my company is planning an overnight trip with secret activities

A reader writes:

My company (a young tech start-up) is planning an overnight company trip. They’ve been keeping the details secret, which has caused a lot of anxiety, especially since teasers implied that we would be going camping. They finally released a few details the week before it is set to happen, stating that we needed to bring athletic clothes and swimsuits, there would be a day of “team building activities,” followed by a big party, followed by “more fun extreme sports activities” the next day.

I have a health condition where hours of team sports will be miserable and potentially make me feel really unwell. I’d like to talk to my boss, explain this, and see 1) exactly what the team building activities involve and 2) if the sports activities will be optional. I’m stressed about not going and being perceived as not being a team player, but also don’t want to have to sit awkwardly on the side and deal with questions about why I’m not participating. Do you have any advice for how to approach this?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My new hire is missing too much work
  • Can I recommend two people for the same job?
  • What’s the deal with “stay interviews”?
  • I chastised a company for not hiring me — can I apply there again?

{ 273 comments… read them below }

  1. Been there...*

    Usually places will make you sign some sort of injury liability waiver depending on how “extreme” the sports get. That could be a good way out, even if you make up having a bad back to allow some privacy. I would use that unless you are certain the activity is verified sedentary. Nothing like a surprise to keep the office exciting, I’m with you that it’s something I could do without.

    1. PT*

      A startup might not. I’ve worked in a field where things like waivers are part of the territory, and small businesses/startups just don’t bother following those sorts of protocols. They wing it until they get sued.

      They use household-grade fixtures in commercial spaces, don’t provide staff supervision of high liability areas, completely ignore OSHA regulations and health codes, and don’t have people sign waivers for potentially injurious activities under the “Nah it’s cool, it’s cheaper this way,” and just cross their fingers and hope no one ends up in the ER. Often they get lucky and don’t have an accident, and this lulls them into thinking that safety precautions are unnecessary and paranoid. If you ask for these things you’re just being “negative” and “trying to cost us money.”

      1. Grits McGee*

        I think Been there… is talking about the companies facilitating the activities. Unless the company owns all of the equipment/locations/instructors, there’s going to be a third party involved, and they’re the ones that will normally make you sign a waiver. I’ve signed waivers for kayak rentals, tubing, obstacle courses, etc.

        1. PT*

          Right, but you might not sign that until you arrive at their facility, at which point it’s too late to opt out without making a scene. You’ve already traveled several hours with your coworkers, possibly on a bus, and now they have to find a way to get you downriver on land while everyone else kayaks because your medical condition is on the list of “Do not go on this tour if you have…”

    2. JohannaCabal*

      My understanding is that waivers are only worth the paper they’re printed on. My SO’s best friend is a lawyer and, per him, waivers are a feel-good measure at most and any decent lawyer can figure out how to work around one.

      1. Cat Tree*

        The benefit of a waiver (to the company) is that many people will believe in them so they won’t even try to sue them. But yeah, if a piece of machinery falls and breaks an employee’s leg, a waiver doesn’t absolve all their responsibility for that.

      2. PollyQ*

        This is what my father, who worked in liability insurance, always said. He also worked in worker’s compensation insurance, and my understanding is that if someone’s injured on a work-related activity, they’re still covered.

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      I guess it depends on the activity. If the company is going to be renting out a rock wall then, yes, the rockwall company would have a waiver, but the employer might not. However, if this is going to be that they all go hike someplace and then swim in a public lake, then there wouldn’t be any waivers. If a company is thinking that extreme sports is a good, inclusive, team building exercise then they probably aren’t thinking about waivers.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        I thought about that, too! “Can you please just let us go back to work instead of masterminding these situations were in we hurt ourselves?”

    4. Zennish*

      Assuming some physicists are correct, and there are an infinite number of alternate universe, the me that equates “extreme sports” with “fun” is near the opposite end from here.

    5. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      We went to a firing range for “fun”. As a translator who had on record that I would refuse to do any translations involving any kind of weapon or anything involving the slaughter of animals, obviously that didn’t appeal to me. My manager was teasing me, and I started feeling sick in my stomach, and so I told the boss I wasn’t taking part in that activity and to hell with the fact that my team would lose points because of it.
      We also had a “surprise” which turned out to be a night out in Belgium. Now, we were in the north of France and with freedom of movement within the EU this should not have been a problem. HR failed to take into consideration that two employees in our office were Indian, and would need to bring their passports containing their visa to be able to prove that they were in the EU legally. Luckily I had tipped them off as to this possibility and they had both brought their passports.
      Then one year there was a surprise visit to a casino. Now an ex of mine had been addicted to gambling so this was an unpleasant experience for me. All employees were given €20 to gamble, I just gave mine to the cute Indian guy and told him we could split the winnings, and headed off to bed. The next day he tried to give me my share but I didn’t actually want such ill-gotten gains.
      Yeah, surprises really suck and I wish HR would just let up on such malarkey.

  2. Taco Cat*

    LW 5 – I am shocked you think you can come back from that. As a hiring manager, that would be such a red flag being berated for not hiring you, I don’t think there is anything you could do to change my mind. What other situations will this entitlement arise?

    Unfortunately, I agree with Alison and I think you should move on from this company.

    1. Katherine Vigneras*

      Right? And at this point, I’m not sure why that LW still wants to work at that company. It seems clear that for one reason or another, it’s not going to line up, not least of all because of the cancelation/chastisement message.

    2. nonbinary writer*

      Yeah I have a feeling that developing some better emotional regulation skills might be in order for LW 5. That’s such a wildly unreasonable response to… your own car breaking down?? I certainly wouldn’t want to re-interview a person who responded like that.

    3. meyer lemon*

      It’s a very odd chain of events. The LW’s car breaks down, they don’t want to try to reschedule, they chastise the company for not hiring them previously even though it’s the LW who is cancelling the interview, and yet they still plan on reapplying at the company in the future? I’m confused.

      It’s one thing if the car problems make you rethink how much you want the job, but if you think you’re going to reapply anyway, why not … try to make the interview work now?

      1. Cat Tree*

        Yeah, I’d be confused and concerned about this. It’s normal to feel frustrated or upset with car trouble. But it’s not normal to lash out at people who have nothing to do with it. I’d be concerned about how she would handle minor workplace frustrations. I might not rule her out completely but it would be a major red flag with some specific targeted interview questions. I don’t want a coworker who everyone has to walk on eggshells around.

      2. TechWorker*

        Yeah utterly bizarre (sorry LW). If they had cancelled last minute after you’d taken time off and rescheduled other things.. well you still probably would have burnt a bridge by chastising them but it would be more understandable. But in this case? It doesn’t make much sense.. ‘My car has broken down so you should have taken the chance to hire me when you could!!’ Huh?

      3. anonymuss*

        Uh what??? “My car broke down and I need to reschedule. Would you be able to do early next week?” That’s all you have to do.

      4. Elbe*

        I was so confused by that letter. The LW chastised the company for not hiring him after HE cancelled after HIS car broke down? And he think that they may hire him in the future?!?

        There’s a lot of poor judgement going on here and I think it would be helpful for the LW to get some stuff sorted out on his end.

      5. Falling Diphthong*

        And taxis are a thing. At first glance, this is a very solvable problem.

        Like, I could see a grand coming-together of 1) job is an hour away so taxi very expensive; 2) you believe that if you indicate that you don’t have reliable transportation this is toast anyhow. And so you decide to bow out.

        “I had a bad day, and so I took it out on the company I was trying to convince to hire me” is quite the exemplar of “having a normal one.”

        1. meyer lemon*

          I can kind of see how the added difficulty of making it to the interview might make you reconsider whether the interview is really worth your time, if you’re already on the fence and stressed out about the car thing. But blaming it on the interviewer and also planning to re-apply for that job is a real out of left field reaction.

      6. Heidi*

        I imagine the thinking goes something like this: If the employer had only hired the OP in the past, then they wouldn’t be in the situation where the OP has to cancel on them now and make them to miss out on the opportunity to have OP work for them now. Nonsensical, of course, but I think it happens to people who have a hard time accepting blame. I had a co-worker who canceled a meeting in our Outlook calendars by accident. We assumed that the meeting was just getting rescheduled. Then on the day of, she realized that it wasn’t supposed to be canceled and tried to reinstate the meeting, but by then we had all made other plans. She then sent everyone an email to say that if any of us had just checked with her about the cancelation, we wouldn’t be in this mess. So I guess it was our fault? I almost replied all to call her out on this, but refrained.

    4. BRR*

      Right?!?! And the questions in the letter are should the LW apologize or just apply to other jobs in the future. “Chastising” a company for not hiring you isn’t something you really come back from.

      1. Sara without an H*

        No, it’s not. It’s also the sort of thing that HR people tend to remember. Forever.

        1. Magenta Sky*

          It’s the sort of thing HR people tend to tell stories about in places like Ask A Manager comments. :)

      2. Sparrow*

        yeah… I think they should apologize because they were very much in the wrong here, but they shouldn’t do it as a way to get back in their good graces because that’s not happening.

    5. Smithy*

      Just another case of “what would I have written if I had taken a break, a few more deep breaths, etc.”

      1. JM in England*

        The LW needs to learn the golden rule of diplomacy: “Before speaking, engage brain!”…

        1. Yipsie*

          I honestly don’t think it would have helped this LW. Even in the letter itself they don’t realize that what they did was really wrong. They’re on the fence about whether it deserves an apology. As if only *maybe* they were acting a little bit sub-optimally.

          1. GammaGirl1908*

            AND that maybe if LW just pretends that moment where they lost their head never happened, everyone else will just magically forget — or at least overlook — LWs’ outlandish and inappropriate behavior and it’ll all be fine. Bygones. **poof**

            Because that’s how these things work. Sure.

            (This is reminiscent of the AAM letter a couple of years back where the LW desperately wanted to join a theater company, and had become increasingly unhinged during multiple application processes. That LW was totally indignant that the company did not seem to be considering each application in a vacuum, and insisted on remembering ALL of his behavior even now that he had kind of pulled himself together. Um, no. That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.)

    6. twocents*

      Especially when she admit she was less experienced and the first two roles weren’t a great fit! And then the third interview was cancelled at her request, not the company’s… I’m just flabbergasted at the complete lack of self awareness to berate them for her own problems and think she can still be considered a good candidate.

      1. No Name Today*

        OP’s letter started to go off the rails at “not an ideal fit, but I’d get my foot in the door and do BETTER things.”
        The company wanted to hire someone who can do the job and who wants to do that job. OP, you were neither. And now you are salty that they didn’t hire you anyway so that you wouldn’t have to be driving to an interview when your car broke down.
        I think it might be good that you have burned and salted the earth that was a relationship with this company, because you need to let them go, before you become more than a headshaking anecdote about an applicant.

        1. E Liz*

          I mean, LW is 100% in the wrong here, but I don’t think it’s wildly unreasonably for someone to apply to a less-than-ideal job to get their foot in the door, especially if they’re having a hard time finding one that’s a perfect fit.

    7. Sharrbe*

      I worked at an institution where one particular candidate applied for every single job opening for years. His communications with us over that time began taking on an increasing tone of annoyance that we weren’t interviewing him even though he was “clearly qualified to work here”. Eventually he caused a big enough ruckus that it was decided somewhere that we should just interview him when he applied. I was on two hiring committees where he was interviewed and it was really awkward. His interviews weren’t terrible (not amazing, but he managed to make it though alright), but the way in which he got his foot in the door would not allow for him to be seriously considered. He wasted his time and ours.

      1. Need to Remain Anon for this one*

        I don’t understand what goes through these folks minds. We had a candidate apply for a position who was not selected who responded to the automatic rejection email that we a nasty message that we had ruined their life with our rejection. The next time a position was open, they applied again… and again, we rejected them.

        They didn’t seem to understand that their behavior was tossing a lit match on a gasoline soaked bridge!

        1. Um, wut?*

          We once received an email from someone who actually wrote (not censored) “F___ you” about the salary being offered. Then a few months later he applied for a similar position in our organization with the exact same salary. We were amazed he would “forget” his previous communication with us, or think that we would forget it!

    8. Selena*

      I understand why you wouldn’t want to hire someone who acts very entitled and is quick to anger.

      I do feel a bit sorry for LW: my guess would be that the obsession with this company comes from there being only like 2 or 3 companies in town where LW can see themselves build a good career (based on college degree and resumé). I recognize myself in ‘stalking’ a company website hoping for that food-in-the-door position.

    9. OhBehave*

      When I was hiring, I kept a list of ‘hell no’s’. Thankfully it was a short list but LW5 would have been on it! Behavior like this is exactly why you won’t get hired.

  3. Taco Cat2*

    LW 5 – I am shocked you think you can come back from that. As a hiring manager, that would be such a red flag being berated for not hiring you, I don’t think there is anything you could do to change my mind. What other situations will this entitlement arise?

    Unfortunately, I agree with Alison and I think you should move on from this company.

  4. Forty Years In the Hole*

    “…and focus your search on other opportunities.” And maybe…that attitude?

  5. Artemesia*

    Someone who is immediately unreliable needs to be replaced if they don’t shape up. If they have a problem that has a finite end or a problem that you are willing to tolerate, then find out. Maybe they have a chronically ill child — I had a new employee with a child in remission from leukemia and I knew that things could change quickly and alas they did and when the child had a relapse, she needed extensive leave. BUT I knew that up front and knew she had no choice there and factored that in to our planning. Perhaps your new employee has a specific situation she is dealing with like that but you won’t know without being very direct about the problems absenteeism is causing and getting to the bottom of the problem. If it is one thing after another and a failure to plan back up for family crises, you may need to move on. Otherwise these situations tend to get worse and worse over time.

    1. mf*

      Yeah, I agree. In my experience, the people who unreliable for a “good” reason tend to be upfront and communicative about it in order to mitigate the impact on others. Your employee with a child in remission from leukemia is a good example.

      The unreliable employee in this post seems to take frequent time off with no explanation or regard to how it impacts others.

      1. Selena*

        I’m not sure about that being upfront.

        I think there’s a whole class thing that is missing from your perspective: if you are brought up to not-talk-back-to-authority and to ignore your own needs than your instinct will be to hide your problems (even if these problems are not in any way your own fault)

        1. Jen*

          Competely agree that there could be a legit reason and she isn’t volunteering. I would first try to get more information to rule in or out that there is an extenuating situation and be sure that it isn’t a reason covered by ADA or temporary. I started a job and 3 months in had a miscarriage and was trying to move forward as if nothing happened. My supervisor very appropriately commented on the work concerns/impact they observed and asked if something was going on that was making it harder to do my job and I shared what happened. They realized it was a temporary situation and were very supportive. Set the expectations. Give a door opener to share if there is a specific extenuating circumstance/context and then go from there.

        2. Artemesia*

          I agree which is why the OP needs to be very direct that this is a problem and they need to know if there is a situation the employee is dealing with. There are lazy employees who behave like this and there are employees struggling with tremendous burdens who behave like this and to manage appropriately and kindly you need to know what you have.

        3. Forrest*

          Definitely. It would be really helpful if “is upfront and helpful about the problem = a Real Problem” and “is in denial, evasive or disorganised because of the problem = not a Real Problem” were strict binaries! But it’s totally normal for there to be A Real Problem AND for the person dealing with it to be in denial about its impact, permanently optimistic about it, scared to admit it, unable to name it or even just generally disorganised about addressing it. Sometimes the line manager has to be the person to push that discussion pretty hard.

    2. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      “Otherwise these situations tend to get worse and worse over time.”
      Yup and the strain / frustration for the rest of your team will also build up as well.

      1. Anon Dot Com*

        Yes. The missing piece in this type of letter is always impact on the rest of the team. The manager is wringing their hands over the squeaky wheel, while giving them a pass at the expense of other valuable employees. Even if it has no work impact on the other employees, the optics are terrible. You stand to lose a lot more than just one skilled but unreliable employee in these situations.

  6. SqueezyCheese*

    UGH. I can no longer see these bro-y, sporty, team building activities as anything other than the boss/founder/CEO wanting to do their preferred hobby on company time. It’s such a narrow way of looking at the world, that they can’t conceive of people not liking (or being unable to participate in) the same activities. I’m pretty fit and I find physical team building exercises obnoxious. I work a desk job, leave me in peace.

    1. Cat Tree*

      Yeah, no way I would participate. I’d rather quit that job than do extreme sports. Not only do I have several chronic health issues, I’m just not good at sports. Middle school gym class where I’m miserable and everyone harshly judges me is not an experience I ever want to simulate. I’d nope right out of this activity, and the whole company if necessary.

      1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

        I’m fairly athletic and in relatively decent health….and I’m joining you with an “absolutely freaking not am I participating in this, this is certifiable nonsense.”

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          Right? I’m delighted to go for a 50-mile bike ride (for example) with my friends but no way would I do something like that with co-workers. People get weird/competitive when activity is involved and I don’t want to navigate that with colleagues.

      2. Sharrbe*

        Yep. I don’t want to put myself in a vulnerable position in front of my boss and colleagues. I’m reliable and do my job well, that is all they need to know about me. I do not want to collapse into a panic attack because I’m 40 feet up in the air on some rope bridge in front of the person who pays me and has control over my career. Is that person going to consciously or not consciously hold my performance there against me the next I’m up against the co-worker nailed all these “extreme sports”?

        1. Invisible This Time*

          Oh my, this whole topic brings back a mortifying experience. We managers from the acquired company were invited to attend a team building/annual managers meeting/brainstorming weekend. There was little info disseminated ahead of time. We were just told to wear comfortable clothes. Well, there were many sports competitions (frisbee golf, dodge ball, even pogo stick). We were all in our 50’s and 60’s. There were injuries. I was one of those injured. Too embarrassed to say what it was, but I was soooo mortified the next Monday at work. The new company was full of young 20-somethings. I have often wondered if that exercise was to weed us older managers out because only one of the older managers was in a management role by year’s end.

    2. Chickaletta*

      100% agree. It’s like me forcing everyone I work with to spend a day knitting and watching Derry Girls.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Derry Girls is terrific! I don’t knit, but I am willing to learn. The combination sounds like a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

        1. A Person*

          I’ve never heard of Derry Girls, but I’m a pretty good knitter. Let’s sit together — I’ll give you knitting tips and you can tell me character back-story.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            Catholic humor about Catholicism, set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. How do you feel about a statue of the Virgin Mary apparently weeping, but it actually is dog piss seeping through the balcony above? If you are either offended or uninterested, this is not the show for you. Otherwise, it is hilarious!

            1. Sharrbe*

              Oh the scene where the Protestant students were forced to interact with the Catholic students and someone said something that caused a major blow up – and it was all because they misinterpreted what they said because of the other one’s accent? I can’t remember what they said though lol

              1. Gyratory Circus*

                Sharrbe – the guy said that he didn’t like athletes, and the others thought he said he didn’t like Catholics.

                1. Another British poster*

                  The actor playing that role is a good friend of mine! And very much not Irish.

              2. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

                Wait–Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland have different accents? That is news to me!

      2. irene adler*

        Not seeing an issue with that, myself.
        Extreme sports and the like, ‘nother story.

      3. TechWorker*

        This doesn’t sound like a terrible social. I don’t agree that everyone should have to love every single social (because there is truly no activity that every single person will be happy with) – but obviously you need variety, and if the social is a ‘big deal’, then working out ways everyone can have bits of it they enjoy (and skip the rest!) is wise.

      4. CoveredInBees*

        I would LOVE to have a day of knitting and watching Derry Girls at work! But it’s not for everyone. Btw, the actress who plays Sister Michael hosted the most recent season of Great Pottery Throw Down (thing GBBO with clay) and it was wonderful despite my knowing very little about ceramics.

    3. Anonym*

      I would probably enjoy most of those activities on their own merits, but at work would feel obligated to sit out and share my objections, because… don’t do that to people. Just don’t. Also, I don’t want to sports with random colleagues. It’s weird and uncomfortable. This is what friends or meetup groups are for – people who actually want to be there.

    4. AK*

      Yeah, I just don’t see how a boss for an office job can say “you have to wear a swimsuit for this workday” and not have something in their brain go “nooooooope, don’t do that”. Also, I have never once done anything that could be classed as a “team sport” and not felt more alienated and uncomfortable with my teammates afterwards.

      1. Seal*

        If I am ever forced into a work situation where I have to see my work colleagues in a bathing suit or vice versa, I’m out. I’m a librarian, not a lifeguard.

        1. Mrs. Smith*

          I *AM* a librarian and I’ve had to wear a swimsuit to work. School librarian in a coastal city, we take our students to the beach a few times a year . . . I own something now that is the kind of thing a Muslim/Orthodox woman would wear – it’s swim pants and a rash guard, because there is no way in hell to make all this Jessica Rabbit awesomeness suitable for beach fun with teenagers. (And my poor colleague, a very professional man, had to approach our boss and reveal he had pretty substantial tattoos under his Brooks Brothers shirt before it was a big surprise on Seaside Day.) They did not teach me how to navigate this in library school.

      2. Bilateralrope*

        I have a skin condition that would be very visible if Im in swimwear. One normally covered by clothing. But it used to be worse, to the point I stopped trying to hide it.

        I can’t see anyone being happy seeing it. But Im honestly not likely to think about it until someone mentions it. Which is too late to cover it.

      3. Anomalous*

        For me, a bathing suit shows off where my insulin pump infusion set jabs into my body. Plus, my pump is not waterproof, and taking it off for more than relatively brief periods is not something I want to do. While I don’t exactly hide my diabetes, I don’t like to show it, either.

    5. Qwerty*

      My experience has been that it is less the person in charge deciding to do these activities and more that the vocal people willing to plan them get caught up in their own echo chamber. Enthusiastic people can sell an exciting-sounding activity a lot easier than moderately interested people selling a BBQ. I’ve known multiple leaders who really didn’t even want to do the “fun” activity but didn’t want to be the party pooper when their team seemed so excited by the idea (our solution: Qwerty raises a concern, boss says it’s a good point, then we blame HR for not letting us do Extreme Activity and everyone seems content with lowkey plan B that came in as second choice.)

      Given the letter is from the archives, there was also a big push a few years back telling companies that to be “hip” and hire talented people they needed to be “Exciting!” and do these ridiculous activities. Sending out surveys usually resulted in lots of Fun (TM) activities, because only the people who really cared were filling them out.

      1. Threeve*

        This is compounded by the fact that any higher-up with the common sense to not think extreme sports make for good team building won’t necessarily see the need to explicitly prohibit them.

        Like all parents at some point have a conversation like:
        “You didn’t tell me I couldn’t take the cat in the bath with me.”
        “I didn’t think I had to!”

        1. Anomalous*

          This reminds me of the time when we tricked my 12 year old daughter into trying some sushi.

          “Is that salmon?” (which she loves).

          “Yes”. She tries the sushi.

          “Is that raw?”

          “Yes. Everybody knows that the fish in sushi is raw. Did you like it?”

          “Yes.”

          And that is how my wife got a new sushi buddy. (I’ll eat it when needed to be polite, but I don’t love it the way some people do.)

          1. E Liz*

            Wow I would have been livid if my parents had tried that. I’m glad she ended up liking it, but raw fish is just not for everyone.

        2. Artemesia*

          My generally sensible 10 year old was about to go out the attic window after the cat one day when left briefly at home. And yeah it hadn’t occurred to me not to tell him to stay off the 3 story roof. And he was usually not someone to do risky things.

      2. Rachel in NYC*

        That’s how my office initially ended up with indoor rock climbing. The person planning the activity was an avid rock climber.

        But some people did point out there was an issue because not everyone in our office is 25. And a second activity- after rock climbing- was added. Drinking at a shuffle board club. (I think it had started as a sarcastic suggestion but it was actually available in the neighborhood so that’s what we did.)

        In case, no one has played shuffle board. It isn’t easy. Fun. Not easy.

    6. Sleepless*

      Yeah, this would be a hard no for me too. I’m pretty fit and I participate in active stuff on my own, but I am 1. not a thrill seeker and 2. still traumatized from “team captains pick the teams” type stuff as a kid. I don’t do stuff that takes physical coordination while a bunch of people are watching. No way could I do that with my colleagues.

    7. Anon Dot Com*

      YES. I’m able-bodied but not at all athletic. Extreme sports sounds terrifying and like the opposite of fun to me. I don’t even like regular sports! Plus, being in a bathing suit in front of my coworkers – and having to see them in bathing suits? No.

      This is also really problematic because people could very well feel pressured into disclosing a medical condition (including pregnancy) or a disability in order to get out of the activity, if the boss is being really insistent about it. HR nightmare waiting to happen.

      1. No Name Today, Maybe Tomorrow*

        Agree! Any company that expects all workers to enjoy this sort of thing is asking for problems. I worked at a young tech startup for three years. I’m not terribly coordinated. Events like this were awful.

    8. Selena*

      I’m not in great shape and i HATE lagging behind and being out of breath when people try to talk to me.
      I’m not a very social person so i dislike teambuilding in general, but if it must be done than please just buy a fancy lunch or play a silly game.

    9. Robin Ellacott*

      Agreed. I would hate this and get out of it if I could. I don’t have a disability preventing me from taking part, but I am just NOT athletically gifted. School gym class was a Lord of the Flies experience that I would absolutely hate reliving with colleagues. Two minutes into trying anything sporty with others watching me I revert into insecure, gawky teenager mode.

      Maybe there are physical activities I would enjoy, but I doubt they are the same ones everyone else would enjoy, and some of them would probably be scary to others like dodgeball is to me. If it is intimidating people, it just doesn’t seem like good team building!

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        Your school gym class experience sounds a lot like mine. (Why, oh why, do gym teachers continue to allow this crap to go on?) I would have exactly the same reaction to having to do sports with coworkers. WTF is wrong with people who think things like this are a great idea?

        Sorry for asking two unanswerable questions in one post, but I really would love to know the answers!

        P.S. I absolutely love your user name. Please give my best regards to Cormoran! :-D

      2. allathian*

        Me too, and I have horrible experiences from “captains pick the teams” stuff. I was always either the last or the second last to be picked. At least things have improved for my son, he says that the teacher always selects the teams and tries to make them as even as possible in skill level.

  7. Bookworm*

    OP1: No advice, just sending you sympathy. I hope they work with you and make accomodations.

  8. Richard Hershberger*

    LW1: I would be more than willing to use a chunk of my work capital to avoid this entirely, sight unseen. There is zero chance I wouldn’t find the experience miserable from start to finish, unless I could sneak away and find some quiet place with my Kindle.

    LW4: I take it that a “stay interview” is in contrast with an exit interview, rather than an employment interview? Given the reports I have seen of how exit interviews run from pointless to disastrous, I can’t imagine honesty would be a good idea when you will be back the next day. I would stick to safe banalities.

    1. Sara without an H*

      I, too, would be very suspicious of a “stay” interview. Maybe if they were conducted by an outside contractor and all the responses were anonymized? But otherwise…no.

      1. Lacey*

        Even then. I worked for a company that gave us all anonymous questionnaires and then printed up all the answers and handed them around to the whole office. It was easy to guess who wrote what.

        The only way it would work is if the outside contractor came up with conclusions from the data and gave them to the employee like, “76% of your staff thinks carnations for the ladies on Employee Appreciation Day is absurd and sexist”

        1. Alexander Graham Yell*

          So we did one of those surveys and it was completely anonymous…and led to such shocking results that we ended up restructuring our entire company.

          As part of it, my former grandboss, now great (great?) grandboss is conducting something like this. “Okay, we identified the issues we were facing as a company and a team. Now I’d like to hear about your goals, any concerns you’re comfortable sharing, and how we can make sure Company is meeting your needs. I can’t promise everybody on the team will get 100% of what they want, but since we’re restructuring I’d like to see how I can allocate projects and teams based on peoples interests.”

          So it’s a stay interview, kind of – but also comes directly after us seeing proof that management takes our concerns Very Seriously and is willing to change to make sure employees are happy and the company is successful. It is literally the only time I can imagine something like this working, otherwise it’s hard to imagine the results from these interviews will actually lead to change.

          1. Selena*

            It sounds pretty great that your company was so willing to accept feedback and make some real changes. Very rare to see higher-ups living up to the ‘feedback is not criticism, it is a learning-opportunity’ line that they feed the lower regions.

            So far all the surveys i’ve taken part in have protected anonimity (as far as i know), but management-response ranged from ‘uhhhh, maybe later’ to ‘you guys really hurt our feelings’

    2. Artemesia*

      I would volunteer to be the ‘photographer’ because of the ‘thing with my back’ (or knee or whatever). But no way should any job ever expect people to appear in bathing suits with colleagues, although like another poster I long ago adopted an outfit of bicycle shorts topped by a striped rash guard for those occasions I hit the water.

  9. Bernice Clifton*

    Canceling an interview due to your car breaking down seems like an odd choice. If it were me, I’d try to borrow a car from a friend or family member or ask someone for a ride, take public transportation or a taxi or Uber.

    1. Dream Jobbed*

      Or even if you were too frazzled to do all that (and sometimes things accumulate to a degree that it’s the final straw and interviewing is now out), an e-mail saying “I’m in the middle of nowhere and my car broke down. I’m so sorry, is there any way to reschedule?” is much more professional than the response given.

      No LW5, you have burned that bridge with that company at least. (And I’d be a bit worried if you are in a small industry.) Time to do some self-reflection and maybe start to absorb the idea that maybe you aren’t such a great candidate, and work on ways to make yourself a better candidate, including changing your mindset.

    2. Anonymous Hippo*

      That’s not even the problem. They could have gone ahead an cancelled, and even said they had decided to pursue other opportunities. The problem was they acted entitled and rude.

      1. Selena*

        Yeah, it’s the lecturing that’s the real problem (agressive, entitled)

        Cancelling an interview the day before might be a bit rude but it doesn’t signal that you’re craaaazzzyyyy.
        They’d expect you to be interviewing with other companies, and if that made you realize that the match with their job isn’t particuly strong than there’s no reason to waste everybody’s time.

        1. Beth Jacobs*

          I’ve cancelled interviews a day before because I had just accepted another offer. I didn’t think it was rude and the company’s response was always a courteous thanks for letting them know. So yeah, cancelling would have been fine.

    3. Rayray*

      Agree, And if not one of those options maybe call and see if you could reschedule or maybe do a meeting over teams or zoom. I think we all understand car issues and it likely wouldn’t have been a huge issue.

    4. I'm just here for the cats*

      I took it to mean that the car broke down on the way to the interview or right before the interview. You probably aren’t going to be on your best when something like that happens. Also, not everyone has a friend or family member who could drop everything to take the OP to the interview.

      Public transportation, taxi/uber is not always an option, especially in the midwest. I’ve lived in small towns and bigger cities. No taxis in rural small-town Minnesota. I looked for a family member who lives less than 15 minutes from my city and Uber and Lyft won’t pick up there. You can get dropped off in the town, but not picked up. The bus only runs Monday-Friday 8-5 to get into the city and you have to be able to get to the one spot in town to pick it up. It also runs on the hour.

      Taxi’s in my current city are not like they are in New York. You don’t see them all over and you can’t just step onto the street and flag a taxi down. You have to call the company and it’s at least an hour long wait. I know this for a fact as a family member worked for dispatch of a cab company.

      1. Anon Dot Com*

        The letter says the car broke down the day before the interview. So while I understand being frazzled in that situation, the LW definitely made a mistake by shooting off an aggressive email right away.

      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        That still didn’t make insulting the company for not previously hiring the LW a smart move. LW needs to learn that getting a job isn’t a participation trophy; you don’t get one just because you show up.

  10. Sunflower*

    As a former fat kid who always got picked last, team sports is my worst nightmare.

    As a current fat person, I’d rather quit my job than wear a swimsuit in front of my boss and coworkers. I never learned how to swim anyway!

    I’ve been involved in many team building activities and they don’t involve any of that. I wouldn’t mind going as long as each person can opt out of activities that make them uncomfortable.

    1. AnalystintheUK*

      As another current fat person, I’ve actually been not permitted to participate in an outdoors team building activity by the company organising it, at the point where the team was getting ready to all start the activity and it was genuinely the most humiliating experience of my life.

      Depending on the activities the organising company will have some form of restrictions on who can/can’t take part. Keeping it a “surprise” from the team can lead to awful experiences like mine where you’re reminded that because of your body, you most definitely are not part of the team!

      1. Selena*

        Sorry you went through that.
        An activity with such clear limits should never sell itself as ‘teambuilding’. At the very least they should have discretely informed you to call in sick for the day.

    2. Selena*

      I’m fat, and i encourage you to take up swimming (as a leisure activity, not a competitive sport). Your weight doesn’t drag you down the way it does on land.

      I wear a swim-dress with lots of ruffles: looks way better on a fat body than a normal swimsuit.
      For guys it’d advise something with more fabric than the ‘underpants’ model.

      1. Artemesia*

        check out Landsend for lots and lots of swim separates that are much more modest (without ruffles) than typical maillots and two pieces. NOT that anyone should have to wear one at work.

    3. Sleepless*

      I was a tall, skinny, athletic-looking kid. I got picked second or third…the first time. Then people would be OUTRAGED when they found out I couldn’t hit the ball/catch/whatever. Well, I never said I was any good, sorry. After that, I would get picked last every time.

      1. allathian*

        I’m fat now, but I was a skinny fat kid. No fat, but no muscles either. I’ve also been very uncoordinated all my life. I was nearly two years old before I could walk unassisted, and seven when I learned to ride a bike without training wheels. Just reading these posts takes me back to a pretty dark place in my teens. Ironically, pretty much the only thing in PE that I liked was swimming, because although my technique was always lousy, I was actually pretty decent at it. And I didn’t have the body image issues in my teens that I have now, although I’m otherwise much more self-assured.

    4. JM60*

      As a former 300+ pound person, I agree. I’d still rather risk losing my job than have to wear a swimsuit in front of my boss and coworkers. Some people might look at me and think I wouldn’t mind because I’m a 30-something guy who is not overweight, but they would be very wrong. My body image issues are a lot better now that I’ve lost weight and had plastic surgery, but exposing myself beyond shorts and a tee shirt in front of my boss and coworkers is a hard no!

    5. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Fat disabled woman here who you’ve got zero chance completing any physical challenge with. I once caused my manager to lose his temper because I refused to do a ‘trust fall’ exercise.

      Mate, if you drop me you’re paying my orthopaedic surgeon to put my spine back together.

      I do swim, ish, but only with one leg and not in any way fast. I’d be mortified if I was asked to do that outside of the hydrotherapy unit!

  11. Ravenahra*

    For the secret activity get away – What are these people thinking? I would be saying no as soon as they said bring a swimsuit. There are various reasons I do not currently own a swimsuit that are, honestly, no one’s business. I also do NOT camp due to what sleeping on the ground or air mattresses does to my back and tend to get migraines in hot weather and know other people that have health problems that are not an issue in and office but can be real problem in camping and extreme sports. Such as asthma, hay fever, back problems, etc.
    And extreme sports?
    The higher ups may enjoy such things but a lot of the population doesn’t.
    To me, it is so tone deaf to be giving hints that there will be activities that a LOT of people hate and making sure no one has enough information to give appropriate push back or to be able to make appropriate health based decisions.
    Surprises are for friends – not work. Such a really really bad idea.

    1. meyer lemon*

      Between the swimsuit, team sports, camping and zero advance notice, it seems like this company is going for an exclusionary team activity bingo.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Pretty much. This is one where “culture fit” is so clear. They only want bro dudes working there who “work hard, play hard.” Which does not necessarily translate into a well run company. Just UGH.

        Team building is everyone working towards a shared goal. Not showing off on the ropes course.

        1. Selena*

          They may not say it outright, but it’s pretty obvious that at such a company ‘joining the in-crowd’ will only happen to people who can run 5 miles and drink each other under the table afterwards.

          And because a large part of corporate culture fethisizes ‘hungry young men’ they will be able to get away with bad bussiness decisions for to long

      2. Wombats and Tequila*

        Definitely very ableist, probably against and sexist as well. Sounds like a hazing ritual to me.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Totally not the point, but for many activities I’d prefer to be in athletic/board shorts and a rash guard rather than a regular swimsuit (I’m a woman, despite the username) – I sunburn easily and I’ve found it’s much better to just wear water-friendly clothes with more coverage for things like snorkeling or kayaking, or even taking my kids to the beach. Plus I’m generally a little on the modest side and find it more comfortable in many situations.

        But! That often looks pretty out of place at, say, a resort with a pool. So do I need to bring a stylish bathing suit to hang out by the pool with some sort of gauzy wrap and a straw hat for sun protection (note: I do not own anything that could be classified as a “stylish beach coverup” but would stress about it in advance of a trip like this), or do I need my shorts and rash guard? Flip flops or waterproof sporty sandals? Or will I end up way overpacking for this trip because they won’t just tell me what the heck we’re going to be doing so I feel like I have to bring half my closet?

          1. Rainy*

            I am in absolute agreement with you. If I have an allergic reaction or an asthma attack requiring that I be taken back to civilization, will I get there in time? I mean, let’s be sensible please.

        1. AnalystintheUK*

          Completely agree! I will forever be baffled by employers making these things a surprise.

    2. Ama*

      I do own a swimsuit, but I don’t have any interest in my colleagues seeing me in it.

      A few years ago, my work planned some kind of secret fun activity (it was going to be on a Friday afternoon, so it wasn’t a sleepover thing, they just asked us to not schedule meetings for that time). It turned out they were planning some kind of city-wide scavenger hunt, which I was not thrilled about (my idea of a “fun reward for all your hard work” is not, run around the city looking for random things in the middle of August — I should mention we’re in a city where public transit is the standard commute so this would have been an on-foot activity). We unfortunately have a couple of department heads whose staff tends to be very social (and are also considerably younger than my staff) and they got our CEO all excited about this idea and it got scheduled before anyone who had concerns could say anything.

      As it turns out, the weather was so hot that week that the city asked everyone to cancel outdoor activities for safety reasons, so they ended up just giving us the afternoon off, which was the reward everyone wanted anyway. I believe in the aftermath several people noted to the CEO that they preferred the time off because we’ve since had several surprise afternoons/days off but the scavenger hunt has never been rescheduled.

      1. Ama*

        Heh, I misplaced the “unfortunately” in that sentence — it’s not unfortunate that the department heads have younger, more social staff! The unfortunate part was that they were the only ones the CEO talked to before deciding to do this.

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        Why oh why would they make these things a surprise?

        I wouldn’t love a scavenger hunt, but I’d like it a lot better if I knew before I left the house in the morning so I could bring the right shoes, bag, water bottle, emergency snack, sunblock, etc. for traipsing around the city instead of sitting at my desk.

      3. Rayray*

        An afternoon off is exactly what people want. Maybe have a day where you being in a good catered brunch and allow people to put their work down and actually sit and eat and then everyone can leave and have a few extra hours.

      4. Magenta Sky*

        I suspect I’d have done very poorly in the scavenger hunt, since I’d only be looking in the nearest coffee shop that had muffins and tea.

          1. Magenta Sky*

            I find reading over a muffin and a cup of tea far more enjoyable than doing so at home. I can read at home any time.

          2. Another British poster*

            Ha! I’m a playwright, and I once had a job where I was supposed to spend a full 24 hours with a director just walking around the city observing people, then write a play inspired by what I’d seen.

            Fortunately the director was also a 30+ woman so we both agreed to skip the walking around part and just make stuff up.

        1. Ravenahra*

          Wow, you and I would have the same idea. And if I couldn’t find anything in the list in my coffee or muffin….well then I’d just have to try again. Lol

          1. Magenta Sky*

            Be sure to set the stage properly first, by lamenting how bad you are at things like scavenger hunts. It’s always best to get people to have realistic expectations of you.

        2. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          On a hot August day, I’d be looking for the nearest place with air conditioning, whether they had muffins and tea or not.

          I do NOT do outdoor activities when it’s hot. I will not BE outdoors when it’s hot if I possibly help it. Not unless a swimming pool is involved.

      5. JessKatie*

        My former company did this. In a northeastern city, in January. 30 degrees, windchill of 10. And, they matched people up with folks they never worked with, so it wasn’t even “team building.” All the upper management folks got out of it by saying they had to stay in the (warm) office and tally up our responses as we moved around the city. Thankfully, my team was fine sitting in a coffee shop and coming in dead last.

    3. Sharrbe*

      Too add to the misery, I bet you ANYTHING that everyone will be sleeping in one big bunkhouse.

    4. Bilateralrope*

      I’ve done a lot of camping as a child. I don’t enjoy it, but I understand enough to ask inconvenient health and safety questions of gear they provide.
      Things like the plan for the weather going bad*, or who we are meant to check in with once we get out. Any response of “trust me” means I can’t trust the trip to be safe.

      *Tourists regularly get in trouble here when the weather shifts.

    5. Daisy-dog*

      I like how the LWs always include their reason – breastfeeding, disability, injury, etc. When really it’s perfectly normal for someone to not want to do these things! I didn’t like doing most sports when I was a child and I still don’t and I can’t be the only one. If there is a variety of activities and you can sit anything out, that makes it better, but not ideal.

      And the secret aspect is awful for anyone who just wants to be prepared.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I dislike surprises, even positive ones. I’m glad that I’m in a culture where people organize their own birthdays. A surprise birthday party would have me turning round and walking out if I wasn’t feeling it.

  12. Liz*

    LW5’s actual questions: Will I need to apologize or at least let the recruiter know that I have changed my mind if I decide to pursue opportunities with this company again? Or do you feel they’ll just forget it about it and get the idea that I’m interested if they receive new applications from me?

    As most people tend to understate their own poor behavior, the fact that LW5 is even questioning whether they need to apologize for their tantrum is eyebrow-raising. Depending on the size of the company I’d say there’s a good chance that no, they won’t just forget about it — that’s a pretty bizarre and misdirected overreaction.

    1. Clorinda*

      Realistically, LW may have burned the bridge with that recruiter, not just the company.

      1. twocents*

        I was thinking the same. If the recruiter moves to another company and sees LW’s name again, she’s going to remember “ah yes that’s the woman who cancelled an interview and threw a tantrum about it.” The recruiter will probably never feel comfortable recommending LW for a position anywhere after such a bizarre reaction.

    2. Qwerty*

      Having an ulterior motive invalidates the apology to me. I don’t get the sense that the LW5 actually feels bad about what they did and is just trying to avoid the consequences of their actions. Apologizing for their behavior because they recognize they were out line? Absolutely a good idea, go ahead. Apologizing in the hopes of getting a job/interview in the future? Nope, that’s a manipulation not an apology, say nothing.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Oh, I think that insincere or self-interested apologies are A-ok. I mean, it’s better if the offender genuinely feels sorry and wants to make amends. But the apology itself has value whatever the motivation behind it. Because *I* get to hear it.

        We almost all have to say/do /not say/not do things for politeness’ sake or to grease the social wheels. Co-worker shows baby pictures: Aw, what a cutie [while thinking, wow, that is one homely baby! Bob walks into the office on Monday: Hi Bob, how was your weekend? [while thinking, if I have to hear about his model trains one. more. time. I will pull my head off]

        Now if it *sounds* truculent or is one of those “if I offended anyone, then I apologize” non-apologies, that’s no good.

        1. Your Local Password Resetter*

          I agree. Self-interested apologies can still help smooth things over by publicly accepting responsibility and trying to make peace with someone you hurt/offended.

          Unfortunately they’re useless for the part where you show your personal growth and promise not to repeat your behaviour. Which is what hiring managers are generally more interested in, and which is much harder to do and demonstrate (and which the OP doesn’t seem to have done).

        2. MCMonkeybean*

          Especially in the business world; I don’t think it matters as much how sincere the words in an email between two people who barely know each other are as long as it acknowledges that something went wrong.

          But for their *own* sake OP probably needs more reflection and sincerity or else they’re going to keep having the same problem with different companies…

    3. Cat Tree*

      I agree that they won’t forget. I had a junior coworker who once whined that something would be a lot of work when I told him it was required. He, an adult, actually whined. About something he had accepted money to do. Other coworkers of a similar position and presumably age did the work without whining.

      If I ever interview him for a different position, I don’t think I will ever forget that. I would sincerely try to give him the benefit of the doubt that he matured over time and his work ethic improved, but I’ll still remember that.

    4. mockingbird2081*

      Plus, the company I work with keeps corresponds from candidates in a data base, they are never deleted. The message will follow you around if it is a company that does the same. As a hiring manager I agree with Allison, bridge was blown up. No rebuilding at this point.

  13. Eleanor*

    Did anyone get “Booze Cruise” from The Office vibes from letter #2? “Bring a ski mask and a swimsuit for a secret team building event.”

  14. Wy-leen*

    I’ve never heard the term “stay interview” but my company does something similar. You’re scheduled to have a lunch with your recruiter/HR person after 30 days on the job, and then twice year they bring in everyone hired in the last 6-12 months and ask about their experience so far, in a group setting. What has the company been great about, what could they improve on, what did we think of the interview process? No pressure to talk, and of course you’re encouraged to email or schedule a one-on-one if you have anything sensitive to discuss. Attendance isn’t mandatory but they give away a little swag for those that do show up. I thought it was nice when I went to mine.

    1. irene adler*

      IS there follow-through with anything that is brought up? Is that made known to the interviewee?
      I’d wonder about whether they take my thoughts seriously before issuing any sort of negative comment. Or whether there was any consequence to citing anything negative. Complements, sure, I’d issue them should they be warranted.

      1. Qwerty*

        Usually these new-hire type check-ins are pretty useful and the goal is to be collaborative. It’s pretty easy to phrase improvements to the interviewing / onboarding process in a neutral or collaborative tone. The one I’ve been in you usually hear a lot about resources that people didn’t know how to find, questions about policies, or things that weren’t represented accurately in the interview process (with the assumption the misrepresentation is accidental of course!)

        It also has the benefit of giving employees a neutral or positive experience talking with the HR/Recruiting team. Going to HR feels like such a big deal that a lot of people don’t feel comfortable even asking simple questions about benefits. So having a chance to see them with only minor stuff to discuss and getting to eat cookies helps build a more productive relationship.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      Yeah, my company has done something similar to “stay interviews” without calling them that. Usually a member of HR or more likely senior management has a check-in with new employees around their 2 or 3 month mark. Funny story… this is actually how we got our nice ice maker.

      We’d hired a new developer in IT. Backstory – the demand for tech talent in our city is through the roof. Companies are always poaching tech workers and it’s really hard to retain good people. So during the check in with the new developer, the senior manager was fully ready to roll out the red carpet, offer more money, whatever. What does the guy want? More ice. Apparently he likes to drink Big Gulps of ice water all day long, but the fridge didn’t make enough ice. The next week we had a big, fancy standalone ice maker in the kitchen. He ended up staying with us for years.

    3. Artemesia*

      Good management involves occasionally sitting down with employees individually to give feedback and also to ask what is making their work harder or what resources would make it easier. Heck when I taught college classes, I would do a survey about a month in that asked what was working well for them, what was making learning harder, and what could be done to make the class work better for them. Then you provide a bit of feedback to the whole class AND make a couple of changes. It goes a long way towards building credibility.

    4. MCMonkeybean*

      Yeah, we just have periodic “1-on-1” meetings where you could certainly raise any concerns. I just had one with my own manager, which happened to be very poorly timed as I was having some major fatigue from my second vaccine shot and with the stress of our current long hours I may have had a bit of a breakdown… on the plus side my boss definitely knows how seriously things need to change? (And she does seem genuinely committed to trying to rearrange our workloads that got a little ridiculous while we were short-staffed during the busiest time of year, and I know she has taken on a lot of the extra work itself so I believe she means it even if I’m not sure whether she can really do anything about it…)

  15. Cat Tree*

    Hmm, the frequent absences don’t seem egregious to me. A day or two every few weeks doesn’t seem too bad if that works out to be 2-3 times per month. The short notice part isn’t great. But it doesn’t sound like the job is the type that requires coverage at certain times. If she has the leave available and is getting her job done well, I don’t think it’s a big deal.

    As someone with multiple chronic health conditions, schedule flexibility is very important. I’m currently at a place where I can just pop out for a short time without eating up my PTO. But at previous jobs I had to waste a half day of vacation every single time.

    1. WellRed*

      At four months in, I doubt she had this much time off available. Also, 2 to 3 times per month (which to me is a lot if she hasn’t said what’s going on) is one thing, but multiply it out and it’s 12 times in the first four months, which is quite a bit.

      1. michelenyc*

        I think it is a really big deal as well. The LW pointed out that she is putting stress on the team in that they have to reschedule activities to accommodate her being out of the office. That will eventually lead to a lot of resentment from her co-workers.

      2. Artemesia*

        Perhaps it is just old school (and I am old) but I pretty much never took sick leave during 50 years in the workplace — and when I had appointments that must be scheduled during the day, I made sure that it didn’t interfere with important requirements of the job. Now people get sick, kids get sick, stuff happens and sometimes you need time off, but routinely being gone 2 or 3 times a month is a LOT of missed work without having negotiated some accommodations for specific problems that can’t be helped.

    2. Heather*

      If it’s a job where she can be out without affecting others, I agree. But based on the reference to “her shift” in the letter I’m guessing it’s a coverage type situation where the LW is left scrambling to find a replacement each time. If so it really is quite a lot of absences for a newer hire.

    3. Colette*

      Once every 2 weeks would be 26 days a year, which is more leave than many people have available. There are good reasons why someone might need more time off than others, but it’s important to be up front about it. When it’s illness + family issues with no other explanation, it’s a problem. (It might still be a problem if she explained! But people like to help each other out, so it’s possible that they might be more understanding if she explained. Or they could decide that she’s not a good fit for the job and either let her go or move her to another job or make other arrangements for coverage.

      Sometimes things happen that are out of your control. But some people always have things happen because they ignore the warning signs. (e.g. the check engine light has been on for 3 months, it’s fine – until the car stops on the highway; slip and fall on the steps because you didn’t clean them off after the ice storm; overslept because you didn’t charge your phone; didn’t feel well enough to go to work because you were out drinking until 3 AM)

    4. Lacey*

      2-3 times a month is kind of a lot. When you first start you usually don’t have any time off for the first 3-6 months.

      Plus, 10 days is pretty typical starting vacation time, some places might give 15 if you include personal time and sick leave. So let’s say she takes all of it. That’s barely more than a day every month.

    5. Burr... it's cold in here*

      In the context of the department I run, 2-3 absences a month consistently is a lot of time to be gone. Each person in my department is needed and has been hired to do a specific job. If that job isn’t being done 2-3 days a month, not only does that cause delays/spillover into the other folks in the department, but it affects clients who are expecting/needing someone to be available when they call within office hours.
      To put it in perspective, in a “month-long period” of four weeks, 3 days gone means the person is absent 15% of their work hours per month.

    6. SomebodyElse*

      At 2-3 days per month and 4 month’s in the employee has already taken 8-12 days off. That’s a lot! They’ve already missed 10-15% of their working days. I just googled it and the average from Bureau of Labor Statistics is ~3% So this is way above that average.

    7. t*

      OP wrote: “…misses a day or two of work every couple of weeks…just sends a text message an hour or two before her shift starts…”

      That’s one day a week on average, with very little notice each time.

      And neither are egregious? How does that work?

    8. Autumnheart*

      I had a coworker who typically had a last-minute absence 2-3 times a month. The impact on me was:

      1. I had a difficult time using *my* PTO because we couldn’t both be out at the same time
      2. Major morale hit, because she got paid more than I did and obviously took more time off (more than she was even granted as part of her compensation, and AFAIK she still got paid for those days because we’re salaried), with no real consequences to her career, and no benefit to mine
      3. Extra stress for me, because I had to prioritize my work in case any of her work needed to be done that couldn’t wait

      It just made it such an unpleasant environment. I certainly didn’t get any more credibility out of finishing her projects at the last moment, or being a “team player” or anything, and my manager was very non-confrontational and didn’t want to make an issue out of her performance. It really sucked. Finally, after two years of that and some other junk, I decided to abandon ship and made a lateral move to a different team.

  16. WellRed*

    In the group setting, Do people actually bring up things that are less than favorable toward the company?

  17. AndersonDarling*

    #5 I wonder if there is a time period where the OP could be considered again. The letter sounds like it has only been a few months between the tantrum and now, but I wonder if 10 years pass if the candidate would be blacklisted. I could see a candidate having a hissy fit at not getting a retail job when they were 16, and then applying for a Sr. Marketing position when they grow up. As long as the hissy-fit wasn’t outrageous, I would consider them for the position as an adult.

    1. WellRed*

      But would you consider them if they were an adult throwing a hissy fit? That’s the question. I suppose 10 years down the road, they could reapply and hope no one remembers them.

      1. Shawn*

        I guess depends on the ATS, I’m guessing if this was pre-electronic ATS (paper records) people may have been able to slip by if records were thrown out regularly. But, I’m guessing with modern electronic ATS recruiters and other hiring staff can input notes (i.e. indicating not to bother with this applicant) that will survive personnel turnover.

    2. Anonym*

      A lot of companies would be subject to limitations on how long they keep candidate data, plus the fact that the behavior may not have made it to an official record in the first place. If it’s been a few years, it could be worth a try. 10 years? I’d bet good money they’re starting with a clean slate.

      1. Selena*

        Most companies i apply to have a 1-year limit on keeping information from candidates.
        Assuming that rule is followed there is only the memory of HR-staff. On the one hand a candidate like that would be a memorable event, on the other hand HR-staff would get slowly replaced over the years. And there’ll presumably be some new horror-stories about other candidates.

        For the moment LW’s behavior definitely burned that bridge. But i’d assume there is a reasonable chance it’s all forgotten in the mist of time if she applies 5-10 years later.

    3. Dream Jobbed*

      You are nicer than I am. I would have no interest, ever, in a candidate who wrote me that out of nowhere. Keep in mind the employer didn’t know about the car. They just got an email cancelling for “opportunities elsewhere” and a lecture on how the blew it not hiring LW5 earlier. I would be baffled by an email like this to someone I may have offered a job to, then amused, but there is no way I would EVER invite them to work in my company again. (And I doubt I would forget this person.) Unless there is major turnover, this bridge is burnt.

      1. Elbe*

        Agreed. The last year has been rough and, personally, I would have a certain amount of sympathy for someone who just snapped and had a one-time lapse in judgement.

        But the company doesn’t know anything about the other stress he was under. From their perspective, this came out of the clear blue sky. And the fact that he still doesn’t seem to realize how incredibly inappropriate and off-putting behavior like this is makes me feel like maybe this wasn’t a one-time lapse.

        Companies have a responsibility toward their current employees to maintain a professional working environment. Very few decent managers would hire someone who has behaved inappropriately from the beginning.

      2. Beth*

        It’s the kind of thing that can get turned into an anecdote and become part of the oral tradition, so the terrible reputation could survive for years even with turnover.

    4. meyer lemon*

      I would just be absolutely confused if I scheduled an interview with a candidate and they cancelled and berated me for not hiring them sooner. I’d be a bit concerned about them, honestly, because I really don’t understand what they were trying to achieve.

      1. Sondheim Geek*

        Especially since you may not have been the hiring manager the last two times they applied, so you may not have even had a say in the matter!

        1. KateM*

          OP commented in original letter saying that the hiring managers and interviewers had been different each time.

    5. Your Local Password Resetter*

      If a decade has passed, there’s a good chance that the managers changed, the data expired, or people just forgot that this was the person who threw that weird fit.

      If the hiring people do remember it, they may consider OP, but probably with some trepidation and will give them a lot less leeway than other candidates.

  18. Dasein9*

    I would wake up with a mysterious fever on the day the overnight trip is scheduled to begin.
    “Oh, what a bummer! I’d hate to get y’all sick, though.”

    1. Nicki Name*

      I once had a terrible manager who thought it would be a fun team-building activity to do an extreme 2-day wilderness hike. Luckily, I was pretty sure off the top of my head that my pre-existing volunteer commitments meant I didn’t have an entire summer weekend clear, what a shame…

  19. You can call me flower, if you want to*

    I just thinking about the stupid team-building activities! I watched the WeWork documentary on Hulu last night and the mandatory “team-building” summer camp/frat party made me cringe so much. Why do companies insist on doing this? I work for a small tech company and we’ve managed to do many team building activities not centered around extreme sports, booze and overnights, (and they definitely aren’t mandatory) so I know it’s possible. It excludes so many people. I feel for you LW. I agree with Alison. Speak directly to your boss and mention a health issue. Put this back on the company to figure out how to include those can’t do the extreme sports-that’s what they should be doing anyway if they want to be compliant with the ADA.

      1. Purely Allegorical*

        Read the book, too! “Billion Dollar Loser.” The doc is good but simply doesn’t have time to get into the incredibly levels of dysfunction at WeWork, the SummerCamp thing included. There were some truly unbelievable anecdotes in the book. One of my fave reads of 2021, easily.

    1. Nicki Name*

      “Why do companies insist on doing this?”

      Generalization from past experiences without enough understanding of sampling biases.

      I meet all sorts of people doing this for fun -> Everyone can enjoy this!
      This activity is good for me -> It’s good for everyone, and I’m doing people a favor by introducing them to it!
      No one’s ever complained -> The worker bees all love it!

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        The first two aren’t merely sampling bias issues. They are inability for abstract thought.

          1. PT*

            Narcissism is right.

            “I have an idea. My idea is the best idea. My idea is GROUNDBREAKING AND GOING TO CHANGE THE WORLD. I need BILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO CHANGE THE WORLD. I am a Disruptor. I’m bigger than Jesus.”

            That space doesn’t exactly favor the, “Hey this is a clever idea, here is a responsibly drawn up business plan with modest growth and revenue targets.”

            1. Magenta Sky*

              Sadly, all too often, that sales pitch works with venture capitalists. And investors. For long enough to get bought out, anyway.

    2. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      I watched the documentary the other day, and WeWork Summer Camp was the first thing I thought of when I read this letter. Talk about something out of my nightmares!

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        I am definitely going to watch this documentary! Had not heard of it until now.

  20. TimeTravlR*

    I don’t have health issues that preclude activities for the most part, but I am just not a fan of a lot of the typical outdoorsy things, especially if it’s considered extreme. This company sounds a little tone deaf.I hope they will take OP’s words to heart and rethink this event.

    1. Esmeralda*

      I love camping, hiking, rock climbing… but by myself or with my actual family or friends.

      And also, because I like those activities and have been doing them for many years, I’m also aware of properly **preparing** for them. Gear, supplies; safety procedures and gear and supplies. And I don’t do them with people I’m not sure have the right safety and prep mindset. Which, “it’s a secret!” right there = we don’t take prep and safety all that seriously.

      Nope nope nopity nope.

  21. Blomma*

    I had a “stay” interview with my manager a bit over a year ago, though they referred to it as a retention interview. Basically they wanted to check in with me to see what going well with my job and what I would like changed or improved so that I wouldn’t be tempted to job search. I was able to arrange to work one day a week from home (this was pre-pandemic; now I’m working remotely 100%). I think it can be a useful thing, depending on how it’s handled.

    1. Anonymous Hippo*

      Do people not just have these meetings with their managers normally? Not formally, but surely your boss knows the things you have issues with and how things are going, and what kind of thing they need to do to retain you? Or am I the odd one?

      1. Spotted Kitty*

        I have 1-on-1s with my manager, but he doesn’t have any clout to fix the things I really want fixed, namely my salary.

      2. Blomma*

        In my case, at the time I was not having regular 1:1 meetings with my manager (I do now). At those meetings, we discuss any issues that I may be having or questions about whatever. However the retention interview was different in that the conversation was entirely focused around “You are a valuable employee. What would entice you to leave [employer]? What could we do to make sure we keep you as an employee?”

      3. Andy*

        > surely your boss knows the things you have issues with and how things are going, and what kind of thing they need to do to retain you?

        Strongly depends on the boss. With some, you do your best to keep everything about you secret. With others, you are open. With some, the hones answer to “what kind of thing they need to do to retain you” is “change the team or the boss for this team”.

    2. irene adler*

      Did they actually state to you that one reason was to mitigate the temptation to job search? If so, I’m impressed!

      1. Blomma*

        I don’t remember exactly how they phrased it, but I was definitely asked what another company could offer that would make me want to leave – with the follow up discussion of what could they do to reduce the chances of me leaving.

    3. Wombats and Tequila*

      The while thing sounds logical at a well run company, but if I were a new employee and my manager told me, “How’s tomorrow afternoon for your retention interview?” I think I would sleep very poorly that night.

      1. Blomma*

        I had this meeting when I was approaching 3 years here so I definitely wasn’t new. I wasn’t told that it was a retention interview until I got there, so I was pretty anxious when I got the invite-but that’s more do to damage done by my previous toxic employer and not concerns about the current one!

    4. NotSoAnon*

      Dang. I’ve never heard of this! I meet regularly 1 on 1 with all my employees so this kind of stuff comes up naturally, but it’s really cool that a company goes out of their way to meet with you to ensure you have everything you need in order to stay!

      1. Blomma*

        It was pretty cool! I didn’t get the impression that it was a ‘we will do everything you want’ conversation, but it definitely created an open dialogue about what would help me be satisfied in my role.

  22. Rayray*

    An overnight trip with work sounds like absolute hell. I’d expect no less than double my pay for the duration of the trip and to have two extra days off either the week before or after.

    Businesses need to stop trying to force us to be friends. If you want to do activities during the regular work day, fine. Don’t infringe on people’s personal lives and free times. My life is more important than my work and work relationships.

    1. Magenta Sky*

      I have a lot of respect, and often even professional admiration, for the people I work with.

      There isn’t a one of them I’d like to socialize with on my own time.

      1. Rayray*

        Same. I enjoy the chatting with my coworkers during the day, but I spend more of my waking hours with them during the week than I do my family and close friends. I do not like after-hour work parties, even a dinner where you can bring a +1. I absolutely hate it. I’m at a newish job and they’re talking about how they do barbecues every summer and I’m already dreading it. I really want things to be safe and normal this summer but that is one thing I do not want to do.

        1. Magenta Sky*

          I can usually stave off invitations by just talking about things that interest *me*, which is geeky stuff that bores everyone else. They’ve learned. (Though having our head of HR talk about her early days with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence was a fairly interesting conversation. The biggest surprise what that I wasn’t the only one who knew who that organization was already.)

          (Fortunately, I work for grown ups, and skipping such things isn’t a big deal at all. Office lunches, back when such things were practical, sure, fine, no problem. But that’s the extent of my interest in socializing.)

    2. allathian*

      At least when my former boss organized a two-day development and team building seminar at a spa hotel, the team building part was all done mostly sitting down in a conference room and we could pick what we wanted to do in our “leisure time”. I went for a slow walk in the very pretty grounds. I had a manicure when my coworkers were in the pool. I have body image issues so wearing a swimsuit would have made me awfully uncomfortable with coworkers in any case, but luckily I had an excuse, I’m extremely allergic to chlorine, to the point that walking past an outdoor pool downwind from it is liable to cause an asthma attack. I developed this allergy in adulthood, I liked swimming when I was a teen and never had any problems. This event is also the only time I’ve had to share a hotel room so far in my career. But at least it was during the work week, not a weekend.

      I’m on good terms with all of my coworkers currently and have been for the vast majority of my career. Granted, there are a few that I absolutely don’t click with at all, and with those I limit myself to strictly work-related talk, preferably in writing. That said, while I enjoy casual chats with my teammates and don’t mind the occasional team lunch or after work drinks when there isn’t a pandemic, spending time with my coworkers off the clock isn’t a huge priority for me.

  23. raven_smiles*

    LW4 – we had similar interviews at my company a few years ago, although they didn’t use the term “stay interviews”, but someone from HR sat with each person in the department and asked about the working environment. Basically there was a ton of grumbling from my department about the manager and they were trying to figure out if we were all about to jump ship. Sometime after that the manager was let go.

    On a completely different team I also participated in a similar interview process on a separate team. There was also a ton of grumbling and in this case the manager is still at our organization.

    It obviously depends on each organization but sometimes they can be beneficial.

  24. Elbe*

    stating that we needed to bring athletic clothes and swimsuits, there would be a day of “team building activities,” followed by a big party, followed by “more fun extreme sports activities” the next day.

    It’s like “tell me your company is run by a bunch of bros without actually telling me your company is run by bros.”

    If this company thinks that everyone wants to be around their coworkers in a swimsuit & doing extreme sports, they’re either wildly out of touch or they’re only planning to hire a certain type of person.

  25. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

    #1 sounds like something I would have absolutely loved…as a teenager in a church youth group. But as an adult? No thanks. I need to know at least a loose outline of what I’m expected to do.

    1. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

      (Not #1 apparently. Oops. The team building trip question was the one I was referring to )

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      I think that often these things are organized by people who in high school were totally, unironically into “school spirit.” Me? I would ditch from pep rallies. One time an administrator found me and made me go back. He was apologetic, as he knew I had no interest in either causing trouble or attending the pep rally. When I couldn’t get out of attending, I took a book to read.

      1. Beancounter Eric*

        Pep rallies…a monumental waste of time.

        Never have quite understood the general idea of “school spirit”….nor how spending 45 minutes in the gym cheering the sportsball team in anticipation of their game against whomever improves educational outcomes.

        Academic Bowl team – bupkus. One-act play competition…..crickets. But people playing with balls…..yay, let’s ditch classroom time and cheer like maniacs.

  26. LegendaryBobcatTaxidermy**

    #1 – I had to participate in a work “retreat” that was filled with activities that were 90% physical/sports, and supposedly “optional.” Things like high ropes courses, rock climbing, running through the woods around the extensive grounds as part of a scavenger hunt, shooting guns at things, etc etc etc. I participated in one of the activities and sat out the rest due to “health issues.” I was the only one who chose to opt out of the rest, because I didn’t want to lose my sh*t on a high ropes course in front of my coworkers (heights are not my favorite) and I’ve done enough of those things at camps when I was a teen to last me a lifetime. I also wasn’t about to re-aggravate old injuries in order to complete a pointless task for meaningless points on a work retreat. So I had to spend most of the days watching other people participating. I also was the only one to request a mattress for our outdoor camping excursion instead of sleeping on the bare ground (I felt like the princess and the pea on my mattress, lording it over everyone else in their little threadbare sleeping bags, but whatever). Thankfully I don’t believe it had any long-term career repercussions for me, but I was so annoyed with the whole thing. What does a high ropes course have to do with corporate leadership again? Oh, that’s right – absolutely nothing.

  27. AutolycusinExile*

    OP4: To be honest, I was under the assumption that this type of stuff happens naturally with your manager anyway, at least if you have good management. Maybe management at OP’s company realized they should have been addressing this stuff all along and this is just their clunky way of trying to address these things going forward? Weirdly formal name aside, it’s just a one-on-one with your manager.

    Actually, it took me aback slightly that so many people here are saying they’d never mention anything negative in a meeting like this! It just seems so normal to me to mention things that could use improvement at work – how else does anything ever get done otherwise? Do you just never make suggestions to anyone in your company no matter what problems arise, or is it just the formality of calling it an interview that’s making people uncomfortable? I don’t love the name, tbh – interview implies that there’s a right/wrong or pass/fail element which shouldn’t be present, and stay interview seems to imply that you staying is incumbent on you doing ‘well’, but if you reframe it as a way to ensure a regular one-on-one with your employees it seems fairly inoffensive.

    In a healthy workplace, you should be able to point out process improvements that need to be done, request a raise, report harassments, etc without fear of reprisal. If you’re genuinely afraid of retaliation from this ‘stay interview’ (don’t love the term, tbh), you’re at risk of retaliation even without the stay interview because you have a larger management problem. Personally I’d roll my eyes at the name but I don’t think the concept is worth spending time worrying about.

  28. Noxalas*

    “Secret activities” in the middle of the night? Maybe I read too many mysteries, but man does that sound sinister! /(mostly)tongue-in-cheek

  29. Lora*

    #1 – This can be a generalized rule to All Companies when they do, for example, site selection or market targeting or what have you. In that instance it’s formally called a PESTEL analysis (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, Legal), but basically what you are considering is “can my business succeed with (constraints management wishes for/is stuck with)?” In this case, the business wants to succeed while limiting its employees to a highly specific demographic, People Who Like Outdoorsy Events. “Can you hire the employees with the skills you need to run your business if you draw only or even mainly from ex-REI and -Patagonia employees?” Well, no, generally most businesses cannot function when they are so limited and need to draw on a broader range of talent.

    I have literally never ever seen any organization do any of the group activities I actually enjoy as a team building exercise. Pre-Covid obviously, but I love having stitch-n-bitch sessions with my friends, knitting and sewing and crafting; dance nights; karaoke; haunted house or historical tours; board games; learning how to cook new specialties and regional dishes. Shockingly, every time I’ve made a suggestion, it’s been shot down as “nobody wants to do that, they all want to play golf. We won’t be providing clubs or lessons, so I guess you can stay in the office that day.” Can you tell I work in a VERY male-dominated field?

    1. Qwerty*

      Can you insist on driving the golf cart? But also insist that you’ll be drinking wine so someone else will have to take over driving at some point! I’m assuming you aren’t supposed to mix golf carts and booze, but I’m not entirely certain because my companies always changed their plans once they realized that I am totally spunky and stubborn enough to follow through. Be sure to keep a cheerful attitude when insisting on joining the Golf Outing. Channel the “Of Course You Want Me To Join You So I Will Try My Best!!!!!” with a big smile. Bonus points if you can insist that they teach you about golf during the outing, because if this is so important to ALL of your coworkers then you really want to know more. (it turns out that men only want to mansplain when women are not interested in the topic!)

      For some strange reason, this always killed the golf outings! I offered to compromise with hanging out in the clubhouse drinking wine and knitting, but somehow it always turned into just a bar night with the lads. A bit of dudes wanting to skip golf and drink if that was an option, but probably mostly because they really did not want me knitting in the golf cart.

    2. Lizard*

      Take heart Lora – my organization actually did do some of your preferred activities as a team building exercise one year! We have yearly company retreats, and the last year we had it they mixed in a set of “creative skills” activities, like cooking, photography, even playing musical instruments. People got to choose which creative skill they’d rather participate in. The most physical event was yoga.

      In previous years we had done outdoor obstacle course/scavenger hunt type things… needless to say the rock wall climbing crowd was pissed, but a great majority of the company was relieved.

  30. Mannheim Steamroller*

    “Mandatory Fun” was a nice album by Weird Al Yankovic, but it’s an awful way to build office morale.

  31. Zach*

    Re: Stay interviews

    I tend to be pretty cynical about this kind of stuff, but the company I currently work for had stay interviews a couple years ago because we had a lot of people leave our department and they were worried. They actually listened and it resulting in us getting more authority and backup by management than we already had, along with expanding our two-days-a-week work from home policy to a policy that allows us to work from home 100% of the time if we want to.

    So yes, if they are applied correctly, they can actually make a difference!

  32. CouldntPickAUsername*

    a lot of people complaining about the sports aspect when I’m still stuck on the company thinking they get to decide they can basically just kidnap me for a night. “we’re all going on a retreat for 5 days” “oh, have fun” “you’re coming too” “uh, nope, got a cat, got a life, got things to do.”

    1. boop the first*

      Yeah, it’s not the having fun with coworkers part that turns me off usually, it’s the part where I have to do work-related anything during my off time, whether it’s fun or not. Employers already take up SO much of my life. If it’s not on the clock, I’m not interested!

  33. Jennifer Juniper*

    I would conveniently get a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing around the time of the trip. That would be the perfect way to get excused from that trip. I would not say I had COVID, but I would not specify what I had, either.

  34. kayakwriter*

    I’m not a lawyer, and don’t even play one on the internet, but I do have some possibly relevant knowledge. Upthread (sorry, I suck at nesting) someone posted something to the effect of “Any half-decent lawyer can get a waiver thrown out of court.” That would depend on your jurisdiction and possibly the judge you get. Where I live (Canada), there was an (in)famous case about a decade ago where two clients of a zipline company were injured when they ran into one another. They sued. The company acknowledged negligence on the part of its employees, but pointed out the waiver the clients had signed included exactly that scenario. The clients sued, but the judge ruled that the waiver meant what it said and declined to allow damages.

    Current best practice in the outdoor activity industry is to send waivers to the clients as (or even before) they’re booking the activity, so the clients can read them over and sign them before they arrive on site. This benefits both the clients (they can decide at leisure whether they’re comfortable signing) and the company offering the activity (in the event of an accident, the client can’t argue “They shoved a waiver under my nose two minutes before the raft/kayak/zipline left and told me to sign it or stay behind.”)

    So if your employer has contracted with a third party to offer outdoor activities, that third party will likely have already have forwarded the waivers to your employer. Ask to see them in advance. And ask your employer to confirm in writing whether they (the employer) will cover any injuries and/or time off work, since this is a work-related activity. If they decline, you could respond that you aren’t willing to participate in the activity unless someone (the employer or the third party contractor) is willing to take responsibility for any injuries you suffer.

  35. Anon4ThisOne*

    I’ve had success in getting the powers that be to rethink their weird planned work-related activities by asking what the DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) plan is for the activity.

    Rock-climbing or ropes course? How are you planning to include John who has MS, and Kelly who has neuropathy in her feet?

    White-water rafting? How will you include Fritz and Marie who don’t know how to swim?

    Camping trip? The battery on my oxygen concentrator isn’t meant to serve for an entire weekend.

    And why would any of us have to disclose this when we are all able to perform our actual work activities perfectly fine? Because of course we wouldn’t want to appear to give preferential treatment to only those who participate in related activities. All said with great interest, raised eyebrows, and a refusal to break eye contact over the top of my nasal cannula tubing. (All while suppressing my inner “Are you f-ing KIDDING me?” scream.)

    The ableist chirpy “it will be FUN!” crowd never seems to think their plans through. Only about a third of our staff have any interest in these kinds of work-related activities, and many of our staff are not physically able to participate in a lot of sports-based activities. I am quite able and willing to spend all kinds of social capital to make sure all staff are treated fairly, both at work and at work-related activities.

    1. EmmaPoet*

      Rock-climbing or ropes course? How are you going to include Emma, whose fear of heights is so bad she once blacked out on a one-story spiral staircase because she could see between the steps? (I got lucky and someone caught me and helped me the rest of the way, but I took the elevator going down again.)

  36. Lizard*

    #2 As someone who had regularly planned camping trips as a part of my job, I am cringing at the idea of organizing such a thing as a “secret surprise” for a group of office workers. I don’t even care if what’s on offer turns out to be glamping… this all sounds very irresponsible, and I’d do whatever I could to either back out or get a candid description of the camping conditions.

    Also, the idea of extreme sports, then a party, and then extreme sports again the next day… ha! Talk about a perfect set up for injuries, particularly on day 2, when it sounds like people might be dehydrated and hung over… and participating in activities that are likely well outside of normal for most. I agree that there are probably waivers for this stuff – my advice is to do what you can to get those distributed to everyone BEFORE the weekend in question. At least that way any non-participation isn’t so public.

  37. DiscoCat*

    #5 You misdirected your pent-up frustration about the previous rejections and the car issue. You’re entitled to feel what you felt, and put into words- but then you sent these words to the recruiter. AS the hiring or future manager I’d be shaking my head and wondering what else you’ll want to make my responsibility when you’re frustrated…

  38. Sun Tzu*

    LW#1: “Replacing Jane is not really an option as we have not found someone else who can do her job as well”

    To me, “doing a job well” includes “being reliable and present, and not doing no-shows 20% of the time with minimal notice and vague reasons”.

  39. Andy*

    #5 I think that following is very good rule to follow: never sent email, especially angry email after writing it. Always wait, at least 2 hours, preferably till the next day. Then re-read it, write another email. The time will help to cool down head and you will perceive your immediate writing in different light.

  40. dedicated1776*

    Gonna second what many others have said here. I don’t have a health condition that precludes me from participating in sports in theory but a) I’m not really fit and b) I’m not really fit because I don’t like that kind of stuff! I hate sweating. Afraid of heights. My idea of outdoors is somewhere I can chill with a drink. My team recently did a fun afternoon outing at a park and you know what we played (if we wanted to)? Cornhole, ladder ball, and croquet. That’s my kind of sports. I can play them while I drink my Truly.

    I also agree with the overnight aspect. I’m married. I want to be home with my husband and my cat. Some people have kids. Some people just need to sleep in their own beds. Do work stuff during work hours. Maybe a dinner. Then let people go home!

  41. boop the first*

    5. This story makes me think of one told by Mitch Pileggi, in which he kept getting callbacks for his part on the x-files, and it was his getting annoyed and practically telling them to piss off that landed him the part. He’d thought it was unreasonable to keep auditioning over and over instead of somebody just making a damn decision.

    I see a little bit of that in #5. They’d gone through multiple interviews on multiple occasions. If they wanted to hire them twice before, they ought to just hire them. If they didn’t want to hire them twice before, they ought to stop calling them in. It’s obviously more complicated than just that, but I can see such a thought pattern emerging.

    At this point, you ought to stop applying to the companies you think are just calling you in to reject you, right?

    1. EmmaPoet*

      It said in the previous post of this that the hiring manager and whatnot were different for each job, though. So it’s not that they got turned down by a monolith, there were separate people who said no on their earlier applications.

  42. BBB*

    #5 is so out of touch omg

    I interviewed with the same person 3 or 4 times for different roles, didn’t land any of them. happened to run into her at an event a few months later and she told me to my face ‘you were a great candidate but the higher ups had already picked who they were hiring before we even started the interview process.”
    it’s not always about you lol

  43. Nom*

    I don’t have the full context because I wasn’t able to read the article but I just want to say as someone with a sleep disorder – if you’re asking me to do an overnight you’re getting me a hotel room. Unfortunately I can’t go camping.

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