boss is pressuring me to attend a drunken weekend, thank-you notes when you resign, and more

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

1. My boss is pressuring me to attend a drunken weekend where I’d be the only woman

I’m the only woman in our department. Our manager wants to have team-building contest where if you are one of the top performers, you get to go for an all-inclusive drunk weekend with coworkers (all male) in a house and go ice fishing and participate in outdoor winter activities. That’s the prize. The manager doesn’t call it a drunk weekend, but it is — previous events were like that.

I didn’t think it was appropriate for a married, middle-aged woman with children to go on this trip. However, the manager wanted the group to bond as a “team.” I expressed my discomfort with this type of contest and bonding. After months of working really hard to be a top performer, the manager indicated there is no other prize. Either you go to this drunk weekend event or you don’t. The part that I don’t like is being in a house with men who could be loaded drunk. These men are not the same people you work with when they are drunk. I feel very uncomfortable, and I do not really enjoy winter activities with drunk men. People have told me, to suck it up and stop complaining and that I am ruining it for everyone else. There have been other events that I went to, but they were at a hotel. So if I didn’t feel comfortable, I could go back to my room and I had my own space to watch TV, talk on phone, etc. What’s your advice?

Yeah, it’s very reasonable to decline that “prize”! It would be reasonable to decline even if you’re weren’t married, or middle-aged, or a woman. Not everyone is comfortable spending a weekend in a house with drunk coworkers (and that’s before we even get into the “outdoor winter activities”). The people who are telling you that you’re ruining it for everyone else by not going are the same people who thought women were ruining things when they objected to business networking centered around golf and strip clubs (and probably the same people who thought women ruined work when they showed up in management positions).

Decline the weekend, ignore the comments, tell your boss that pressuring the lone woman on the team into this event is wildly problematic for the company, and ask that he stop. Or, decline the weekend, ignore the comments, and talk to HR about your experience as the lone woman on this team (or, if your HR is weak, go over your boss’s head to someone with more sense and some amount of concern about the company’s culture).

2. How to deal with a coworker who apologizes constantly for missing work when it impacts me

A few months ago, I was placed onto a new project with a peer I’d never worked with before. My manager and I set timelines for this project based on having two people on it full-time.

Turns out, my peer has a *very* spotty attendance record; around 11 AM daily, he’ll either show up or provide the reason he won’t be in (which could be anything from having forgotten to set an alarm to not feeling well to having a pet emergency and needing to go to the vet). He generally works two or three days a week; he hasn’t been around for a full week since I was assigned to work with him, and one time he went AWOL for two weeks straight and HR had to track him down. When he does work, he’s done at 5 PM on the dot.

My manager is aware of what’s going on. I’ve made it clear that the timelines are slipping due to the project being understaffed. It’s also hard for my manager not to notice that my peer hasn’t made it to a single weekly check-in meeting. My manager is understanding, but has made it clear that I need to get the project done anyway because I set the project timelines and usually follows it up with “we can’t expect him not to get sick” or “pet emergencies are emergencies,” things along those lines. So I’ve been pulling overtime (unpaid, since I’m salaried) doing the work of two people.

How do I handle it when my peer comes in and starts apologizing and berating himself for missing so much work? I feel like I’m in a bind because we’re at the same level, so I don’t have the leverage to tell him his behavior is unacceptable — especially when my manager has made it clear that he’s fine with the situation. But on the other hand, his lack of attendance truly is impacting my life, and saying “it’s fine” isn’t good, because, well, it’s not fine.

You have a manager problem more than a coworker problem. It’s true that people get sick and pets have emergencies. It is also true that if someone who’s expected to work five days a week is only working two or three and is doing nothing to make up the missed work, there’s a problem that needs to be addressed, and the answer isn’t just to make someone else pick up the extra load. Ideally you’d talk to your manager, explain you need someone staffed full-time on the work, and ask who that can be since your coworker isn’t able to do it. Say, “This project takes 80 person-hours a week. I can provide 40 of those. We either need someone else for the other 40, or I need to move our finish date out to August (or whatever) to account for Bob not being available much of the week.” (Here’s more advice on setting boundaries on your time.)

As for what to say when Bob apologizes and berates himself: You don’t need to tell him it’s fine! You can nod and say nothing. You can say, “Yes, you’ve been out a lot.” You can say, “Yes, I’ve had to work a lot of extra hours to keep things on track.” You can say, “I’ve been counting on you for X and Y and have been ended up having to cover that myself. What’s a realistic plan going forward?” With all of these, use a dry, matter-of-fact tone. It’s not an overstep if you’re just calmly just stating the facts.

3. Are you supposed to write your boss a thank-you note when you resign?

I’ve just landed an awesome job with a 40% raise and a title bump, thanks to your salary negotiation and interviewing advice! I had a question about sending thank-you notes after resigning. I’ve heard that I should always write my boss a thank-you letter in addition to my resignation letter to help secure a good reference — which sounds a bit excessive? In my present case, I’ve really enjoyed working with my current supervisor — she really helped me grow and wrote me a stellar recommendation for my PhD program (which I thanked her for at the time). She is very disheartened that I am leaving, although she is being very professional about it and understands it’s a stellar opportunity. I feel like writing a thank-you note might be rubbing salt in the wound, but I also don’t want her to feel that I didn’t appreciate her support. What are your thoughts on this — are resignation thank-you notes common and generally welcomed?

Resignation thank-you notes are not a thing! Occasionally someone will write one and it’s a lovely and gracious gesture, but it’s definitely not expected or obligatory in any way. If you would like to do one, it wouldn’t be weird and your manager would likely treasure it (assuming it wasn’t short and generic but instead included some details about why you enjoyed working with her) — and it’s very unlikely to rub salt in the wound — but if you’re only contemplating it because you heard you’re supposed to, you definitely don’t need to. Most people don’t.

4. How do I tell my coworker I’m taking a job I swore I’d never take?

I am a young(ish) professional, currently working in a public interest-type job. My goal and intent was always to work in the private sector. However, most employers in my area of interest are small and reluctant to hire/train/invest in folks fresh out of school. Our interest area is also small and quite close-knit, so most of us know one another. Needing a job and relevant experience, I accepted a job working in my interest area at a nonprofit.

That was about a year ago. My peer, Abby, is someone I met during grad school and have a great relationship with. While I have enjoyed many aspects of my work, most especially working with Abby, it quickly became clear that I do indeed want to end up in the private sector. I was envisioning maybe one to two more years from now, but eventually.

However, Beth, a person who Abby and I both know, recently announced she would be hiring. I mentioned to Abby that Beth would probably try to recruit me and how, hahaha, I would never accept.

Well … Beth made me a really good offer and after much thinking, I have decided to take the job. This is the right move for me, but I feel pretty bad about the situation. Obviously, I should have learned the lesson about keeping my mouth shut sooner in life. I will be giving notice in a couple of weeks, and I would like some advice about how to share this news with Abby.

It probably won’t be nearly as big of a deal to Abby as it is in your head. You feel silly for saying you’d never do the thing you’re now doing, but people change their minds all the time, especially once a specific offer materializes. Abby might rib you about it a little, but it’s unlikely to strike her as genuinely scandalous or shocking.

You could just say something like, “Well, I need to eat my words because after talking more with Beth and hearing her offer, she won me over and I decided to accept it.” That’s it! If you want, you could add, “That’ll teach me to make sweeping statements about jobs before hearing people out.” But really, it shouldn’t be a big deal.

5. When should I mention that I’m interested in my retiring manager’s job?

My supervisor is retiring in three months. I plan to apply for her job when it is posted. When would it be appropriate for me to express my interest in the position? I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I think I have a pretty good chance of being hired to the job, and it could be beneficial for everyone if the person retiring could work with me to transition before she leaves. Whenever I do this, I want to do it thoughtfully and respectfully.

Now! Mention it now! If you wait, there’s a (pretty big) chance that by the time you speak up they will already be moving forward with other candidates. Sometimes that happens behind the scenes before a job is posted. Talk to your manager now, tell her you’re interested, and ask what the right next steps would be. (It’s not disrespectful to do that. She knows she’s retiring and her spot is opening up, and it’s not the sort of thing where you need to wait a respectful amount of time before mentioning it.)

{ 549 comments… read them below }

  1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

    OP #1: Ugh. That sounds like an awful “prize” for being a top performer. I don’t know why some managers/companies think some sort of weekend or trip is a perk or a prize. And being the only woman attending a drunken weekend with a bunch of men would be extremely uncomfortable, and not to mention a potential HR nightmare. What’s the matter with the people telling you to suck it up and go? I’m with Alison on this. Don’t attend if you don’t want to and stick to your guns. You are being perfectly reasonable.

    Honestly, I’d decline the weekend even if it weren’t a drunk fest weekend where I was the only woman. They need to figure out a better prize that you would actually want.

    1. Rich*

      There is no level on which this is a good thing. It’s a terrible prize if it’s appeal is so… specifically targeted. It’s a terrible boss who is pressuring you to do something (optional) that you clearly don’t want to do and that is clearly not part of your actual job. It’s terrible coworkers who try to guilt you into enabling their behavior and shame you for your refusal to do so. The only person who has it right in this is you.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I’ll add paintball and axe throwing to this list of specifically targeted ‘prizes’. A C-suiter at a former employer couldn’t understand that a lot of people didn’t enjoy shooting or getting shot at even in fun, or weren’t able to throw an axe hard enough to hit a target. But every year, one of those was our ‘prize’ was for great work.

        A small, boisterous group of ‘dudes’ lobbied hard for these events, but the rest of us would’ve been happy with a half-day off.

        1. Momma Bear*

          Depends on the team. I’ve done axe throwing with my team (not the only woman, though) and it was a lot of fun even if I was somewhat terrible at it. But I was never pressured to join in for golf or paintball if I didn’t want to. I think laser tag is better than paintball re: injuries. Not a fan of large bruises, though some people find it fun. But really it boils down to options. Do you want to 1. take a half day or 2. go on this sponsored outing? No options is kind of like inviting the vegetarian to the steak house.

          1. Marion Ravenwood*

            My team (a roughly 50-50 male/female split at the time) did axe throwing for our Christmas outing a couple of years ago. I sucked royally at it, but it was a lot of fun. Crucially though there was no pressure to participate – a couple of colleagues just came along to have a drink and cheer us on, and as far as I recall we all enjoyed it. But I think as you say it’s the fact that the options are ‘this or nothing’ that’s part of the issue, even before getting into the safety aspects and such.

    2. allathian*

      Yeah, this is truly awful, Alison’s advice was spot on.

      I no longer attend Christmas parties at my job, because during the last few years (except 2020 obviously) they were always held on a cruise ship on a 6-hour cruise. I can enjoy a drink or maybe two with my teammates after work, but I don’t want to see them drunk.

      1. Antilles*

        A six-hour cruise? SIX HOURS???
        That’s a long time even to spend with blood relatives or friends, never mind random co-workers.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Agreed. Six hours needs to be a wedding or something – and to have options for chill out zones, multiple bathrooms, and significant catering.

          More generally, though, parties you can’t leave *suck*. Even the person who is totally ecstatic for five hours is going to be miserable by the end.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I worked with someone who told me that, at his last job, the company went on a cruise for something like *a week*. He was expecting me to be in awe of that great work perk. Instead, I was horrified. You put me on a boat, in the middle of an ocean, with my coworkers for a week, and I just might jump overboard and start swimming hoping to get away from them. I really enjoy most of my coworkers’ company, and can even name a handful of people over my 24-year period of working in the US that I would love to be on a boat for a week with. But everyone in the office, hell no.

          1. Presbytoonian*

            Some of us get seasick. I can get seasick even thinking about being on a boat. NO ONE would want to be around me after maybe 15 minutes on a boat.

            1. Marion Ravenwood*

              Not seasickness, but I have a major fear of boats, especially on choppy water (I think it’s a combination of not learning to swim until relatively late and a worry that if I fell in no-one would rescue me). A week long cruise is my idea of absolute hell and I would be noping out of this as fast as humanly possible.

          2. Carol the happy elf*

            I like my colleagues, and love a good cruise, but trapped on a boat for days?? I would chew off my own hand and use it to chum for sharks before jumping overboard.

          3. La Triviata*

            I might be tempted to jump off the ship with some steaks strapped to my body. Better sharks than drunk co-workers.

        3. MusicWithRocksIn*

          Dude. That is twice the amount of time of Gilligan’s cruise and they disappeared beyond the edge of civilization.

            1. Carol the happy elf*

              Baby Shark, doo-doo-de-doo-de-doo!
              Fresh, situationally appropriate
              You’re welcome.

              1. TardyTardis*

                Thank you, Jesus (and I mean that sincerely) for leaving me ignorant of how that tune goes. :)

      2. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        Those cruises with coworkers are the worst. There is no escape if you’re ready to leave before it ends. You can’t just make a polite appearance for a drink or two. I really wish the people who plan these things for the office would rethink that.

        1. Ganymede*

          It is an excellent rule of life to NEVER go on a dinner cruise. You cannot escape. I remember cruising with my husband round Sydney Harbour as the guests of a local businessman and his wife. On we drifted, as the talk at our table of four eventually turned to the genetic characteristics of native Australians *insert horror emoji*. The last 45 minutes was spent in a dazed, tipsy silence, as we simply ran out of things to say to each other and couldn’t muster the effort to try.

          At one point we were tantalisingly near the wharf that was nearest to our house…. nope, onwards, ever onwards… I still shudder.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            On we drifted, as the talk at our table of four eventually turned to the genetic characteristics of native Australians *insert horror emoji*

            Another AAM classic is born. That’s right up there with the Hannukah balls and the boobs stuck to a railing.

            I get seasick and carsick extremely easily. A dinner cruise with me will probably not be enjoyable for anyone present.

              1. 2horseygirls*

                Right? I feel like I would remember that one.

                Also: eerily close to a story from HS about a friend who had to make a clandestine exit from a house, and got boos stuck on a gutter. Another friend had to ever so delicately and gentlemanly extricate them before the escape could continue. ☺

        2. the cat's ass*

          Agreed. I went on one of these for the holidays at my very least favorite job AND had to bring my unwilling husband. It was EXCRUCIATING, and as we drive home afterwards, he said to me, ” i don’t know how you work with these people, they’re awful.” I have another job before the following Christmas.

      3. somanyquestions*

        6 hours on a cruise with my co-workers and I would need to have a cabin I could go hide in, when I felt like it. Being trapped there, in a big drunken room, I just could not do it.

      4. Sparkles McFadden*

        Oh yes. We used to have these too. The party you cannot leave.

        Ours were actually OK (mostly because the parties weren’t six hours long!), but, one year, we had to share the boat. Almost everyone at that other company got roaring drunk immediately, and then invaded our part of the boat to get to our bar to get more drunk. There was shoving and arguing as our management tried to explain to drunk people that they had to leave our private party, and no, they could not order drinks at our bar because their bar was closed.

        That was the last time we had a party on a boat. I was fine with that.

        1. Antilles*

          Sounds like you guys were one unhinged email away from matching “I will confront you by Wednesday” levels.

      5. Elizabeth West*


        One time, the non-profit I worked for made us go on a mandatory steamboat lunch cruise. We were bused to the lake and forced to eat meh food and watch a mildly amusing acrobat/dog show. We couldn’t even go out on the lake because it was too windy; the boat just sat there. After the show, we were bused back to the office, whereupon we could go home. I was in the throes of a major depressive episode and did not want to go, but it was non-negotiable.

        If I had a do-over, I’d pretend I wanted to go and then call in sick.

    3. AJ*

      As repugnant as the weekend sounds, I’d be tempted to go, well… tempted for my evil twin to go just for the potential blackmailing opportunities. ◔ ⌣ ◔

      1. Eat My Squirrel*

        Lol I was kind of thinking this, but more in a “take one for the team” way. I am a woman who actually enjoys “outdoor winter activities,” although ice fishing wouldn’t really be my jam (because of the whole I could fall through the ice and die thing, not because of the fishing). I would probably go, and then document and report every single incident of sexual harassment (of which I’m sure there would be many), and if anyone got really out of hand and grabbed me or something, I would break his nose the way I was taught in self defense class. There would be no more trips after that one.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I’m not a fan of fishing in general. If you make me sit in one place and stare into one spot for hours, well that’s called work and I’m not doing it unless you’re paying me. (Ex-husband is a great fishing aficionado, and tried to get me and the kids into it, but we just couldn’t.) Ice fishing has added layers of unpleasantness in it being cold as heck (unless you are drinking, like, A LOT, and then you can still get frostbite, you just won’t notice it until later), and, to your point, the whole falling through the ice thing (where no one can help you get out, because they’ve all been drinking to stay warm and can barely stand on their feet).

          1. Shad*

            I can do well and have managed success with multitask fishing (set the line and do something low-focus so I can react to a bite; I did that and caught more than the rest of the party), but I do not fish without another task for love or money.

            1. Old Woman in Purple*

              I went fishing with my grandpa several times as a child. I never caught anything but chiggers. I am not a fan.

              1. nonegiven*

                My friend and her family would go north every summer to some tournament her husband was into. One year, they had spent the weekend doing outdoors stuff, so they stopped in a state north of here on the way up, because they had forgotten a supply they needed and the stores up there had never heard of Chigarid. What’s a chigger?

                1. Wombats and Tequila*

                  It’s a relative of the tick which, in its larval stage, feeds on the skin of certain warn blooded animals, in the process secreting an enzyme which causes welts which itch intensely. Good times.

                2. LadyK*

                  Don’t forget they are pinhead sized and burrow in your skin. Clear nail polish over the bite will kill them. They’re nasty.

        2. Kidding Not Kidding*

          I would tell my boss I changed my mind and would love to go. I would also add that the local police department needed volunteers to wear body cams that link via satellite. I will be there with bells on! uh camera on to document such a momentous achievement!

        3. ...*

          Every time I’ve been to an event with drunk coworkers, I have been groped at least once. Of course, when I say “every time” I mean twice, because I stopped attending after the second event.

          1. Eat My Squirrel*

            Yeah… I guess ever since the local disgusting creep told a female coworker, while at work, in front of other people, that he wanted to see her in Playboy, and he did not lose his job, I have been secretly waiting for an excuse to beat his face to a bloody pulp. One of those dark fantasies that sounds awesome in my mind, but truthfully, in real life I’d probably decline to go because I wouldn’t want to be caught dead alone with that guy. He’d probably grope my corpse.

        4. Lily*

          Yeah, I took my husband on a (moderate) drinking and ice fishing weekend once and had a great time. I would not enjoy being the only woman around my loaded male coworkers on such a weekend.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        This might be a case of “be careful what you ask for, you might get it”. I was at a weekend-long wedding with coworkers and former coworkers. People were staying the night. There was copious drinking. I heard things that I’d give anything to unhear. I cut contact with one of the coworkers after what he’d drunkenly told me during that weekend.

        1. TardyTardis*

          And keep copies; you’re bound to get a higher severance if you promise to hand them over when you leave.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      A drunken weekend wouldn’t appeal to me even if everyone were my own gender, even if the people involved were already my friends and not my co-workers. I don’t like hanging out with drunk people, period. And the idea that this is a reward and a prize for hard work? What kind of manager considers such a situation to be “team-building” to begin with, and what kind of co-workers tell you to suck it up and stop complaining? The mind boggles. Ick.

      1. Avi*

        Even outside of the problems with the gender dynamics and the drinking, the ‘activities’ themselves sound pretty narrowly targeted. I mean, ice fishing isn’t exactly something that has broad appeal. This kinda sounds like a case of a manager who’s using the ‘team building’ trip as an excuse to do the things that he likes to do, and thinks that obviously everyone else should like the things he likes.

        1. MK*

          It sounds like a guy who is trying to get his company to pay for his dream winter vacation. And I am wondering if that depends in some way on the OP agreeing to go, otherwise I don’t see why they keep pressuring her.

          1. Mongrel*

            This is one of the times that I wish it were appropriate to lessen the output of your work because there’s no point chasing after such a ‘reward’…

            1. allathian*

              Yeah, this. I mean, I’d certainly hope that the reward for doing good work isn’t just more work, but that kind of reward would certainly make me even less inclined to go above and beyond…

            2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              That was my first thought. “If a top performer has to go, and will be ostracized for not going, let me look into how much I’ll need to slack off to not be a top performer…” (not being serious, of course.)

          2. OhNo*

            If I had to guess, that’s probably EXACTLY what’s happening. And if the OP points out how problematic it is, the company might shut the whole thing down (as they rightly should), and the boss would be cranky about getting his company-sponsored vacation taken away.

            I say this not to discourage the OP – in fact, OP, please, please, report this and point out the issues with it to someone who will take it seriously. This is a nightmare waiting to happen, and the quicker it is shut down, the better.

        2. LifeBeforeCorona*

          Yeah, I’ve been ice fishing. 6 hours of staring at a hole in the ice while slowly freezing are my clearest memory.

        3. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

          Yes, and you’re not a ‘team player’ if you don’t let him have his way.

    5. LifeBeforeCorona*

      This drunken weekend is a perfect setup for company liability for accidents and other shenanigans that happen when drinking is encouraged by the management. Not just for the OP but for anyone else who dislikes a weekend trapped with drinkers. There must be other people on the team who are as disgusted as OP at the thought of participating. Maybe the OP can talk to her co-workers and get a sense about who is really enthusiastic and who is trying to manufacture a family “emergency” for the weekend.

      1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        One woman alone with a group of men who’ve been drinking heavily also sounds as if it’s a potential high-risk setup for gang rape. No, I do NOT believe that the unthinking boss is planning for this to happen, but I DO believe that this could turn ugly and dangerous very, very fast. It could easily devolve into a nightmare for the LW; she’s wise to stay away.

        1. Self Employed*

          @Marzipan, you are not the only one who considered this. I did, as soon as the OP said she’d be the only woman in an ice-fishing shack in the boonies with a bunch of drunken men.

          Not that anyone is planning this at all, but just that groups of drunken men have a history of ganging up on women in isolated places like frat-house basements or, potentially, ice-fishing shacks. It’s the absolute worst-case scenario but even just having ONE drunk coworker groping OP where she can’t just walk out of the hotel ballroom and get home easily is bad enough to nope out of this.

          I don’t know if getting HR or Risk Management to look into this “tradition” and its amazing convergence of liability issues might blow back on OP if she complains, but definitely OP shouldn’t cave into pressure to attend.

          1. Ellie*

            It was my first thought too, although I hate that it was.

            The boss won’t have even considered that angle because he’s a man who doesn’t have to think about those things. But on some level he must realise how bad it would look to have the only woman in the department be excluded or opt out of the prize, and is trying to shut the OP down before it happens. The OP is not responsible for this and should do whatever she needs to, to make sure she’s safe.

    6. Isabelle*

      The boss sounds like the kind of person who gifts others things that they would want to receive themselves without doing any research about the likes and dislikes of the recipient.
      It is selfish at the best of times but in a work context it’s so much worse.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Someone here probably has a better handle on this court case than I do. However, I can remember a case where the Supreme Court ruled that if a company required a man and woman to travel together for business this set up could be construed as sexual harassment.
      If I am remembering the case correctly (I may not be remembering correctly) then this party set up is waaay over the top.

      OP, this is one of my own hills to die on. I don’t want to be around a bunch of drunk people. Period. Growing up my peers were stoned and the adults were drunk. I promised me that I would not have to deal with people in mind-altered states once I grew up. And it is a promise I have kept for myself since I left home. (We are not talking about 1 or 2 drinks or 1 joint. We are talking about falling down, hot messes.)

      If I could not convince the boss that this is Not Cool (a term I use in the sharpest, severest manner you can imagine) then I’d be job hunting pdq. Yeah, I have that hard boundary line on this one.

      1. Cj*

        Does anybody have more info on this court case? It seems strange to me that just traveling together could be sexual harassment if they aren’t required to share a room. It does sound like she would be in a house with all of these men, so in this case I could definately see potential sexual harassment.

        For the court case, I could see religious discrimination if one of them was a member of a religion that forbids it and they would be penalized in some manner at work if they don’t’ go.

      2. Just no*

        I am a lawyer, and this is not true. There is no Supreme Court case that says this or anything like it.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          My money on vaguely misremembered “Supreme Court” cases is always that it was the Supreme Court of New York.

          1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

            Which, for people who don’t know the New York courts, is one of the lowest levels of court in that state–it only sounds impressive. “A Staten Island court ruled…” (or even “a New York court said”) isn’t going to impress anyone.

    8. Lacey*

      Indeed! It would be awful for anyone who just doesn’t enjoy that kind of thing, but to be a woman alone with a bunch of drunk men… come on. No one at your company sees the issue?

      1. Daffy Duck*

        Yeah, at best I would be the sober person washing the dishes and cleaning up vomit. At worst it is bringing a criminal case against coworkers, management, and the company. I wouldn’t go either.

        1. pope suburban*

          A very cynical part of me wonders if this clown of a boss isn’t hoping she’ll come along to be “house mom” and take care of things like the dishes. His attitude hasn’t impressed me here, and it seems pretty likely that he’s got some…interesting notions about how the world works and how people behave. I doubt it’s necessarily terribly conscious- I don’t think he’s planning on this, explicitly- but rather there’s a passive and unexamined assumption that OP will come along and babysit everyone who overindulges.

          1. A Non E. Mouse*

            I would wager he knows she wouldn’t enjoy it and is actively hoping she doesn’t join, but intends to construe it as “her choice not to attend”, rather than the event itself being the Actual HR Nightmare.

          2. Carol the happy elf*

            Thank you for seeing that!
            I was thinking that same thing. The only sober person, (and the “mother figure”??) could you make a booze run into town, and while you’re there, could you drop by the laundromat? We all seem to have food spilled on our clothes. Oh, and Mr. Bigboss only wears silk undies, so they’ll have to be done by hand.
            Thanks so much for being a Good Sport….

    9. Gritter*

      I’m not a woman and thought of attending a drunken weekend like this for work fills me with dread.

      Being offered this as a prize is a sign that it’s likely of one of those companies where being a drinking buddy of the boss is more important to your career than actually being good at your job.

    10. lilsheba*

      That kind of activity would be a big fat nope from me. As a woman, a non drinker and an introvert that’s my idea of a total nightmare. I hate team building stuff anyway, it’s usually something dumb.

    11. Jenni*

      I wonder about the boss and team’s attitude about women in general based on this- his cluelessness is WILD. What else is he not aware of and doesn’t see?

    12. Abogado Avocado*

      #1: Please take Alison’s great advice and take your concerns either to HR or the higher ups or both. And put your concerns in writing, which makes it much harder for your concerns to be dismissed. This prize weekend is, as you suspect, no prize. Rather, it seems to be a way for one gender in your company to enjoy a lost weekend on the company dime and to do so in a way that risks charges of sexual harassment and/or a hostile work environment. It’s also bound to discourage other high-performers who have don’t see a drunken weekend as something worth competing for.

      Because so many companies view concerns about company activities as a reason to demand that the person raising the concern also suggest alternate activities, you may want to (although you don’t have to) suggest alternate ideas for prize weekends — e.g., a weekend at a spa such as Miraval or Canyon Ranch (which has activities for people at all activity levels); a weekend at a cooking school, such as the Culinary Institute of America; or a theatre weekend in NYC (once the theatres re-open). Additionally, there are firms that actually plan and carry out these prize weekends for companies. From the sound of the weekend you’ve described, I don’t think such professionals were involved in its planning. Thus, with the spirit of “this can be fixed,” you may want to propose that your company use such a firm to plan its prize weekend.

      Good luck! And let us know what happens!

    13. MechanicalPencil*

      Even if it weren’t problematic as the lone woman on the team, it’s incredibly ableist. It’s also rife with liability issues even if OP wasn’t the only woman. Drunken people doing winter sports — what could possibly go wrong. It sounds like The Hangover in a new locale.

      This is not a prize for being a top performer that any reasonable person should want. A prize is something like a bonus or PTO, heck even an all expenses paid trip (no! coworkers! included!). Not drunken shenanigans with coworkers. Or even sober shenanigans with coworkers.

    14. Clisby*

      I’d decline it even if other women were going and every attendee was a teetotaler. Being sent off on a weekend with co-workers is *not* a prize. It’s a punishment.

      A prize would be sending me and husband off to a resort on the company’s dime.

    15. Lynn*

      Yes. & outside of the fact that the plan for this “prize” particularly terrible, I generally don’t view spending extra out-of-work hours with my coworkers as a “prize”.

    16. singlemaltgirl*

      in my experience in male dominated fields where prizes of this type are paid for and endorsed by the company, you won’t get any support from the ‘top’ or ‘hr’ and going to them just means there will be retaliation or a firing in your future (as a worst case scenario) and no action (as your best case scenario).

      i would decline going and make up an excuse for that weekend – family obligations, funerals, weddings, something to get out of it. as the lone woman, you likely will be seen as the party pooper and not pointing out problematic behaviour.

      i am curious about alison’s advice. that would never have worked at any of the previous male dominated companies i worked at. and ‘tattling’ (how alison’s advice would have been regarded in these instances) would have resulted in blowback to me and i know resulted in blowback for other women in the past. has this actually worked for anyone in a similiar situation when a company felt this was part of their culture?

  2. Fitzroy*

    The people complaining that she is ruining it for everyone are the same people who will tell her she was asking for it, when some drunk coworker or a bunch of them decide the lone woman at the weekend is part of his/their prize, and doesn’t take no for an answer…

          1. Catalin*

            Yup. Those of us trained by experience can literally see the wireframe here. 1) male boss/team pressured woman into going on this trip. She eventually gives in because of the incredible pressure to ‘be a team player’. 2) once on trip, the pressure continues. Drink this. DO IT! It’s one beer! Don’t be lame! Deal with inappropriate comments. DO IT! 3) natural escalation of events in a toxically-patriarchal society: Drunken touchy-feely? DEAL WITH IT. IT’S NO BIG DEAL. HE WAS DRUNK, IT’S NOT HIS FAULT. ‘Drunk’ coworker ‘accidentally’ sexually assaults you? WHAT WERE YOU EXPECTING? 4) Report/seek help? Funny, no one else saw Fergus go into your room BECAUSE THEY WERE DRUNK. They declare you were probably asking for it.

            On a side note, if I were a man, there is no way in hell I would attend this trip. The risks of things going horribly wrong are WAY too high.

              1. Catalin*

                Ja, this is the briefest version. I could have also included the rest of it: losing friends, being unable to continue in that environment, mental health impact, and then forever being the woman who….nah, too heavy for a Tuesday.

            1. AnonPi*

              And 5) if it even made it to court, because she also drank it could not be called rape or assault. This was how a judge recently ruled on a case (sorry I forget where, it was something I read just the brief headline in the last week or so).

              1. Self Employed*

                I also suspect the chances of a court deciding it couldn’t be rape if she’d been drinking (instead of meaning she couldn’t consent meaningfully) are higher in the states that also happen to have ice fishing.

                Not that California is that great; look at the Brock Turner case. (Stanford student who raped an unconscious woman on campus and was caught in the act by two Swedish students. He was let off with a slap on the wrist because the judge didn’t want to ruin his career.)

    1. Anonosaurus*

      It’s a sad reflection on the state of society and the pervasive culture of misogyny in which most of us live that this is exactly what I thought as well.

      At best the weekend sounds boring and annoying. At worst – it is not out of the question that it could result in sexual assault or harassment. I wouldn’t necessarily state that explicitly if I were OP but there’s no way I would attend much less see it as a treat. I imagine this company has other … difficulties if this is seen as acceptable in its culture.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        The optics are terrible. Even if nothing happens, the co-workers are coming home with stories of drunken behavior and the lone woman attendee condoning it. My thoughts went to as the only woman that she gets stuck with meal prep, clean up, and looking after drunks especially if she isn’t outside all day fishing.

        1. allathian*

          Oh dear. I hadn’t even thought of that but now that you say it… I would certainly hope that they’re at least at a decent resort with cleaners.

        2. Empress Matilda*

          100% she will be stuck with the cleaning up regardless. Even the best case scenario sounds more like a punishment than a prize for OP. Ugh.

      2. Crivens!*

        Right? That’s the society we’re in right now but there is no way in hell I would ever feel safe being the lone woman in a large group of drunk men that I don’t know well.

    2. KateM*

      Well, that’s how she IS ruining it for everyone – now they are not getting a part of their prize!

      1. H2*

        I think you mean this flippantly, but honestly as a woman who has a lot of beloved men in my life, I find some of the comments problematic. The vast majority of men do not assault women. Some do, and I’m not discounting that, and I’m not saying that people shouldn’t protect themselves. And I can understand that a person’s *first* impulse might be to consider these issues, and I do think that’s a sad commentary on our society. Maybe I’m sensitive to this as the mother of a son, but I heard someone talking about how if he has some drinks on a work weekend that he’s going to assault someone (or my husband, or my dad…), that’s kind of awful.

        Not to mention that all of this conversation seems to take some of a woman’s autonomy away, to me. I’m a female in engineering and I have often been the only woman in a group. Yes, this trip as described seems awkward, and I probably wouldn’t want to go on it. But it’s not scandalous for a middle aged mother to be in the company of men. It’s not inappropriate! I think it’s fair I’m this case to assume that OP has a bad feeling about it (and she should be allowed to opt out for any reason). But somehow saying that she shouldn’t go because she’s the only woman just makes it about her being a woman. I don’t know how to express that well, but I just want to push back on the idea that it would be automatically inappropriate or dangerous for a woman to actually go.

        1. Crivens!*

          Most men are good men. But in a large group of men she doesn’t know well, she has no way of knowing if one of them is one of the bad ones. And “one of the bad ones” can mean many things: someone who will creepily flirt with her, spend the whole weekend staring, expect her to do all the “women’s work” of the weekend, make offensive jokes and get all offended if she doesn’t laugh along, the list goes on and on.

          This isn’t “all men are potential monsters”. This is “we live in a patriarchy and women often are not safe”.

          1. H2*

            Yes, I understand. And I appreciate your gentle,, I hesitated to post that because I am afraid I have a pile on.

            For the OP, she does know these men at least a little. And she doesn’t feel comfortable, so I think that it’s fair to say that should be the end of it. But for me some of the comments just veered into uncomfortable territory in a more general way.

            1. Scarlet2*

              Statistically speaking, a woman is much more likely to be assaulted by someone she knows than by a stranger. So LW knowing these men doesn’t mean she’s necessarily safe.

              1. H2*

                What I said is that she does know them and doesn’t feel comfortable, so that’s the end of it. I’m not saying that because she knows them that they don’t pose a risk; I’m saying basically the opposite—she does know them and does feel that they pose a risk.

                1. Saberise*

                  She said that she didn’t think it was appropriate for a married, middle-aged woman with children to go on this trip and that she was uncomfortable going. She at no point said she felt they posed a risk.

                2. Spero*

                  I think the OP directly addresses this though – she says ‘men on drunk weekend are not the same men you work with’ day to day. That’s a very real thing. Just because she knows how promptly they respond to emails and whether they are good at selling teapots does NOT mean she has enough information about them to judge whether they are safe to be around when very drunk and in an isolated area.
                  The reason you always hear ‘he seemed like such a nice guy’ is because it is very common for men (and women) to behave very differently at work/church/etc than in personal situations like relationships and drunken weekends. The OP herself clearly indicates this is a concern and you are just erasing that as if the two behaviors will be the same.

                3. turquoisecow*

                  She knows them when they’re sober and on their best behavior at work, not when they’re drunk and away from the office. There’s a difference.

                4. Definitely Anon Today*

                  TRIGGER WARNING

                  You can’t know who poses a risk and who doesn’t. A man is a good man until he isn’t. Ever heard of the me-too movement?

                  As a sexual assault survivor including child sexual abuse at the hands of my stepfather, all of the perpetrators (men) were known to me. Sexual predation is a male trait. I can understand the impulse to go “not all men” when discussing sexual violence, but it is disingenuous. And it’s also unhelpful, as alcohol just adds to the risk.

                  There needs to be another recognition activity, full-stop. OP, just decline and say you don’t drink or something. I don’t, and would find such a weekend the epitome of nervous boredom.

                5. tangerineRose*

                  “all-inclusive drunk weekend with coworkers (all male) in a house and go ice fishing and participate in outdoor winter activities.” Sounds risky to me. It’s mostly the drunk part that bothers me. Yeah there are lots of good guys out there, but it only takes one bad one.

            2. sal*

              Agree. It’s one thing to say she’s not comfortable and not go, or to point out the other issues along gender lines. It’s another thing to say it’s inappropriate because she’s a married, middle-aged woman. If another married, middle-aged woman had wanted to go, there would be nothing inappropriate about that.

        2. CupcakeCounter*

          I too am the mother of a son and I have quite a few friends of both genders. There are groups of my male friends where I wouldn’t think twice about this trip – even though its not my jam (I don’t do fish and I hate cold) – and would go without reservation. And there are other friends where I would nope out of that situation so fast your head would spin.
          My guess is that the OP has seen some behavior from her coworkers, heard stories of past trips (OP indicates it is way more than some drinks), or has personally experienced something that is giving her great pause about this. In addition…imagine if she weren’t a middle aged woman but a young 20-something. Even if nothing even remotely inappropriate happened there will be rumors about what went down with the “hot young thing” and all her male coworkers.
          Even if there were more women going, it isn’t a great “prize”. Sounds like the boss has gotten used to getting an extra week of vacation on the company’s dime and doesn’t give a crap that it isn’t something people don’t like.

          1. H2*

            Yeah, I said the same thing just above—the OP clearly has reservations about this situation with this group, and that’s what matters.

            1. Momma Bear*

              Agreed. It doesn’t matter so much what we think, but that OP is clearly uncomfortable. The boss needs to re-evaluate this “perk” and maybe even look into office culture in general.

          2. Dust Bunny*

            The few people I know who would think this was fun and also would not understand why a woman wouldn’t want to go are exactly the people whom I would not trust in this situation.

            (I have a lot of guy friends and pretty much none of them would be on board for this. Ice fishing, maybe. Drunken captive weekend with coworkers? No way.)

        3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          I reckon that your son would also never pressure a woman to attend this type of event if she stated she felt uncomfortable or complain that she was ruining it for others by choosing not to attend. I also reckon that he would see why this choice of activity would be very exclusionary to females on his work team, especially if there is only one or a very small minority of women on the team. The attitudes of these men are enough to assume that they have a toxic sense of entitlement.

          1. H2*

            How much of it is up to the coworkers, though? Sounds like probably not at all. For sure the manager is a dick.

            1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

              It’s possible the people telling her to suck it up and that she’s ruining it for everyone else are not her coworkers, but it sounds likely that they are. Even if they are not, you have at least one clear entitled creep there in a position of authority over everyone else. That’s more than enough (actually, you don’t even need that to be enough to feel uncomfortable and even see the potential danger of the situation).

        4. Jessica*

          I agree the trip is a bad idea but the whole “im a middle aged mom” thing made me think there’s some internalized “good girls dont..” type thing going on. Middle aged moms are allowed to get drunk and hang out with men. Her marital status, age, childbearing choices are not relevant to why this would be a bad idea.

              1. PT*

                It might also just be shorthand for “This is no longer my phase of life any more. I cannot be getting drunk and spraining my ankle on ice because some dumb coworker shoved me while my husband is trying to wrangle both kids from Aiden’s 10 am swim lesson to Olivia’s 11:15 am soccer practice when we’d normally split them up.”

                1. NoviceManagerGuy*

                  Right. I feel like a lot of people are jumping on the LW for basically saying “this doesn’t fit who I am”, which everybody should be free to feel and say.

                  And I’m right there with her.

                2. Self Employed*

                  I agree with PT and NoviceManagerGuy. I think some people are reading a lot into OP’s self description that isn’t necessarily there. I took it as “not someone they should assume is a young party animal” and “old enough to know what I will hate doing” plus having responsibilities to her family. (Not that fathers don’t have responsibilities but somehow the mother always seems to be the one the school calls, etc.)

          1. Ace in the Hole*

            I agree. I think it’s important to acknowledge that the inappropriate part here is that they are pressuring anyone to participate in a drunken fishing weekend with coworkers, not that it is inherently inappropriate for a middle-aged married mom to go to such an event.

            LW should be able to opt-out with no fuss. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say I think even making a work event like this in the first place is out of line. I’m also willing to say that the type of guys who think its okay to pressure someone into going on this trip are clearly not great at respecting boundaries, which is a red flag. I wouldn’t go on this trip for a whole bunch of reasons. But LW’s comment that it’s not appropriate for “a married, middle aged woman with kids” to go on the trip is in itself misogynistic because it’s putting more restrictions on behavior for women than men.

            1. nonegiven*

              I think her prescription of herself says, “not only does no part of this trip sound like fun, I have plenty of things I’d rather be doing.”

          2. Dust Bunny*

            Yeah I’m a middle-aged, OK, cat-mom and I think I’ve led a generally tame, safe, life, and “good girls don’t” is 100% not my concern about this situation. I know everyone has different priorities but I would be far less worried about the appearance of all this than about the potential realities.

        5. AnonEMoose*

          Not a good conversation to go the direction of “but what about the men”. The most recent statistic I have read is that 1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. And that’s probably low, due to the number of assaults that goes unreported.

          Assume there are 10 men on this trip. In the OP’s shoes, would you be willing to be your safety that none of these men would decide that she’s an acceptable/available target? Especially when there are copious amounts of alcohol involved. I wouldn’t, and it sounds like the OP is feeling the same.

          It sucks. A lot. But that’s the world we live in and the reality we deal with. If men don’t like it, they need to step up and help change it. And if mothers of sons don’t like it, they need to work on teaching their sons to respect women and to not tolerate misogynist behavior, rape jokes, etc. by their peers.

          1. Eat My Squirrel*

            Yeah anytime I hear the argument about how most guys are good guys, my response is that may very well be true, but All Women experience unwanted attention. We could take a poll on here of all the women simply asking “have you ever had your ass or boob grabbed without your consent” and I’d be surprised if the “yes” was lower than 95%.

            1. AnonEMoose*

              And if the question was “Have you ever had sexual comments made about your body by men who were either complete strangers or didn’t know well?”, I’ll bet the “Yes” would be pretty close to 100%.

              1. jojo*

                And it starts as soon as you grow boobs. I grew a pair in sixth grade. So around eleven. And grown azz men would make comments. Never mind the boys in school. I got nasty notes passed to me in the library. Believe me, I talked to both my sons about the gross stuff happened to me. It seems to have worked. They both believe their girl friend’s stories.

        6. LTL*

          I think the reason that so many people are commenting in this way is because the men in question have already showed that they are willing to push boundaries, i.e. pressuring the OP to go when she doesn’t want to. I feel that the tone would be different if that was not the case.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            That’s a really good point. I’ve said before that one of the things that made me comfortable with my now-DH was that he showed he respected my boundaries in small ways. That these coworkers are pushing the OP’s boundaries on this is definitely a thing that is concerning me about this situation.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              As a victim of some horrible men in my past, that’s the reason I’m okay with my husband. He’s never once pushed past a boundary and always asks for consent first.

          2. Dust Bunny*

            Or, you know–thinking this is an appealing outing in the first place.

            Seriously, if this was suggested and not one of the men involved pushed back hard enough to stop it, that’s an issue. I can’t picture any of my close male friends or relatives not thinking this was a wildly inappropriate “office retreat”.

        7. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I see your point, and yes I’m a career woman in IT who has fought most of the time to be considered equal to the men.

          I however disagree that this kind of talk paints the entire male population as abusers. It’s kind of like if I said I’ve felt unsafe due to potential racism and someone pipes up with ‘not all white people are bad!’. While true, it completely derails the conversation away from my fears into placating the feelings of another.

          I’d definitely not go to a weekend away where I’m the only woman. I wouldn’t look down on any woman who DID decide to go. Risk assessment at this level is very personal.

          1. Student*

            In particular, does not have to approach every person with trust until they demonstrate themselves to be untrustworthy by causing her direct harm. Similarly, the rest of us do not have an obligation to take the OP’s defensive approach toward others. They’re differences in how we approach the world, not errors.

            I feel like H2 is going, “…but you must trust MY SON who is a darling and will not do anything bad! You can’t treat him with distrust unless I personally approve of your reasoning for doing so!” Nope, sorry H2. Other people don’t have to extend your son the benefit of the doubt until he does them harm, even though he’s your baby and you personally think he’s great.

            Other people will be scared of your son simply because he is a man, and men do the most physical harm in the society we live in. He’s going to have to do a little work to clean up the mess that other men have made for him to live in. Teaching him to treat others respectfully, to expect to need to build up trusting relationships with people before expecting lots of camaraderie/intimacy from them, etc. will go a long way to helping address this organically.

            He’s not unique in that regard. I’ve had to do work to clean up messes other people in my demographic left for me to live in, too. It’s not fun, and it may not be “fair” in some cosmic use of the term, but it’s reality.

            1. Scarlet2*

              This. I’m so tired of #notallmen.
              Like, sure, “not all men”. But when you don’t know who you can trust, women’s safety is more important than men’s hurt feelings.

              1. AnonEMoose*

                “Women’s safety is more important then men’s hurt feelings.” Can we get that on t-shirts? And bumper stickers? And coffee mugs? And written by planes across the sky?

                Seriously, I recently spent far more time than I should have arguing with some rando on Facebook whose argument was basically like “You women shouldn’t act like you don’t trust us, because us Nice Guys are tired of it.” Well, guess what? Maybe we’re tired of being harassed, abused, and sexually assaulted and having to consider our safety all the time. Not really because I thought I could convince him, but because I hoped some of the other people reading might get something out of it.

                Maybe consider teaching your son that if a woman acts like she considers him a potential threat in some way, he should not get all hurt and try to convince her she’s wrong to do that. Instead, if he really has no bad intentions, maybe he should show her that he respects her boundaries and earn her trust…and then not abuse it.

                1. H2*

                  Listen, I’m just saying that there is a LOT of mileage between “This isn’t something the OP feels comfortable with and therefore she 100% does not have to do it” and “Her coworkers are mad because assaulting her was part of their prize.”

                2. Self Employed*

                  @H2, I don’t think anyone is saying the coworkers are pressuring OP to go because they PLAN to assault her. Even though I thought “whoa, that looks dangerous” I still assumed the peer pressure was just because it looks bad if one person refuses to go (and might risk getting their fun trip canceled this year or in future). Others have pointed out that they probably want her to be Cabin Mom who cleans up, does beer runs, etc. It is entirely possible for them to have selfish but non-rapey motivations to get her to come with them but lose their inhibitions while drunk. Even if the worst that happens is that someone gropes her or makes lewd comments, that’s worth avoiding!

                  (So frustrating to see women gatekeeping for the patriarchy. SMH.)

          2. H2*

            I was responding to the comment that said that the OPs coworkers were mad because assaulting her was supposed to be part of their prize. That specifically is way beyond “this could be risky because some men are bad” in my opinion.

            1. AnonEMoose*

              Totally not what you said, though. What you said was basically more of the “not all men” stuff we’ve all heard at least 1000 times, which is in no way helpful. It doesn’t have to be “all men.” It just has to be “enough men,” and it’s far more than “enough” men. Which is horrible and sad and everything else, but…this is where we are right now.

              I do think that (hopefully) none of the OP’s coworkers would be gross and criminal enough to think that she was part of their “prize” in advance. What I do think is plausible is that, once the alcohol and the bros partying mentality got going, someone might tell themselves “hey, she attended knowing this was going to be a big party weekend, she must be up for it, right?” Which is really just as gross. And they’re acting aggrieved because she is “making them uncomfortable” or “ruining things” by indicating that their good time is less than appealing.

        8. Batgirl*

          Having to be suspicious as a woman is the worst part of being a woman. Nobody enjoys it and we know we’ll get a good few false alarms. If we lived in a world where house break ins were not punished, and the home owners always blamed, you’d be a lot more suspicious of house callers wouldn’t you? Honestly, I find it easy to turn off the suspicion 95 per cent of the time, but it would definitely get turned back on for a pushy guy. I have a friend who was sacked after she refused to share accommodation with the boss; not illegal because she was a contractor. This stuff happens. Men can easily turn off suspicion by the way they behave, and if they listen, which is a great thing to teach a son.

        9. Jan*

          Yes “not all men” but not all snakes are poisonous but if I see one I am going in the other direction instead of waiting to get bit to see if it’s poisonous.

          1. Clisby*

            Fortunately, with snakes, you can just learn to recognize which ones are venomous. Not so with men.

        10. Sigh*

          Some do, and I’m not discounting that
          and then you do.

          So, since you’ve brought up your son, what have you told him about what a girl owes him if he buys her a drink/buys her dinner/etc? What a girl owes his friend who jokes about ‘putting something in her drink to loosen her up’? And so on? Don’t tell us #notallmen, think about how to ensure your son neither becomes nor aids and abets those men who are dangerous.

          1. H2*

            Believe me, I have these kinds of conversations with my son Every. Single. Day. He’s still young, but he is most definitely aware of the respect and good boundaries that he owes women. And he regularly pushes back on anything counter to that that comes out of his friends’ mouths.

            1. TropicalMontana*

              You may be doing all the right things raising your sons. But now ask yourself, if the LW was your own daughter, how would you answer?

        11. CAR*

          H2, I wish you had the same amount of anger and disappointment you’ve expressed here towards the men who do these things as opposed to fellow women who express fear and concern for their safety. I’m also usually the only woman in the group and aside from having to roll my eyes at some sexist comments here and there (and I’m better about speaking up earlier in my career) I haven’t had to deal with anything bad nor have I been assaulted…but I’m still not going to put myself in a potentially safe situation. I’m just not. The fact is, especially in this case where the LW has expressed that her drunken coworkers turn into different people, it IS a potentially dangerous situation. Time after time women who are assaulted at parties are blamed, told they should have expected it, and the perpetrator gets a slap on the wrist, if anything at all. There was an interesting song written a few years ago about it being “a scary time for men” that really highlights how men get away with things too often and women are blamed for everything–either being assaulted, fighting back, not fighting back, calling someone out, putting out, not putting out…it just goes on and on. We should lift up other women instead of “not all men” these things.
          It’s kind of awful to talk about how drunk people commit crimes like assault but not awful that these things happen?? I just don’t understand this way of thinking.

        12. Nursey Nurse*

          As the mother of a daughter, I find your sense of what is “kind of awful” misplaced. Society already requires my daughter, and all other women, to curtail their lives in hundreds of ways because we have decided that it’s reasonable to put all of the onus of avoiding rape on potential victims rather than on potential rapists. “Not all men” (which, to be clear, is the argument you are making) is just another way of making women responsible for men’s feelings and arguing that those feelings are more important than women’s safety. Given that your son already has hundreds of advantages over my daughter and all other women simply because he is male and they aren’t, I would think you could maybe just take one for the team and let the rest of us discuss being afraid without being chastised for it?

        13. Ellie*

          I am another female in engineering and have often been the only woman in the group on many team building and training exercises. Never have I been asked to share a house with my coworkers though, and I would not travel to a place where I would be overnight without so much as a locked door between me and a group of men who I did not know well. There’s too much potential for trouble. Its not inherently scandalous to go on the trip of course, where people draw their boundaries is a very individual thing, but its a very real safety concern for the OP.

        14. TardyTardis*

          No, we’re reality based. Many men are nice. Many men are even nice when they’re drunk. But if one bad gets an idea where a woman is alone, and possibly impaired. Um, no. Plus, there was a recent court case where a woman couldn’t complain she was raped while drunk because she voluntarily became drunk (someone must have read the Brock Turner case and thought the poor boy was hammered too hard).

        15. MCMonkeybean*

          Here’s my big problem with “not all men” comments–when MOST women have experienced some form of sexual harassment and as many as 1 in 5 women have experienced attempted sexual assault–yes actually a hell of a lot of men are behaving in this way. It’s not like there are 5 men running around assaulting all these women.

          Statistically it is extremely likely that at least one of the beloved men in your life has done something pretty bad.

    3. BarnacleGirl*

      Old Toxic Job held companywide overnight bonding trips that sound like the cheapo version of what OP1 is describing.

      Boss kept publicly berating me for not joining them. I was pretty blunt in telling her that I don’t sleep beside strangers becuse I dont know who’s a rapist.

      The Monday after an overnight hike the police turned up at the office to arrest one of the attendees for rape. That was the end of overnight bonding.

      1. Lizzo*

        First, that entire situation sounds awful. Second, I hope that boss publicly apologized…or at a minimum, feels very ashamed of how they treated you.

    4. Batgirl*

      Same. Hadley Freeman wrote an article for the Guardian this weekend listing all the casual ways she’s been harassed by men. I read it and realized I could write something really similar. Things you wouldn’t act on in isolation. One of the darkest was a false alarm when a cab driver started driving the wrong way and she gets really frightened, but it’s just a funny thing to him. Even if nothing happens, she’ll be on pins the whole time. If something does happen…it’s a co-worker which always leads people to wonder if there’s history or “he said, she said”. Women are only allowed to feel threatened by strangers, as we all know.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah. Especially as the risk of a random stranger attacking a man is far greater than the same thing happening to a woman. Most women are attacked by people they know, even if they aren’t necessarily intimate partners.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        The bit about the taxi driver made me throw up in fear. I’m terrified of that.

        1. kt*

          Yeah, ironically for almost all my life I’ve avoided taxis and taken public transport instead. People are horrified by that — “but you could be *assaulted* on the *bus*!” That’s true, but there are generally a lot of people on the bus, and I can get off wherever I want — unlike being in a taxi alone, not able to control where the vehicle is going.

          1. PT*

            Yup, in college we had a cab driver run up the meter by driving past our dorm and looping around. My friend and I thought we were going to be murdered.

          2. Keymaster of Gozer*

            I once refused to go to a company xmas dinner because they said they wouldn’t pay for a hotel (workplace was 50 miles from him) but would just book me a taxi. Lone, disabled woman in a car in the dark for 50 miles with a strange person? Heck no. Takes me long enough to get into a car what with my malfunctioning body, there’s no way I can get out of one quickly.

            Buses on the other hand have more room and most here lower themselves to pavement level to pick you up!

          3. Self Employed*

            I have gotten off buses because someone was creeping on me. As it was late at night when the next bus could be in an hour, I was glad I had my bike with me (we have racks to accommodate 2-6 bikes depending on the bus style).

            I’ve also gotten off buses because people were bullying me in a non-sexual manner.

            We also have security cameras on the buses, so I’m not worried about the driver if I’m the last passenger.

        2. Marion Ravenwood*

          Same. It’s why, much as I’m aware of the various ways apps such as Uber are terrible, being able to share details of my ride with my boyfriend/friends is a massive plus. (I’m aware it’s still not a guarantee that nothing will happen, but it still feels like *something* useful in a small way.) That said, sometimes if I use a different firm and they take a route I don’t normally go down, I’ll still be internally freaking out the whole way until I get somewhere I recognise.

    5. Keymaster of Gozer*

      From sadly personal experience that’s my view too.

      (It was a long time ago, I’m ok)

      1. Y'all Come Back Now, Ya Hear?*

        I’m am glad that you’re ok, but I am sorry that happened to you

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Thanks mate, it’s appreciated.

          (But does explain why I get a bit annoyed at the #notallmen stuff that crops up every time I try to discuss my fears as a woman anywhere)

          1. knitcrazybooknut*

            I saw a meme that said, And not all bacteria are pathogenic but we still wash our hands out of fear of the ones that are so what’s your point?

            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              As a former virologist I actually shouted ‘brilliant!’ at your comment and am now writing it down in my journal because that is a blimmin fantastic way of putting it.

              (Also gonna embroider it on my dressing gown tonight! I’m serious)

              1. knitcrazybooknut*

                Please absolutely google it to see if you can find the original author. I think it was part of a tumblr post, and I don’t want to take even Ask A Manager credit for it!

            2. Robin Ellacott*

              I saw a Twitter thread which used snakes as an analogy:

              Men who say Not All Men are introduced to a variety of snakes. Not all of them are venomous.
              [Reply] No, they’re all venomous, but some of them have never bitten anyone.
              [Reply] …that we know of.

              The fact that the boss and colleagues apparently think a bro-y weekend of booze and sports is a great work activity makes them just seem more potentially venomous.

              1. Coder von Frankenstein*

                The boss and colleagues thinking this is a great idea AND pressuring LW to do it… that is the sound of a rattle.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      This is the thing that jumped at me.

      If a person’s actions are so very innocent then why is there any ambiguity? If he wanted to be transparent he would not put a bunch of people together for a drunk weekend at all. Eh, all it takes is one of them driving drunk to the store to get more beer and the problems begin. I have worked retail jobs and had NO problem calling the police, “Drunk individual headed south on Rt x just below Y town.”

      Add in a woman or women and this just looks so bad. It’s a lawsuit looking for an incident/event.

      And the manipulation of “ruining for everyone”. Too bad, how sad, I’d say. Not only is this guy sexist but he is manipulative.

      It’s interesting to me that sometimes all it takes is one person, saying “I pass, I won’t be there”, then other people start to speak up and decide they won’t go. I don’t quite believe that all the men there are buying into this as a fun time. My husband would routinely turn down stuff like this and he was doing that long before he met me.

      1. Alice Ulf*

        You know, I’d never thought of things in quite this way before, but when someone says “You’re ruining it for everyone,” it enforces this extra level of isolation. It implies that you aren’t part of EVERYONE–you’re on the outside, looking in. If the coworkers saying this to the LW are men, they’re just reinforcing those little sexist boundaries that every woman recognizes so well (you’re not part of ‘everyone’ and you never will be).

    7. IANAL*

      As someone who was assaulted in a frat-like setting not unlike this weekend, this was 100% where my thoughts went too. And since it’s a trip, not just a night out, there’s nowhere to escape if things turn shady.

      1. Jack Russell Terrier*

        Yes – drunk, winter sports all in a house sounds like a frat issue where there’s an amplification and a pile on effect that can turn things ugly.

    8. Jan*

      It’s a red flag to me that it isn’t enough for OP to jut not go. They are actively guilting and manipulating her in to going. There is a good chance to be up to something nefarious. She is right to be concerned.

    9. juliebulie*

      Yep. This prize is so unappealing to me in every possible way, plus it is being pushed by coworkers who are blatantly putting their own pleasure before LW’s sensibilities and welfare. They are not nice people. Alcohol will probably not improve their behavior.

  3. nnn*

    #1 is one of those letters where I’m wondering about OP’s pandemic situation. Are they cramming a bunch of people together in a house for a weekend in the middle of a pandemic? Or is COVID not a consideration in their location?

    (I mean, the whole scenario is problematic for all the reasons already mentioned before we even get into the pandemic, it just seems so weird to me that a plan like this would even be on the table right now.)

    1. a sound engineer*

      I’m not sure where you’re located, but my state just moved into Phase 3 out of 4 reopening phases, and I think this would be allowed under the new guidelines. (Extremely premature, if you ask me, but I’m not the type who finds a drunk weekend appealing anyway, *especially* with coworkers)

      1. Autistic AF*

        The ice fishing is an important clue here – that many people in shared accommodations wouldn’t fly in much of Canada. BC has just tightened restrictions as variant cases are quickly rising (although the letter wouldn’t have been sent with that in mind).

    2. Marion Ravenwood*

      It might be that the trip hasn’t happened yet – I know OP’s letter mentions ‘winter activities’ but the timescale isn’t clear, so this could be being planned for next winter. Or they could be in New Zealand or Australia, where the Covid situation is pretty much under control for the time being (although my understanding is that their vaccination programmes aren’t starting for a while yet, at least in NZ) and they’re going into autumn. But yeah, even if that’s the case, if I were OP I’d still be reluctant to go for a whole host of reasons, including Covid.

      1. Glitterati*

        I was going to say that maybe OP is in Australia as we are basically operating as normal, then I remembered ice was mentioned. We are pretty toasty most of the time, and the only ice you’ll see unless you specifically go to find it (it does exist) is in your 7/11 slurpy. So as the Aussie’s would say “yeah, nah”
        Maybe NZ though.

        1. river*

          The lakes don’t freeze in NZ, it’s never that cold. I don’t think ice fishing is a thing here.

        2. Snuck*

          Yeah I was going to say… not an Aussie thing. Here a drunken reward party would be on Hamilton Island, you’d pack swimmers/togs/bathers (depending which state you are flying in from), and you’d be facing a two week quarantine when you return to you home state given QLD has just gone into lockdown.

          No one is flying anywhere. Not even in Australia. The darn virus keeps escaping from quarantine and there’s state borders closing constantly on and off. It’d be crazy to do this in Australia even, as the chances of not getting home on time, and having to do a *user pays* two week quarantine is high enough you’d blink thrice at the suggestion! (I’m in WA, probably the safest place on earth aside from Antarctica right now, and even I won’t contemplate a two day trip away from Perth… they have snapped local regional borders shut on three hours notice here, stopping city/rural travel – it sucks, but it works. I’m also booked for dinner down the local pub on Saturday, it will be packed and full of people, and it will be fine… I’ll have breakfast in a cafe tomorrow, and specialist appointments by lunchtime and no one has to worry about the air they breathe, and for that… we pay with three hour snap lockdowns. A small price to pay! Sigh. )

        3. PT*

          It could be somewhere in the US that’s very cold where there are winter activities into the late spring, maybe Alaska?

          1. Self Employed*

            Is it in the US, or Canada? When I think of “ice fishing” I think of Canada, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. I don’t know when lakes thaw in the northern states; I’ve only been to Madison in July and live in California. But Canada goes up to the Arctic Circle, right?

            A completely non-work reason to rethink ice fishing trips is that with global warming, it might not be safe to assume the usual spots will have enough ice to be safe…

            1. Autumnheart*

              Lakes are losing their ice in the North. Ice fishing season is pretty much over. It’s really more of a December-February thing when you can be sure that the ice is safe enough to drive on.

    3. kittymommy*

      Ehh, living in Florida (which seems like it’s never really every fully shut down) I didn’t event think of this. So many places are open or almost open that it probably isn’t an issue.

        1. LTL*

          This. I completely forgot about covid. As if pressuring OP to go wasn’t hugely problematic already.

  4. scmill*

    OP #1, there is no way I would go on that trip as described, and I wouldn’t even be pleasant about declining.

    1. Marzipan*

      I’d be tempted to point out to my manager that if the sole result of my working really hard to be one of the team’s top performers was being badgered to go on a trip that held no interest for me whatsoever and that I would find actively unpleasant, I’d feel very little inclination to keep working at that level, purely to avoid being put in that position again.

      This trip just sounds really odd as a ‘prize’, to the extent that I find myself wondering how that’s even supposed to be something anyone would want to ‘win’. I could somewhat understand it if it were purely a team-building thing (still really ill-advised since it assumes everyone drinks, has a family situation that allows them to go away for the weekend, is not prevented by disability from participating, etc etc, but at least I’d sort of get the idea). As a reward it’s just really weird.

      1. TechWorker*

        Tbh there are a lot of people for whom an all expenses paid weekend away *would* be a reward/prize, I don’t think that bit is massively weird (though agree about the nature of the activities chosen probably being exclusionary). LW themselves said that if it were at a hotel she might have wanted to go/has gone before.

        1. MK*

          Many people love trips for their own shake and enjoy any change in their routine, especially if they don’t get to travel otherwise. A weekend away from home with all expenses paid would be nice, if it wasn’t for the gender issue and the drunkenness.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I agree. I don’t think an all-inclusive weekend trip on its own is a problem. Lots of people would like that, especially if they never travel or just don’t have the means to that on their own. It’s being the only woman, the drinking, and a narrow set of activities.

            1. Self Employed*

              If the prize were an all-inclusive trip to somewhere like Asilomar*, where we were on our own, there were activities for many interests/abilities or could tour local sights like the Monterey Bay Aquarium, that would be pleasant. (I would spend a lot of time just enjoying the outdoors at the ocean and maybe hanging out with like-minded coworkers.) But this trip is the opposite of that!

              *It’s a historic landmark resort/conference center now operated under the CA State Park System. I visited all too briefly for a public meeting once and it’s on my short-list for local getaways.

        2. H2*

          Yeah—I think if everyone had their own space and a choice of activities it would be really not a big deal.

          To be clear, as it is, it sounds miserable, but I don’t think the overall concept is the issue.

        3. Guacamole Bob*

          Yeah, I worked at a firm that had some sort of trip as a reward for the highest grossing commissioned sales reps. It was a resort, and I assume there was plenty of drinking and plenty of golf, but people could have a good time even if they didn’t like those things.

          Not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s not all that unusual, I don’t think. Not super welcoming for people with caregiving responsibilities, among other things, but not as totally inappropriate as all sharing a house together for a drunken weekend of ice fishing.

          1. JustaTech*

            The one year a trip like this was opened up to folks other than the sales team (which was also the first year I heard about the trip at all) the trip was to Paris, and while there was some “big company meeting” stuff I think it was mostly “here’s Paris, go do your own thing”.

            My work friend who won the trip had a lovely time, but she also got to take her husband and they did their own thing.

      2. KateM*

        I’d be tempted to ask those who say I’m ruining it for everyone whether I’m considered being part of the prize.

    2. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

      I’d be pleasant about declining at first, but the more times I had to decline, the less pleasant I’d be.

    3. Bilateralrope*

      I’d be talking with a lawyer about it to see if there is anything illegal about the “reward”. Sure, I’m male so I don’t have the same fears as the letter writer.

      But I’m also unable to drink alcohol due a medication I’m on and there is nothing about that situation which sounds fun while I’m sober. Even if I could trust them to a: stock enough non-alcoholic drinks and b: not try to force me to drink alcohol.

      1. Snuck*

        I doubt there’s anything illegal about it. Barely even discriminatory…. some women like ice fishing and boozing… and so long as this is a bonus, and not her actual ‘pay’ then it’s a ‘gift’ of sorts, and not tied to income.

        I assume it’s legal, but the legal RISKS are high. Drunk people, ice/cold weather sports, distance from home … that’s a high risk activity. And if the company pays for all the booze they could well be on the hook for anything that happens.

        1. Aquawoman*

          It’s absolutely discriminatory. They’ve picked an activity that the ONE woman in the department (ding ding ding) doesn’t like (bonus points: for completely reasonable reasons) and are harassing her about not going.

          1. BubbleTea*

            But it isn’t a required work activity. And it sounds like it is her peers hassling her, rather than management, though I could be wrong about this. I doubt “an optional activity intended as a reward is not something I would enjoy” reaches the threshold for legal action, although clearly anyone with common sense can see that this is a terrible way to go about “team building”.

          2. Heather*

            The only discriminatory thing here would be if it was assumed that women couldn’t possibly want to do this so it became a male-only reward / networking opportunity. Some of the commenters here are way too eager to jump from “I wouldn’t want to do this” to “all women should be protected from this setup”.

            1. Snuck*

              Yeah. It’s not discriminatory in a legal sense of “we’ll do something only men will enjoy and exclude all the women” … Ice fishing is not exclusively a male sport, just as netball, or art activities are not exclusively for women.

        2. Jaydee*

          Would you fee the same if the prize were a weekend retreat at a wellness spa? Yoga, massages, meditation, horseback riding, smoothie bar? Some men like those things. And even if they don’t, they’re not required to go. They’ll just miss out on any conversations and bonding and camaraderie that is developed over that weekend.

          Would you feel the same if the prize were a weekend backpacking and whitewater rafting trip? Something that employees with certain disabilities might be literally unable to do? But again, it’s not like they’re required to go.

          This particular “prize” also can’t be looked at in isolation. There is a long history of men conducting business over drinks at the lodge/club, on golf courses, or in strip clubs, as a way to exclude women from opportunities at work or to make them so uncomfortable that they would exclude themselves. And this was often also exclusionary to men of color because the history of segregation meant they didn’t have access to those bars and clubs and golf courses. So even if they weren’t officially segregated any longer, where was a Black man going to learn to play golf or who was going to sponsor him to become a member of the lodge if none of his friends and family had ever been allowed to be members before?

      2. Batgirl*

        Those are concerns that non drinkers would have, yes, and the answer is usually no. Drunken people don’t stock up on enough soft drinks and they choose crap ones even if they do. But OP’s concerns are not that of a non drinker, which are resolvable without changing the habits of others. They could provide her with an entire mocktail bar and she’s still going to be surrounded by drunk dudes with no way to escape an awkward encounter.

    4. Batgirl*

      I like to weaponise cheerfulness so I would probably very pleasantly agree that yes, I am a fun thief and that’s why it’s best that I don’t go. “Always less fun when someone’s not enjoying it! Call me when there’s indoor activities and other women going. Obviously you wouldn’t arrange ALL activities as outdoor pursuits for mostly men..”

      1. TardyTardis*

        I was once invited to a banquet by a gentlemanly foreigner (he was training at the same AFB I was being temporary duty assigned to), and since I was married I just smiled and said, “I don’t think my husband would approve.” Now, this may sound like a weaselly, sexist way to wiggle out of this horrible trip, but given the culture of your boss, it may be the one thing that shuts him down.

    5. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Perhaps the only positive thing I’ve learnt since having schizophrenia and epilepsy is I’m no longer afraid of making a scene. That ship has long since sailed (maximum embarrassment reached and lived with).

      I just would ask them, straight up, just WHY my refusal to go was ‘ruining it for others’? Am I so much of an icon that no social event can ever be enjoyable without me? Are my finances paying for the shindig so if I don’t go it doesn’t happen? Will everyone else there fall into a pit of despair if I’m not there?

      No? Then how am I ruining it?

      (And yeah, I wouldn’t go either. There’s no amount of money you can offer me to go to a stay over event with a load of drunken men. Not unless I can generate an all over body electric field that’ll prevent anyone from touching me. Hrm, idea for new inventions…)

      1. MK*

        My guess is that, since the trip is supposed to be a reward for performance and the OP is a top performer, it might be difficult to get approval for it. Imagine the talk with HR/higher ups/ whoever must approve of the expense:

        Boss: I want to take my top performers on a weekend trip in a remote house for ice fishing as a reward.
        HR: OK. So, expenses for 10 people?
        Boss: Oh, ah, OP isn’t coming. She doesn’t want to be the only woman and doesn’t like winter sports and worries about others being drunk.
        HR: Then pick something that everyone will like.

        If that wasn’t the case, I cannot imagine why they wouldn’t just accept her refusal.

        1. Batgirl*

          Exactly, OP is making it obvious that the activity is exclusionary which endangers the whole thing. I remember a past colleague making a similar complaint to the company owner and he straight up told her that if it was somehow more inclusive “the wives would want to come”. Add in to that that he “thought she was one of the boys” and we all started job hunting.

        2. Myrin*

          I can imagine you’re right, but I also think you’re approaching this too much like every person is a reasonable person – we’ve read of so many people on this site who simply don’t like “fun ruiners” on principle, even if they have literally nothing to do with them.

          1. MK*

            That happens, but in similar scenarios almist-all-male teams are only too glad to have their female coworkers excuse themselves.

          2. Richard Hershberger*

            Team building. That is part of the stated rationale. It is BS, but widely accepted BS. But it breaks down if part of the team can opt out. How will the company enjoy the benefits of a team strengthened by a drunken weekend if only part of the team was there?

            1. LTL*

              Not the worst part of the letter by far, but it’s weird that team building and a prize for good performance are being put into the same bucket. Team building is work, not play, even if you’re doing something fun. Besides that, if team building was the main purpose, shouldn’t the whole team be included instead of just top performers?

              1. Richard Hershberger*

                Indeed, if team building is the purpose, the top performers clearly are the ones least in need of it. But “team building” is BS: a justification both for why the company should pay for this, and for why it is mandatory. It is a rationalization, not a reason.

          3. Threeve*

            There are also people who hear “free” and think “I’m in!!” no matter what it is. It’s not that uncommon; look at how nutso people get over absolutely mediocre free food at work.

      2. Aquawoman*

        ” all over body electric field that’ll prevent anyone from touching me. ”

        Have you read The Power? It’s sort of like that but more of an offensive weapon than a defensive one.

    6. kittymommy*

      If the sharing a house with co-workers weren’t bad emnough I’s automatically be out with the “outdoor winter activities”. I try to stay as far away from anything winter-like as much as possible. I’m also enough of a witch in my normal life, make me be in cold weather and forced socialization and I’m even more so (although I might be a bit nicer with gin. Might.).

    7. MissDisplaced*

      I wouldn’t go on that trip even if it were a group of drunk women at a spa either. Drunken weekends as a work “prize” for being a top performer aren’t a prize. Just give a bonus. Jeez!

  5. Artemesia*

    #2 — you really need to tend your boundaries. Being the ‘girl’ who can be pushed to do the work of the ‘guy’ who has (reasons) for never showing up and doing the job is appalling. Your boss isn’t concerned because he can ‘count on you’ to keep serving him and this doofus. Your boss is the problem. Be clear that it is a two person job and you don’t have two people on the job so it won’t be ready at the deadline without more help. As long as you are the only person working long hours to get it done, this will continue.

    1. Toni*

      Where are you seeing that OP 2 is a “girl”? Neither the letter or the reply mentions their gender.

      1. Jan*

        Admit it, the vast majority of the time it’s a man doing this to a woman. Gender doesn’t really need to be specified to read between the lines here.

        1. TechWorker*

          Not sure I agree with this – in many cases, yes, but it sounds like Bob either has significant personal issues, is unreliable, or a mix of both. I don’t think that’s doing anything ‘to’ the LW – he’d still be a crap employee if he were working with a man.

          1. Jan*

            Yes, he would still be a crap employee if he was doing this to a man but that doesn’t change that there is a lot of historical baggage with women being expected to pick up men’s slack all the time.

          2. Artemesia*

            And most men would not put up with this and would force the issue with their boss rather than meekly taking all the work on and what are the odds the boss would insist to a man that his job included doing all of Bobbins work? This is such a common sexist situation in the workplace that I will be shocked if the OP is a man.

            1. TardyTardis*

              Sadly, I have run into this situation where the co-worker was a woman and so was I. And so was the boss who was ok with it.

          1. Kimmybear*

            But do you pick up the pieces for them? I’m asking a serious question. In my career, I’ve generally seen women running around cleaning up messes and male colleagues letting the pieces fall where they may. Of course there are times when everyone jumps in but that seems to be a higher bar.

            1. Self Employed*

              When I worked at the engineering firm that had a sexual harasser, his officemate (one of the women he harassed) was picking up his slack because she was afraid they would miss their deadlines, the Dept of Energy would cancel the contract, and they’d ALL lose their jobs. I don’t remember who was on what team to know if she was the only one who realized he was dropping the ball, but now that you mention it, there were probably male colleagues who also knew he wasn’t doing tasks assigned to him.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          No! Not at all. I default to she/her when gender is unknown (like the way people used to use “he” as a generic he/she), but I don’t actually assume gender either way.

          1. RG2*

            I’ve loved this policy because our world of male defaults is so strange, but I feel like norms around “they” as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun are changing. Is this something you’d ever consider revisiting?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes, at some point. For now I’m keeping it because so many people have told me that it’s changed the default manager they picture to a woman (when research shows most people picture a generic manager as a man). But I can imagine I might not do it forever.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I agree that the LW needs to set boundaries. If slacker guy leaves work at 5pm on the dot no matter how late he arrived and how far behind he is with his work, why can’t the LW do the same? Why does she pick up all the slack for his missed work?

      If the problem is that she is leading the project so she’s supposed to make it happen, she should be extremely clear that in order to meet the planned schedule additional resources are needed to make up for slacker’s absences. Tell your boss that. Refuse to work later than 5 or 6 or 6:30. Pick a reasonable time and set a boundary.

      As for the slacker’s apologizes, I’d just say something like “Yes, you really are screwing me over” or “Stop apologizing and start showing for a full work week.” His excuses are lame, lame, lame. You could try telling he needs to delivery his work on time despite all his time out of office for example by working late, but he is unlikely to do so.

      It’s unclear if LW’s manager is also slacker’s manager, but if he is not clue the slacker’s manager in and make him provide another person in order to equal 40 hours worth of output from that manager’s team.

      Alison is right. Poor management of slacker guy is the problem. His excuses are lame and unreasonable i.e. calling in around 11 several days a week for a guy who ends his work day at 5 on the dot every day? He knows he can get away with it so he does.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Seriously, I would be at “I don’t need an apology; I need your part of the work,” with this guy, like, a long time ago.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          YES! I do like: “I don’t want your apology; I need your part of the work delivered on schedule.”

          1. learnedthehardway*

            This – the guy is using apologies as a way to get out of doing the work. Call him on it. Make it incredibly uncomfortable for him to do this. Just be matter of fact about it. You don’t have to be his manager to do this.

            1. LunaLena*

              Yes, this is exactly what I was thinking. He isn’t really sorry, he just wants to hear “it’s fine” to reassure himself that he’s not really doing anything wrong. If he doesn’t get that reassurance it’ll be harder for him to justify his work ethic.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          To be clear, I’m not even saying “I need you here five days a week, nine hours a day”. I just need the work. I don’t care if he does it at the office or from home or on the bus or at the vet’s office or hanging upside down by his knees from the rafters in his cousin’s attic: I just need the work in time for it not to disrupt the whole project.

          1. Weekend Please*

            Yep. Saying something like. “I understand that sometimes emergencies happen and you aren’t going to be working from 9-5, but the work still has to get done. Can you start staying late on the days you do come in to get this project done? As it is, we aren’t going to meet the deadline and I won’t keep working 80 hour weeks to keep this project afloat.” And when you boss tells you that you set the deadline so you have to keep it, tell him “I set that deadline with the understanding that there would be two people working on this project full time. Given Coworker’s limited availability, this project will be done in (insert month) instead. If that is not acceptable, we need another person working on this.”

        3. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I’ve used this in the past (I have to manage projects as part of my job):

          “Can you, in all honesty, see yourself being able to complete this work on time? If you can’t, for whatever reason, could you go and ask your manager for you to be taken off this project?”

      2. jojo*

        Since LW is salaried, is the slacker also salaried? Or hourly? LW needs to request another qualified body to pick up his slack. She needs to do it by email. And she also needs to include HR in the email. If slacker is salaried, he is not putting in the hours his contract requires. If manager will not manager, make someone else with power aware of the problem so LW does not get screwed any worse than she already is. Chain of command is there for a reason.

    3. Sparkles McFadden*

      People who try to get away with not doing any work do this to EVERYONE, especially if the boss is acting as official apologist. I’ve seen this with all combination of genders in both roles.

      Men do seem to get away with it more often.

    4. LTL*

      Being the ‘girl’ who can be pushed to do the work of the ‘guy’ who has (reasons) for never showing up and doing the job is appalling.

      Not sure if its just me, but something about this sentence felt a bit victim blame-y?

      1. OhNo*

        Have to agree – I’m sure that wasn’t the intent, but the tone of this comment does sound an awful lot like blaming the situation on the LW for having “bad” boundaries.

        1. Artemesia*

          Oh come now. The OP is asking what to do. She is busy cleaning up the mess of this jerk who doesn’t do the work. She needs to stop. ALL advise in the workplace is ultimately ‘victim blaming’ in that it is telling someone things will get better if you do something different. Like ‘virtue signaling’ this is one of those bits of cant that is often used to posture rather than help solve the problem. The OP is getting shafted; she needs to do something different and needs to recognize that her co-worker is less of a problem than her failure of a boss who is happy to let her work herself into the ground so s/he doesn’t have to manage . Tone policing rarely gets a problem solved.

          1. OhNo*

            I agree that the LW is getting shafted, and that they need to do something different in order for things to get better. But I disagree strongly that all advice in the workplace in inherently victim blaming, and I’m really not sure how you came to that conclusion.

            In a good workplace, the LW’s “appalling” willingness to put in extra work wouldn’t be taken advantage of. The fact that it is being taken advantage of in their current workplace needs to change, but the fault should be laid on the workplace, the manager, and/or the coworker – not the LW for not doing boundaries right.

  6. Bob*

    LW2: Consider turning those profuse apologies into a plan to finish his portion of the work. Perhaps he can take it home, or stay late, or work through lunch. Every time he “apologizes” tell him you accept his apology but the work is still outstanding, lets work out a plan for you to catch up within the next week. We can sit down and iron it out right now.
    He will quickly stop “apologizing” though don’t expect him to actually do the catch up work. When the plan “fails” always sit him down again and come up with a new one with the last plan’s failed work still on his plate.

      1. Bob*

        I agree, the OP should start with Alison’s script but if it gets nowhere this will at least shut the apologies down.
        If the OP had another job lined up they could start acting like the coworker, the manager won’t be able to sweep that under the rug. Then throw the same rationalizations back at the boss.

        1. Snuck*

          And kiss any future reference good bye. This is not an effective ‘manage up’ strategy.

          1. Bob*

            Of course, thats why i mentioned having another job already lined up.
            Even then its not a particularly good idea, beyond wishful thinking.

      2. anonymouse*

        The manager is an ass.
        “You set the deadlines. I expect you to stick to them.”
        Well, YOU gave me the data. I would have X number of people, X number of days, X number of tasks.
        Garbage in, garbage out.
        Manager is playing OP, forcing her to say “I was wrong” and “The schedule I made was bad.”
        Dear OP,
        Own it.
        “Yes, the information I had was wrong. The schedule I made based on that data is not going to happen. You are right, Boss. Now we need to sit down and do it again.”

        1. MCMonkeybean*

          Yeah I’m really confused about the boss’ take of “you need to keep meeting these deadlines because you are the one that made the schedule.” That makes no sense. If the schedule had been set by an outside party because they really needed things done on that timeline then it might be a little understandable about why they have to try to keep meeting those goals. But if OP made the timeline that should make it *easier* to change. I definitely think they should push back again and say that they set those targets with the understanding that there would be two people working on the project full-time and since that has not been the case the deadlines will have to be revised.

    1. Loraine*

      LW is not that guy’s manager and shouldn’t take on the additional job of managing him on top of everything else, especially not without authority and assignment to do so.

      1. Bob*

        I guarantee it won’t ultimately work, its simply meant to shut down the ridiculous apologizing.

        1. Mongrel*

          I’ve gone with “No you’re not” after I got fed up with a colleague apologising for being persistently late.
          To me a proper apology brings a promise of trying to not do it again which obviously isn’t the case here.

          1. Ama*

            I suspect this guy is very similar to my boss that got fired for financial misconduct who then wanted to call me and apologize (I actually missed his first call, then found out from a coworker who did talk to him what he wanted, then decided I wasn’t interested in speaking with him further). What he wants is to apologize and then have you say “that’s okay, I’m managing” or some other phrase that lets him off the hook for the impact his behavior has on you. If he was really interested in changing his behavior he would have changed it by now (I strongly suspect he will not change until someone actually fires him because why would he? No one enforces any consequences for his behavior right now.)

            Next time he starts in on the apologizing, I would just say “the work still needs to get done, could you try to get X task done by the end of the day, please?”

            That said, I’d start looking for another job, because if manager isn’t going to manage this will never stop.

      2. Bagpuss*

        I agree that she isn’t his manager but that doesn’t stop her pointing out the impact of his actions – expecially where the excuses are things like oversleeping. Something like “I can’t pick up the slack again but I’m sure if you stay late to make up the time you’ll be able to start to address the backlog”

        I do agree that OP needs to be pushing back with their manager, in particular spelling out what they can and can’t do.

        e.g. “When we set the timescales it was on the basis that there would be two of us working full time on this project. Unfortunately, the reality is that ‘Bob’ is only here just over half the time. I’ve done a lot of extra hours but I can’t do 20 extra hours a week. Based on my working full time, and Bob being available around 3 days a week, we will be able to complete the project by [new date] .

        Alternatively, if Bob is able to work full time, moving forward, we’ll still be late because of the delays his absences to date have already caused, but it would be possible to finish by [date]. s a third option, if you can make additional staffing available from elsewhere then it would be possible to complete the project within the original estimate, but that would need another full time person .

        And then stick to that. In the weekly meetings, explicitly reference how much time Bob has missed since the last check in and the tasks which are overdue / outstanding as a result, and be clear that you can’t cover his work on top of your own,.

        It sounds as though at the moment, Boss is able to ignore Bob’s shortcomings because you are running yourself ragged trying to cover his work. Stop doing that, but document what you are doing.

        For instance, send a e-mail to Boob, cc’d to boss, that says “I’ve done a, b & c, can you let me know when you’ve completed d, e & f so we can finish this section of the project. in the mean time I will move on to deal with x,y, & z”

      3. Snuck*

        While LW is not the manager, it appears LW is the Project Manager. Often people working on projects work for other managers, and are seconded to the project.

        LW needs to set the timeframes and tasks (LW take a look at GANT charting, laying out all the tasks, which depend on each other…. set this up for your project, takes a bit of time, but if you set it up in good software then every time a date slips you’ll find everything else that will slip, and you can shift timeframes etc around visually, a good tool for Project Management)…. and then when they have their weekly check in meeting say “Hi BossPerson, here’s this weeks deliverables, with corresponding cascading tasks, which C and D and E are slipping due to Bob being away last week, this will impact PQR and Z. I am already tied up with LM and RS and if I don’t deliver those then A and F and U will slip as well. If Bob can’t deliver due to his absences, could you please find a person with skills 123 and 345 to help deliver his tasks, I think Lucinda has 123 and Betty 345, so maybe they could do this?” And when BossPerson says “Nah, you do it” say, “I’m sorry, I have several commitments after work hours this week and cannot” (Commitments can include watching Nailed It on Netflix – there’s a new season!). Keep doing this. Documentation that shows you have considered your project plan, and have managed it will save your butt in the long run. Document these meetings. “BossPerson set priority’s 2 , 4 and 9 and moved 5, 7 and 8 to a be delivered afterwards” etc.

      4. DyneinWalking*

        LW doesn’t have to do this in a way of managing him, and shouldn’t. But what’s the problem with asking for coworker’s timeline for catching up, and discussing which parts are the most urgent? For a teamwork project, that’s seems like a perfectly sensible and useful discussion to have in any case.
        No need to get into the details of how coworker wants to organize his catching up, just a clarifications of the points that are relevant for LW’s own work on the project.

        It’d have the benefit of cutting coworker’s apologies short and redirecting him to the actions that would lower the impact of his missed work. If he’s truly sorry it’ll point him to the things LW wants him to do; and if he’s just apologizing for the appearance of being nice but now is consistently asked to back it up with actions, at least it will make apologizing to LW more uncomfortable for him.

      5. Kes*

        I agree, this just adds work onto the OP in the form of managing him. I would be tempted to say instead something like “the only apology I need is for you to resolve these issues and actually be here to do your work” (best used after a least impressive excuse such as forgetting to set an alarm)

      6. PT*

        Yeah, with a manager as bad as LW’s manager, this is an instant way to get in trouble.

        LW: Guy, I know you have been ill but we really need to come up with a plan for you to get your work done.
        Manager: Why are you bullying Guy for being ill? You’re not his manager. He doesn’t report to you. If work isn’t done for deadline it’s your job to make it up. Here is a writeup and a PIP.

      7. Willis*

        Exactly. This is a waste of the OP’s time. The discussion need to be with the manager. Why would the OP want to get involved in this time consuming game? Maybe the dude stops apologizing but who really cares if he stops if he doesn’t do the work? That’s the real problem.

    2. Batgirl*

      The catch up plan might be more useful to shove onto the manager, as opposed to the co-worker. Whenever the manager says “Oh, he had a real emergency” or “it still needs doing” it might be quite a neat opportunity to say “Oh sure, and if the project still needs doing on that timescale, despite the emergency, co-worker could probably do it with an extra hour a day next week, now that his emergency is taken care of” or “So glad to hear he’s not shirking deliberately because if he doesn’t make up x hours next week the project probably won’t get done. If you’re sure though, we’ll stick with trusting him instead of replacing him”.

    3. Artemesia*

      I think this is a great idea. Won’t entirely solve the problem of the incompetent boss, but to ‘let’s make a plan for you to get this work done’ every time he slithers in with more slimy excuses is a great start.

  7. L6orac6*

    #2 Did they set you up to fail and do unpaid overtime? Not nice! Surely they knew of this person’s spotty work record before he joined you on this project. You made a timeline based on 2 full-time workers, you cannot make this deadline, so yes you have a boss problem. How was your boss previous to this, has he always been this way?

    1. TechWorker*

      I came here to say the same thing – unless Bob used to be reliable and suddenly flipped into this mode after the project was planned it is utterly useless of your manager to be like ‘well, you planned the project’. If they’d told you in advance to count Bob as half a person then you would have given different dates!

    2. Bagpuss*

      yes, next time Boss says you planned it push back. !I planned it on the basis of 2 full time people working on it. Had I been aware that Bob was only likely to be available 50% of the time I would of course have factored that in. Now that I am aware, this is the revised timetable, which takes into account that we are starting from behind. As I hadn’t worked with Bob before this project, I had no way of knowing that that he would be consistently unavailable. Is there a reason why that information wasn’t shared with me at the planning stage so it could be taken into account?

      I’d also document what you are doing, what Bob should be doing byut isn’t, and his lack of availability, and send an e-mail roundup to your boss ahead of the weekly meeting with a request to discuss how the delays caused by Bob are going to be addressd, so you have a clear paper trail that you have been raising the issue, and it’s effects.
      Given those facts, there is no way that the project can be completed on the original timeline, unless you are able to provide me with additional resources. Is that possible?

      1. Kes*

        I agree with this, when boss says ‘you planned these timelines’ OP needs to push back and say ‘these were planned on the basis of two full time people working on this, 80 hours a week. So far only 60 hours a week has been completed due to Bob’s absences. This leaves us x weeks behind. If we continue at 60 hours a week, the estimated completion date is y. To complete the project by our original deadline we would need z additional resources’ and just lay out the facts and the paths forward in a very matter-of-fact way. (and in none of the paths would I assume that Bob just suddenly starts working full time since that’s pretty unlikely)

      2. Chriama*

        > As I hadn’t worked with Bob before this project, I had no way of knowing that that he would be consistently unavailable. Is there a reason why that information wasn’t shared with me at the planning stage so it could be taken into account?

        Yes, I think this pushes the discomfort back to the boss. He wants to treat each instance as an independent event, but it’s clearly a pattern of behaviour.

      3. Ama*

        Yes, I’ve had to offload some projects recently because my spring workload was planned with the expectation that I would have two full-time direct reports and instead I had zero going into February (one position was supposed to be filled “when we went back to the office” and of course that hasn’t happened yet, the other happened to resign at the end of January). My boss would never dream of saying to me “well you planned this schedule” because she knows full well I planned it thinking I’d have a team of three (or at least two).

    3. Snuck*

      Cynical me would say “often the ‘problem person’ get seconded to a project” … the number of times I’ve been told to take a person onto my project team because they need “different work” is astounding. He’s probably a liability wherever he sits, so stuff him on something they feel is less mission critical. This is how crappy managers work.

    4. Nanani*

      I wonder if it was “school group work” thinking – the top-grade kid will do all the work and the slacker stays out of the teacher’s hair.

  8. Beth*

    Op2, your problem here is definitely your manager. He’s the one not addressing the issues with your peer; he’s the one offloading all the work on you instead, without giving any extra support; and he’s the one refusing to adjust your timelines to match the current level of support available. You’d be completely in the right to call him on that. If he keeps telling you that “you need to get the project done anyway because you set the project timelines,” it’s perfectly legit to counter that with “Yes, I set the timelines for what would be realistic with two people working on it full-time. That isn’t currently the case, though, so we need to either restaff or adjust the timelines.” If he keeps telling you that you have to expect people to be out occasionally, it’s very fair to tell him that there’s a big difference between an occasional sick day and someone averaging less than half of full-time (if your peer is only showing up 2-3 days a week and only working 11-5 on those days, you’re only getting 18 hours out of him on a good week). Even if your manager thinks your peer really does need this much time off for some reason, your planning was based on 2 full-time workers who might have occasional days out, and since he’s out significantly more than that, you now need either extra support to supplement in his absence or to adjust timelines.

    Either way, boundaries are your friend. You working 60 hours a week so he can get away with 20 is unsustainable and unfair. It’s okay to say you won’t do that! Even an only-mostly-okay manager wouldn’t get upset with that, Alternatively, you think your manager would have serious issues with you refusing to do so much of your coworker’s work for him, you should get job-hunting ASAP; that would make him a pretty bad boss, and that treatment isn’t going to stop when this project ends.

    1. MJ*

      And get it all in writing, the deadlines, the understaffing, the long hours… Make it a managerial problem, not a co-worker one (who in this case is apparently untouchable).

    2. Batgirl*

      It really sounds like a shit test to me. I would be looking at this project and wondering if it really was as vital and time sensitive as claimed. Or, if the boss just wants to know if I can be pressured into free overtime.

    3. Kes*

      I agree with all this and I think right now the manager is getting what they want – they don’t have to deal with Bob and OP is just making the project work by taking on all the extra work. OP needs to set boundaries, hold the line and not just take up Bob’s slack – it’s unsustainable and right now there are no consequences for Bob and the manager not doing their jobs. If the manager really has a problem with OP laying out the facts and not working the extra hours, that speaks to them as a manager, not OP, regardless of what they may say.

  9. a sound engineer*

    #1 – Alison, if OP1’s company is too small to have HR or someone reasonable above the boss, does OP1 have any other place to turn? This is a situation I feel like I could find myself in down the road (although I am much younger than OP1, which potentially makes it worse)

    1. BRR*

      I would look for others you could get on your side. Ideally someone senior who is able to push back to the boss.

    2. Malarkey01*

      There’s always the option of just not going. Although that’s not as great for your career and you lose out on a “perk” that’s not fairly offered, if you’re in a situation where everyone is going along with something your aren’t comfortable with (and that happens sometimes even with HR and higher execs) than you say “it’s not possible for me to attend this” and then you put this into the column of something your workplace has shown you and decide if it’s time to move on.

    3. Hillary*

      You can create alliances among your peers. There are going to be guys who don’t want to go on this kind of trip plus guys you’ll be able to develop trusting relationships with. Explicitly plan a strategy with them to change the rewards – it can be as simple as an influential guy saying he wants to change it up.

      I used to be a csr at a company like this – when the sales guys/teams were getting to bro-y there were a couple more tenured guys who could always tone it down. It usually took a quiet word with them to get them to see the problem but they were fully supportive once they knew.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes this is what I’d do. I’m sure there are other men who don’t want to go ice fishing or would prefer something else. If you work out who they are and get them on side you might be able to change the type of reward offered into something you’ll enjoy.

        In my experience that’s better than trying to stop the idea altogether and you’re more likely to be seen as constructive.

  10. Perfectly Particular*

    Oh my gosh OP 1… that prize is soooo not a prize! I would be so frustrated if I had worked my tail off as a top-performer, and that’s what I got! I think this may be a case of your boss not understanding the danger that women are trained to look out for… Try repeating it back to him, like “What would you tell your daughter/wife/mom/sister, if she told you she was going to stay in a remote location with a bunch of (only) men who would be drinking all weekend?” It’s also super selfish of the rest of the team to not realize how this is excluding you – they should be going to bat for you, not making you feel like the poor sport!

    1. Scarlet2*

      I’m not sure it would help because that kind of guy would probably act all offended and say something like “what, do you think we are rapists??!!”.
      I think the gender imbalance does make it extra icky, but I hope LW doesn’t bring up her age and marital status when she declines, because that could potentially be a disservice to her, and it’s not really relevant anyway.
      That event is just inappropriate and dangerous even beyond the sexual assault aspect. Mixing “outdoor winter activities” and hard drinking sounds like a recipe for disaster. I mean, ice fishing while drunk, what could possibly go wrong?

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I’m not sure about the “what if it were your wife/daughter” line—I understand the intention but it’s misogynistic because it frames women only through their relationship to men. There are lots of reasons (not outdoorsy, in recovery, generally not interested in hanging around with drunk people, etc.) why someone would think this trip is definitely not a prize, regardless of gender.

      1. allathian*

        True. I dislike the thought of contributing to the patriarchy, but here the ultimate goal is to arrange an activity that would be fun for the LW as well, and failing that, to avoid attending the thing without any further pushback and no more attempts to persuade her to do so. If all else fails, speaking the misogynistic language the manager understands might be the way to go.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      No no no no no do not ask how they’d feel if it was their wife/daughter/etc.

      Women are people who exist without their relationships to men and men need to stop respecting us only because of those relationships.

    4. Batgirl*

      I get why you’re tempted to use relationships as a teaching tool…but these people are impervious to equality coaching anyway.
      Plus it’s a dangerous position for OP to put herself in; she’s basically pre accusing them all of potential harassment. Women can’t usually do that after the fact!
      If you need to evoke relationships as a persuasion tool (and there’s plenty of men who tell their female relatives to only fear strangers because they’re totally clueless) then you probably don’t have enough power or clout to coach effectively, which would involve leaving relationships out of it.

    5. Aquawoman*

      I don’t think that would have the effect you think–I think word would go around in 0.7 seconds that OP#1 thinks her co-workers are all rapists.

    6. Beth*

      Unfortunately, the kind of person who needs to be reminded that they care about some women to consider women’s safety, usually don’t take that reminder in good faith or actually rethink their actions when it’s brought up. If he didn’t care before, he’s not going to rethink that just because you questioned if he’d want his sister going on this trip.

  11. rubble*

    god, why have a drinking trip to a cold, snowy place, possibly remote? that sounds, aside from everything else, pretty dangerous. being drunk makes the risk of hypothermia and dangerous risk-taking higher…….. yikes

    1. Allonge*

      This whole scenario sounds like a start of a horror story. Maybe add ‘no phones on this trip’.

      Sorry, LW1, just, decline. If not for yourself, think of a younger, less experienced and more impressionable person who could be in your position. You are not ruining anything for anyone that should not be ruined. And this trip is definitely not a prize. It’s like a crappy corporate gift item that you don’t take home in the first place. With, like, sharp edges.

      1. rubble*

        that’s exactly what I thought….. this sounds like the start of a movie you don’t want to be in……

      2. Paris Geller*

        I have definitely read thrillers with similar premises.
        At BEST, this weekend sounds like a boring, miserable time.

    2. Mockingjay*

      If they all fell through the ice, that would solve OP’s problem nicely.

      Petty revenge thoughts aside, OP 1 needs to be blunt with boss. “Thank you, but I am not interested in ice fishing in a remote location as a reward for high performance. What other reward can you offer? How about a bonus?”

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’m in Michigan. Every year there are deaths from drunken ice fishing and snowmobiling.

    4. Snow lover*

      Cold, snowy and remote places can be amazing. I understand that it’s not everyone’s jam and likely not a suitable work retreat for a lot of groups. But it’s not suitable for many reasons, not because ‘omg who would ever go to a place where there is snow?!’.

      1. Dahlia*

        That’s taking rubble’s comment out of context! It’s not “cold, snowy, and remote” alone. It’s “cold, snowy, remote, with a bunch of people you don’t know well who are going to be constantly drunk”.

  12. Kathlynn (Canada)*

    Yeah, no need for a thank you note. Though I did write my resignation letter as a bit of a thank you letter. But I was on medical leave, and not returning to my job. And they could have required a lot more barriers before letting me go on leave. I mean I wasn’t even required to bring in a doctors note (I did, to try and get benefits from medical). So I wanted to say how much it meant to me that they cooperated with me. Sadly I don’t think the new manager of the store (large company with multiple locations, and they aren’t franchises) filed my paperwork as I had to reach out to a a different former manager to see if my paperwork was filed over a month later. two days later I got my holiday pay. So the HR person wouldn’t have seen it. (the new manager was also weird during the timei met her, as she said things like “I’ll let you resign”)

  13. Marion Ravenwood*

    LW #1: I’d ask if your manager was Ron Swanson, except not even Ron Swanson would go in for this prize. (Certainly not the group element anyway.)

    All jokes aside though, that is not OK and I fully agree with Alison – stick to your guns, decline the trip, and raise your concerns with HR or someone senior if you feel able to do so. If not, then it might be time to start looking for a new job, and I’d seriously consider mentioning this as part of the reason why you’re leaving in your exit interview (again, if you feel able to do so).

  14. Marion Ravenwood*

    LW #3: I’ll caveat this by saying I’m in the UK, so the form may be a little different elsewhere.

    Whilst I think thank you notes to managers are a really nice thing to do, I’m not sure they’re a standard thing, or in my experience at least they’re not something I’ve heard talked about widely, although personally I would do them myself unless my boss was truly awful. I also wouldn’t do it at the same time as you resign. Instead, what I’ve done in the past is submit my resignation, then on my last day sent my manager a short thank-you email (often shortly after a wider email to colleagues to say goodbye). But again, only do this if you want to, not because you feel obliged to or think it’ll help with your references. And good luck in your new job!

    1. PspspspspspsKitty*

      In the US it seems to be rare too. I’m a gifter though, so when I left my first job, I got some small notes or gifts depending on the person. I just wanted to thank specific people for helping me in my career. I had mentor and made some friends. Note that I worked in a very friendly place that isn’t typical of the norm. However, I had a very jerky supervisor so I didn’t get her anything. As Marion Ravenwood said, do this if you want to, not because you feel obliged.

    2. Batgirl*

      I usually say my thank yous as part of my resignation letter. It makes a better concluding paragraph than ” x will be my last day.”

    3. LW3*

      Yeah, I’ve done little thank you notes in the past, but I was feeling a bit stuck here because of my boss’ sad reaction to my departure. I really worried it would come across as “you were great and helped me, now byeeee!” But I feel much better about writing the note now, so I’m going to send one on my last day! I also did include a brief message of “thanks for your support” in my resignation letter, but tbh I don’t think that covers how fantastic she’s been.

      1. The Happy Graduate*

        To be fair though that is essentially how moving on and developing in your career works! Things like social media make it a bit better as you can still see what your old boss and coworkers are up to if you’re all comfortable adding each other after leaving and there’s no pressure of the work relationship anymore, but really at the end of the day that’s pretty much how it works! At least you know how much she enjoyed working with you if she’s sad to see you go, but if she cares about you and your future she’s probably more excited to see where it takes you :)

      2. Deanna Troi*

        When I left my last job, I wrote handwritten thank you notes to everyone who worked for me, my direct manager, and some other people in the company who had helped me. I found notecards that had a picture relating to our industry. As Alison said, several people told me that the notes meant a great deal to them.

    4. Rayray*

      Yeah, I’d say the most typical thing I’ve seen is sometimes an email to everyone just saying something along the lines of “It’s been great to work with all of you blah blah blah” but not usually a handwritten thank you card to someone.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah, electronic note that may contain the words “thank you” != “thank you note”. I think that may be where the LW got the idea? Having seen some goodbye notes that maybe said “thanks for all the fish” and then got wondering…

    5. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I did one when my boss blew off my last day of work because she was pissed I was leaving, so it was a passive aggressive goodbye note. I’ll do a real one for my current boss when I leave this job, she’s really awesome and I truly will miss working with her.

  15. PspspspspspsKitty*

    LW 2 – I encourage you to make it more about the manager and project rather than about your coworker. You never know if they have FMLA or some kind of agreement or medical condition going on. I actually don’t suggest pointing out that they have been gone as that can easily read into passive-aggressiveness, you don’t know the full situation, and it’s already obvious. Speaking from experience I know a few people who are dealing with mental health issues, chronic health conditions, and family care taking issues where their attendance is spotty for a while. It’s awkward for everyone, especially for those who are gone a lot. This is why your manager needs to help you set more realistic goals.

    If Bob apologizes, just simply say “Thanks for apologizing, can we discuss this project?” If he apologizes again, you could say in a positive tone “You’ve already apologize, so about this project…”

    When it comes to your project, it’s fair to meet with the manager and set new project deadlines and have a discussion that it takes two fulltime people to finish the project. Setting boundaries here is appropriate. Does he know how many hours of overtime your are pulling? Does he know it’s greatly impacting your work? Lay out the facts for him.

    1. Foof*

      I disagree – take coworkers at their word and react accordingly- not Schoeniger’s FEMA. If coworker says they overslept again and sorry, le should tell them they are really struggling because of how few hours they are available a week and how should they revise the schedule – there’s nothing mean about that just pragmatic

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        not Schoeniger’s FEMA

        Thank you. The resulting laugh was a good way to start my day.

    2. Snuck*

      I’d say “Read Aaron Lazare’s “On Apology” and then ponder this approach”.

      He has written thousands of words on what makes an effective apology, and one of the things that tanks an apology is when it is insincere and oft repeated.

      If this guy was actually sorry for skipping out all the time he’d stop doing it, or pony up a good reason. Making excuses shows he doesn’t trust the people around him to be honest with them. Sure he probably has a FMLA thing going on, it certainly sounds like that! But he shouldn’t keep lying with false apologies.

      1. Artemesia*

        Heck even in the Catholic church confession can’t get absolution if you don’t actually plan to sincerely commit to changing the behavior.

    3. KHB*

      FMLA leave needs to be arranged in advance. Going AWOL for two weeks to the point where HR needs to track him down does not sound like an FMLA arrangement. That sounds more like what would be considered job abandonment at many places.

      At this point, I’d be asking the manager (1) why Bob hasn’t been fired yet, especially with the two weeks AWOL, and (2) if he knew about Bob’s spotty attendance record when he assigned me to work with Bob. The manager’s excuse of “You set the timeline, so you’re responsible for meeting it” is so much BS – the manager and OP set the timeline together, and if the manager had information about Bob’s attendance record that OP did not, it’s 100% not fair to pretend like that didn’t happen.

      I’d also think about having some uncomfortable conversations with Bob. OP’s right that she can’t tell him his behavior is “unacceptable” without the manager to back her up, but there may be other things she can do, especially since he’s apologizing directly to her. Maybe something like “Hey Bob, you’ve been taking an awful lot of sick time these past few months. Is there something going on that you can tell me about? I don’t want to pry into any private medical information, but I’ve been worried about you. If you think that this pattern is going to continue for the foreseeable future, I need to know that, so we can revisit how much we can realistically expect you to contribute to the rest of this project.”

      1. KHB*

        Also also, I’d think about looping in the boss’s boss and/or HR, if you have a good relationship with them. Because of the blatant bait-and switch (“we made the schedule” versus “you made the schedule”), I think there’s at least a strong possibility that the boss is doing this on purpose: He doesn’t want to deal with Bob’s attendance problems for whatever reason, so he finds a way to make them somebody else’s problem for a while. I suspect he’s done this before, and that he’ll do it again. If that’s the case, then there’s no talking sense into him, because he intends to hold you to the schedule he duped you into setting, and he intends to penalize you if you don’t meet it.

        So you may want to kick this upstairs before the mud hits the fan, rather than after. Frame it as asking for advice – “here’s what’s going on, what do you suggest that I do?” – not as “tattling.” Better still if you can track down anyone else who’s project-managed Bob recently, so you can establish a pattern if there is one.

      2. LavaLamp*

        No it doesn’t. Intermittent FMLA is a thing and that could be what Bob here is using. I used it for four years, and my boss was kind of dim in the federal law department, and God knows what she told people to avoid saying I had a medical issue.

        1. KHB*

          But still, you arranged your intermittent FMLA – not each individual absence, but the overall plan – with your manager in advance, did you not?

          If Bob has an official arrangement to work what’s effectively a part-time schedule, then a good boss would have found a way to tell OP about that, rather than letting her draw up a timeline for the project that assumed a full-time contribution from Bob. He wouldn’t have to disclose anything about the reason, just say “Bob’s working part-time hours for right now, so here’s what you can realistically expect from him.”

  16. Reyna*

    Re: OP #1 – I would share your sentiments, and agree with AAM and the commenters about a response. One thing I would also like to impart, when you may address this. PLEASE don’t ever make this about your AGE. Don’t use terms like “Middle Age.” I’m in my early 50s, look like I’m in my 30s, and lead a very social and active lifestyle. It would be devastating to me if life/work/love suddenly decided that my age (which has ZERO to do with my competence or ability or interests) were to become the focus, and reason to exclude me from things. A woman of ANY age would have reason to be concerned if expected to be isolated in a group of drunken colleagues—including all sleeping in the same house. With private and secured rooms at the same hotel or resort, you’d have a variety of activities to choose from, and could at any time retreat to your locked room. This… isn’t that.

    1. Chc34*

      Agreed! I’m also hoping we can get rid of the idea that certain things are “inappropriate” once you’re married, or middle-aged, or have kids. If you’re responsible about it and you want to have a drunken weekend getaway with friends, go for it!

      (To be clear, this situation sounds like a nightmare and I would absolutely never put myself in it, but that’s because it’s work and coworkers I wouldn’t have that level of trust with, not because the activity itself is somehow inappropriate in general)

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Agreed!!! I may be “middle-aged” but I am fully capable of cutting loose and having a good time in the right circumstances. Freezing my ass off in a cabin full of drunk coworkers is not the right circumstances.

        (And I may need more recovery time than I needed twenty years ago…)

      2. Anne of Green Gables*

        And the flip side of it is that you don’t have to be a certain age to be uncomfortable in this situation. I am middle aged with off-spring. This trip would not be fun for me now, but it would have been a nightmare for me in my younger years. I have never been a drinking / partying type. And I hadn’t really learned when it was ok to push back yet, or set boundaries. Age is not the problem with this scenario, the scenario is the problem.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          “Age is not the problem with this scenario, the scenario is the problem.”

          This is an excellent, succinct summary.

    2. Just delurking to say...*

      Amen! Not just because I agree with the stance that age is irrelevant, but because if you object on the grounds of being middle-aged/married/a mother, you’re leaving tbe way open for these guys to convince thrmselves it’s fine for young/single/childless women. And … it’s not.

      1. Heather*

        Let’s maybe not make it about being a woman at all? Some commenters here are perilously close to saying “this outing needs to be men only” which would be discriminatory and excluding. The problem isn’t that OP is married or a woman, it’s that she doesn’t want to go and is getting pushback.

        1. Dahlia*

          I mean, no, you can’t erase the context that being the only woman in a house full of drunk men you don’t know well is an issue.

          1. Coder von Frankenstein*

            Yeah. It isn’t the *only* issue by a long shot; but it is the one that takes this from “Spending my weekend with a bunch of drunk people is a lousy prize” to “HR needs to be notified about this stat.”

    3. Helvetica*

      I also felt a sense of judgment from those words, as if no married middle-aged mother could ever want to partake in social activities, so thank you for putting it into words very eloquently.

      1. hbc*

        Yes, as a middle-aged married mother who works in manufacturing and has spent tons of time as the only woman in a drinking group and who enjoys outdoor activities, I did not appreciate the judgment there. The boss probably won’t either, especially if he’s married to someone like me. If a woman earned this trip and willingly participated, there would be nothing inappropriate about it.

        “I’m not comfortable in this situation” or “I appreciate the intent, but I don’t really like drinking and ice fishing, so this isn’t really a prize for me” or even “This is a setup that seems designed to please the stereotypical man but would make most women uncomfortable” are fine objections. Anything that casts aspersions on the people (male or female) who might enjoy it is not going to go well.

        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely. I think frame it in any of the ways you’ve outlined explaining the exclusionary nature and the possible health and safety risks of ice fishing and you’ll make a lot better case for changing the activity / moving it to a hotel. Casting aspersions on the sort of people who enjoy ice fishing / rowdy parties won’t go down nearly as well in my experience.

      2. Buni*

        I’m 45, and if one of my male *friends* told me “Hey, me and a bunch of guys are going to go up to a cabin for the weekend, just gonna fish and drink, you’d be the only woman, want to come?” I would be all over that, that geniunely sounds like my idea of fun.

        But *co-workers*? Nope-nope-nope…

        1. Willis*

          This is my thought too. This is an activity to do with friends, if you’re so inclined, not co-workers. It’s way too specific (fishing, winter sports) and intimate (shared lodging) and that’s before you even get to the drinking.

          It’s reminding me of the kosher restaurant letter from last week. The reward/team event needs to be built around the team that you have and their varied needs/interests. Not pick something that works for most people and then try to shoe horn or exclude the outlier. But that concept sounds pretty over the head of OP’s boss. I hope she has good HR or another member of company leadership she can talk to about her experience, because I doubt anything would change with this boss otherwise.

    4. a sound engineer*

      This. I’m in my early 20s and there’s no way I would ever go on a trip like that… sounds like a recipe for disaster and a way for me to potentially wind up as a target as the only woman in the house, once everyone’s inhibitions are loose enough.

    5. allathian*

      Yup, great points. That said, I’m in my late 40s and have definitely turned down invitations to activities that I would probably have participated in when I was younger and less overweight, simply due to mobility issues. I’m middle aged and comfortable with that. Even though I’m less fit physically now than when I was in my 20s or 30s, I’m in a far better place mentally. When I was younger, I was a people-pleaser, but thank goodness I grew out of it in my middle age!

    6. Generic Name*

      I agree that it doesn’t matter what age OP is (or her marital status), because the whole idea of the weekend I’d wildly problematic regardless. But why is the term “middle aged” a problem, especially if the OP self-identifies as such?

      1. Reyna*

        It’s not her use of the term as a self-descriptor. Rather, it’s her implying (intentionally or not) that “middle age” = a category of people for whom certain interests, abilities, etc. categorically apply. That is false—and perpetuating that mindset hurts women. IMHO.

    7. Rusty Shackelford*

      I agree. I winced when I read I didn’t think it was appropriate for a married, middle-aged woman with children to go on this trip. Because it actually is extremely appropriate for a married, middle-aged women with children to go on this trip if she wants to. I mean, as appropriate as it is for any of the men involved, at least.

  17. postits*

    #5 – The sooner the better. Management and HR usually are already aware that so and so is gonna retire soon and might have hiring plans already. Your manager could put in that good word for you as well and help you get that spot.

  18. Not Australian*

    Nothing makes my heart sink quite like the words ‘My manager is pressuring me to…’ at the start of a letter. There seem to be some pretty unreasonable megalomaniac managers out there who think staff are their little pawns who can be manipulated into performing in sex videos, outing themselves, and/or participating in horror-movie-style weekends in isolated cabins etc. (Who knows, maybe all three simultaneously?)

    Any pressure a manager applies should be confined to work performance; ‘my manager is pressuring me to increase my sales quota/complete the quarterly report early’ is still annoying but almost certainly doesn’t rise to AAM levels because it’s a straightforward work requirement. Managers who require extracurricular activities from their staff and apply pressure to obtain them are abusing their positions of power, plain and simple.

    Also, frankly, I wouldn’t touch this ‘ice fishing with a bunch of drunken guys’ with a barge-pole; the potential for the situation to be abused is just too massive, and anyone (like the boss and the colleagues) who doesn’t see that just doesn’t *want* to see it. If the OP actually *did* go and something untoward happened, you can bet she’d get the blame. Plus, I’d love to know what the guys’ wives and partners night have to say about the idea; I’m betting that (if they exist at all) they simply haven’t been told.

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Yeah, I think the best case scenario would involve OP being teased non-stop, and the jokes will just get less appropriate with each pint or shot the men have downed. Very unpleasant. I don’t want to try to imagine the worst case scenario, and there’s really no need to, because the best case is already plenty bad enough.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        To be fair, the best case scenario is that they get drunk and behave like perfectly reasonable people. Drunk doesn’t have to equal inappropriate.

        That being said, the LW is completely justified in assuming it’s not going to be the best case scenario. Co-workers and heavy drinking are things that shouldn’t be combined. I’d just like to push back a bit on the idea that drunkeness guarantees bad behaviour.

        1. Malarkey01*

          Yeah I’m uncomfortable that several posters are going to the threat of abuse/rape/assault are really high or almost inevitable. You are absolutely in the right to decline anything you personally don’t feel comfortable with, but the implication that a group of men drinking are suddenly an obvious threat of turning rapist, when these same men work with you daily, demonizes both men and also seems to lean towards “men can’t help themselves” and “women shouldn’t be alone with men” narratives.

          I’ve been alone drinking with men in remote areas my whole life so there are many good scenarios that involve having an enjoyable time with friends and don’t jump to assault and drunken taunts. Although, LW can still opt out because it doesn’t sound fun to her.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            I think OP is specific about these coworkers, whom she has seen in social, drinking situations: “These men are not the same people you work with when they are drunk.”
            I think there’s a strong likelihood of loud, obnoxious behavior. I also think it’s likely that she would be expected to tidy up, cook, manage the small, invisible tasks that keep trips like this running.
            I think it’s possible that there might be some sexual harassment of the crude jokes & innuendos variety, along with some gendered assumptions.
            And I think there’s a tiny but non-zero chance that one or two of the men either get her apart from the group and assault her, or manage to rile up the whole group into a really tragic scenario.

    2. Antilles*

      Nothing makes my heart sink quite like the words ‘My manager is pressuring me to…’ at the start of a letter.
      I’m pretty sure that never in the history of AAM have those words been followed with something reasonable and work-appropriate.

      1. Self Employed*

        Also, there’s selection bias. Alison isn’t going to select letters that start “My manager is pressuring me to get my work done on my project even if my alarm didn’t go off and I had a pet emergency–there’s no way I can do 40 hours of week if I’m only in the office 20 hours a week.”

  19. Avi*

    #2: How the heck is your coworker still employed?! Or rather, who do your bosses want to keep happy by keeping him employed? Seriously, whose C-suite failson is he that not just your manager but also your HR(!) go out of their way to track him down and welcome him back with a pat on the head after he ghosts out for two weeks? ‘Cause I can’t really think of any other reason they’d be working so hard to keep him in a job that he clearly doesn’t feel like he has to show up for. There’s something seriously weird going on here.

    1. WS*

      Maybe he went on the #1 ice fishing trip and has blackmail material. But fortunately, it doesn’t really matter for Alison’s strategy – all that matters is that LW #2 is trying to do two full-time jobs with only 1.3 people. They can fill that other 0.7 of a job however they like.

      1. Dreep*

        I was the coworker who was late 3 days a week or called in to WFH. It was mental health related and my bosses and managers knew, but some coworkers were annoyed. It took over a year to get back to even sort of normal.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          It’s perfectly possible that it’s the case for this shirker too. I was pretty hopeless at work the first time I was depressed. But I asked to be taken off the High Potential Project since I could see that I wasn’t able to see it through, and I started doing grunt work because at least I didn’t need to think about it too hard. But I do get the impression OP2’s shirker has a rather laid-back attitude to work (just re-read it, it’s just an impression, but OP says nothing about the shirker seeming low or anything like that. The excuse of alarm failure also indicate a ditzy mindset.

        2. Mockingjay*

          This comes down to effective management. If a manager knows that an employee is not available full-time regardless of reason, then it’s the manager’s responsibility to ensure coverage of those hours or reprioritize projects to minimize the impact. The solution is NOT to make another employee do the work of two people. OP2’s boss is being a jerk. Bob isn’t the only one not doing their job.

        3. Guacamole Bob*

          If this is the case then OP’s manager is handling it really badly. Chastising OP for noting that he’s been out more than typical and not being sympathetic to his pet emergencies is not an appropriate response.

          “Fergus has some personal circumstances that will limit his availability for a bit. He can probably put in about half-time hours on this project for the next few weeks, so let’s discuss how to adjust timelines or get you additional resources to meet the original timelines” is the appropriate management response. Or even “so we’ll need to ask you to absorb more of the workload, which I know is challenging. Here’s how we can compensate you/remove other projects from your plate/give you time off afterwards…”

          But just pretending OP is unreasonable and implying that the slipping timelines are because she didn’t plan appropriately for her coworker’s absences is terrible management.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      It’s possible that the coworker has some kind of health issue or other major situation that management is aware of. That doesn’t mean it should be OP’s problem, but she absolutely needs to address this with her manager because of that.

      1. JustaTech*

        I think this is the big thing here: it doesn’t matter why Bob isn’t getting his work done, the work isn’t getting done. OP’s manager either needs to move the dates or (if the project was promised to an external client on a specific date) find someone else to do Bob’s work.

        Yes, it’s much harder to be charitable towards Bob if he’s just a slacker vs if he’s got a medical or family issue, or just a long string of bad luck, but at the end of the day the work needs to get done by someone other than just the OP.

    3. Cat Tree*

      Many places just don’t fire people ever, and it’s not the big beaurocratic places. I’ve landed in a few mid-size places that are sort of tangential to the big industries in the area. I’ve worked with some amazingly lazy and/or incompetent people, and they are often “lifers”. There are a couple of factors that I’ve seen. First, the department managers often aren’t great. They started out as mediocre employees and got promoted into that position mostly due to seniority but not because of great technical or management skills. So they don’t hold their direct reports to a high standard or even medium standard. They also don’t want to bother with the process of hiring someone new, so they’ll tolerate quite a lot just to keep a warm body in the seat.

      The second factor, which I think is bigger, is that a lot of places just can’t afford to hire someone better. They’ll get occasional outstanding employees who end up there for a couple of years before moving on, or even rarer a great employee who stays long term for various reasons. I think LW is one of these great employees surrounded by mediocre or worse employees, including her boss. But these companies can’t afford the salaries to attract and maintain top talent, even in management positions.

      1. Spearmint*

        Yep. Sometimes we talk as if every company can be staffed by average-to-above-average employees, if only they had good management, but half of all workers will be below average. Whether for lack of funds, geography, a very unique combination of l skills needed, or something else, some companies won’t be able to hire anyone but below average people most of the time, even if management isn’t bad. I think people who haven’t worked for such companies or know people who have don’t realize how difficult it can be to hire in that position.

        1. Chriama*

          But I think if that’s the case, boss is being disingenuous about OP’s concerns. Also, OP should start taking advantage! There are a lot of bosses who are happy to dump work on the highest performers, but if OP just stops accepting it, it’s not like there’s anyone else to give the work to!

          1. Cat Tree*

            Really, OP should try to find a better company, especially after the economy recovers. If she’s the go-to person because everyone knows she’s competent and hard-working, she should use that to her advantage. I’ve been in OP’s place and after shuffling around to various mediocre companies, I eventually landed at a good one. The difference is night and day.

            1. Chriama*

              Oh, that’s absolutely the long term goal. But it becomes an even more distant dream if OP burns herself out now because boss isn’t willing to properly manage.

    4. MassMattn*

      I’m amazed whenever this sort of thing comes up also but it’s sadly not uncommon. We have millions of people un- and underemployed and this guy gets to go AWOL for weeks at a time and work only when he feels like it, and the “manager” response is “make it work”? They should both be fired yesterday!

      I would set a boundary for what you can/will do, stop working OT to make up for work someone else isn’t doing, and put those extra hours into looking for another job.

      1. Spearmint*

        Just because there are lots of unemployed people in general doesn’t mean this particular role is easy to fill.

        Here’s one example that happened to my employer: they had an opening during the pandemic, but it was located in a very rural area (couldn’t be remote) and required previous experience in a niche, low paying field. It took multiple rounds of job postings over six months to find a candidate worth hiring. It would take a lot to be worth letting someone someone from that role go because of how hard it was to fill.

    5. SentientAmoeba*

      I was wondering how so many people seem to have glossed over the coworker being gone for two weeks with no word. In any healthy workplace I’ve been in, that is job abandonment.
      (I say healthy because in one job, the individual was missing for 3 weeks because he was in jail. Once he came back, he was promoted shortly after having a screaming match with his girlfriend in front of employees and customers alike. Not only did I get passed over for that promotion, I had to train him on his new duties. Less that six months later I was fired for “stealing” merchandise which he was later found to have been offloading out the back door.) No money was saved, or lives bettered at that small cart.

  20. The Prettiest Curse*

    OP#1: Your instincts are telling you that this is a horrible idea, and your instincts are 100% correct. Listen to your instincts, because they are right. My first thought on reading your letter was “holy crap, this is a rape or sexual assault waiting to happen.”
    It’s absolutely possible that your colleagues are lovely but oblivious people who would never contemplate or do such a thing. But if I was going to envision an ideal scenario for a rape or sexual assault to happen, this is what it would be: a remote location where it may be difficult to leave, lots of alcohol, social pressure to participate in the event and to stay at the location and only one woman present in a large group of men. Abusers know how to create environments for their abuse to occur. And even if the scenario wasn’t planned with the potential for abuse in mind (it’s pretty unlikely that this was the intention, but not impossible) – there are still those who may take advantage of the large amounts of alcohol and the gender imbalance. The fact that they are asking you to do this means that your employer doesn’t give a crap about your personal safety. So if it takes everyone thinking that you’re a humourless killjoy to get out of this trip, that’s what you have to do. I’m sorry.

  21. Stuff*

    #1. Your boss sucks. Even without the gender issue and the alcoholism, this is a terrible idea. I like some of my coworkers, but not enough to spend a weekend with them.
    But this “prize” being such a male oriented thing shows that your boss doesn’t respect you as a woman. He sucks.

    A few years ago my ex manager asked us to suggest team building activities and one of my coworkers suggested a hunting trip. I thought he was joking, but no, he was serious. My manager thought it was a great idea. Luckily his boss overheard this, and even though he was an avid hunter himself, he shut it down immediately.

    1. Lora*

      Okay, I immediately thought of the scene in Good Omens where the corporate team-building exercise is paintball, and the demon changes all the paintball guns to AK-47s for fun.

      Apart from the whole safety training aspect, just…doesn’t sound like a great idea on so many levels. I am all for free venison/javelina roasts and not having to drag a game sled through a mile and a half of chilly damp forest myself, but there are many colleagues who are not trustworthy with so much as a screwdriver.

    2. Rayray*

      I’ve heard of workplaces doing overnight retreats and stuff and I just can’t even imagine how anyone thinks the age a good idea or how it could possibly be a rewarding time for people. My free time is my free time. A work retreat would not be fun, I’d just feel trapped and I’d be even more miffed if I wasn’t compensated for time away from home.

  22. Forgot my name again*

    #1: I vote for not framing this as a male/female thing. I’m a woman and some of my favourite work outings have been drunkfest fishing trips at a cabin with my male colleagues. Because of this expectation that women couldn’t possibly be interested in such a thing, I had to fight just to be invited, and then put up with assumptions about whether I’d whine about getting wet and dirty. If it’s something you aren’t personally interested in, that’s fine, but it’s unrelated to being female.

    1. Scarlet2*

      I think it’s about the gender imbalance rather than gender itself. I don’t think most people are saying that no woman would ever enjoy that kind of weekend, more that being the only woman in an isolated cabin with a bunch a drunken men would give a lot of women pause, for safety reasons.

      1. Generic Name*

        I agree. I actually think an ice fishing weekend sounds like a really fun couple’s retreat, with a group of like-minded friends. But I would absolutely feel as uncomfortable as OP does in this scenario. My fifth date with my now husband was camping with his friends, and I grilled him about how many women would be there and if I would be the only one before I agreed to go. (About half the group was indeed women, and some people brought their kids)

    2. UKDancer*

      Definitely. There are a fair number of men who may not enjoy this as an activity and women who would enjoy it. The reason this is not appropriate as a reward is because it’s an idea of limited appeal and which excludes people who don’t enjoy ice fishing and these activities which may include people with disabilities preventing them participating, people of both genders with young children or caring commitments and people who just don’t want to go.

      This idea shouldn’t be framed as unsuitable because the OP is a middle aged woman and middle aged women don’t / shouldn’t go ice fishing. It’s unsuitable because rewards and incentives should appeal and be suitable for the broadest spectrum of people in the company and to that end probably should be as non controversial as possible.

    3. Bagpuss*

      I think this is a good point. I’m a woman and this wouldn’t be my thing, but I know women who would love it (except possibly the ‘sole woman in a big group of men’ element).
      I think it’s better to push back on “It’s not something that has universal appeal” and “I’m not comfortable with a trip that is focused so much on drinking” and “the dynamic of being the only women, particularly where all the accommodation is shared, is uncomfortable”

      It’s also worth thinking about whether there are changes which would make it more widely appealing – for instance, if the accommodation was at a hotel with ice-fishing available as one activity, taster sessions for winter sports, and perhaps lower key things as well (guided bird / wildlife watching, for instance)

      1. IndustriousLabRat*

        With you 100% on the idea of adjusting the trip to be less problematic- It would be super easy. If the venue were switched to a winter-sports-adjacent hotel, the drinking-related safety concerns would be eased, because… lockable doors and hotel security!

        Honestly, going one more step and giving the option of inviting significant others/kids (company could just ask that the employee pay the difference for additional occupancy) and making sure that there really WERE low-key, everyone-friendly activities available during the day, would go MILES towards changing the whole vibe. Sure, there are always those few folks who will want to stay up late drinking on a work trip, but making the drinking something that they opt INTO, rather than the LWs situation where it’s a difficult opt-OUT… that makes all the difference!

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes I think this would be the approach I’d take. Try and adjust the venue and the participants and providing for a wider range of activity is likely to be more popular / burn less capital than trying to stop the activity or disapproving of it entirely.

    4. Forrest*

      Hm, I can’t agree. You can’t ignore gender here entirely. It’s fine to say that not wanting to go isn’t a gender thing, and that some women would be up for it. But that’s true of every gendered situation ever: nothing is 100% specific to men or women. The situation that LW is in as the only woman, and the pressure she’s getting to put up and shut up and not “ruin” things for the men, is ABSOLUTELY a gender thing. You cannot pretend those dynamics aren’t there.

      1. hbc*

        “I didn’t think it was appropriate for a married, middle-aged woman with children to go on this trip.” This is the angle that the OP is coming from, and I’m going to go so far to say it’s objectively wrong. There is nothing “inappropriate” about a woman of any age and status going on that trip, provided she is making an unpressured choice.

        I do agree that gender and the balance of the group has an impact on how many people would find the trip appealing, but approaching it like it’s absolute and saying “It is inappropriate for women to participate” will not go well. It’s like the difference between saying “We can’t play laser tag because old people won’t be able to do it” and “I can’t run around like I used to, and I bet there are others in my situation.”

    5. KateM*

      I think it has two separate issues, first of them is not male/female (ice fishing and drinking not being something that appeals to everyone) and second thing IS male/female thing (being only woman enclosed with a group of drunken men). Age, marital status and amount of kids are irrelevant, though.

      1. Snuck*

        I kind of wanted to talk about not assuming all our male coworkers are sexual predators…. because just as we’re saying she shouldn’t assume that age/hobbies/kids/marital status shouldn’t matter, we shouldn’t assume her work mates are sexual creepers.

        BUT… the letter writer has more inside information on that. If she’s not comfortable, then she should listen to that. But we shouldn’t all be jumping to “sexual assault” either, it’s kind of sad to think that this is an assumed conclusion of a woman going into a house full of coworkers who are ?ice fishing and boozing?, simple because they are male.

        The thought of a few days stuck in a cabin with anyone aside from my husband makes me want to ice pick my eyes out… so I wouldn’t be going to this. I do think it’s reasonable to consider family implications – not everyone can dash off for three days (or whatever it is) of ice fishing and leave families behind in their dust, and yes males are more likely to be able to do this, and yes, this is a woman in an all male team in what I am guessing might be a male dominated field. Sometimes you are better off smiling, cutting your losses and saying “have fun guys! I’ll take dinner reservations at CoCos instead, because I need to be home that weekend” not because you’ll get raped, or because you don’t like drinking, but because life isn’t teh same for everyone, and a reward should accommodate everyone where it can. Is this a prize, or a bonus? If a bonus, she’s earnt it. If a prize, she can absolutely forfeit it.

        1. Sigh*

          The thing is, when calculating risk, the size of the outcome matters as much as its likelihood. Whatever the magnitude of the risk that any given man might be inclined to sexual assault on his own, or the magnitude of the risk that any given group of inebriated men might egg each other on into committing crimes none of them would have committed on his own, the magnitude of the damage inflicted by sexual assault makes it a very costly risk.

          And yes it is a pity that such an outcome needs to be even considered, but I don’t think the people doing that calculus are the ones who created the situation. Or put another way, if we want people not to worry about sexual assault, it would be more effective to discourage people from committing sexual assault than to tell people it’s unreasonable to worry about it.

        2. Scarlet2*

          “I kind of wanted to talk about not assuming all our male coworkers are sexual predators…. because just as we’re saying she shouldn’t assume that age/hobbies/kids/marital status shouldn’t matter, we shouldn’t assume her work mates are sexual creepers”

          Have you ever heard about Schrödinger’s rapist? Having to take this kind of risk into account isn’t exactly fun.

    6. I should really pick a name*

      It sounds like you have no concerns about how your coworkers behave when they’re drunk.
      But it sounds like the LW has concerns about how her coworkers would behave, and that makes this a different situation and makes the gender imbalance relevant.

    7. Winterrose*

      Gender is a factor in this situation for the OP and they should not have to ignore that. They aren’t saying that this isn’t something they want to do because they are a woman, they are objecting to the gender imbalance and the potential issues this situation could create which are impacted by the gender of the participants. That is relevant and important to the situation, and pretending otherwise is not kind or helpful.

    8. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      It’s not a matter of “women don’t like ice fishing” but “one woman alone with a dozen drunk and horny men”. It’s just wildly inappropriate. Some women may be able to handle the risqué jokes, this shouldn’t mean that those who don’t know how to brazenly take a drunkard down need to suck it up.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        There’s nothing in the letter to indicate they are going to be drunk and “horny” men or that there will be “risque” jokes and that is also the absolute wrong tactic for OP to use as well.

        “I am not interested in staying in a cabin with a dozen coworkers who may be drinking and rowdy, nor am I interested in outdoor winter activities, so I am declining to attend the trip.”

        1. Demon Llama*

          I think this line from the letter was the ding ding red flag about being the only woman on the trip:

          “These men are not the same people you work with when they are drunk.”

          That doesn’t sound like there’s a great track record of them being just “rowdy” when hammered.

          1. Mockingjay*

            Yep. I’ve gone to corporate cocktail receptions in which, after a few drinks, the normally staid, perfectly professional, polite Director becomes the “Corporate Hugger and Backslapper.” Ugh.

            That OP1 will go to a hotel because she can withdraw to her room tells me that her company’s or her department’s culture is one of hard partying, but one she can handle in public environments. There were suggestions upthread about changing the venue to a resort which might be a solution – removing the isolation and allowing OP1 to control interactions with Boss and coworkers. “Hey, I booked the nature walk. Enjoy the ice fishing; we’ll meet at dinner and you can tell me about it.”

            1. UKDancer*

              Definitely. In my last company I used to go to a formal dinner at a hotel in Manchester which was attended by a range of similar companies and organisations and which was mainly male dominated. I knew most of the people well and was comfortable having dinner with them. What I didn’t want to do was hang around for the “drinking the bar dry” bit at the end of the dinner because some of the men got a lot more handsy and inappropriate. I was happy to eat with them and then drink my coffee and then I’d retire to my room as people were going back to the bar for the protracted intoxication phase of the evening.

              I think that’s why the OP might be more comfortable if the venue was an hotel where she had a lockable room and could control her environment better and where a range of activities were possible.

    9. Sutemi*

      Even if there aren’t personal safety issues that come up, how likely is it that the drunken ice fishers will be asking the sober woman to cook, bring drinks, clean up after them? Will she be looked at as the “responsible den mother” to these cub scouts? What if she refuses to cook or clean on this holiday, will that impact her relations with these coworkers?

      1. IndustriousLabRat*

        Excellent point. I’m in a rural and largely working class community where ice fishing, snowmobiling, dirt biking, hunting, etc. ‘camp weekends’ are a very common activity, and can be really enjoyable! The big difference from this situation is that among my social circle (and from what I understand it’s pretty normal), the camp weekends are very much a family thing, and used as a time for like, the 3 adult siblings who bought a camp together, and their families, to hang out, with friends coming up for a day or two. So the vibe is still an extension of whatever the household task distribution is normally at home, but with an outhouse lol.

        Changing that dynamic to a massive gender imbalance, and non-family cohabitants of the camp- NOPE I would not want to be the lone woman who is quite likely to be assumed to be the “den mother”, as you so perfectly put it. All [very legitimate and serious!] risks of drunken poor behavior aside, that in and of itself would be enough of a drag to ruin the whole weekend! Office Coffee Wars sound like but a skirmish, by comparison.

        1. Forrest*

          I mean, the fact that the boss’s attitude is “suck it up, you’re ruining it for the others” shows that LW actually getting to enjoy her “reward” is the opposite of a priority for him.

    10. Batgirl*

      Eh… While claims that women couldn’t possibly enjoy (traditionally male dominated activity) is a wildly sexist response (sorry your actual words were not taken seriously and you had to go through that), that doesn’t mean choosing only male-coded activities is ok and that we can ignore the gender code of the activity. Yes, there are some terrific female golfers out there but golf is known by many of us to be code for “you are not welcome” here. And unless all the women at a company lucked into learning (and enjoying) multiple typically male activities, it is pretty easy to use those activities to exclude a significant portion of women. Unless they start learning how to golf/fish in their spare time. It’s not OK. As you yourself have discovered it’s so deliberate that even when a woman happens to enjoy it, they don’t want to believe it because inclusion was never the plan. If you can golf or fish or whatever, the test usually turns into how ok you are with drinking and sexual inneundo.

    11. Jam Today*

      I didn’t think that hanging out with my drunk male coworkers would be a problem until suddenly it was, and it was 100% related to my being female, so…

      1. Batgirl*

        Me… too. I spent most of my early twenties being ‘one of the guys’, and probably thinking myself superior to those uptight and paranoid women on some level (chill cool girl syndrome is the most subtle and insidious type of internal sexism I think). Then there was a problem, and I did get skeeved out… It wasn’t an experience I want to repeat,(and shouldn’t have to). While most people were supportive, there were a few “what did you expect” comments, but even if everyone had been great I was no longer up for it, couldn’t see why it was so important anyway, and could now predict all the obvious problems with it. Being drunk around colleagues lowers inhibitions and most people know it’s not a great recipe for professionalism, even if no-one is hitting on people. Nowadays when someone calls me ‘one of the guys’ I always respond that I’m very much “one of the girls, thank you; I don’t see anything wrong with being female”.

        1. Generic Name*

          Yes! I was also the “cool chill girl” who liked to think of herself as “low maintenance” (which really just means you stuff down your own wants and needs). When I left an abusive relationship, I suddenly realized that I was tired of pretending to laugh at sexist jokes and that I didn’t want to be “one of the guys” at work anymore. It’s interesting how all that stuff is tied together and rooted in misogyny.

    12. Sylvan*

      I think the gender dynamics are important. Being the only woman in a group of drunk men in a place that you can’t leave is an obvious problem. (It’s probably not fun for some of the men, either!)

    13. SomebodyElse*

      Thank you, I’ve been honestly getting annoyed at all of the “OMG how could a woman possibly enjoy this!!!” comments. There are a lot of women who enjoy drinking, fishing, and other “Boy/Men” activities. Just like there are a lot of men who enjoy wine bars and painting parties.

      This is something that has really been bothering me lately so I’m going to jump up on my soapbox for a bit.

      Stop making this about men and women. It’s not, this is about an employee that doesn’t enjoy the location or activities of this particular outing. You really don’t get have it both ways. You are either equal in the workplace or you are not, using equality/lack of equality when it suits you (global you) undermines your position and quite frankly makes it harder for everyone else.

      /end soapbox rant

      1. Lizy*

        YES. This times a million. While OP is definitely allowed to feel skeeved out and potentially not safe because she’s a woman, what this really boils down to is an employee is not comfortable with this outing. The manager, being concerned about all of their employee’s comfort, should hear that and amend activities accordingly.

      2. Loraine*

        I’d be up to try out ice fishing if afterwards I had my own nice hotel room to retire at a decent time because drinking or no drinking I’m not up to dealing with coworkers after so many hours.

      3. Jan*

        Well… the fact that men are disproportionately represented in management roles and thus get to decide the activities and the fact that men are grossly and disproportionately inappropriate towards women in the work place makes it about men and women thing.

      4. Sigh*

        Saying that those who point out sexism are creating it by noticing it is not the way to eradicate sexism.

      5. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        It is true though that this outing was planned around activities that are typically preferred by men and where women probably have not been encouraged to participate in them throughout their lives (rather like golf). An outing that is a perk of doing business should be aimed at being something that would appeal to all groups, regardless of gender, race, marital status, religion, disability status, etc. This activity is hardly designed to be inclusive of different types of people. And the fact that there are some women out there who would like this trip does not really make up for that.

    14. Nanani*

      LW1 didn’t do that, a lot of commenters did.

      Fears about sexual assault are real and also not brought up by LW1 but still a very valid concern that women have no choice but to consider. That’s part of being a woman in the world.

    15. Student*

      It is a gender thing, even if you’d rather it not be. The OP is afraid of these guys because they are men she knows, men she does not trust, who are planning to impair their judgement in an isolated setting.

      Men are much more likely to get violent and aggressive than women. The statistics are overwhelming. We avoid talking about it, but it’s facts.

      They’re most likely to take that aggression out on the most vulnerable person in the group who’s going to have a hard time fighting back – usually women, and in this specific case the OP. Further, women are most likely to be harmed by other men that they already know – men understand that they’re more likely to get away with hurting a “friend” or “co-worker” than some random stranger, and they can better gauge whether a woman they know is likely to fight back (bad target) vs freeze (good target).

      It’s really disingenuous to want to pretend that gender plays no role here. It plays a huge role. If the OP were a man, the situation would be different because then the OP wouldn’t immediately be presumed to be the weakest one in the group, the most likely to be the outlet for any potential anti-social behavior from the group. If the group were a bunch of drunken women, the odds that any one of them get violent while drunk would drop substantially, and again the OP wouldn’t inherently be the obvious target for their aggression.

      I like to personally think the overwhelming higher level of violence from men is not something inherent to their gender – I hope that it’s an unfortunate socialization difference that we’ll overcome one day. There’s been some gradual progress over time. But ignoring it won’t fix it.

      1. Jan*

        It might as well be inherent to their gender at least for me considering how many lifetimes it will take to stop men from being so routinely violent to women.

    16. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      But it is not entirely unrelated to being female. Many women like to golf, but more men golf than women, and golf has a long history of excluding women. Read Allison’s comments on company golf trips and how they are actually a gender problem. Ice fishing is an activity that generally attracts men more than women and that many women have not experienced and would feel uncomfortable experiencing as the sole woman in a group of men. And this is in a professional context. This is a company trip.

      Company trips, offered as a perk, no less, need to be inclusive of people of different backgrounds and interests, regardless of gender, race, religion, disability status, marital and family status, etc. If the incentive to perform is disproportionately attractive to any of these groups (meaning that in the general populations, more members or a larger percentage of one group, especially an advantaged group like white men, are more excited about it than members of the other groups), then that creates an imbalance and does not lead to an equitable outcome. So yeah, even if the group was a 50/50 split of women and men, 50 of each, and 48 of the men wanted to go on the trip, but only ten of the women wanted to go on the trip – the incentive would really be incentivizing more men to try to work to earn the trip than women, which leads to a disparate impact on performance and on performance reviews.

  23. Frally*

    Letter #2- your coworker went AWOL for 2 weeks and they didn’t fire him? Does he have incriminating videos of the CEO?????

    1. Forrest*

      AWOL to LW might mean “was on authorised sick leave but nobody told LW”. If the business assumed his disappearing and reappearing isn’t a problem, why would they think it necessary to tell LW when they know he’s going to be out?

      1. Allonge*

        “If the business assumed his disappearing and reappearing isn’t a problem”

        How could it not be a problem though? I am all for not sharing personal medical information, but the fact that your closest work partner will be intermittently and unpredictably unavailable (or will be on sick leave for 2 weeks) is something that is shared in a healty organisation.

        1. Forrest*

          Oh I agree— my point was the same as Alison’s : whatever is going on with that coworker is far less important than the fact that the management is totally failing to manage it.

      2. Mockingjay*

        Alison notes frequently that in good companies, managers don’t discuss employee performance with other employees. Bob could be on a PIP, intermittent FMLA, or truly experiencing an unfortunate series of events. I don’t need to know these things (“why” he’s absent). What I need to know from my manager is 1) Bob is absent and 2) how to proceed in Bob’s absence. Unfortunately OP’s manager is not providing either information.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          I’d argue the problem is unfortunately OP’s manager is providing an answer to your #2, and that answer is “do both your and Bob’s work”.

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

        She said “HR had to track him down” though, so presumably his being out came as a surprise to the company as well as to the LW.

      4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Honestly, it does not matter if it was authorized or not. If sickness happens and vet emergencies are emergencies (they totally are, btw!), then fine, but sick leave leads to deadlines being pushed. Deadlines have to adapt when life happens that way. The boss wants that sentiment to apply to OP not complaining to him, but he won’t apply that sentiment to the deadlines. Next time the boss asks about a deadline, OP needs to say it was pushed, because things happen, sickness happens, emergencies, including vet emergencies happen, and when they do, it is the company’s job to adapt (or the manager’s to make it work). It is NOT the responsibility of OP to work all the hours that her project partner should have worked if stuff had not “happened.”

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Could be a medical issue with established intermittent FMLA arrangement that he is not (should not be) required to share.
      However, in that case manager should have assigned 50% of his time to the project–that’s what OP has to work around.

      1. Dreep*

        I’m surprised by some of the answers here – things happen and sometimes a coworker is struggling with mental health issues. I was upfront with my bosses about it and I was given support. “WHY dIdn’T tHeY gEt fIrED” is unkind. Maybe that employee has a lot of capital you aren’t aware of.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Yes, but the manager then has a duty to actually manage and not just allow the OP to work a ton of overtime picking up the slack. And the reality is, people are going to be pissed off since they would have no idea what’s going on other than a coworker is working less than part-time, seemingly just showing up when they feel like it, and the manager isn’t doing anything about it. It creates a lot of resentment. In this case, the manager is just making excuses and not doing anything to alleviate OP’s workload.

        2. KHB*

          You were upfront with your bosses – that’s what made the difference here. Yes, things happen and people have health challenges, but that doesn’t mean anyone can just unilaterally drop down to a 12-hour-a-week schedule without explanation and expect it to be just fine.

          As Bob’s project manager, at least for the moment, OP has a direct stake in Bob’s work output, so if he’s made some arrangement to work a reduced schedule, she has a right to know about that. “Mind your own business and assume there’s a legitimate explanation you don’t know about” works when it’s Jane down the hall who you don’t work with at all – not when you’re literally managing this person’s work for the next few months.

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          On top of the two weeks though, Bob seems to only come into work at 11, only 2-3 days a week, and leaves at 5 on the dot. I don’t know where he’d find the time to build up a lot of capital, if he’s never around.

        4. BRR*

          It’s a good thing to be understanding of others but the situation in the letter sounds different. “HR had to track him down.”

        5. SoloKid*

          “Maybe that employee has a lot of capital you aren’t aware of.”

          Then maybe that employee should be the one going to the manager to explain why the project timeline needs to be moved up.

        6. Cat Tree*

          Reasonable accommodation doesn’t mean he gets to work half time at the expense of another employee who has to do most of his work for him. LW shouldn’t be stuck doing extra work because she has less capital.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I agree. No matter what the co-worker’s issue is as to why his attendance is so spotty, the manager isn’t managing. He should be reassigning the work to someone else, not just allowing the OP to cram to get everything done by themselves.

        1. Clisby*

          Exactly. This co-worker’s hours aren’t the problem. The problem is that the project needs X hours, and LW should be providing X/2. If the other co-worker can’t provide a like amount of work, the manager needs to find someone else to do that – not pile the work on the LW. The problem is with the manager.

      3. Saberise*

        Except that HR had to track him down. You can’t just go out of FMLA and not actually tell your employers.

    3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Reminds me of the Amazing Disappearing Teapot Sculptor: frequent absences, sometimes with flimsy excuses, but when he did show up his work was award-winning.

      Maybe this guy really is that good at something, and the manager didn’t think about all the less-than-flashy parts of the project when he set this up.

      I don’t think that’s likely, but I don’t really think he has blackmail material either; it’s probably more run-of-the-mill bad management

  24. Forrest*

    “You should shut up about your discomfort because you’re making the men uncomfortable and their discomfort MATTERS, unlike yours” ugh, how do people not hear themselves. I’m so sorry, OP, this is the worst kind of culture.

  25. Mannheim Steamroller*

    OP #1…

    In addition to Alison’s advice, I strongly suggest (if you’re in the U.S.) checking your W2 at the end of the year to make sure the company didn’t include the value of that trip in your income and then deduct taxes for it.

  26. Me (I think)*

    I can see how #4 would be problematic in some situations. Say, the OP is an attorney working for a nonprofit that defends people against giant insurance companies, and is leaving to take a job with one of the insurance companies….

    1. Reba*

      Oh, thank you for sharing this example! I was genuinely feeling dense like … I don’t know what the problem is in #4? I actually am not sure from reading it if the new job is non profit or for profit. But anyway, it doesn’t matter!

      Op has couched it in personal terms but maybe the concern is more overall reputational? Still though, this is a thing people do. Going for profit might be against some folks’ personal code, so perhaps that would lose you some points with those people. But clearly OP4 has long seen her way into private sector so it’s not a conflict for her!

      Op4, you haven’t done anything wrong, people change jobs and change their minds! You didn’t like, sign a contract in blood for either job, and Abby doesn’t need to be handled in a particularly special way (unless she is overly invested in your career, which is not hers).

      1. Reba*

        That last bit about Abby I’m extrapolating from (if I understand) you said “hahaha I’d never go that job you know?” Even though you “always” already intended to go for-profit someday. Is that right? If so, maybe think about what was behind that impulse! It’s not a bad thing to go a long with a workplace culture to an extent. But what was going on that you felt you had to make that statement that you now feel (IMO, excessively) bad about?

        Anyway, yes agree with Alison!

      2. BubbleTea*

        I don’t really see why Abby would have any standing to get upset about being “misled”, but also in some situations she might not even be surprised. I’ve had friends tell me “I’m definitely never going to do X” unsolicited, and often what that really means is “I’m considering doing X, but have to work out how I feel about it, and am trying out this opinion for size”. Some people, including me, make decisions out loud. It confuses and annoys the people who don’t say anything until they’re 100% certain!

        I had a friend who said definitively “I am absolutely not attracted to Horatio”. No one had suggested that they thought she was. Fast forward ten years and they are now married with a child. I think she had been surprised by discovering that she was in fact attracted to Horatio, despite her self-image as someone who does not get attracted to Horatios. Then she gradually accepted that her self-image was inaccurate in one aspect, and embraced her true feelings :)

    2. Smithy*

      I think there’d have to be some incredibly specific reputational concerns for it to be a real problem.

      In my corner of the humanitarian nonprofit world, I’ve certainly seen people move onto positions in the for-profit world, where even if the reputation isn’t spotless – most people get either the individual compensation realities or access to a larger professional budget. In one case, someone left for a job with a company in the news on a pretty regular basis for not being great, and the reactions were largely a) imagine his new salary and b) we are a bit of a chaotic mess, no wonder he’s leaving. Now had he left for an arms manufacturer, that would have impacted his reputation to return to the nonprofit sector at a later date, but just about any other Fortune 500 questionable actor – not so much.

  27. Workerbee*

    #2 First you wrote that “my manager and I” set the timelines, and later that your manager is declaring that YOU set the timelines. Does he often like to mangle and misdirect? And even if you were wholly in charge of timelines, they were indeed made with your boss’a approval and with the assumption of a whole other person on board. It is also ridiculous that you are responsible for and have to compensate for that whole other person’s (lack of) accountability and presence.

    Your boss is protecting his crony, whose apologizing has probably worked for him before. I hope someone else in your org can do something effective about this.

    1. anonymouse*

      OP, it sucks to be embarrassed.
      It sucks harder to be in fear of being embarrassed.

  28. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

    Ugh. OP1, I am sorry, this is a crappy place to be in. I would abhor going on this trip as well. For one, I have personal reasons for not drinking. Secondly, I cannot be outside for extended periods of time due to a condition called Raynaud’s (causes the capillaries in my fingers and toes to close up in cold weather), and spending an entire weekend with my coworkers where I COULDN’T escape from them? Ugh. You have my sympathies.

  29. Sal*

    #4–I don’t know if you’re talking about public interest law, but I have “switched sides” (from public defense to one of those “progressive prosecutors” whose name is in the headline every time there is a bad crime in our city) and it has 100% closed doors for me with certain employers. (Purity tests are common among some of the biggest “name” orgs in my field.) I know it would be even worse if I’d actually become a “real” prosecutor (and arguably, deservedly so). I definitely use very sheepish language with old colleagues, which I actually think has helped maintain my cred to a degree. Just wanted to throw out the possibility that (as usual) law might be different.

  30. Kesnit*

    People change. Minds change.

    I went to law school to be a prosecutor. I did 2 semesters and a summer interning in a prosecutor’s office. The one job I said I could never do is be a public defender “because they get clients charged with horrible things and can’t turn them away.”

    April will mark 4 years of me being a public defender…

  31. The Happy Graduate*

    LW3 – yeah the notes definitely aren’t commonplace but what I’ve done is send an email on the last day in the same format Alison suggested, and I’ve had bosses offer to take me out to coffee on the lunch break or after work as a nice send-off which is something you can offer to your manager if you have that relationship. It makes it feel both final but also warm and extra well-wishing, but if you don’t have that relationship then a simple heartfelt email on the last day will be plenty!

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Came to say this – I’ve received some really warm and heartfelt good-bye emails from coworkers on their last day.

      LW, you can only send it to the people you want to send it to. Doesn’t have to be the whole office. Just bcc everyone. Boss can get their own personalized email if you’d like.

    2. M. Albertine*

      When I had a manager I wanted to write a thank you note to (great to work for, always on the look out for my professional development, used capital on my behalf, just overall what you want in a manager), I included all that in a separate paragraph in my resignation letter. It may not have been the proper place for it (a separate note or email would have been fine, I think), but I did want her to have something in writing so she would have the opportunity to use it in her own evaluations or for a future cover letter or something.

  32. Rebecca*

    For OP1 I would turn that prize down like a broccoli milkshake. My husband has had to take work trips where the location was remote so the only option was to stay in an AirBnB…where doors don’t lock and bathrooms are often shared. Even on a pretty standard work trip these things can be awkward so…don’t go.

    OP2, I worked with a guy like this! The situation was a bit different because our company had been acquired and we were sort of in limbo (had to report to the office and try to be productive but couldn’t work on a lot of things) but it was the same story: no-shows, missed meetings, weird excuses. As it turned out he was having a medical issue where he found it hard to use a laptop and was afraid he’d be discriminated against for age or health reasons. Instead he lost his job because of attendance!

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      For OP1 I would turn that prize down like a broccoli milkshake.

      I usually call those Bleach Martinis, but I may borrow Broccoli Milkshake for when the martini is just too much for the conversation at hand. I like it!

    2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      something tells me the next rage after green smoothies is going to be the broccoli milkshake! LOL

  33. animaniactoo*

    LW2: “You set the timeline.” “Yes, I did set the project goals and timelines based on the expectation that I had 2 people working on it full time. Unfortunately, since Bob only works about a half a week, those are not goals that can be met and something will need to change. I understand that Bob has had some life events, and no, we can’t expect people not to have life events. However, the original timeline only had enough flex for someone to have a few of those events, not regular occurrences of them. Would you like me to re-do the timeline based on a more realistic expectation of Bob’s input?”

    1. KHB*

      This is good, but I’d change the question at the end to a statement: “Would you like me to…” –> “At this point, I’m going to need to…” Presenting this to the boss as something that’s just optional is too weak of an opening bid.

      However, as I said in another comment upthread, I think LW should also be prepared for the possibility that the boss isn’t going to budge on this, because it’s a deliberate strategy to “manage” Bob’s unreliability by making it someone else’s problem.

      1. Polly Hedron*

        Yes, and also change “only works about a half a week” to “works less than half a week.”
        And stop that overtime.

      2. animaniactoo*

        Yeah originally there was supposed to be a second option at the end of that “or will more help be provided, some other arrangement to be able to meet the original deadlines?” with a refusal when pushed to put in additional hours “I’m sorry, I simply don’t have that many additional hours a week to provide on an ongoing basis, it’s not sustainable. As I said, I set the goals based on an expectation of what resources would be going in to it. I don’t have the ability to meet them without those resources and would have set them differently if I had known that I would only have what I do now.” and stand firm on several re-iterations of that.

        1. KHB*

          I worry, though, that there’s nothing OP can say that the boss can’t respond to with “It’s still your responsibility to get the project done on the original timeline, and if you don’t, you’ll be facing X consequence (cut bonus, blocked promotion, formal write-up, etc.)” And given his willingness to deflect blame and refuse to listen to reason so far, I wouldn’t put it past him to do just that.

          That’s why I suggested looping in the grandboss and/or HR if it looks like the boss is going to go this route. HR, in particular, sounds like they’re at least somewhat familiar with Bob’s history (and they’d have to sign off on most of the penalties the boss could impose on OP), so maybe they’d be able to help.

  34. animaniactoo*

    LW1 – “I thought the point of a prize was something that the employee considered rewarding, not an ordeal to get through. This feels more like a penalty than a prize and I am surprised that you are so insistent on my participation given that my expressed discomfort with this.”

  35. blackcatlady*

    LW#1: no way in hell would I go. Although you could tell your manager if you go you will be happy to video people on your phone so they can see just how much fun they had. Seriously DO NOT GO. Your manager is a jerk. I like comment above – would you be happy if your daughter went on a trip like this?
    LW#2: wonder if your co-worker has a substance abuse problem that accounts for such spotty attendance. Alison provided a great script for your manager. I can do x amount of work on the project. If my co-worker does not provide y the project will be delayed. If your manager is dodging the situation, you are going to have to go higher up. In the meantime document, document, document. Missing days/hours. Deadlines not met. Shoddy work. Document every last thing.

  36. irene adler*

    #1: Wonder of the co-worker’s significant others know about LW potentially being the only female attending this weekend “team-building” event. Bet they would have something to say about that.

    I know, it’s not okay for LW to inform the co-workers wives. Nor should this be something LW should do. Just thinking they might have an interest in shutting down this throwback event.

    Kinda reminds me of a friend/co-worker who had to regularly visit one of our vendors. As entertainment, he was brought to the local strip club. As a gay man, that didn’t do much for him. But he couldn’t say that- not back then. Super awkward though.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Yuck! This isn’t about if the LW’s husband would let her go on the trip with a bunch of men or if the colleague’s wives will give them a “hall pass” (double yuck) for the weekend.

      Spouses and partners should not dictate business/work decisions.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      As horrified as I am by LW1’s letter, maybe opening the door to where 1) our coworkers’ spouses dictate our after-work activities, 2) we encourage our coworkers’ spouses to assume that a woman coworker, when included in a team-building activity, will corrupt their husbands and lead them to do unspeakable things 3) we give our coworkers’ spouses the power to somehow shut down a team-building activity they do not approve of; is not the best way to go.

      (Binging The Sopranos right now and I am having visuals of “the wives” group in my head after reading this comment.)

    3. Environmental Compliance*

      That’s a really problematic way of looking at an already problematic situation, which is really unhelpful in many different ways.

      1. Cat Tree*

        Exactly. It’s not really these men’s wives’ responsibility to stop them from assaulting their female coworker. (It’s also not really their responsibility to stop them from cheating with a hypothetically consenting coworker by banning them from being in the same location with her overnight.)

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        This. I think that one of the issues with how we address this kind of situation is that it’s tricky to balance real, practical concerns about women’s safety without falling into some really regressive, harmful tropes. “Women should just go along with what the men want to do even if it makes them uncomfortable” is harmful. “It’s fine for men’s wives to get angry about women going on work-related trips with them” is also harmful, just in a different way. It’s just a backdoor way into “women have no place in the workforce because they will inevitably distract the men”.

    4. Nanani*

      The colleague’s partners should assume LW is going to be a homewrecker as the only woman?
      How are you posting on the internet from 1953?

  37. Person from the Resume*

    LW#3, I have never heard that you should write your boss a thank you note when you resign. That seems odd to me.

    However, it does sound like you have every reason to send a heartfelt thank you note to a great and supportive boss who has really helped you grow and move up in the world. I agree with Alison that it is not rubbing salt in wound of you leaving, but is likely to be appreciated.

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      I received a thank you note and a gift from someone who resigned. I was her manager for an entry level job. We discussed career goals and I helped her meet them. That was my actual JOB but the employee was extremely grateful. Apparently, the prior manager didn’t think career goals were a thing.

  38. Person from the Resume*

    LW#5, yes, NOW! Now is the perfect time.

    I’d swear AAM has had letters where people were disappointed not to be considered to fill their boss’s position because they didn’t speak up in time and the hiring process was happening much faster than they expected.

    1. Watching the Detectives*

      LW #5, I completely agree with Alison and Person from the Resume. Today is the day to indicate your interest. Make it clear that you don’t think you’re entitled to the job, but don’t be shy about saying you would like a shot.

      For months when anyone brought up my manager’s impending retirement, I would say “Well, we’ll see what happens, but I’d really love to throw my hat in the ring for Betsy’s position.” (Seriously, I said that exact phrase to at least a dozen people.) In my organization, managers at Betsy’s level from other departments could ask for a lateral transfer before people at my level could apply to promote. Betsy’s position is considered a plum job and typically there would be 5 to 10 transfer candidates. This time zero other managers applied for the transfer. Was it because I waged a polite campaign to let everyone know I wanted the job? Who knows! But I applied for the promotion, prepped HARD for the interview with my grandboss, and now that plum job is mine. Wishing you the same luck, LW 5!

  39. Spicy Tuna*

    LW#1 – that is a highly inappropriate “prize” all around for many reasons. What if you were a recovering alcoholic? What if you don’t drink?

    I personally never socialize with co-workers outside of work. I do not attend company sponsored holiday parties. I do not friend co-workers on social media. I do not go to happy hours or lunches with co-workers. On rare occasions where interacting outside of work is required, I try to leave as quickly as humanly possible to avoid any type of hint of impropriety. Any juice you get from socializing with co-workers is just not worth the squeeze.

    LW #2 – it may also help to document your co-worker’s “schedule”. Because his / her inability to show up and work 40 hours is directly impacting your ability to complete the project, it IS relevant to keep track of this and could strengthen your case with your manager. If your manager manages a lot of people, he or she may also not realize just how little your co-worker is actually in the office.

    1. Rayray*

      I’m like you. I enjoy having work friends, but I would never ever want to go on an extended trip with my coworkers. I would maybe go to dinner or something with the people I sit by, but I honestly for the most part just draw the line between work life and personal life. There’s coworkers that I can simply tolerate but I know I’d hate to be stuck out of town with them. I already know exactly who would decide they were in charge of things and try to force everyone else to follow their orders and it just seems like a hellish punishment. Now if I got OT pay for that entire weekend…no, even then I don’t think I could do it.

      1. Spicy Tuna*

        Exactly… I give enough of my time to work! When it starts encroaching onto free time, it’s just too much.

    2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I have many good work friends (though I do not maintain social relationships with anyone above or below me in my chain of command), and I would definitely go on a trip with one or two of them. But I would not go on a trip with my whole department as a group. We are not all friends and most of us are not up to doing anything work related on our free time, even if it is supposed to be fun. And I definitely would not want to get drunk or see them get drunk, because there is a professional component to the relationship even among work friends.

      Moreover, our work is very individual. We do not work as a team (we are lawyers, we get our own cases, and we may brainstorm, but your case is your case), so that influences the relationships. It also means the job attracts the type of person who is not feeling the need to be social during business hours. It would be awkward for me to go away on a trip like this with most of my colleagues, and I most certainly would not feel comfortable doing this type of thing with my boss (though I am fond of her)!

  40. char*

    #2 – I had a similar situation at work once, where another member of my team would almost always either be hours late or just not show up at all with no notice. On any given day, I could never know whether he’d actually be in until it got to be mid-day and he’d either showed up or he hadn’t. This persisted even after we adjusted his schedule to give him part-time hours that started later in the day.

    Luckily, I had the ability to request additional help for my team as I saw fit, so eventually I started doing the scheduling for the project under the assumption that he wouldn’t be there. That way, if he did show up, it was a happy coincidence, and if he didn’t, it wasn’t a big deal because there was someone else to cover the work.

    This did lead to the problem where some days he would come in only to find that he didn’t have any work to do because someone else had already taken care of it… but I figure that that was a natural consequence of his actions, and there wasn’t much I could do about that.

    1. char*

      Oh right, as for some actionable advice: it might be helpful to track his attendance for a while, if you can. I did so for my problem team member for a couple months. It was immensely helpful to be able to lay out hard numbers showing that this person showed up to work within an hour of his scheduled start time less than 50% of the time, and was a no-call no-show 30% of the time.* That helped my manager understand the extent of the problem and back me up when I needed additional help on my team.

      *I didn’t even count days when he called in sick near the start of the work day as absences in my analysis, because I didn’t want it to come across as if I was penalizing him for being sick. But this guy was late or absent with no word at all so often that his attendance was abysmal even with that allowance.

  41. Trek*

    OP #2 It’s time to escalate to your boss’ boss. Is there someone else that you can reach out to with documentation regarding Fergus’ absences, your conversations with your boss that you cannot do the work of 2 and cannot meet the deadlines, and his insistence that you do? If you don’t have this documented document a lengthy email once to your boss ASAP and outline everything in detail using bullet points. Once completed give him one week to resolve and if not resolved escalate. Make sure you are clear that Fergus being gone isn’t the issue, the project not being completed is the issue.
    Make sure you include in email(s) ‘We agreed to the following time line based on two full time employees. Now we have 1.25 head count at best and there is no way to overcome the shortage without reassigning others to this project or extending the deadlines by at least three months.’
    It would be reasonable to include a plan such as ‘we can get this project back on track if x, y, z happens by April 15th,’ i.e. reassign Fergus, add two resources to catch up on what Fergus has not done, then go back to two full time people to finish the project by May 15th as agreed.’
    Make sure this is in communication to your boss’ boss as well.

  42. Chriama*

    #2 – boss is holding you responsible because you set the timeline? Then just… reset it. Tell him “This timeline was based on the assumption of 2 full time people working on it. Fergus has been at 40-60% capacity since we started, which is not something I could have predicted. Of course people get sick and have emergencies, but given given his track record so far I need to reevaluate the timeline based on new assumptions about his capacity.

    OP, if boss is willing to let things slide for Fergus, you can do the same! Boss can protest, but he’s made it pretty clear he’s not going to enforce any consequences. So let it go.

  43. Captain of the No Fun Department*

    This is a question for Alison more than a comment. Re. LW 1. I’m Canadian working in Canada. If we ran this kind of event as an employer and something happened, we would be responsible. Does the organization have no responsibility to protect employees from any potential injury (an accident, harassment, assault, etc) at an event like the one the letter writer described?

    1. Chriama*

      Also a Canadian here, but I feel like worker’s comp would come into play for injuries but probably only individual employees would held responsible for assault (sexual or otherwise). Unless you could somehow prove that the company fostered a culture that led to the incident, or continually pardoned/covered up incidents with a particular employee.

      In the first case, I feel like it would have to be at the level of scandalous vodka-and-trucker-porn boss from last week. If OP#1’s boss had a track record of such comments or behaviour, it could be argued that the company promoted such inciting culture to begin with. I don’t think the practice of holding a work event in a cabin with drinking is, on it’s own, enough to prove the company’s liability.

    2. Lifelong student*

      I’m in the US. I am personally aware of a case where an employee was injured at a sporting event while on a team sponsored by the employer where all the players were employees. In that case, the employee was eligible for worker’s compensation because it was deemed to be a work event- even if the employee was not on the clock- so yes, it is possible!

  44. Sparkles McFadden*

    #2 – I had this exact problem, and it’s definitely a boss issue. My boss assigned me to “help” on a project, and the guy did nothing but disappear. He even disappeared from a conference call he arranged. He started the call and talked for a few minutes. A while later, someone asked a direct question and…nothing. I was asked to walk down the hall to tell him he was on mute. He was gone. He returned for the end of the call, pretending he was there the whole time. I treated this as a project that was solely mine and asked for resources accordingly to meet deadlines. It wasn’t great but that’s work life.

    Then, this happened: The “project lead” appeared in my doorway at 12:05 pm, saying he had two noon meetings and could I attend one of them? He said “We’re just there to take notes of what the other department is discussing.” So, I showed up, said the guy had a conflict and I was filling in…and everyone just started at me. It turns out, he promised them a demonstration of something and I had no idea what that was. I said “I guess I got my wires crossed” and other meaningless phrases. I steered them onto something I could work on with them, and they seemed OK. I used to work with that department often, so I wasn’t as bad as it could have been. After the meeting, I went to this department’s break room to get coffee, and there in the hallway was my weaselly coworker with that department’s division head, telling the division head “I don’t know why she didn’t show your staff what I’d prepared. I had certainly gone over it with her often enough” and continued on with how he was stuck with having me on his project because I was “too incompetent” to have projects of my own and he’s just that kind of a helpful guy.

    As I said, I had worked with that group before, so, when the division head saw me marching down the hall with a full head of steam, he shook his head and waved me off. My coworker was removed from the project the next day.

    Happy ending? Not really. My boss was furious with me because I made his favorite “look bad” and I was subjected to a constant barrage of talks about how I needed to be “friendlier” because the incompetent guy was “so nice” and I got most of the guy’s work too. I switched departments six months later. I figured that, eventually, I would suffer some irreparable reputational damage from the boss-sanctioned back stabbing.

    1. Chriama*

      I hope your new department was better! I agree that sooner or later bad coworker was going to drop the ball and boss was going to throw you under the bus.

  45. Pobody’s Nerfect*

    Op#1 – do you work in a fraternity? Because it sounds like a fraternity, or at least that same mindset. What a horrible culture to work in, I hope you can find another job and get out of there.

  46. Sharrbe*

    This is just an aside, but how is this a “prize” for one person if all co-workers (who lost) are going anyway? Do they pay their own way?

  47. Nethwen*

    OP 4: A similar thing happened to me. I was at a job interview for a middle-management position where I commented that I had no interest in pursuing upper management. A few months later, I accepted a position in upper management and was at a networking event with my new peers. I felt I had to say something like Alison suggested to the upper manager who was in that interview so that I would stop feeling like I had lied. Their response was a reassuring, “We understand that things happen.”

  48. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I once worked somewhere where the Big Boss wanted to have a “staff retreat” where we all went to his friend’s cabin for a weekend to ‘drink beer and make checklists.’ It was a mixed group of men and women. This was met with a “heck forking no” from everyone. Literally nobody wanted to give up a weekend to spend with coworkers – and we all got along really well. While there’s something to be said for being relaxed and doing team-type activities (and maybe even having a beer or two, whatever), it’s unfathomable that people want to give up what precious weekend time they have for friends/family/laundry/whatever so they can ultimately spend twelve days in a row with their coworkers. Boss was sad – it sounded fun to him. Ultimately we decided to ‘drink beers and make checklists’ on a Friday afternoon and everyone was fine with that (and it was a little bit fun).

    1. Nanani*

      Is making checklists some kind of euphemism?
      Was checklist making your main job duty and the point was to make the checklists in a different location?

      I don’t know how to equate making checklists with “fun” – work mandated or otherwise.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        Well, it was billed as a staff retreat, not a fun getaway. I can sort of hazily see ‘make checklists’ as shorthand for ‘develop and document internal processes’.

  49. 2horseygirls*

    LW#1, I am so sorry that your boss does not seem to recognize that this could very well be the setup for an episode of SVU.

    I am NOT REMOTELY suggesting that it is an inevitable outcome, and would not wish such an event on anyone. But as a female, it is something that we are always vigilant about. And it seems incredibly tone-deaf on the company’s part not to recognize this.

  50. Case of the Mondays*

    I haven’t had time to read all of the comments so I apologize if this was already covered but if a woman wanted to go, it would not be inappropriate for her to do so whether she was married, had kids or was middle aged. I do not think anyone should be forced to do this nor do I think it is an appropriate work activity but no woman should be faulted for traveling and staying with men, regardless of her marital or familial status.

    I hate the idea that once one is married or once one is a mom there are things that they shouldn’t do just based on appearances. The work part is what is problematic here, not the fact that a married woman w/ kids could travel with men. If a group of male friends were going skiing and staying in a house and invited a female friend that also skis, said female friend should not be judged for going.

    1. Sigh*

      FWIW, there are a couple of threads above on this subject, which do varyingly well in separating the “middle-aged married woman” part from the “I do not feel comfortable with this situation” part. I point that out just to let you know that others here agree with you.

  51. Girasol*

    I read #1 too quickly and thought OP said she didn’t want to be the prize at a drunken “team building” bash.

  52. agnes*

    LW #1 oh my goodness this sounds SO HORRIBLE. It’s a bad idea all around and if your company has an HR department, they should know about this. Best of luck to you.

  53. Rachael*

    Well, I can say that I could go on a trip with alcohol with my male coworkers and feel completely safe and have a great (platonic) time. But, I still wouldn’t. It is not a good idea in a professional context and not every woman is comfortable with her male colleagues when alcohol is present. A lot of things can happen when alcohol is involved, and society will look at a woman with side eye if she tries to report bad behavior with a “you went on a drinking trip with all men…what did you expect”.. Its about the optics and safety of hanging out (as the only woman) with men and drinking. I think that kind of prize is an outdated old fashioned kind of prize and companies really should do better determining such outings. Women now work with men (gasp!) and we now have to be taken into consideration when deciding on these types of things.

    1. Ash*

      Regardless of gender of coworkers I wouldn’t want to be drunk for days with my colleagues in a remote location.

      1. Rachael*

        Agreed. I would only do that in the company of friends and if some coworkers were friends I would plan a separate trip that is separate from the workplace.

  54. Public Sector Manager*

    For OP #5, definitely express your interest now!

    I was in a similar situation earlier in my career. My coworker and I were in civil service attorney positions, both of us had been practicing law the same amount of time, and we had the closest working relationship I’ve ever had with a coworker. We ended up becoming really good friends. We could share anything together.

    I had more experience in our agency’s field than my coworker did. It looked like our agency’s General Counsel position was coming to become vacant. Although the General Counsel role is not civil service, I expected, naively, that my agency would follow similar protocols, post the job, interview a bunch of folks, etc. Everyone in the office expected that I would apply once it was posted.

    My coworker told me that they had zero interest in the job. My coworker then asked me if I was going to apply. Being my close friends, I admitted that I wanted to apply, I thought it would be great position, but I felt that I didn’t have enough experience and I wasn’t sure if it was the role for me right now. I also said it would be great if they brought in someone with more experience that I could have as a mentor and learn more about the role for the next vacancy.

    The next week, before the General Counsel job was even posted, my coworker scheduled a time to meet with the head of our agency, walked right in and said they wanted to be the next General Counsel. The head of our agency then rewarded my coworker for their gumption and gave them the job. No posting, no interviews, no nothing.

    And I ended up leaving that job in less than 2 years because once my coworker and friend was my boss, my coworker was afraid that I would be gunning for their job and they were concerned my experience would overshadow their performance as the General Counsel. So anytime I did great work, my coworker would make up errors to knock me down. The most egregious was my coworker saying I made a dismissive comment about the courts in a videotaped board meeting (only after the required period to retain the videotapes had expired and the tapes had been reused), and when I objected, my coworker told me it was in their own handwritten notes and why would they lie in their notes. And whenever I made a technical error that would be an informal conversation at most, I received a written reprimand. It got so bad that I left without another job lined up and right before a new pension benefit vested.

    It took me just a couple of years to get over how bad my coworker and former friend had screwed me over. It took longer than that to get over the regret of not speaking up to the head of our agency at the time and not expressing my interest in promotion earlier on. So when I moved across state to take a job with my current agency, I told my new boss 3 years before I was eligible for a promotion to supervisor that I wanted a promotion. And my new boss gave me every opportunity during that 3 years to build my resume that would make it so I could promote at soon as possible.

    Definitely reach out early when you’re interested in promoting.

  55. OrigCassandra*

    OP1, are you by any chance in an industry where there is an explicit focus on reducing alcohol use in professionally liminal contexts (such as conferences and other travel) for greater inclusion? (Tech is one such industry.) If so, you can certainly marshal external arguments against the drinking.

    Do what you need to do to stay safe; nothing is more important than that, not even this job. I would not feel safe at all on that trip, and the alcohol would be why not. I’ve not BEEN safe in alcohol-saturated situations!

  56. Cthulhu's Librarian*

    Maybe curating our murder mystery collection is getting to me, but situation number 1, regardless of who attends, sounds tailor made for resulting in some top performers disposing of others, to ensure they can be THE top performer…

  57. Just @ me next time*

    LW #1, I want to challenge the statement that “These men are not the same people you work with when they are drunk.” They are the same men. If they sexually harass or assault someone while drunk, it’s not because they drank some magic rapist potion that altered their personality. It’s because they always felt entitled to treat other bodies as their property and were waiting for the excuse alcohol provided.

    1. Andy*

      I don’t see OP anywhere stating that sexual harassment or assault happened or threatened to happen. The “not the same person” is common phrase that means that those people behave differently and while she is comfortable working with them, she does not find their drunken version appealing.

      It is pretty normal way to express such a thing. And it seems that OP needed a way to express that she is perfectly fine working with them, just does not find drunken weekend appealing or finds it inappropriate (which usually means someone could suspect her of sexual impropriety and she wants to avoid it).

      1. Just @ me next time*

        It may be a “normal” way to express something, but that doesn’t make it harmless. As long as we’re normalizing statements like that or like “boys will be boys” and “locker room talk,” we’re pretending like bad behaviour is consequence of unfortunate situations rather than recognizing it as a consequence of deeply ingrained beliefs and attitudes.

        If a person’s coworker is afraid to be around them when they’re drinking, the problem isn’t the alcohol.

  58. TheAdmin*

    OP #4, I had something similar happen to me, but it was made way more awkward because the job in question was one my coworker had also applied to! It was an internal position.
    At the time, I truly didn’t believe I was eligible to apply for the role (our org has rules about not transferring until you’ve been in your current role for a minimum length of time, with very few exceptions allowed). Coworker had had her eye on the position as part of her long-term plan for a few years, and we all knew it. I had wished her luck, and had even told her I wasn’t interested in applying even if I was eligible.
    Well…flash-forward to the hiring manager point-blank asking me why I hadn’t applied. When I explained the eligibility issue, I was told that it WOULDN’T be an issue if I chose to submit my application. Since the hiring manager was also my current boss (plot-twist!) I chose to apply mostly because I didn’t want her to think I didn’t have ambitions…to be clear, I would have wanted the position at some point, I just didn’t think I had enough experience yet to go for it. Anyway, I had to let Coworker know when interviews started, and I could tell she was upset. It really hurt our previously-friendly working relationship, even more so when I was given the position. She ended up leaving the company shortly afterwards, and I spent months feeling guilty about it. But I’ve been in the “new” position for almost 2 years now, and while it was a stretch position for me, I have performed amazing well, and last year received one of the highest performance review ratings in the whole company, so I think the right choice was made.

  59. Lyn By the River*

    OP2, I can total relate to this frustration. I had an employee for 2 years. The first year they averaged missing 3-5 days per month (often taken whole weeks at a time). Then the second year was even worse. Finally, between Nov and Feb they were out 60% of the work days (I counted to make sure I wasn’t just blowing things out of proportion). My partner and I had hesitated firing them for the exact reasons your boss gave (people don’t choose to get sick) and she was otherwise wonderful in the role we hired her for. Finally, however, we decided we needed to address the situation more directly. I went back through AAM to read everything I could about dealing with this sort of situation. We got really clear on the max amount of time we could afford to have someone take unexpected time off (for us, it was no more than 2-3 days per month of unplanned leave). We sent an email expressing our desire to find a solution, explaining our needs and expectations, asking if that was something they thought they could commit to moving forward. In a call a few days later they said they couldn’t commit to that due to the nature of their illness and we amicably parted ways. We have a new person who is great in the role. My former employee has support and I hope she’ll be better soon.

  60. bibliothecaria*

    Re: LW#1: My boss is pressuring me to attend a drunken weekend where I’d be the only woman

    I felt uncomfortable just reading about this. It is not an event I could attend. OP: please send an update on what you decide/how it all turns out.

  61. Alexis Rose*

    Opposite opinion about the resignation thank-you note—*if* your boss has truly been that supportive of you, you should write it. I had a boss who truly gone above and beyond to defend me and I always regretted not taking the chance to thank her when I left. I ended up writing the note 6 years later. Better late than never, I hope.

  62. Jessica Fletcher*

    #4 – Are you moving from a nonprofit to a private sector or even corporate job? If so, it’s possible some of your nonprofit friends won’t like it. They might even be jerks about it! I took a corporate job a couple years ago, in the same field as my previous nonprofit employer. Two of my good friends stopped speaking to me because they felt I had abandoned my principles or something.

    If it happens to you, really the only thing you can do is move on. You don’t need to prove anything to anybody. Do what’s best for you.

  63. MCMonkeybean*

    For #4 I’m very curious about why you had said that to Abby in the first place, since it sounds like it was always your intention to work in the private sector. Was it just a spur of the moment thing said while you felt like you were currently happy in your current job? Because with just the information in the letter, this sounds way less dramatic than I was anticipating and I definitely agree that Alison is right and Abby is not likely to care much at all (beyond maybe being the normal amount of bummed at losing a coworker that it sounds like she has a good working relationship with).

    But I am wondering if there was any context missing out. Because if you and Abby worked at like a dog shelter and Beth was recruiting you for a job at a factory to make fur coats out of puppies then I supposed I could imagine Abby might be more upset. But without anything like that happening you are probably fine.

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