updates: my boss wants me to help him jump the line for the Covid vaccine, and more

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, where all month I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

1. My boss wants me to help him jump the line for the Covid vaccine

The day after my letter was published, my boss again asked me to make the calls but once I told him I was uncomfortable doing so, he gave the assignment to someone else. Things died down for a little bit after that. However, about a month or so later, my company planned a company trip to the Bahamas which the CEO was attending. The day before he left, the requests started coming again. This time around, I didn’t call but let my boss know that there weren’t any appointments (per the websites of the places he was having me check with). He was annoyed but didn’t force me to keep pushing like he had before.

The requests finally stopped once the CEO was able to get a vaccine driving 3 hours to and from. I was relieved to hear it!

So over all, things resolved themselves but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

2. I want to quit … but if I leave, my project will die (first update here)

THE BAD NEWS: Lorna ended up not paying out my last two invoices (as I expected) and no one at the company will respond to my requests for information. I’ve tried calling and was hung up on before my number was apparently blocked. Luckily, I’ll be stateside this summer and can take more direct action from there.

THE GOOD NEWS: I took the plunge, started freelancing, and saw pretty immediate results! I also got a great new job at a much more organized institution where so far no one’s gaslit me, lied to me, insulted me, or questioned whether I had the intellectual capacity necessary to come inside when it starts raining. I now have job security and get to do work I enjoy! Between that and the freelancing, I’m making nearly as much money as I was under Lorna–except I actually get to collect it! I’m also satisfied and happy.

Thanks again to you and your readers for your support and advice!

3. My boss read my Skype conversations

I was the letter writer who wrote in a long time ago about my boss reading my IMs to another manager in the company and how mortified I was about it, especially being in HR. You told me to let the issue go after my initial apology, but I ended up reiterating to my boss that it would never happen again. I think she saw how horrified I was about it and never brought it up again. I am happy to say that I am still at the same company and have received a couple of promotions since that time. My boss is the greatest and I don’t plan on moving companies any time soon. I learned my lesson and keep all work communication as neutral and professional as possible. Thank you for all the advice that you share, it’s helped me in my early career more than I can say!

4. My boss lectured me about arriving on time – when I’m working a ton of hours (first update here)

You answered my letter about my boss 2 years ago – wow how time flies! I have one last update after catching up with one of my old project managers.

After re-reading my initial email and update, I should offer some background information:
1) My start time had been 9 am (agreed upon by the boss), so from my point of view I was coming in 30 minutes late. I had been working without breaks (I ordered in or brought lunch and dinner) until bare minimum 7:30 pm, but more often the 9:30 pm time for about 2 months with no end in sight. The night before this email I had been there until 11 pm, which only added fuel to the fire.
2) Members in my group really did have flexible start times. Some came in at 7 am, most came in 8-9 am, and one project manager came in at 11 am!
3) The projects I had been working on were for three different project managers in our group. Management was notorious for having poor communication about workloads, so each of them had a vague idea that I was busy but had no clue what my actual workload looked like.
4) I received comp time for the overtime I was working, but I couldn’t take it with all the work I had.

On to the last update on this! I recently was talking with one of my old project managers (Elizabeth) who I remained friends with and the infamous email came up. It turns out my suspicions were correct! The email was about me. The morning that this all happened, one of the PMs (Jane) wanted to call an impromptu project meeting at 8 am but I wasn’t in yet. She went to my boss (Collins) and asked why I wasn’t there. Instead of him answering that I typically came in at 9 am or that I had been working late, he decided to write the email instead. I also remembered that when I did come in, he greeted me with a fake joking “Nice of you to show up!” to which I had responded something about needing enough sleep with all the work I had been doing.

I caught up with Jane as soon as I got in but she didn’t say anything about this missed meeting, so I had no clue that was the reason behind the email. Once the email was sent out, I went to Elizabeth to ask if it had been about me and to essentially rant about the lack of communication between the project managers. Elizabeth went to Jane and Collins about the email where they confirmed the reason behind it, and she explained that I was working 10-12 hour days without breaks to finish all the work that only I could do with tight deadlines. She also was very clear that I was pissed about the email. Neither Collins nor Elizabeth ever mentioned this to me, nor did they apologize after learning all the facts.

I had tried to talk to Collins about it once, but he brushed it off and said something about just needing to reiterate corporate policy. Which, after my recent conversation with Elizabeth, is nonsense and indicative of his aversion to confrontation or admitting he’s wrong in general.

This email was the catalyst that pushed me to get my license and allowed me to get to my “dream” job a lot sooner than I had ever expected. In the end it worked out for the best, but it’s nice to have closure!

{ 36 comments… read them below }

  1. Shenandoah*

    Whew, I missed OP 1’s letter when it ran – I’m so sorry you were put in that position OP. It makes me especially frustrated when I think about really how little time he needed to wait for vaccinations to open up. A couple months to let vulnerable people go first, damn dude.

  2. quill*

    #1 There are going to be a lot of people who come in to speculate about the whole situation, but from my perspective, now that everyone is (hopefully) vaccinated, just keep this in your back pocket for now. Whatever conclusion you come to about your boss’ general ethics and trustworthiness could be useful in the future.

    #4 wow, Collins is awful, be glad he didn’t copy Lady Catherine DeBorough.

    1. I am Lizzie on every P&P quiz*

      I bet he bcc’d her but she was not here to deal with petty and useless grievances.

      1. quill*

        After all, why would she condescend to deal with the Bennetts about this unless there was a chance of her nephew Fitzwilliam Darcy forming an unadvantageous connection with one of them?

  3. I am Lizzie on every P&P quiz*

    Honestly, one of the biggest issues for me RE: LW 4 is that Jane called an impromptu meeting at the beginning of core hours/before the core hours of others. If you’re not a morning person, your internal processor isn’t going to start at 8 AM, regardless if you’ve showed up on time. An impromptu meeting will just make life harder. I’m sorry LW4 had to deal with that, plus the overwhelming workload and a supervisor who didn’t have their back. Whoever is in charge of setting core hours should’ve made it clear what start time means. Is it be present but filling your coffee mug in the kitchen OR be at your desk with coffee made and already lukewarm? Both are valid, but both need to be explicitly communicated.

    Also, wouldn’t Mary be the one who calls an impromptu meeting at 8 AM? I feel like Jane would be there to smooth things over. Collins as the obsequious one not standing up for his crew holds water, though.

    1. PT*

      Jane is doing it as a power play to be an ass, that’s why core hours weren’t clearly communicated and then a meeting was scheduled outside of them.

    2. quill*

      Mrs Bennett is the emergency meeting instigator. Netherfield being let requires IMMEDIATE action.

    3. Artemesia*

      It is another example that working long hours is not generally appreciated especially if the boss is not there working alongside you. Often the person who grinds away long hours and getting it done is overshadowed by some flashy guy who wastes time, works short hours, but smoozes well. Half the time no one is even aware of the person who is forced into crazy hours/no breaks to deliver the product.

  4. Lucious*

    On LW#4: it appears the organization had some systemic “competency issues”. That’s my reasoned conclusion whenever employees work 12+ hour days for long periods only to be criticized further . I’m glad to see this ended with them landing on their feet in a better capacity.

  5. HelloHello*

    alongside the rest of the ridiculousness, the audacity of scheduling an impromptu 8 am meeting has me boggling. I’d never schedule a meeting before at least 9:30 or 10 am without giving people 24+ hour notice.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Not only is 8 am too early for a meeting (impromptu or not), but I believe that only real, true emergency meetings should be scheduled with less than 24-hour notice. (Barring an actual discussion with all potential attendees to determine if they’re OK with another meeting that day).

      My org loves meetings, & this would still be unacceptable.

    2. Ace in the Hole*

      We often have impromptu 8 am meetings. But we also have a strict 7:30 am start time for most staff (coverage reasons), and mornings before 9am are the least busy time of day. Totally reasonable in my setting, absolutely ridiculous in LW4’s workplace.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Its definitely setting dependent. Impromptu 8 a.m. meetings are nothing here, as we all typically start before 7.

        Impromptu meeting after 3:30-4 p.m.? Pushback
        Impromptu meeting after 5 p.m.? Suggestions on revised time sent back via Outlook by phone, as nobody is here. (In my industry THIS is a major rookie mistake)

        1. Clisby*

          Same at the place I worked before retiring. There was an unwritten rule that no meeting could start after 3 p.m. In the rare case of an emergency, sure, but that was pretty rare. Lots of us started before 7 a.m., so even a 7 a.m. meeting wouldn’t have been untoward as long as the people who really needed to attend could be there.

    3. Chels*

      A fairly new coworker did this at my old job and it shaded how I saw her for several years. She had brought several clients with her and I did their billing accordingly to our regular procedures, not knowing she had been doing it differently. It wasn’t a big deal and took two minutes to fix and make a note for the next quarter. She burst into my office as I was getting ready to go, acting like it was the worst thing that could possibly happen and she couldn’t believe our procedure was different than hers. I fixed it and thought it was done but then she sent a meeting request for 8 am the next morning to my department (3 people but still). I just happened to see it before I left and usually came in at 8:30 and had a solid two hours of time-sensitive tasks first thing so I would have missed it on most other days

    4. SarahKay*

      I’ve had this happen when something really big came up; my manager sent out an email at 8 for an 8:30 call / meeting for the team. Since I am very much not a morning person I usually start at 9:30, so by the time I arrived it was finished.
      My manager apologised to me that the short notice and early start meant it had happened without me.
      This is just one of many, many reasons why I appreciate my manager hugely!

  6. FrenchCusser*

    #2: have a lawyer write a letter to deadbeat boss. It shouldn’t cost much, but that sort of thing frightens that sort of person.

  7. Kes*

    The one thing I’d love to hear from LW4 is how the boss reacted when you gave notice. It’s kind of hinted at in the first update but did Collins just accept it or was he upset? It does seem like so often managers keep pushing their employees to just do the work, ignore their complaints and then are surprised when they leave. I also wonder how well they were able to handle your departure given that it sounds like you were a key employee and already overworked. But I’m glad you were able to get your dream job and leave that situation where you were under stress and under appreciated.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I remember when I gave notice at my last place. They were weirdly surprised, because they had fixed one thing I was unhappy about. Well, that was the change that nearly caused me to quit on the spot. They didn’t fix all the other stuff that I had told them meant I would look for a new job.

      1. Who is the asshole*

        That’s exactly how my workplace works: Spackle over (not even fix) one issue that is mentioned and then be surprised that morale doesn’t skyrocket.

  8. Antilles*

    With #4, it’s probably not the best way of handling it (and very well might piss the boss off by pointing out he’s being a bleep), but I would have been extremely tempted to “reply all” to the email with a politely written response that slaps back but in a I’m-confused-please-help kind of way. Something like this:
    “To clarify, how should we handle this if we have previously-agreed upon different hours? My typical business hours are 9:30 AM to 7:30 PM; similarly, I know a number of other managers have selected start times. Should we put our hours into our email signatures and calendars or is there a better way to make sure everybody is on the same page regarding availability?”

    1. Julia*

      I love this wording. It actually doesn’t read as a retort to me. It reads as a perfectly reasonable request for clarification – earlier you heard X, now it seems like you’re hearing Y, can someone clarify the discrepancy. It’s the sort of question any employee should be able to raise to their manager, in my book.

  9. Firecat*

    Sounds like every but in seats place I have ever worked. Glad you moved on. These types of bosses will never apologize.

  10. Eliza*

    I am HARSHLY judging a company that sent unvaccinated people to the Bahamas during the pandemic. The lives of people in the Bahamas matter too.

    1. German Girl*

      This is one of the reasons why I’d love an upvote feature on this site.

      Just upvotes, mind you. Nobody wants the mess that comes with downvotes. But a quick way to say “I agree” without cluttering the comments would be really nice.

      Also, I’d love to be able to sort comments by upvotes so I can read the best comments first – but I’d love the upvote-feature without the sorting feature, too.

  11. Get the vax*

    OP 1: that boss disgusts me, but now, the people who refuse to get vaccinated disgust me just as much. So I don’t know what to think anymore. Lol

  12. Coffee*

    It takes weeks for you to become fully immunised, so the CEO trying to get vaccinated one day before going overseas had already missed the boat. What an inappropriate trip.

  13. Bowserkitty*

    OP#4 – how are you liking Japan?? :) Prior to corona there were some of us here planning an AAM meet-up one day!!

  14. bopper*

    Arriving on time:

    This is when you have to do Malicious Compliance
    Come in at 9:00 but leave by 6:00 (assuming a lunch hour).
    Didn’t get that job done today? Sorry, I have to adhere to working hours. It is very important to my boss that I be in by 9:00 so to do that I have to leave by 6:00.

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