesn’t work in environment that they have to disclose pregnancy for health and safety reasons).

        Reply
        1. Managing In*

          It’s very probable there’s more to the story than exactly word for word what’s included in the letter. I feel safe assuming we’re getting a summary, not a play by play.

          “Maybe I’m missing something but I don’t see the hostility that Alison mentioned”
          > she has been, for lack of a kinder way to describe her, a generally vindictive, spiteful person since I’ve known her

          I think discussing how the LW should approach this conversation is helpful but saying “I don’t see what the big deal here is” is super not.

          Reply
          1. SomebodyElse*

            Except that without additional details, it’s likely how others at her job will read the situation. And that *is* valuable for the OP to know.

            Reply
            1. yala*

              Honestly, even WITH the additional details.

              I would be hesitant to describe the situation in terms that paints the ex-friend as the Bad Guy, even if she is, just because in my experience that has backfired spectacularly, and can make you come off seeming like you’re whining/trying to get the other person in trouble. Since every story has two sides (even if one person IS the clear bad guy), coming down hard on the “She blocked me on social media and can’t manage me objectively” can make OP look like *she* is the one with the unreasonable biases.

              All that said, I’ve never really had much luck with articulating similar situations. I wish OP the best, and it probably is a good idea to at least make HR aware that there is some Personal History.

              Reply
              1. Yorick*

                Yes. Sometimes hostility in interpersonal relationships is complex. Being in the situation, it’s very obvious and problematic, but it’s hard to get someone else to understand. OP might have a hard time showing that the soon-to-be-manager shouldn’t be her manager with some specific details. What I read in the letter didn’t sound very concerning, although I understand that it is concerning to OP, who has all the details.

                Reply
            2. Managing In*

              It really depends. It depends on LW’s track record at work, how much ‘capital’/goodwill they’ve built up, what their relationship with their upper management is like, and, yes, how the LW frames it and how convincing they are.

              If one of my employees has a good track record of solid work and scrupulously professional conduct, I will be more inclined to believe if they come to me with concerns about a potential or actual hire.

              Reply
          2. LTL*

            > she has been, for lack of a kinder way to describe her, a generally vindictive, spiteful person since I’ve known her

            Yes, but OP doesn’t mention that this vindictiveness was directed towards her which is where she may run into trouble. I believe OP when she says she has reasons to be concerned. But I’d say “she was hostile towards me” isn’t territory she should get into unless she has examples beyond the social media blocking. Maybe “hostile towards others.” Depends on the details.

            Reply
      2. AskJeeves*

        I don’t think OP will be helped by mentioning the social media blocking, but the boss also blocked her phone number, which could be problematic for the work relationship. That’s relevant info for HR/boss’s boss to have, and it’s indicative of the level of animus the boss has towards the OP.

        Reply
        1. SomebodyElse*

          Blocking a personal phone number from a personal phone is not problematic. (I said the same down below). Most managers don’t give their personal phone numbers out to employees (I have, but that’s a deliberate choice that I made and have never had any of my boss’s personal phone numbers).

          It is standard practice for a boss to provide a preferred means of communication for things like calling in sick or getting in touch off hours, generally speaking, that’s a work cell, desk phone, or email.

          If we were talking about blocking an employee from a work phone, then you’d have a case for unprofessionalism… but that is highly unlikely in this case otherwise I’m sure the OP would have mentioned that it was a work phone.

          Reply
          1. Self Employed*

            I remember when we had an internet outage at my grad school lab and my advisor was surprised I didn’t look him up in the White Pages to call him about it (we still had pay phones in the building) and call. I was boggled because ALL my previous faculty were unlisted so students wouldn’t call them in the middle of the night–or find their house if they were mad about a grade. They wouldn’t even let grad students have their home phone numbers. (He didn’t have a cell phone till the year I graduated. When you live in a small town and it’s a 20-minute drive to work, it’s not a priority.)

            Reply
          2. AskJeeves*

            That’s not been my experience. I’ve had my manager’s personal number at almost every job I’ve held over the past 10+ years. At my last job, HR distributed a staff list that included everyone’s cell phone numbers (about 50 people). How big of a deal the blocked number is depends on LW’s workplace norms, but it jumped out at me as unprofessional and something that would interfere with the managerial relationship.

            Reply
    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Also probably the social media argument is not all that effective as it reads (to me) as silly plus your future boss probably *should* block subordinates on social media. And the LW says it has been cordial at work so far. It’s possible future boss will be vindictive and LW should look for another job, but it’s also possible future boss shut down the friendship part but can be an okay boss.

      Reply
      1. SomebodyElse*

        And in a plot twist OP finds out that the new boss was advised to block team members from SM and distance themselves from personal friendships in anticipation for the announcement of the promotion and it had nothing to do with the announcement of life event that the OP made on SM.

        I’ve known about promotions that far in advance of announcements which would have had me doing the exact same thing if I had friends (on SM or IRL) on the team I was about to lead.

        This is total conjecture… and I’m not saying this is what happened, but it would be an interesting turn!

        Reply
    3. Artemesia*

      I think the key is to be very specific about the incident that led to the estrangement because that is nuts and suggests someone who shouldn’t be in a position of authority over anyone else. At minimum they should move you to another supervisor. If a close friend didn’t share something with me that she blasted on social media I would feel hurt but hardly make it the basis of estrangement, but a ‘work friend’ — totally ridiculous. You have one shot at this and should be calm, clear and very specific. Good luck — and yes you should also be getting organized for job searching.

      Reply
      1. Managing In*

        +1! The most sensible advice I’m seeing in this thread. ‘We had a falling out, she does not like me, and now she has control over my promotions and raises’ seems like plenty big a deal to me.

        Reply
      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        And even if they don’t move you to another supervisor, at least you have put the relationship in context. If the worst-case scenario happens and she decides to get some revenge on you, I’d rather be in the position where I can say “see, all of my reviews were stellar until a person who dislikes me became my boss, just as I warned you” instead of seemingly using it as an excuse *after* things go bad.

        Reply
      3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        yes you should also be getting organized for job searching.

        I really think that’s your only hope; whomever promoted her isn’t going to side with you against her.

        Reply
  4. Software Engineer*

    LW #1 you mention not wanting your boss to spread around news about your family planning… there is absolutely NO reason your boss has to be one of the first to know, whether or not this ex-friend ends up managing you. I’ve always just talked to my manager about it shortly before (like, same day) announcing it on social media so it doesn’t trickle through the grapevine to them

    Even if you wait until it’s pretty obvious to announce like 5 months, your work will still have months to plan for your absence. Don’t feel pressured into telling them you’re planning to get pregnant (NONE of their business at all) or earlier than you’re ready when you’re pregnant

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Agreed! I know some people who have told supportive bosses early on because they knew that these supportive bosses would happily make accommodations for morning sickness, more doctor appointments, etc – but if you think your boss won’t be supportive then they don’t need to know earlier than friends!

      And if there’s something about your job where you need accommodations earlier (e.g. you work with chemicals that could be bad for a developing fetus, or you do lots of heavy lifting) then talk to your doctor and get a vague note that explains what accommodations you need without explaining why. “Due to a temporary medical condition” is enough info.

      Reply
    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      That’s true, but I think that depending on how things go (for example, if someone needs mulitple doctors appointments during the family planning process) a boss might be privvy to info that allows for speculation and gossip.

      (Obviously a good boss shouldn’t openly speculate or gossip, but it sounds like OP is concerned this woman wouldn’t respect those boundaries.)

      Reply
      1. Natalie*

        Absent a very specific, involved issue, there aren’t really that many appointments early on. I think it probably *feels* that way, but really, a boss is unlikely to notice.

        And if there is a specific, involved issue, you certainly don’t need to tell them it’s fertility or pregnancy related if you don’t want to!

        Reply
        1. Cat Tree*

          I mostly agree. I conceived through fertility treatments so I had tons of appointments, both leading up to the pregnancy and lots of monitoring once I was pregnant. I just told my boss it was a medical thing and it was no big deal. But, I work at a place that is generally chill about this kind of thing, I have several chronic health issues so my boss was already used to me having appointments.

          However, I think for a healthy person it can feel like a lot to have even one or two appointments, especially if you end up at a workplace that interrogates you about those things. And if the nausea is severe enough it might require some sick days. I completely agree to say “medical issue” and leave it at that, but I can understand why some people feel weird doing that.

          Reply
        2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          There are a number of issues that would require additional appointments — I had to have at least one a week for most of my pregnancy.

          And while you don’t have to share this information, it’s not hard for people to speculate based on age/ marital status/ sudden influx of appointments.

          I don’t think OP’s worry is unreasonable. Speculating on whether a woman is trying to get pregnant is not at all uncommon, even if it should be!

          Reply
    3. Pennyworth*

      Given that boss-to-be completely cut off LW because she failed to tell her some news before it was on social media, LW may as well confirm b-t-b’s opinion of her and make sure she is the last to find out about any pregnancy. That bridge is well and truly burnt, there’s no need to say anything until it becomes unavoidable.

      Reply
    4. MsClaw*

      Oof yeah. This really struck me ‘I’m actively trying to get pregnant and absolutely do not want to have to have any conversation with her in this regard,’

      No Boss Needs To Know This!!!

      In fact, I would highly recommend you not discuss trying to get pregnant with anyone at work. If you work with people you also consider close personal friends, fine. But otherwise, no one in your office needs to know you are planning a family. Until the actual birth of a child is imminent and you need to inform them so they can make plans on how to cover your work while you’re out of the office, keep this to yourself.

      If you need to take some extra time off work for appointments, etc, just say you are undergoing medical treatment and that you prefer not to discuss the details. Seriously, this information is 0% the business of anyone you work with.

      Reply
    5. Artemesia*

      I had fertility issues so I didn’t even tell my mother I was trying to conceive; this is something I would NEVER announce at work if only to avoid people asking you if you had succeeded yet. It was hard enough that it took us a couple years without scrutiny.

      Reply
    6. SD*

      There are times when a pregnancy just can’t be concealed. One coworker went from a 34B to a 36 D along about 12 weeks. All of a sudden none of her tops fit. Any woman who’s ever been pregnant, and many who haven’t, recognize that condition. In my case I was nauseous 24/7 and vomited frequently. I didn’t transition to maternity clothes until the 7th month, but there was no hiding my pregnancy. None of which means that if you haven’t announced you want your boss to take it upon herself to spread the news, even if she has noticed.

      Reply
      1. MsClaw*

        Right, but OP isn’t even pregnant yet. She is trying to get pregnant. There is no work-related reason for telling that to anyone.

        It is true that sometimes it’s hard to hide what’s going on, but *generally* people know that you should never assume someone is pregnant based on appearance, so most people just politely pretend not to notice until an official announcement is made. Sure, some people work with that jerk who’s gonna be like ‘Oh my god, Donna, you threw up every morning this week. You’re totally preggers!’ Mostly though, people are polite or shockingly unobservant.

        Reply
      2. Cat Tree*

        I honestly can’t say that I notice other women’s breast size enough to realize there’s a difference. If a particular woman seemed to have larger breasts, I would probably just assume it’s her shirt and never think about it again. Are other women really scrutinizing each other’s bodies this much?

        Reply
        1. MsClaw*

          Even if I noticed, I would never say anything about it. Similarly, a coworker I haven’t seen in like a year is now working my area. She’s lost a dramatic amount of weight. I definitely noticed, but won’t be saying a damn word.

          Reply
    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Yeah, I was thinking that, too. But it seems like a short ride, masked, with windows open is generally pretty low risk… I’d be insisting on the masks and the windows (though I know that it’s not great weather for windows down). Hopefully they’re not driving around town until they fill up the SUV with seven people or anything.

      Reply
      1. Hawkes*

        https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/19/car-windows-to-open-for-air-flow-to-prevent-covid-transmission-study.html

        Opening all windows is best, but if you’d rather run an increased risk of covid than be cold, sitting diagonally from the driver and opening the opposite windows can be a compromise. (Driver: left-front. Passenger: right-back. Open windows: right-front and left-back.)
        Tested on a Toyota Prius travelling 50 mph with A/C running.

        Still, I would prefer not to car share.

        Reply
      2. Finland*

        It’s only low risk if you have an escort (or passenger) who doesn’t have Covid symptoms (and isn’t afraid of losing their job if they report that). What are the odds that every single person that this driver escorts is going to be completely masked and symptom free? How will these escorted employees get home? What happens if there’s an emergency and the employee needs to leave the office early? I’m willing to bet money that the employer has not thought of this.

        This is not even considering whether the employee has proper driving skills, is not coerced, is given mileage/time limits with breaks, and that they have proper insurance and contingency declarations (collisions, damage, injury, etc.) from the employer.

        Reply
        1. pcake*

          Many people who transmit Covid to others have no symptoms at all. In many cases, pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic people are the main spreaders as they’re still out living their normal lives and don’t know they’re sick.

          Reply
      3. Cat Tree*

        The recommendation from health officials is a mask AND six feet of distance. It isn’t either/or. I would be reluctant to share a vehicle with anyone because it’s not possible to socially distance unless you’re in a limo or bus. Masks aren’t magic and don’t offer full protection, even outside or with windows down.

        Reply
        1. Artemesia*

          A car is an enclosed space in which 6 feet is not adequate anyway. We never take cabs or ubers now because if the driver (who is desperate for income and of course will drive even sick) is infected his car is a guarantee of infecting anyone riding with him even if masked. You can reduce this with open windows but are people going to want to do that in freezing weather?

          Reply
    2. Leah K*

      I feel like the whole concept of social distancing has gone out the window in Texas last week. The local officials were literally telling people to go anywhere and stay with anyone who could provide warm shelter. People were staying with friends, relatives, neighbors, in makeshift shelters in churches, furniture stores, etc. Obviously, the danger of freezing to death (very imminent when the temperatures were hitting -4F) outweighed the danger of catching COVID. But now I am wondering if some employers are having a hard time shaking off this mindset and think of sharing a ride as no big deal, when the risk profile of the situation is completely different.

      Reply
    3. Snow OP*

      As a healthcare organization, we are lucky in that most of us are vaccinated – but you bring up a good point. I’m not sure if they only picked vaccinated people to provide the rides or if there was a mandate to stay masked during the rides.

      Reply
  5. RG*

    Honestly the thing that annoys me the most about the letter from OP #2 is that you’re required to use your PTO to cover days when the company acknowledges that it is literally unsafe for you to travel to the office.

    Reply
    1. CoveredInBees*

      Yup. Unfortunately, it’s legal in the US. During Hurricane Sandy, all bridges and tunnels were restricted to emergency personnel and there was no public transportation. My work site was in a mandatory evacuation zone. My work could have been done from home, but this wasn’t allowed. I got dinged desperately needed vacation time and this was upheld by a judge.

      Reply
    2. WellRed*

      Yes. Also I hope it’s just awkwardly phrased but being allowed “to use pro without being dinged as a no show” had me concerned. Presumably, taking PTO isn’t normally grounds for punishment.

      Reply
      1. Retail Not Retail*

        Well, we don’t get dinged for calling in the morning of a bad storm. I was worried any time off would come from our much smaller sick time. (Not the LW and I only took one day off when my car was a carcicle.)

        Reply
      2. Snow OP*

        I just worded this awkwardly – if you no call or call into your assigned shift the morning you are supposed to be there (without a doctor’s note), you can get written up. PTO isn’t taken as a form of punishment!

        Reply
      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        This is exactly the system the federal government uses in D.C. for snow days — it’s called “liberal leave” and it just means you can stay home and use unscheduled PTO without having planned it in advance. It’s a normal thing.

        Reply
        1. Snow OP*

          I don’t have an issue with this policy – it makes sense to me! I included it in my original letter just to give some context to the week we were having.

          Reply
        2. Bored Fed*

          I think that they’ve changed to exclusively referring to this as “unscheduled leave” given the multiple values for the term ” liberal” (yes, conservatives can take unscheduled leave in stormy weather!)

          Reply
    3. Cat Tree*

      Years ago, at my first job out of college so I didn’t realize how bad this is, we had a snow storm and the roads were not drivable plus public transport was shut down for 4 days. I literally could not get into work. We had to use PTO for that, but I had very little saved because I had to nickel and dime it for various medical issues. Rather than taking unpaid time off, my company allowed us to go negative in our PTO balance. At the time I was thankful, but it took months for me to accrue enough to get back in the positive with enough extra to actually use it. Since all of our time off was in one bucket, that meant I had to postpone some doctor appointments.

      Reply
    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      the thing that annoys me the most […] you’re required to use your PTO to cover days when the company acknowledges that it is literally unsafe for you to travel to the office.

      I’m not sure what the alternative is really?

      I think though, that the company ought to offer people the option to take it as an unpaid day (with no hit to PTO) as an alternative, though.

      I’m not in Texas, or even in the states (I’m a UK-er)… in the UK we have a perhaps similar situation with snow in that we don’t usually get any, or just a dusting, but once in a few years we get “snowmageddon”.

      In the case of snowmageddon people can’t get in to work because they can’t even get their car off the drive etc so they call in, but others in less affected areas (less snow where they live, or they live on a main road so it’s been treated with gritting etc, or are within a 5-10 mile walking distance) are able to get into work and have to pick up the slack of “manning the phones” or whatever the skeleton office staff capacity is. It’s a disservice to the people who did make it in to just “write off” snow days for the rest — perhaps it should be charged at “half” the normal rate or so.

      One year I was snowed in with a similar amount of snow, but then it wasn’t just my local area but the whole of my region. Everyone else had called out due to snow already but I felt I had something to prove, since I was new (a few months). I was due at work at 9.00 (obviously due to snowmageddon they were expecting a bit of slack on arrival time) to a workplace 15 miles away, no way to drive, so I set out with my walking shoes and bicycle at about 5.30 AM, having experienced previous snowmageddon and walked 6 miles through snow in about 1.5 hours; intending to walk/cycle and accordingly I alternately rode and walked (roads permitting) as far as I could.

      By about 12.30 PM (I’d made it about 8 miles by that point so I was halfway and fallen on my face about 4.5 times) it was impassable, and at that point I called into work and said I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it, (since almost half the working day had passed by that point and it was clear I wouldn’t be able to show up until about 4PM). My boss sent me home….. I repeated this process on the way home, eventually showing up at home at about 4pm freezing through and exhausted. Having done my best, and failed, to get into work because there were things we needed to get done.

      And you know what? I was charged a PTO day for that.

      I think it’s fair to be charged a PTO day just to stay at home.

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

        Actually, in a place I worked previously (parent company of the place I did successfully walk to work in snow, actually) I remember now that their policy was that they would pay overtime rates to people who made it in when the majority of people couldn’t make it due to adverse weather.

        I can’t work out if this is fair, or encouraging risky behaviour.

        Reply
  6. ..Kat..*

    LW2. While it can be nice that rides are offered in vehicles that are safer for the current hazardous weather conditions, the problem is that the drivers of these vehicles are not necessarily skilled at driving in these conditions.

    Better and safer vehicles have given many people (who lack hazardous driving condition skills) the opportunity/temptation/false-confidence to drive in unsafe conditions. Thereby providing healthcare workers (like me) with secure jobs.

    I hope your employer is not insisting people have to come to work if they don’t feel safe.

    Reply
    1. Good Vibes Steve*

      I agree. There’s not much that makes a 4×4 safer in snow. What you want is a vehicle with winter tires and a driver that has experience driving on ice. Snow doesn’t work like mud, which is where a 4 wheel drive is super useful.

      Reply
    2. Not So NewReader*

      An additional problem is insurance liability if something does happen. A personal may not cover driving for work purposes.

      Reply
    3. Cat Tree*

      Exactly. I have a friend who is a nurse at a hospital, and in bad weather they send the National Guard to give her a ride, not just some rando who happens to have a 4×4.

      Reply
    4. Jessica Fletcher*

      Excellent point! Owning the vehicle doesn’t mean much if you’ve never driven in ice and snow. I also wonder if the employer is taking on a legal risk, by directing someone to drive in dangerous conditions. Even if the person says ok, is the employer liable for accident damage? ER bills? The employee wouldn’t have been picking up their coworker unless directed to by the employer.

      Reply
    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      the problem is that the drivers of these vehicles are not necessarily skilled at driving in these conditions

      Also I expect that people with these vehicles don’t really use them in their 4×4 “capacity” most of the time (by which I mean — they probably could make use of a standard sedan for their normal journeys but they choose a 4×4 because they like to drive it or whatever) — has the employer put pressure on them that “you have a ‘snowmobile’… we really need Jane and John in the office, they can’t get out in their own cars, is there any way you can pick them up” etc — it may be that the drivers of 4x4s have been “voluntold” to do this in other words.

      I would be concerned for the drivers as much as the passengers really in terms of feeling that it is “mandatory”.

      Reply
  7. Sleeping Late Every Day*

    Years ago, the city I lived in had a huge snowstorm that is still talked about decades later. I lived closest to work, so the manager sent an assistant manager to get me in a 4WD vehicle with a front plow. Unfortunately, they refused to take me home at the end of the day, and since the entire city was shut down, there was no public transportation. I was stuck there for three days and two nights, with just a small sink in the women’s bathroom for cleanup, no way to change underwear or socks, and I had to sleep on a desk, with no blankets, so wrapped in my coat. NEVER AGAIN! Nope nope nope nopety nope. And in more civilized jobs, I’ve never had to use personal time for a shutdown snow day. If I opted to not go in when they were open, yes, but not if the business was closed.

    Reply
    1. Happy It Isn't Monday*

      What the heck! That’s terrible.

      How did management react to literally stranding you in the office for 3 days?

      Reply
    2. Crowley*

      That is completely horrifying. I want to say I hope you at least got an apology but honestly I feel like if they were that self-aware they wouldn’t have put you in that position :(

      Reply
      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        Several years ago we had a major winter storm that started overnight and was bad enough that everything closed down even the casinos (it was that bad). However, our boss refused to let anyone leave early. His rationale for remaining fully staffed was that we might have customers even though people had been told to stay off the roads and we weren’t an essential service. Months later almost half the staff had left because they knew the management did not care about them or their safety.

        Reply
        1. Asenath*

          I had a job that worked in a similar way, although in practice, we did usually get sent home in bad weather. I drove through some pretty rough conditions, but only had to abandon my care when it got stuck once. I and my passenger were picked up by some other people also creeping carefully along the highway home, so it worked out OK. The rules said that we could be sent home if the highways were officially closed, but the authorities didn’t agree on who had the authority to close the roads. The police might strongly recommend that everyone except emergency vehicles remain off the roads; the highways department might announce that they were taking all their equipment off the roads because of the weather, but officially the roads weren’t closed!

          Reply
      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Heck no, they were always right in their own eyes. Although it was a national company, the local managers were a married couple who thought they owned the employees. We didn’t have access to information about anyone higher up, who were in a different city, so we couldn’t complain above them. It was one of those employment situations where desperate people who ran out of unemployment benefits wound up. I guess it was useful as a point of reference in identifying horrible jobs later on.

        Reply
    3. Retail Not Retail*

      In my retail days, I would never have trusted a manager to take me home if they brought me. They may forget, if they’re already at work, they probably leave hours before me, and if they’re technically working the same shift, they’re not hourly so it doesn’t hurt them to leave early.

      Reply
    4. Cat Tree*

      Oh wow. I take multiple medications every day. In bad weather I might have thought to bring an extra day’s worth with me but not 3 days’ worth. I could have died in that situation. What did you do for food?

      If you were paid hourly, I would be so tempted to request overtime for all time spent there.

      Reply
      1. boop the first*

        Right??? I have a pet at home. Perhaps they didn’t know it would be three days, but in three days, no matter how far it was, I would rather take my chances and walk home.

        Reply
      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        It wouldn’t have occurred to them; I’m sure they’d have said to suck it up. The guy entrusted with the vehicle (who was a son-in-law of the managers) did make a few basic food runs to a fast-food place that was open. Overtime? Hahaha! There were times I did get legit overtime but then they’d bump me to “Manager trainee” so I was salaried (at about the same pay rate) but had to work six days a week, 10-12 hours a day.

        Reply
    5. INFJedi*

      That… would be a disaster for me since I have a medical condition and need some stuff for treatment. Sure, I always take more with me than is necessary (to be on the safe side) but for three days and two nights??? I think i have a new Worst Nightmare… :-|

      Reply
  8. Crowley*

    #2: I’d want to know that the people driving had insurance that covered work purposes. In the UK if you don’t have work insurance for your car you’re not allowed to drive eg to a training course that’s not in your usual working location because that counts as work travel. Collecting colleagues and ferrying them around would DEFINITELY count as work travel. I’d be surprised if that wasn’t also the case in the US.

    Reply
        1. pcake*

          This exactly.

          I’m in the U.S., and regular insurance won’t cover work-related accidents. If you end up in the hospital due to an accident from a driver who isn’t insured for work, you or your health insurance (with copayments or deductibles you pay) will have to pay for it, and chances are the health insurance company will try not to pay for it in this case. Even if they do pay, you’ll be on the hook for deductibles and copays, and the insurance company may involve you if they try to sue the driver, who might have to sue the company who asked them to pick up coworkers, and this can go on for years.

          Reply
          1. Natalie*

            Whether or not work related use is covered by a personal policy really depends on a lot of factors, including the state and how frequently someone uses their vehicle for work purposes. It’s not as clear cut as “it will never ever be covered” and people should not panic about being asked to run a work related errand occasionally.

            (That’s not to say this particular scheme is a good idea, just speaking to a more general misconception.)

            Reply
            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Right. My personal policy covers driving to meetings and such. It doesn’t cover using my car *for* work, but it does cover using it to get *to* work, even when that work is happening somewhere other than my office. I doubt it would cover being assigned by my employer to ferry my coworkers, although I suppose I could just say I offered to give a friend a ride and it would be okay. (Am I going to try that? Nope.)

              Reply
      1. Artemesia*

        Wow. Someone with inadequate insurance hit my DIL and nearly killed her. She has lasting disabilities and has had no compensation. If someone injures you and doesn’t have good insurance and is not wealthy you bear the brunt.

        Reply
        1. Alleira*

          @artemeisa – I’m an attorney and a C-suite exec at an insurance company. What happened to your DIL is exactly why you buy uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage (UM/UIM in the industry). It is the most important coverage that you can purchase and you should buy the highest limit you can afford. If you can put some coverage on your umbrella, do so. Not implying this is your DIL’s fault, but the vast majority of states have very low mandatory liability limit requirements and we all need to protect ourselves.

          Reply
          1. Self Employed*

            In California, UM/UIM coverage is very very limited. I had a UM claim the last time someone totaled my car and the total loss value was only $300 under the maximum of $3500 coverage.

            Reply
            1. Alleira*

              Hmm. I think we may be thinking of different coverages. Unless the insured waives UM/UIM coverage – which you should NEVER do – the minimum UM/UIM coverage required in CA is $30k per person and $60k per accident. However, you can always purchase higher limits. You may be thinking of property damage limits, which are typically low. The bodily injury limits are much more important, in my opinion, because they protect you from other people’s failure to have adequate insurance.

              Reply
        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely. My insurance covers driving to work (although I don’t because I would never drive into central London). If I wanted to use my car to actually travel for work or using my car for work trips I’d need a lot more insurance than I have. Last time I renewed my car insurance there was a reasonable price difference between the two types with most companies.

          My cousin doesn’t live in London and drives for her job a lot. Therefore she has appropriate insurance.

          Reply
  9. Mannheim Steamroller*

    Re: #4…

    You mention that your health issue impacted your performance but management never complained about that. It’s very possible that they manufactured the PIP as an excuse to not give you the raise and/or as cover to eventually fire you for having the health issue.

    Start searching for a job (and possible an employment lawyer).

    Reply
    1. LQ*

      The OP also didn’t say the PIP was wrong or that their performance was fine.

      Lets say the job is 100 widgets a week. During the health issue widgets dropped to 50. Now we are post health issue (which is what the letter sounds like) and widgets are still at 50 a week. The op should be on a PIP for that. That’s perfectly reasonable and not something the company should be sued over. That is in fact how you’d want a company to behave. Be kind during the health issue as long as you can and then expect performance to return to expected levels. The assumption that the OPs performance is fine when they didn’t assert that themselves is weird.

      It’s also strange to expect a raise, which you get for good performance, while you are on the last step before getting fired for poor performance.

      Reply
      1. Managing In*

        It’s not strange to expect a raise if they are annual, customary increases that happen automatically across the board for everyone. Some people also get cost of living increases each year. It’s very, very not strange to at least wonder, ‘hey, I was expecting this because it happens every year for everyone – what’s up?’

        Reply
      2. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

        Exactly what you said I.Q. Of course it’s possible a company is punishing someone for taking medical leave. But it’s equally possible that a person has been cleared to come back to work and is not performing to expectations.

        Reply
    2. Colette*

      It’s possible the PIP is management complaining about the OP’s performance. Yes, they could/should have said something before going to the PIP, but it’s also possible that they assumed it would turn around and, now that it hasn’t, they’ve realized it’s a big enough issue to justify a PIP.

      Reply
  10. Finland*

    …it seems like our executive director wants more people in the office and is sending out staff with 4×4 vehicles to drive other staff members around and ferry them back and forth to the office.

    Nothing like a freak snowstorm to make it obvious that some employers would rather put their employees’ lives at risk rather than decrease their bottom line. Who am I kidding; hasn’t Covid already shown the mercenaries for who they are?

    Reply
    1. Artemesia*

      the people who helped create the crisis in Texas are getting rich on it. Things are as usual arranged so that the people who arrange to put public money in private pockets do just fine and ordinary citizens bear the costs of disaster.

      Reply
  11. sswj*

    Re:#2
    I grew up and learned to drive in New England, and spent 10 years in central and northern Maine, plus many years in several other snowy states. I know how to and am comfortable driving in snow and crappy winter weather.

    We moved to southeastern Tennessee in the 90s, and now we live in South Carolina.

    If we got a snow event here like Texas just did, there is NO WAY I’d be climbing in someone else’s vehicle for a ride to work. It’s not just the car you’re in, or the driver, or the road conditions; it’s the various combinations of all of those PLUS the factor of other people on the road, *their* vehicles, *their* driving skills etc. There are too many factors involved and I think that unless your job involves getting the lights and water and heat back on, the roads cleared, or you need to be at a hospital, stay OFF the the damned roads and let the repair crews do their work without further endangerment.

    Driving in snow can be fun, until it isn’t. And then things can go very, very bad and hypothermia isn’t just unpleasant, it can be deadly.

    Stay the eff home, please.

    Reply
    1. Southern Ladybug*

      Another South Carolinian here. I lived up North but learned to drive down here. NOPE NOPE NOPE people can’t drive in snow. My husband is from teh midwest – he drives if there’s any snow etc.

      (my favorite is the people who think having a truck means they can drive 60 mph on ice and be fine…..)

      Reply
      1. Tib*

        I grew up in MN and everyone knew to drive extra careful after that first snow storm because people would drive as though they’d never seen the stuff before. I also went to college in Texas for a while and it snowed for the first time in years when I was there. Our college town didn’t have plows or salt trucks; they borrowed the ones from the bigger town over and usually didn’t start plowing until late morning. I became pretty popular once word got out that there was a Northerner on campus who was used to driving in snow. I remember being the designated driver for several grocery and beer runs.

        Reply
        1. Older and bolder*

          Same thing in PA. Do NOT go out for any reason during that first snowfall. They’ll remember how to drive in a day or two. ;)

          Reply
        2. Elle Woods*

          I grew up in MN, moved away for a while, and am now back. You’re not kidding about that first snowfall of the season. Doesn’t matter if it’s an inch or 12 inches, people forget how to drive in the stuff. And no matter when the snowfall happens, drivers who have full-size trucks or SUVs seem to think they’re immune to the conditions.

          Reply
        3. Clisby*

          The daughter of one of my Ohio co-workers was *extremely* popular one winter when it snowed in Chapel Hill, NC, where she was in grad school. She had brought a snow shovel with her, and nobody else had one.

          Reply
      2. Sylvan*

        I live in North Carolina and driving in snow is difficult not because of the snow, which is minimal, but because of the other drivers. Some people see snow or ice and just kind of short circuit? My relatives from the Midwest have noticed the same problem in the South, and have told me it’s dangerous to drive in snow here because of that.

        You can Google “raleigh gridlock 2005” to see that time less than an inch of snow shut down the state capital. I think the average Texan might be better at coping with things than the average North Carolinian, but they might also have some trouble on the roads caused by overwhelmed drivers.

        Reply
    2. Slipping The Leash*

      I’m from New England but lived a lot of years in southern Arizona in my 20’s. You could always tell it was raining without even looking out the window — the sirens responding to the car accidents clued you in. From rain.
      If you don’t know what you’re doing, stay the hell home.

      Reply
    3. Rayray*

      I’m from Salt Lake City. We have snow plows and salt trucks that get out for big storms. I trust my own abilities to drive in the snow. I slow down appropriately and keep extra distance.

      When we have big storms, I’ll do all I can to avoid driving in the height of it because it’s other people that I don’t trust. I used to take the bus on bad snow days but I would never get in a coworkers car.

      Reply
    1. Sara without an H*

      Congratulations on the new job! And don’t worry about the resignation. These things happen. If your boss is as good as you say she is, she’ll understand.

      Reply
    2. Joan Rivers*

      I’d express my gratitude and emphasize the salary / benefits increase before other perks, because everyone understands a significant raise and though money isn’t the entire reason we work, it’s a sign of “career advancement.”

      Reply
    3. Paulina*

      Congratulations, OP3. You could also consider that, in the examples you give of good things your boss has done for you, I see “good boss who wants their reports to thrive and knows how to manage” rather than favours she’s done for you personally. It may feel a lot more personal since you get along well and you’d previously been so overstretched, and she fixed that, but that can be based on her competence, professionalism, and professional respect for you.

      Reply
      1. OP 3*

        This is a great thing to add. Outside of my personal thoughts about her, she’s been the best supervisor I’ve had at this organization – and it’s her first management position, which says a lot about her, too. Thank you!

        Reply
  12. Workerbee*

    LW #1, to all the excellent advice already posted, I will simply add: If you continue working with her, and if you haven’t already done so, please block her on social media from your side as well. Folks who throw hissy fits over non-issues and choose to block as punishment can also be folks who stealthily unblock just to snoop if they can.

    This does not negate mutual friends sharing info, but can give the snooper a bit of pause.

    Reply
  13. VX Associate*

    LW #1: I see some saying that blocking people is going to be seen as a childish complaint, but since OP noted she’s been blocked on the ex-friend’s phone too I can see this being a serious problem in itself. I don’t know about other industries but in mine being able to contact one’s boss via cell is kind of crucial. Not just for things like letting her know I’m ill or running late, but due to covid no one is physically in office and most people are using their cell at home (which is a whole other problematic thing but I digress). If my boss had my number blocked on her cell it would cause trouble completely separate from any bad blood between us.

    Reply
    1. Dizzy Belle*

      Unfortunately I think this is one of those things that others in the organization will look at as childish and petty, unless there’s a very decisive higher-up boss who looks at the situation and says, that’s silly, unblock her number and whatever happened, be over it at work. I have not seen a lot of workplaces handle simmering personal animosity very well.

      Reply
      1. AS87*

        This. Or they also could view it as an employee disgruntled about being passed over for promotion. It (unfortunately) will likely be on OP to prove that this is a legitimate work issue.

        Reply
        1. Managing In*

          What makes “she actively dislikes me, we’re not on speaking terms anymore, she’s going to have control over my promotions and raises / career trajectory / day to day focus” not a legitimate work issue? I really don’t understand the laser focus on the social media detail instead of this.

          Reply
          1. SomebodyElse*

            Because the OP said they are cordial at work?

            Look, I don’t imagine that I’d be super happy to work for someone who I had a personal falling out with (for whatever reason). Nobody has said the OP doesn’t have a reason to be concerned. What people are trying to say is that she should be smart and cautious about how she approaches it with her leadership.

            Reply
            1. Managing In*

              Sure, that’s what you’re saying! It’s likely what AS87 is saying too. It is, in fact, not opposed to what I’m saying either. However, I’m also responding to feedback from other people in other places who are saying she needs to get over it

              Reply
    2. SomebodyElse*

      I would assume new boss would be issued a company phone or there would be other methods to contact boss/office such as a desk phone or email. Being a manager doesn’t mean that you are obligated to give out your personal phone number to your employees.

      Reply
  14. Dwight Schrute*

    Number 2: yikes please don’t go in if you don’t need to! I moved from Pa to Georgia and I would NEVER drive in the snow here because other people here have no clue how to drive safely in snow and the roads aren’t ever treated properly. It’s not just about have a 4×4 car, it’s about how skilled the driver is to drive in snow, the other ill prepared drivers out, and of course covid right now. I would not be hopping in a car with co workers where I can’t social distance from people who might be sick. I agree your management is making a mistake here and I’m sorry you have to deal with this!

    Reply
  15. Happy*

    I feel like #2 might seem like not such a big deal to people who live in climates where snow is relatively common, but it would absolutely be inappropriate and a huge sign that the employer’s priorities are wrong where I live (elsewhere in the South, where we are not equipped to handle large quantities of snow and very few people know how to drive in it).

    And that’s before you even get to all of the other effects of the storm in Texas, other than just the snow itself.

    Reply
    1. Princess Scrivener*

      Hard agree. It’s tone deaf of an employer to winagle ways to get employees to work, when what they should be concerned with are things like “do you have power? heat? water? food?” We were told to forget work and take care of our families. Oh, and we weren’t charged PTO.

      Reply
      1. Happy*

        When we had a natural disaster here that impacted the community, my (non-essential) employer’s response was “take as much time as you need – we just hope everyone’s okay.” The weather at the time was fine and that response was standard among decent employers.

        When there’s snow here, since we aren’t used to it, the town shuts down. No reasonable employer expects non-essential people to work. They certainly don’t actively arrange carpools when there are dangerous driving conditions.

        I agree with you — OP’s employer is tone-deaf at best.

        Reply
  16. Sherri*

    For LW#2 – Do NOT take the ride. Please do push back on this. Having a 4×4 vehicle is not enough. You need to know how to drive in snow, and no one in Texas does (unless they moved from the North). I live in the Southern part of New England and during every snow storm, we see SUV’s w/all wheel or four wheel drive on the side of the road. People get into these cars, thinking they’re some sort of super vehicle, but don’t really know how to use them.

    They forget that it’s all wheel DRIVE, not all wheel STOP. All wheel/4 wheel DRIVE helps you get going, but does nothing to help you STOP in ice and snow.

    I hope you all get out of this soon! Stay safe and take care.

    Reply
  17. TexasTeacher*

    Re: The snow. I’ll echo what others have been saying, 4×4 does not equal snow ready. I love my fellow Texans and love trucks, but frequently people driving them think they can do more than they are able. I see it all the time with street flooding, which we get on a regular basis. The vehicles stuck in flood waters at the low places? Trucks whose drivers thought they were high enough to get through. There’s no way I’m getting into a car with Bob unless I’ve seen him in action as an experienced winter weather driver.

    Reply
  18. Deep in the Heart of Texas*

    Re: #2
    I live in San Antonio, and OP #2, your employer is terrible.
    We lost power on Tuesday in my house and then 4 hours later, 2 pipes burst in our attic and rained water down in our office, garage, and entryway. The ceiling will have to be taken out entirely in the office to get all of the water damage.
    The roads iced over on Saturday night. We couldn’t get out onto the sidewalk, much less the road, because nobody here has salt or snow shovels. I don’t even have boots or gloves for my kids, because it just doesn’t get that cold here.
    We made it to my in laws on Tuesday, but it was touch and go getting over the bridges to get to her house. She had power. The next day, the whole city went on a boil water mandate.
    We were the lucky ones. I have friends who had no power but had to figure out how to boil water (most of them used their barbeques). I had friends who had to collect snow and boil it on the barbeque because they had no power and no water. I had friends who didn’t have power for 5 days – their house dropped to 35 degrees inside.
    So to see all of this around you and to INSIST that people come to work is careless at best and cruel at worst.
    I’ve lived in Texas my whole life and I’ve never seen this kind of weather here before. The state’s power grid failed entirely. They’re sending in federal help. Half the homes in my neighborhood have burst pipes. A whole apartment complex up the street from me burned down because the water in the fire hydrants froze and the fire fighters couldn’t get water. It’s a statewide disaster. People were fighting for their lives last week.
    Perhaps your employer is not that bad and perhaps your town wasn’t as hard hit as mine, but I would be suspect of any employer in Texas that wasn’t telling worker to take care of themselves and forget coming to work and PTO.

    Reply
    1. sofar*

      Fellow Texan here, and I’m glad you are OK. We lost water 4 days (not power, thankfully) and thus had a full house of folks and their pets staying with us all week. My work kindly closed and told us to all take care of ourselves, which I was grateful for. There was no way I could have worked from home and gotten anything done, considering the work of feeding everyone, literally rationing food (grocery stores were all shut down for days and had 2-hour waits when they opened, and we weren’t prepared to have EIGHT adults in our house) and boiling snow to flush the toilets and have something to cook with. I cannot IMAGINE being asked to try to get to work. I hadn’t even showered in four days!

      The issue isn’t that sometimes employers do arrange carpools during inclement weather (I used to live in snowy areas, and this is 100% true). The issue here is that LW2’s boss was completely TONE-DEAF, given the situation in TX this week.

      In addition to employees hanging by a thread, the entire state’s emergency apparatus was tapped out. Nobody who didn’t absolutely need to be should have been on the roads and wasting the time of emergency personnel. Nobody should have been getting in accidents d/t trying to get to work. Hospitals were without water. Doctors and nurses were using the bathroom in bio-hazard bags. Homes were catching on fire and flooding all week, and it was a long enough wait to get emergency personnel to those incidents. And LW2’s boss was putting people on the roads unnecessarily. Unbelievable.

      So, yes, LW2’s boss was absolutely bonkers, insane, reckless and stupid.

      Reply
  19. Mimmy*

    #4 – I’m not in this situation currently but Alison’s advice and script will be really helpful to me once I leave my current job (most likely once I finish grad school but hopefully sooner). My supervisor has been one of the bright spots of this otherwise dysfunctional job and it’s going to be really hard when it’s time for me to go.

    Reply
  20. Domino*

    Regarding the response to letter #5, would it make sense to include the year for even more context? E.g. “was one of team’s first reporters to write for the web (1998)”? Or would that just make the achievement/experience look more dated?

    Reply
      1. Jane Smith*

        LW here. That’s a good suggestion! There’s real differences across the industry as to when using the internet was normalized. In 2005 I worked for a weekly that posted all of its content online, but was deeply resistant to posting outside of its publication day. Daily newspapers had been doing this for a while by that point.

        Reply
        1. Domino*

          Ah, OK. Maybe you just need to indicate that you led that transition at your publication, then, and leave it at that. It sounds like your employer was a bit behind the times, rather than being an early adopter, so putting the year for might not work in your favour.

          Reply
  21. NewYork*

    LW1 – In my office, very few people have each others cell phone numbers. People call each other through jabber. For all we know, the soon to be manager has told, or been told, block all subordinates from your social media. LW1 says the person is cordial. It is OK to have separation from social and work. Every work place is different, but where I work this would come off as so and so does not want to be my friend. HR would ask, how exactly has this manifested itself in the work place. LW1 would need to think about an answer. HR may say, you are under no obligation to tell boss if you are pregnant (of course, even if you did not have this history, if you tell other coworkers and they tell the boss, that could be problematic).

    Reply
    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      But the soon to be boss defriended her and blocked her before becoming soon to be boss and it was a direct result of the soon to be boss getting angry at the LW. the LW sasy “The falling out happened because I didn’t text her to tell her about a significant life event before posting it on social media. We were friends but not close enough where that would even be a thought in my mind. She has since blocked my phone number and has me blocked on all social media platforms.” That says A LOT about the soon to be boss. Instead of talking with the LW and saying that she felt hurt by LW actions she just blocks everything so the LW can’t talk to her. This doesn’t show that she can be objective to the LW.

      Reply
      1. NewYork*

        There is a difference between social and work relationships. LW1 needs to let it go, until it actually impacts her at work

        Reply
        1. Managing In*

          Sure, there is also a difference between coworkers and someone directly managing you. ‘We had a falling out, she doesn’t like me, and now she has control over my promotions and raises’ is a problem that she doesn’t need to “let go.” That’s information I would want to know if I were hiring someone. It depends on LW’s work (good bosses who listen to you vs. bad bosses who won’t care? track record of being a good employee vs. rocky past?) but the time to say something is before the ex-friend is fully set up as their manager, not after.

          Reply
          1. I'm just here for the cats*

            That was what I was getting at. This person has shown she can be vindictive (if she’s your friend and you get angry for not telling you something and you cut her off that is just wrong) and I believe the soon to be boss has judgement problems. At the very least LW should go to someone higher up or to hr, or if her current boss is still in the picture the current boss, and tell the situation. She doesn’t need to get all gossipy or anything just state: I used to be friends with X. In fact she was the one that recommended this company to me. We had a falling out and she blocked my phone number and social media. We have been professional at work. I am afraid that if she becomes my boss she will have control and knowledge of my life that I don’t feel comfortable with. What can we do to make this work for everyone.

            Reply
  22. TootsNYC*

    I’m actively trying to get pregnant and absolutely do not want to have to have any conversation with her in this regard, as I am fearful she will share information with mutual friends before I’m ready.

    One thing here: Most people do NOT tell their bosses anything about any potential pregnancies until they are at least 3 months pregnant. Bosses just don’t need to know anything until then. They don’t need to know that you are trying, because there’s nothing they can do with that information (at least, nothing legal or moral).

    I know there are many other concerns with having her as your boss, but telling her stuff about your pregnancy before other people know it shouldn’t be one of them.

    Reply
    1. Observer*

      I agree with this.

      OP, please do keep this in mind. Even with a good boss, this is NOT something that you should feel any need to share unless there is more here, such as needing treatment that requires appointments.

      Reply
  23. Not always right*

    Southerner here. For obvious reasons I avoid driving in inclement weather period. Thankfully, the commentators from the north have been kind. Our local news teams always go out in snowy and icy weather and say the same phrases over and over. Solid sheet of Ice comes to mind. There is also the obligatory transplanted northerner who scoffs at how poorly we southerners handle the whole situation. One year they interviewed a man from Pennsylvania who was mocking the situation, and as he drove off, he slid into a ditch. Thankfully, there was a tow truck already there to get him out. Also, many times I’ve seen news stories of experienced drivers up north sliding around and crashing into guardrail and into one another. Let’s face it. Driving on snow and ice is dangerous no matter where you live.

    Reply
    1. Sandman*

      Some of us northerners also overestimate our abilities because our communities are equipped to handle snow and ice. Most of us aren’t used to driving on unplowed, untreated roads, either.

      Reply
  24. Sleepy*

    In a way, I feel for the coworker in Letter #1, but only in the hurt they must have felt, not in their reaction. It sucks to find out that a friendship that is important to you isn’t as important to the other person. Their reaction, of course, is totally unjustified.

    I have felt a similar kind of hurt with a work friend, but…I realized the hurt feelings were my problem, not theirs, and we still work together closely.

    Reply
  25. Popcorn Burner*

    Re #2: It’s a good thought to offer rides, but “equipped for snow” isn’t relevant when the real issue on Thurs/Fri of last week was ice. 4x4s can and do lose control when all four wheels are on ice.

    Reply
  26. In my shell*

    #4 What does the personnel policy/employee handbook say about PIPs? I’m assuming it includes a note about not being eligible for a raise in conjunction with a PIP – ?

    Reply
  27. Snowy Questions*

    Another snow question here, and I’d love to hear from some Canadians!
    In my home province, it’s not unusual to get a big dump of snow (12+ inches) overnight. It happens 1-2 a year. Throughout the months of November-April, we are all accustomed to driving on snow. In the mountains, close to where we live, you can be ticketed for failing to put on winter tires throughout the winter months – we take the snow seriously here.
    So I was surprised that after a large dump of snow, I had multiple staff members call right before their scheduled shift to say that they were snowed-in – their cars and driveways had too much snow on them, their road hadn’t been cleared (but other people would have driven on them), etc. I asked if they had looked into public transit, and most hadn’t considered it, even though our public transit system was running fine, although a bit slow.
    Most of the staff, and all of the staff who normally take public transit, were able to get in. Those that called in for snowed in cars either had their shift cancelled (no-pay) or needed to take a vacation day, but I was understanding and didn’t hold it against them.
    However, I kind of viewed it as: if your car broke down, you would try to look for alternative methods to get to work, right? Or if you know it snowed 12 inches last night, you should maybe start to shovel your car and driveway earlier than 10 minutes before your shift starts? Or am I being too harsh? What are the expectations from other Canadian business during “once-a-year” weather?

    For context, we do government work. The people who called in were front-facing staff (all fairly high-level and posses university degrees), and our offices were open.

    Reply
    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Not Canadian, but I’m going to comment anyway. :-)

      their cars and driveways had too much snow on them, their road hadn’t been cleared (but other people would have driven on them), etc.

      Is it possible that they literally couldn’t get out of their driveways? Could drifts, slopes, etc. have made it impossible to get to the road, even if the road itself was driveable? Or could their cars have had lower clearance than the cars that were able to make it through the snow?

      I asked if they had looked into public transit, and most hadn’t considered it, even though our public transit system was running fine, although a bit slow.

      Did the people who hadn’t considered it actually live within walking distance of a public transit stop?

      Reply
      1. Snowy Questions*

        In some cases, potentially… the snow always accumulates differently in different areas of the city. That being said, no one else is going to shovel that snow, so unless they were planning on being homebound until the April melt, they will need to shovel it out at some point! Haha!
        Our public transit system is surprisingly good, so although I’m not 100% sure , I’m fairly certain that most staff members would be within a reasonable walk to a transit stop. Good things to think about though!

        Reply
    2. Veronica*

      As someone who shovels every 6 inches around the clock in order to keep up with storms, I totally get you about planning ahead. One of the criteria for choosing my current house was also “how close to the department of public works or other important town property that needs to be plowed am I” because I wanted to know that the plows would come by regularly and I wouldn’t be stuck on the last dead-end cul-de-sac.
      However, someone has to live on that dead end cul-de-sac that never gets plowed. And it sounds like business could continue without them. So assuming you’re covered for major issues that day, I think the trade off is they have to take vacation.
      Can you buy everyone who did make it into the office lunch as a reward to trudging through the snow?

      Reply
      1. Snowy Questions*

        I did buy everyone who came in their special Starbucks order! I did feel bad for some of the people who trudged in through the snow… but it was a pretty quiet day for them anyways.

        Reply
    3. ShinyPenny*

      Also not Canadian, but I wonder about the assumption that all of your employees are as able as you are assuming? Sometimes people need to not be open about disabilities at work for good reasons, so if you assume you have all the relevant information you may be mistaken.

      Also, invisible disabilities come in many flavors, so someone might be an avid fairweather hiker but also critically need to avoid getting a concussion slipping on ice. Just Using public transport could be unreasonably dangerous for some, for a range of reasons.

      Reply
      1. Snowy Questions*

        This is something really big that didn’t really cross my radar! Our jobs are semi-physical, so I definitely have an assumption that they are all physically fit. Very good reminder that invisible/silent disabilities exist and that should factor into my thinking. Thank you!

        Reply
      2. EmmaPoet*

        This. I have a friend who loves to go out and do day hikes every chance he gets, and we’re talking ten miles or so. He also can’t lift more than 10 pounds. Shoveling snow, especially a heavy, wet snow, would probably put him in traction.

        Reply
    4. acmx*

      ” if your car broke down, you would try to look for alternative methods to get to work, right?”
      Actually, no. If my car was not working when I tried to go to work, I would just take the day off and spend the day getting my vehicle operating again.

      “Or if you know it snowed 12 inches last night, you should maybe start to shovel your car and driveway earlier than 10 minutes before your shift starts?”
      This may be Floridian of me, but I may not know that it snowed 12″ overnight. Also, my day starts early as it is, if I had to get up at 4 am to shovel snow off my car (why don’t I have a garage??), I’d call for a day off.

      Reply
      1. Snowy Questions*

        Ha! I have Floridian family, and this made me laugh. They can’t ever get over the amount of snow and cold when they come to visit.
        Trust me, when it snows that much, we have winter weather alerts on the news – “Prepare! Snow is coming!”. So I am doubtful staff woke up to 12 inches of snow and were surprised.
        That being said, potentially staff had the same outlook as you of “I’d rather take the vacation day hit”. It did create some hassle for everyone else though, so I’d like for staff to consider the extra work that their colleagues needed to take on. We were still open and serving the public but with a reduced staff.

        Reply
    5. No snow right now*

      Could these employees safely walk to a nearby public transit stop? If I’m unable to drive, there’s a very good chance I would not consider it safe to walk either.

      Reply
      1. Snowy Questions*

        Another commenter correctly pointed out that some staff may have invisible disabilities that could prevent them from the physical acts of shoveling their snow/walking in snow. So definitely something that will be on my mind in our next snowfall.
        However, this wasn’t an unusual amount of snow! As a climate that has snow/ice on the ground from October to April, I would be greatly surprised if they felt it was unsafe to walk. Also, the snow storm was over by the morning so it was a bright and sunny day – no worries about blizzards. Just… a bunch of snow on the ground.

        Reply
    6. EmmaPoet*

      How available is their public transportation? In my case, there’s a bus stop half a mile away, but I live on side roads that don’t get plowed till last, so I’d be wading through the snow that whole half-mile. I could do it if I’m feeling OK, but I wouldn’t expect someone else to try it.

      Reply
    7. Tisiphone*

      “Or if you know it snowed 12 inches last night, you should maybe start to shovel your car and driveway earlier than 10 minutes before your shift starts?”

      I live in a snowy and cold area with some rather impressive snowfalls. One year we got hit with a blizzard every weekend in April dumping over a foot of snow each time.

      More usually we get about six inches or so. Day shifters get up in the middle of the night to shovel their driveways. They set the alarm for early. This used to be me when I worked days and when working from home wasn’t an option. My driveway would be spotless at 5am, then I’d go inside and grab breakfast, and get ready to leave to give myself an extra 45 min to get to work on time.

      Only to find that the snowplow just went by, dumping two feet of snow at the end of my driveway.

      Reply
  28. L*

    Wait, this woman is getting promoted and has managed to work with you all this time and you want to go to HR and complain that she stopped being your friend a long time ago? You’re going to look nuts… Also I seriously doubt if people care as much as you think whether or not you have a baby. This just seems like a whack of drama caused by one person – the one who had to be blocked.

    Reply
    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      It would be nuts to complain that your peer doesn’t like you, but when that person becomes your supervisor, it’s not nuts to say “hey, this person has an irrational dislike for me, and I’m a little concerned now that she’s my boss.”

      Reply
    2. Lisa*

      What the heck? I find it interesting that you read this and immediately started attacking the OP and being incredibly rude. Are you secretly her boss?

      Reply
      1. L*

        Lol – this person is obviously stressed that someone they had a problem with is going to be their supervisor, but in a lot of workplaces it just means they’ll be the one moved, or booted. It’s insane to try to stop someone from getting a promotion just because you don’t feel you can get along. That’s the epitome of vindictiveness.

        Reply
    3. Surly*

      Agree. I don’t think telling HR that the friend blocked them on social media is going to come across well at all. There aren’t any examples of the friend’s vindictiveness in the letter, so it does come off as strangely dramatic to me and makes me question the letter writer’s judgement here.

      Reply
  29. MCMonkeybean*

    For LW #3 it sounds like a lot of what your manager did regarding keeping the scope of your job manageable will likely benefit not just you specifically but also whoever ends up filling that role after you! So even though it’s always true that you don’t need to feel guilty about leaving your position, I think you extra don’t need to feel guilty about that piece since it’s not like her efforts will be wasted once you leave.

    Reply
  30. EchoGirl*

    Regarding LW2, I’ve actually been in a similar situation. About eight years ago, I was working at a call center in a Midwestern city that got absolutely WALLOPED by a snowstorm. Shutting down wasn’t an option (hard to explain without giving away too many specifics, but this wasn’t just managers being dismissive, there was an actual reason we couldn’t shut down operations), and a lot of people either couldn’t get their cars out (major streets were passable, side streets, alleys, etc. were not) or usually commuted by public transit (which wasn’t running), so they had a few more senior employees driving around to give people rides to work (as well as offering to comp cabs) to try and keep reasonable levels of staffing on the floor. So I think I understand what that OP’s company is trying to do (although if they’re able to do their jobs from home, that does complicate things a bit).

    However, two things make this really different from the OP’s situation. The first is that my company was organizing the drivers more selectively, not just “anyone with a snow-worthy car”. And the second was that it was a state that wasn’t unfamiliar with snow. It was an unusual snow event, but we had the basics of dealing with snow covered (i.e. we had snowplows and salt ready to roll) and drivers in the area had experience driving in snow. Given these differences, I feel like even I, who accepted a ride in my own scenario, might balk a bit in OP’s position.

    Reply

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