{ 523 comments… read them below }

  1. KeinName*

    Hello! Would anyone have advice on how to ask for a reduction in working hours? A position is being created which I will most likely fill but it is full time and I currently work 5 hours less than full time and would prefer this (I have a chronic health condition and like to have lots of spare time). How could I present this to my boss who might then have to manage an additional admin-type person or find someone else qualified for these 5 hours? Thanks for any thoughts you have!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d be direct! “I’d love to do this role, but would you be open to me keeping my current schedule of 35 hours a week?”

      Also, are you sure it would require finding someone else for those five hours? A lot of 40-hour/week jobs could be done in 35 if the person is very competent/efficient. If it’s coverage-based, that might not apply — but if it’s not and you could address how you’d tackle the role in the shortened time, that would help too.

      1. KeinName*

        Thank you, Alison! I‘ll use those words (in German though ;-)). And certainly I am efficient enough, which my boss knows. So that is an option to keep in the back of my mind. It is public service and we got funding for 40 hours so I suppose I thought we should use all the funding to provide the best service but maybe 35 hours is okay too.

      2. Em*

        I’m a 1099 whose been working for the same supervisor for the past year. I had to switch medications recently and chose a time where I’d be working less to do so– problem is, I’m having some significant side effects making my concentration almost nonexistent. May get better in a few days/weeks or it may not, in which case I’d have to switch again, potentially causing more symptoms that might affect my work. Is it better to mention this now, before it’s affected my work– or wait and see if I start forgetting emails and spacing out in meetings before bringing it up? I have a mental illness as well as attention deficit, which I have avoided disclosing at work unless I absolutely have to because of the potential to be seen as unreliable.

        1. Em*

          And my question threaded wrong, I’m so sorry– didn’t mean to but into the wrong thread!

    2. German Girl*

      Don’t worry about how your boss is going to solve this problem. That’s their job. Since the position is new, they might not even need a full-time employee yet.

      Is your new boss the same person as your old boss? Then they know your current hours and you can just tell them that you’d prefer to keep them that way.

      1. Bagpuss*

        I’d disagree slightly with this – I think an employer is more likely to be open to the suggestion if they’re offered a solution for any potential problems at the same time –

        If there are elements of the same job which could be allocated elsewhere – perhaps by planning to take on a full time person to take over your existing role, and to cover a little of the new role / the more admin related bits of that new role, then mention that as a possibility when you talk to your boss .

        I do agree with Alison that you should be direct in talking to your boss about it.

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          Interesting. In this case, you might be right: OP probably has a lot of insight into the new role and thus might be in a good position to offer solutions. I definitely think she should arrive prepared to brainstorm solutions.

          But broadly speaking, I disagree with your first sentence. I think proactively offering solutions can often backfire by making you look out-of-touch or like you struggle to take no for an answer.

          1. Venus*

            I would be curious to know what field you are in. My entire career in tech I have been encouraged to proactively offer solutions to everything.

            1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

              I’m thinking VERY specific to hiring. As I said: OP knows the role being hired for, so that’s a different set-up. And absolutely you should be prepared to brainstorm and maybe have some thoughts ready. But if you’re coming in from the outside, I do think you want to be really wary of what solutions you produce.

              Specifically, I was struck because OP’s solution of hiring someone for five hours of admin work sounds like….a difficult solution. Getting someone reliable and qualified who is also interested in only working five hours a week can be a huge task; the work of interviewing/hiring/HR will often be bigger than the five hours of work would be worth. (Bagpuss’ suggestion of reallocating the work seems far more sensible to me.)

              I’ve since transitioned out, but I was in tech for awhile and we had a customer-support role that was largely travel-based. Occasionally in the interview process people would indicate they couldn’t travel so much and then offer solutions. But these were rarely impressive solutions (in fact, I can’t think of a single one that was a *good* solution – usually they were obvious ones that we had already discarded for valid reasons). I think candidates got more mileage by asking questions to really understand why the role was structured the way it was, and asking us thoughtful questions about how/if it could be restructured.

              So to me it’s just that you want to be very clear on what the problem is before you start telling people how to fix it. And if you’re not clear what the problem is, then figuring that out should be your first step. With hiring, you’re rarely in a position to know what the problem is.

          2. unpleased*

            This would be bad advice in my field. Proactive thinking and acting is part of our corporate values. The OP here would be doing something that would be more than sensible in this particular situation–it would be the minimal expectation in my company, period.

      2. Gray Lady*

        I would think that if someone wants to appear as an attractive candidate, that person needs to take into consideration (which is not the same as worrying about) the fact that wanting to do it part time it may require extra effort on the part of the boss in order to resolve the potential issues raised by that, and attempt to mitigate that potential downside of their candidacy by how they present the idea. That’s not quite the same thing as taking on the boss’s responsibility for the issue.

      3. KeinName*

        Thanks all for the helpful discussions! It could be wise/polite to let my boss arrive at any solutions at her own pace rather then presenting her with my options. Not sure how to handle that yet.
        Hiring someone for just 5 hours is not a sensible solution, but all others also seems somehow complicated so maybe she really has better ones than me since she has been managing for a very long time.

  2. matcha123*

    I was recently given the chance to assist another department for the next few months. The work is varied and seems like it may be fast-paced. I’m nervous, but excited and grateful for the opportunity.
    One thing I struggle with is a lack of confidence in my abilities. I’m often asked for the “best” way to word something or the “best” layout for another thing and the truth is the “best” can be highly subjective. I’m afraid of telling them to do something one way, only for a client or someone else to complain that my way was wrong. If that happens do I own it? Do I hope my coworkers understand that, say, the layout for a presentation can be okay or awesome depending on who is looking at it? At the same time, when there’s a time limit are there good strategies for balancing my desire to create a flawless product and the reality that there may not be time for that and “good enough” will have to suffice?

    1. Janet Rosen*

      Hi. Whenever I am asked “the best way to…” my reaction is to try to elicit very specific info about the intent, goal, and desired outcome (of the writing or layout or whatever), and then say “ok, if you want to achieve …. then a good way would be….”

    2. armchairexpert*

      Talk them through your thought process (within reason). Like to the question “what’s the best way to word something?” “Well, let’s look at what they’re trying to achieve. If they want to speak directly to consumers, we’d need to keep it simple and focused on the pain point. I find ‘you’ language is often really powerful here, if it fits with their brand. So in that case, the wording I’d recommend is ‘TKTKTK'”.

      That way, you’re giving them the top level view, a way forward, and an explanation for why you are recommending that approach. If the client comes back and says nope, don’t like it, you have left the door open to say “Okay, it sounds like this client likes some more jargon in their copy, no worries, in that case I’d suggest this” – because you’ve established up front that it’s subjective.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Yeah – acknowledge upfront that this is subjective.

        “Based on the background I have for this project, I think you’d get the best results with X”
        “In the past, I’ve had good results with Z”
        “I think Y is a good choice to achieve A, but B is a good way to achieve R, so it depends on what balance you want to strike”

        If it’s acknowledged upfront, then I don’t think you owe any apologies, etc. if something misses the mark. You’re acting in good faith and that’s all you can do.

    3. Scrabble*

      There is no best way. Sounds like learning about agile development and user-centred design could be helpful for you – it’s not about what anyone likes!

      1. Liz*

        Yes! I struggle with this daily. My group produces a small daily publication, and its my job to draft it. We use the same format for similar items, but despite the fact my boss sends me daily edits, and I follow them, he sometimes deviates from them, making me doubt myself! they’re pretty much all style based, and not accuracy of content, but its so frustrating when I follow the same format for 9 previous ones, and on the 10th, he decides he wants it worded differently!

        1. matcha123*

          This is my job in a nutshell!
          “Matcha, this is wrong. You should write like this.”
          “Oh, I see. A week ago we wrote ‘the kittens at night sleep tight,’ is that wrong?”
          “We can’t always use the same phrases, it’d be boring, you know that.”
          ” :) ”

          The goalposts are always moving, which is why I am curious to work (temporarily) with this new team.

    4. Mameshiba*

      I have a similar cultural/workplace background to you maybe, and one thing that has come up a lot is what level of certainty gets a yes/no answer. If someone says “is this good/done/the best?”, how sure are you when you say “yes”? 99%? 75%? 50%? This varies greatly by culture, and I’ve run into issues where one side says Yes=at least 60% sure and the other says No if it’s under 90%.

      Maybe that can help you conceptualize or at least get on the same page with your coworkers as to what is “good enough”.

    5. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      When someone asks me for the “best” way to do something, I start off by telling them “This is how I’ve found to be the best way to do X and get Y and Z results.” Make it clear that this is how you do it, but they may find a different way to get the same or better results. Pretty much, give them a YMMV warning.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Try to remember that people frame it as “the best way” because they want to be above reproach- there is a part of the question that involves, “Don’t let me screw this up.”

      You can go with, “A, B and C are good options. I favor B because of x, y and z reasons.” Here you are kind of teaching and showing. It’s also an opportunity for people to throw in hurdles/issues that you might not be thinking of ATM.

      I have also used, “The goal here is to get x right each and every time. So for your setup/needs/givens, I think that using method DEF would help nail down x with great reliability.” Here you point out what the goal is which empowers them to think about how they can make sure x happens each and every time.

      It’s also fine to point out that other people prefer an alternative method. Here the idea is to acknowledge alternatives exist and are viable. People can really get antsy when someone claims, “MY way is THE only way.” Try to avoid/ nip those misconceptions as often as possible.

      I do think that if you read the question as, “Please don’t let me screw this up.” It will be a bit easier to think about what your answer can look like.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        “Please don’t let me screw this up” nails the situation. You need to ask for a description of what they hope you’ll achieve. You need to know exactly what their message is, and how they want it delivered. They may have put a lot of thought into it, or they might just say they want materials that show they’re the best. Those that put a lot of thought into it may prove difficult, but they know what they want. Those who haven’t are more likely to dismiss your work out of hand because they have a vague idea but they don’t know how to put it across. Often, they want materials that are as good as their competitor’s, but won’t just come out with “we want a website that’s cool and funky like X’s”

        1. matcha123*

          Thank you both, this is really helpful and aligns with my approach to personal, outside-work projects. The other team has been very open to dialogue and “Don’t let me screw this up” is accurate for what we will be doing. I run into “This is the ONLY way to do this” on my own team and it has been very helpful to read the replies here. Of course there are times when there can be only one way to do something, but putting those rare occasions aside…

    7. LQ*

      You specifically mention that the work is fast-paced. I do think that this means it’s unlikely that you can give a 45-minute ramble on if you want x then y is best, if you want z then q is best, etc…

      Here’s the thing about waiting for a flawless product. If you are trying to get something done NOW, the assumption is going to be that you will get things wrong. The truth is there is no “flawless” product. Nothing is perfect. You have to find a way to let that go. In this case “best” is actually a pretty good word. Not what’s the perfect thing to do, but what’s the best. The best given the constraints that we have to work in, we don’t have infinite budget, infinite time, infinite brilliance. We have to get something done, out the door, we have to keep moving forward. The best the the best you can do right now with the resources and information you have.

      WHEN – to be very clear it WILL be wrong, so WHEN it goes wrong, you 100% own it. Every time. Don’t deflect, don’t whine, don’t ask for the impossible (more time, more resources). Ok, I’ll learn from this and I’ll do better next time.

      I’d also give yourself time (but not a lot, set a timer) after each of these “what’s the best for x” times to look back and not with hindsight, but with what you knew or could have known/deduced at that time come up with. Did you make the best decision. Sometimes the answer will be no, don’t beat yourself up, just learn. Sometimes it will be yes, celebrate, but mostly learn. The “best” way to learn how to do this is to do it over and over and over and learn each and every time. Just one thing, not the world.

      Good luck! I will say I’m a reformed flawless striver, now I’m brutal with my own decisions and I make so much more of a difference because of it :)

      1. TechWorker*

        My manager has also said that it’s worth making the distinction between ‘the best decision with the information reasonably available’ and ‘the best decision in hindsight’. Like yes, be aware of when you could have done better or where information that should have been gathered was missed, but there’s no point beating yourself up over decisions made that were ‘correct’ with all the information available at that point.

      2. matcha123*

        Very true. I am harsh on content I create, but I also understand that no one has weeks for me to carefully research, let’s say, the typical fur colors of a Netherlands dwarf rabbit just in case someone decides to ask, when all we are doing is throwing up a picture on a slide.
        I like what TechWorker said about “best decision in hindsight.”

    8. EO*

      I would just side-step the “best” part and say, “I would probably [do whatever you would probably do]” or ask a question about what they’re trying to achieve and say, “Okay, if you want to do X, then it might work to try Y.”

      For the time limit, I think it helps to look at the constraints as part of the puzzle. You’re not being asked to solve the problem “What’s the best product we could produce with unlimited resources?” you’re being asked to solve the problem “What’s the best product we can produce within our limitations?” And the answer to those questions can be worlds apart. The best product you can produce within the limitations might be awful, but, unless you have more resources, it’s still the best you can do.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Just assume that every value judgment you give is prefaced with the words, “In my opinion.”

      Because adults with common sense already know that value judgments are subjective. They know that when they ask you what’s best, they will get a certain perspective.

      They like & appreciate your perspective. That’s why they hired you.

      1. matcha123*

        Thank you. Your last line is definitely something I need to keep in mind more. Now that you’ve mentioned it, the reactions of most people in my office have been positive toward my contributions.

  3. Invisible Fish*

    I believe I may have more cats than Alison, and the fact that I do not have firework cats feels like a travesty.

    1. Windchime*

      I have only one cat, and he spent the evening under the bed instead of being displayed in the sky on a backdrop of fireworks. Alison’s cats are much more adventerous than mine.

      1. Figgie*

        We have two cats, one who ignores fireworks and the other who pushes the shade aside so he can sit and watch the neighbors blow off fireworks in their backyard. He comes running when he hears the first sound and then sits there entranced, watching the entire show. He is a weird cat!

  4. hallucinating hack*

    I’m getting pretty fed up with someone from my company’s Teapot Commissions department right now. Teapot Commissioners are responsible for producing custom commissions, and to do so they plan and coordinate the work of people from quite a number of other departments. But one of the Teapot Commissioners has apparently been struggling with her workload due to some personal issues, and she’s been dealing with it by offloading a large amount of this planning and coordination work onto a senior colleague from the Painting department – my department. My poor colleague is burned out from doing two people’s work. And now the struggling Teapot Commissioner has been slowly trying to do the same thing with me as well, asking me to take on the coordination and communication stuff.

    I’m so annoyed! I personally have no problem returning awkwardness to sender, even if the teapot production is fouled up as a result. But this is getting to be a bit too much. I mean, dumping your workload on one person from a different department is not enough? You’re now trying to dump even more of it on a second person? Then what is the point of having you around in the first place?


    1. identifying remarks removed*

      Where’s the heck is management in all of this?
      I had coworker who would forward things to me saying he didn’t have access to a system (he’d never bothered to get access despite being told repeatedly he had to) he went on vacation for 2 weeks and put me as his out of office – despite the fact I hadn’t worked in that section for over a year and if he’d asked me I would have said hell no! His supervisor laughed when I complained to him – they are both male and I’m female so there was a layer of boys club/sexism to it all. Supervisor stopped laughing when I forwarded all the emails to him to deal with. And it didn’t happen again but it did cost me in that I now have reputation for being “difficult” but it was a price I was happy to pay.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        When someone basically gives me two choices, “difficult” or “doormat”, I’ll choose difficult every time!

        1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

          This is awesome. Wish there were a ‘like’ button for this comment.

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        They thought they’d hired a doormat, you proved them wrong, well done! I’ll always smile for people, but I remain firm when I’ve said no.

    2. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Is it feasible to route those requests back to the manager of the Teapot Commissioning Department? If planning and coordination activities are that department’s responsibility, a lack of adequate resourcing to do it should be up to the manager to figure out. Why burn yourself out to meet someone else’s KPIs?

      1. Artemesia*

        This. If you are in a different department where is your own management in this. S/he should be sending the work of that other department back to that department.

  5. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

    Since i often check new stories at midnight on weekdays i’ve often wondered if Alison writes the Monday 12am posts on the weekend or the Friday before the weekend?

    1. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

      My work related question is that i recently started a (free) WordPress blog but want some help with setup/design and might bring on a second person, can i give them access to set it up but not my login credentials (ie add someone else with almost total authority)?

      1. CurrentlyBill*

        You can give them their own credentials to the site, adding them as an Administrator, Editor, Author, or Contributor. You would likely need to add them as an Administrator.

          1. CurrentlyBill*

            If you have the WordPress dashboard running, You find the Users section in the left column and choose “Add New”

      2. RagingADHD*

        In order to do what you want done, you will need to give them the top-level of access, equal to your own.

        If you have any concerns about security after they’re done, you’ll want to remove their profile/access afterward.

        1. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

          More like i don’t want them being able to steal the blog, giving them admin access is no big deal as long as i remain the account holder.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      I’m under the impression she writes ahead, and with the exception of perhaps a new time sensitive question she wants to answer publicly ASAP and slot in, posts are not written the day before (or business day before) they’re published.

  6. Well...*

    How do you deal with having too many projects? I feel like I’m always either neglecting some projects and letting my collaborators down, or I’m trying to work on all of them and making so little progress that I feel like I’m standing still, which totally drains my motivation. I also don’t have a boss to go to about this, more a loose network of mentors.

    Complicating issues: no real deadlines, except for the threat of a lack of productivity looking bad on yearlong timescales. Feeling like if I were better I would have gotten more done and have less on my plate. FOMO stopping me from not taking on new projects. Legacy projects I have less interest in but I’ve invested too much time in at this point to get nothing out of it. Remote work meaning all my collaborators around the world now have equal access to me.

    1. German Girl*

      Are all of these projects equally important?
      Is task switching between projects costly or not a problem? (Sounds like costly from your feeling of not getting anything done when you switch too much).
      How long does one task typically take?

      You could do ABCD-priorities: Sort your tasks in A important and time sensitive, B important, C time sensitive, D neither. Then plan to spend 60% of your time on A tasks, 20% on B, 10% on C and the remaining 10% is buffer for anything unplanned.

      If tasks switching were not a big problem, you could also do Mondays on project X, Tuesdays project Y, and so on.

      Or if you like this idea but task switching is a problem, then do something like work on X for at least 8 hours and continue until a good stopping point is reached, then switch to the next project and work on that for at least 8 hours.

      You might have to adapt the times. For me it would be: Work on project X for about a week, then project Y for about three days, then project Z for a couple of hours. Repeat.

    2. Anon For This*

      Ah, research! Are you a postdoc, by any chance?

      It’s quite possible that you are trying to do too much – that you can’t be efficient enough, or hardworking enough to do everything. And splitting your focus too much means you never concentrate enough on one thing to get significant work done, particularly for high level work.

      What I’d suggest – sit down, and make a list of all the stuff you’ve got on your plate. Put down what needs to be done, how much work you think is needed, and what you hope to get out of it when it’s finished (access to projects, a published paper, collaboration opportunities). Multiple the amount of time you estimated that you need by 1.5. Figure out which are most important for your career.

      Then make yourself a plan for the next six months to a year. Decide how much time you need per month for each project, and figure out how to schedule it (work a couple of weeks on one project, or alternate by the half-week, or have one project as a priority, and a second as a one day a week effort), and what benchmarks you want to hit. For example, you want to spend most of the next month getting a paper draft finished and out to collaborators, and will devote most of your time to that, but will give one day a week to dealing with other stuff as it comes up.

      Personally, I’d say that if the legacy projects are fairly old, I’d give them less priority, unless they’re very close to finished. And take something that’s close to a major benchmark (like getting a draft circulated) and concentrate on that to get it off your plate.

      And finally, you really do need to be able to set limits with collaborators. So you can say, for example, “I’m swamped right now with getting my paper draft finished, so I won’t have much time in the next month to work on analyzing the new data. I should be able to get to it by mid-August.” Because if you can’t say no, you’re either going to burn yourself out, or piss off your collaborators by promising but never delivering (or, most likely, both).

    3. Asenath*

      If you have no real deadlines, set your own and take them seriously (that is, turn down/postpone other work so you can meet your deadline). Also, figure out your own work style. It sounds like you don’t do well with doing little bits of projects (I can sympathize; that approach makes me feel like a firefighter who isn’t quite managing to put out the fires). Maybe, instead of doing bits and pieces, set a schedule – Monday is my day for Project A (or for doing task X and that only on Projects A, B, C, D) and nothing else, so you get satisfying chunks of work done at a time. Deal with your collaborators as you would if they were in the next office – there are lots of techniques. Send an email or message acknowledging their request and promising to get back to them on DATE (which is when you’ve scheduled review of new requests) or triage them instantly, whatever works for you. And look at that FOMO and how it’s working for you. It might be better to do a great job on whatever’s on your desk now than take on something new. There will always be new projects.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Ah left to your own devices. This isn’t all bad. It can be that you go with whatever you feel like working on today.
      So going with no mandatory deadlines, no urgent actions, then I have a different set of priorities.

      My first level of priority is to get things done that people are asking for right now. This can be random things that take five minutes to do.

      My second level of priority is SELFISH. The to-do items here are the ones that are going to give me the most bang for my buck (effort). What’s going to be the biggest feather in my cap to complete? And this is kinda of awful to say- but what is going to be the most noticeable if I complete it? There’s plenty of heavy lifting that needs to be done and no one ever notices. I like to sprinkle in projects/tasks that get noticed while I do some of that less visible stuff.

      You might find it helpful to actually write a list of what you want to accomplish today or this week and use that list to hold your own self accountable.

    5. Slinky*

      Planning is your friend here! My approach:

      *List all my projects on a dry-erase board. That way, at a glance, I can say: “I’m working on A, B, C, D, and E.” It helps to see it all laid out in one place.
      *Create deadlines, even if artificial. You mention yearlong timescales. A year is a long time to try to plan! I’d try to split this up as much as possible. If project A needs to be done by a year from now, what needs to be done in six months? What needs to be done in three months to hit that goal? What needs to be done by the end of the month to hit the three month goal?
      *Gantt charts! I make a simple one in a spreadsheet. In the x-axis, I list weeks (July 5-9, July 12-16, etc.). In the y-axis, all of the ongoing projects. For each week, I list the deadlines for each project, whether hard deadlines or a self-imposed one. I also black out busy weeks (like if I’m at a conference or on vacation) to avoid scheduling anything then. At the beginning of the week, I update the Gantt chart and use it to set work goals for the week.
      *Defend your off-work time. Use out-of-office replies and do-not-disturb on chat. You need to be able to focus on your own life and other projects, even if all your collaborators have equal access to you.

    6. EO*

      If the problem is that you feel disheartened because it seems like nothing is getting done and the list of projects keeps growing, check to see if there’s one you could get off your plate if you focused on it for a bit — meaning either it’s done, or your part is done and it’s handed off to the next person. Getting a win can really help.

      Otherwise, it can help to estimate how long it’s going to take you to finish everything, and then see if it’s actually realistic that you’re going to be able to. Like, if your total time commitment is 5 years of work that you’d ideally finish in 2 years… that’s not going to happen, so you’ll need to find things you can get rid of somehow. But, if it’s a bunch of work you theoretically COULD finish in the next two years, if you could just choose what to work on, make a schedule of what you plan to finish when so that it all gets completed. When I do that, it really helps, because I know that, if I follow the schedule, every project will have its turn, so it doesn’t have to keep nagging me and I’m free to concentrate.

    7. I have a podcast for you*

      Listen to the podcast Deep Questions with Cal Newport! Many of the episodes are precisely about tips around this problem :-).

  7. feudal warlords*

    How do I navigate a feud between two managers? One of them is very confrontational and direct and another isn’t having any of it. I frankly don’t want to intervene but it’s been hard especially in these virtual meetings when D2 just doesn’t reply due to connectivity issues, it’s suddenly a tirade from D1 and we all get to be the in-between communicator between them. Another manager has tried being their “owl” but it’s been a year and D2 hasn’t been budging.

    I don’t bother in people’s business at all but it’s hard when it’s affecting our work too. I don’t have much capital yet since I’m new and due to the nature of my work, I interact a lot with D1 so D2 feels like I am against their side but I also need to interact with them albeit less frequently and it feels like tiptoeing on eggshells whenever that happens.

    This feels more like a diary entry than an ask for help but man, I just want to do my job in peace T~T

    1. Batty Twerp*

      What does “tried being their ‘owl’ mean?”

      I’m picturing Hedwig…?

      1. German Girl*

        From the Harry Potter movies: In book 3 Ron and Harry are not talking to eachother and tell Hermione to tell the other XYZ … until she gets fed up and tells them “I’m not an owl.”

        So yeah, Hedwig was the right association.

        1. Batty Twerp*

          Ah. That’s not a good look for anyone really. A couple of 13-14 year olds, I might expect it (raging hormones and similar), but grown adults?
          I’d almost be tempted to call them out on the immature behaviour, but then I’ve got a lowered tolerance for that these days.
          Something is clearly going on behind the scenes – if it really *is* connectivity issues that needs resolving with IT somehow, and D1 needs corrective lessons in office politics and anger management.

          Unless you are getting negative feedback to your manager from D2 (who also really needs to grow up), it might be worth just not actively engaging in the feud – ask D1 what you need to ask them, ask D2 what you need to ask them, and return all awkwardness to sender if they try to make out you are “taking sides” (honestly, more and more of this sounds like mediation in the playground).

    2. Bagpuss*

      What’s the structure here? Are you all at a similar level or are they senior to you?

      If you are at a similar level is it worth talking to them about the negative impact their behavior is having and asking that they try to be civil and professional even if they don’t get along personally?

      If that’s not an option is there any way of raising it with their boss?

      Also – can you stop being the in-between? Just become a blank wall – “You’ll need to talk to D2 about that directly” “That’s D1’s area, you’ll need to discuss it with them directly” “it sounds as though that’s something that you two , D1 & D2, need to sort out between you – let us know once you’ve decided how to proceed”

    3. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Since you say you’re still new, I’d say to stay out of it as much as you can – it’s not your problem to solve. Once you’ve been there a while longer, know the place well, have some capital and can refer to clear examples of how it’s impacting your work, you could consider raising it with their manager/s to address.

      If you already feel like you can’t talk to one or the other and that you’re tiptoeing on eggshells, it’s a sign that the toxic vortex is pulling you in. Feeding their expectations to be an in-between communicator and worrying about who feels what about who’s side is how you start getting tangled up in it. Nope on out.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Where is your manager in this situation? Is your manager one of the feuding managers?

      I am not clear on what the problems look like, but if someone is not getting their work done you can put in a complaint if that impacts you. All you have to say is “X was not completed on Friday therefore I could not finish Y.” You do not need to go on as to why X was not completed, you only talk about how it impacts your own work.

  8. BarnacleGirl*

    I’m at boss level B.E.C with my manager who sits on submitted work for months. It’s affecting my performance review and relationships with other teams and vendors.

    I’ve tried sending lists of items she needs to look at, reminders, talking to her about it, nothing works!

    She keeps assigning new items and demanding creative ideas for “fusion” and “innovation” when we haven’t even finished our work from last year.

    Anyone have any idea how to approach this without rage quitting?

    1. Today*

      Say it? Write it down first so it’s all straight in your head, and then say it plainly and clearly with no softening. Even if being direct blows up, that is better than rage quitting.
      I’m in the same situation atm. I have scheduled a meeting with boss to tell them what my concerns are, the consequences for the organisation and the consequences for me.

    2. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

      How I’d go about it depends on her personality type, what kind of relationship you have (beyond current BEC mode), and what the office politics are.

      If I had an otherwise good manager who’s just not good at organisation or staying on top of details, I’d ask what’s going on and if there’s any context it’d be helpful for you to have. Who knows? Maybe the work she’s sitting on is intentionally parked for a reason you’re not privy to yet. Or try asking her how she’d like you to submit work and follow up on items. Maybe your work always comes in the same time as 10 other people’s, or maybe she’s started ignoring all your lists and reminders because you’re doing too much of that and she can no longer identify the priority tasks in there.

      If I didn’t have respect for my boss and wasn’t concerned about burning capital, I would start responding to follow ups from other teams and vendors with her CC’ed saying something like “This is currently sitting with Karen. Once she’s reviewed I’ll need X days to [next step]. I’ll make it a priority when it comes back to me, but I can’t move forward without her review.”

    3. Asenath*

      Be direct (but of course, polite). Sometimes scheduling a meeting specifically to go through it helps (call it something serious using whatever jargon is common in your workplace, not something vague like “issues”). Bring copies of whatever you need her to sign or review. Sometimes I had to do that first time around – if I sent in something for approval to certain people it never got done. If I turned up with it in my hands and said brightly “Could you approve this now? It’s really important – Dept Z won’t start Task X without it.”, well, I got my approval to go ahead, although it wasn’t actually reviewed in any detail.

    4. Buni*

      All of what the folk above said, but also speaking up at the very start. My boss comes up with genuinely good ideas on the fly but thinks everything should be started NOW the second she thinks of it. I’ve gotten used to saying “Yes, we can do that; do you want me to stop doing [task that I’m the middle of] and start that?”.

      9 times out of 10 the reminder that I am actually still working on the last Good Idea will make her pause and say no; she just needs that little reminder (but then this is the boss to whom I’ve had to gently say “Boss, that’s not how linear time works…”).

    5. BarnacleGirl*

      Thanks guys, I’ll bring it up to her again … but we have these talks monthly and she just brushes us off. She’s actually in a different location to the rest of the team. I guess that’s what makes it easy for her to ignore us.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Can you email here a list of open projects that you are currently working on and ask her to discuss the list with you?

        For a group I belong to we actually have an Excel spread sheet of projects or tasks. The final column is for current status. That column has updates so that column can look something like this:
        7/5/21 Got answer from Bob about widgets. Won’t have widgets for one month.
        6/25/21 Email Bob about widgets, waiting for answer.
        6/24/21 Ran out of widgets, Sue can’t get widgets anymore.
        6/21/21 Widgets are running low. Checking with Sue who ordinarily gets the widgets.

        Our group goes right down the whole spreadsheet once a month to see where things are at.

        1. no phone calls, please*

          @Not so
          THIS! This is exactly what we have found works with our extremely overwhelmed and disorganized assigned account manager at a key vendor. At the moment our thread has a subject line of “Urgent follow up for outstanding issues from 5/20/2021 upgrade”. So painful, but it’s a constant reminder of how long the thread has been going on.

      2. Holly*

        For internal teams, can you tell your boss that Team A needs widget F by the end of the month, but that you have an initial draft you could send them now?
        And then send Team A the widget, with ‘DRAFT’ prominently stamped on it, and cc’d to your boss?
        If they can’t work on it without boss’s formal approval, it is helpful for them to see roughly what the widget will look like, and also underlines that you’ve done your bit…

        For clients it’s harder. Perhaps ask boss if someone else can sign off projects for a particular client? Perhaps boss’s boss? In the manner of being helpful…

      3. Reba*

        Have you talked about this part? “It’s affecting my performance review and relationships with other teams and vendors.”

        I understand you are doing a lot to remind her of the actual tasks. Do you think she would be at all receptive to a big-picture talk where you name this pattern and explain that beyond missed deadlines, you are worried that this is damaging the reputation of your team and you individually. How does she want you to respond when clients or other teams are upset about not having what they need?

        1. BarnacleGirl*

          Thanks a lot everyone :) So the team got together this morning and presented her with a very long spreadsheet of items and updates. We also talked about performance reviews and the other teams and asked about having her boss sign off if she’s too busy lol. I don’t think any of it hit home for her. You know how there are people who hear what you’re saying but don’t listen?

          Anyways a team member of mine knows the grandboss’ PA, apparently our manager has been blaming the black hole on us! We’ve started spamming her and everyone involved with individual emails following up on more than 12 months’ worth of work. It’s petty but maybe somebody, like her boss, will say WTF and ask some questions.

        2. EngineerMom*

          Does your boss have a manager?

          I would send the kind of email suggested above listing all of the open items that require your boss responding and copy their boss.

    6. Mephyle*

      Finishing work from last year would be an innovative act in this environment. If it’s framed in this way, might it chip away at her obliviousness?

  9. John Smith*

    How do I deal with a manager who blames everyone else for his own failings? This is one of his less malevolent traits. A couple of examples:

    He arranged two meetings with myself and another with a colleague. Meeting with me overran considerably and when he realised the time, he said “David (my colleague) has failed to remind me I have a meeting with him” (David is not a PA or anything like that).

    He brought in some work for us to complete but didn’t tell us about it or book it in – we only knew when the customer called asking where we were up to. When we asked our manager about it, he said we should have thought to ask him if he had bought any work in.

    In the absence of developing telepathy or learning to read tea leaves, any suggestions from anyone?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Using the David example:
      “Okay, Boss, does this mean that you would like us all to send you meeting reminders each time? Shall we make that a standard operating procedure?”

      Using the work he brought in:
      “Sure, okay, boss! Let’s create a standard operating procedure for this type of thing. Would you like us to email/call/ask daily to see if there is any new work?”

      Here the goal is to set up procedures to handle things. It’s usually annoying to people like this but if you are sincerely trying to work at things there’s not much they can do but follow along.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Then he’ll get fed up being asked systematically and you’ll get told off for bugging him needlessly.
        This sounds like an incredibly incompetent guy. If his manager is any good, he won’t last long.

    2. Workerbee*

      Oof. Document all of these instances for an eventual conversation with higher-ups.

      We had a boss like that and he was really good at blaming others for his incompetence, to the point of making a colleague the scapegoat for the failure of a huge project and getting her fired. One of his assertions was that she was supposed to have planned for unknowns such as the pandemic.

      There was such a layer of bureaucracy he had instituted to cover his own failings that we were not sure what face he was showing leadership, nor if they would believe us over him, but after that, people started documenting and having more conversations with those higher-ups without the boss around (he would insist all meetings with higher ups go through him, and would get really nervous if he wasn’t included and would try to block them). They did eventually fire him.

      All this to say to watch your back and look for more signs of “incompetence.”

    3. Pug Mom*

      document, Document, DOCUMENT

      Seriously, start writing down the date, time, incident, witnesses. You need to CYA. Will your lack of second sight come up in your evaluations and yearly reviews?? Will it affect your pay raises/promotions/chances for growth?? How does your manager present this to his higher ups?

    4. EO*

      Is there any chance he’s being sarcastic? The meeting thing I can kind of handwave, because, in olden tymes, when people were in offices together, you could count on the second person to knock on your door, signalling that it was time to wrap up with the first. Saying that you should have asked him if he had a new project for you is weirder. There’s no scenario where it wouldn’t be his job to communicate that.

      The solution for the project thing is probably just to wait and see if it keeps happening, and then have a difficult discussion about it when it does (it’s not reasonable for him to expect you to constantly ping him just to see if he happens to have got any new projects — but I wouldn’t confront him yet, because this might just be bluster, and he might not keep forgetting to tell you). If you absolutely must, set up a scheduled email that automatically gets sent to him at whatever time of day it would make sense to ask about projects — but he will find the email annoying, so be prepared for that.

    5. PollyQ*

      Your boss sucks and he isn’t going to change. Job-hunt, and find a boss who isn’t malevolent at all.

      1. John Smith*

        I’m doing that.

        Just want to say thanks to everyone for the replies. It just confirms to me that I’m not the one with the problem. This guy is so stuck up his own arse it’s unbelievable. If you ask him about things (any work come in today?) he says we should “Intuit”! There’s no getting round his warped logic (if you can call it that).

        I’m already documenting – not for his boss who is just as bad – but for my leaving/ legal action when it comes.
        And believe me, this is one of his better traits!
        I could have asked so many things here today…
        Happy 4th
        btw to you all (from the losing side! :)A

        1. Workerbee*


          He should be a meme, not a real person.

          I am sorry you have a boss like this.

  10. Wakanda Forever*

    Any suggestions on how to teach yourself project management when the deadlines/processes don’t matter?

    My team is implementing a project, let’s say we do vibranium mining and I’m helping colleagues overseas refine the vibranium into other products. I was hired a couple years ago because I speak Wakandan and English, but I don’t have a background in vibranium or mining or project management–just what I’ve learned on the job. We’re hiring consultants and have other subject-matter-expert staff who will help with this project, but I’ve been told repeatedly that they want me to “lead” it.

    I’ve been struggling this whole job with the vagueness of the deadlines–nobody outside of Wakanda knows about vibranium so if it arrives late, nobody cares–and have tried extensive to-do lists with arbitrary deadlines for myself just so I know what work to do each day. But my brain has realized the deadlines don’t matter so it’s not working anymore.

    I need to get better at keeping projects on track, prioritizing items and following through, liaising with stakeholders, general project management. I’ve asked my bosses for more support/clarity about what “leading” looks like, but they don’t give good advice about “how” to work (maybe a cultural difference here). I think I’m just not the right person for this job, but there is no one else who can do it, and if I can teach myself these skills it will really boost my career–any advice?

    1. SG*

      First, rather than getting clarity from your bosses on what “leading” looks like, maybe you could ask for role clarity about specific tasks, and also ask your bosses what timeline(s) they have in mind for the project? What are the important benchmarks they expect you to hit, and when?
      And you can ask your bosses for role clarity: Do they expect you to be the one who assigns tasks to the consultants? Do they expect you to organize and facilitate meetings to keep the project on track? (Probably yes)
      Also, an project management application like Microsoft Teams or Asana would help — My team started using Asana for project management a year ago, and there is a bit of a learning curve, but it revolutionized our workflow, and now I couldn’t imagine doing project management without it!
      Also, are there other colleagues who do project management for your employer whom you could turn to for some guidance and coaching around this? If I were you, I would also check a couple books out of the library on project management, especially if there is no one at your employer giving you guidance. Good luck!

    2. mreasy*

      I have found a lot of success with the RACI infrastructure. It might make sense to look into some common project management structures and see what resonates. These things absolutely can be taught/learned.

    3. EO*

      I’m sure that it actually does matter when this gets done, even if the timeframe is loose. If this work NEVER needed to be done, and it wouldn’t matter if it EVER got completed… they shouldn’t really be doing it. So, assuming that’s not the case, there will be some kind of deadline, even if it’s “Any time in the next five years.”

      From there, it’s a matter of working backward to find out what tasks need to be done in order to finish the project, how long they take, what sequence they need to happen in, etc, and then monitoring to see if the tasks are falling behind schedule at a rate that won’t allow the project to get completed within the five year window (or whatever it is). This might end up being a really chill, laid-back process, where you don’t have to do much besides figure out the absolute cut-off to get certain things done so you finish in the window, and then communicate with people to make sure they’re aware and that stuff is progressing.

      My prediction, though, is that it also might end up being a chill, laid-back process where no one really cares about doing this, and the milestone deadlines slide by like icebergs in the night, because there’s still “so much time” before the final project is due and everyone figures they’ll catch up later. That’s why you need the math behind you, so that you know how much of a cushion you have, and you can credibly tell people, “I know two years seems like a long time, but there are X number of steps to do between now and then, and people have a limited amount of time when they’re available to do them. That’s why the absolute latest we can do this step is DATE.”

      1. SG*

        These are some great suggestions from EO, especially about working backward from a projected timeline and figuring out what it will take to get those tasks done. If you don’t have access to MS Teams or Asana, spreadsheets are your friend — come up with a timeline of benchmarks, tasks, etc. — who will own each task (who will be responsible to track the task, report back to you on progress or obstacles, etc.), when it should be completed, and possibly who else will be involved with helping the “owner” with the task.
        If your bosses won’t give you any timeline or benchmarks, come up with your own benchmarks and what seem like reasonable/doable timelines, and run it by them. Depending on how communicative and responsive your bosses are, your messaging could be, “How does this look to you? Any feedback or concerns?” or it could be, “Let me know if you have any concerns, otherwise I’ll just move forward with this plan.”
        AND, this is key: Make it clear to your bosses and your team that these are *projected* timelines for completion of each task, and dates subject to change as the project moves forward. Encourage your project team members to communicate with you when they will not meet a benchmark or deadline, and that they should give you an update on the delays and propose a new due date. It’s an iterative process, and communication is the most important thing. For example, if my assistant blows an internal deadline and says nothing, I’m wondering the status of the project and unclear if he dropped the ball or what. But if he says, “Hi SG – Project X need some troubleshooting which took me away from Project Y this week, so I’m pushing the deadline for this Project Y task out a few days to (date),” then I know that he’s tracking it and on top of it and just needs a few extra days.
        Hope this is helpful!

    4. Em*

      I am a project assistant. One thing we’ve done is create a template with starting, middle and completion tasks. The due dates for each task can change depending on the project, but the phases are similar each time and help prioritize what group of tasks needs to happen first… might be a place to start.

    5. J.B.*

      Much of my work is like this, but while we don’t have set deadlines we have dependencies. So A and B need to happen before C. We will now have a deadline thrown in for D, which will be 3 years out (!!!) so magnify all the tendencies to let things slide because it is so long.

      For myself, I set goals. I do those with plenty of cushion so that I know A can slide some if more urgent things come up. But keep the sliding to a few weeks. Once you get longer than that it continues and continues. I don’t project manage by the book but find that it is a lot of scheduling meetings and reminding. OK contractors you were supposed to do B.1, 2 and 3 by now what is the status? Out of sight can be very out of mind.

    6. Sharon*

      First get buy-in from management, with a budget, ultimate deliverables, and a timeline, and make sure those are communicated to the people you are working with. Without that, it’s often next to impossible to get people to pitch in and do their part so the project can actually move forward.

      Once you’ve got that settled, there are lots of ways to manage projects, assign task owners and deadlines, monitor progress, etc. But first you have to make sure everyone is pursuing the same goal,

  11. Mortified!*

    Please share with me some tales of woe so I can feel slightly less mortified about this. I have done many embarrassing things in my career, but this one was the worst, and didn’t only affect me…

    As a young teacher (literally my 2nd week on the job!) I accidentally gave away a student’s UNKNOWN secret. We were studying genetics and a colleague had told me one of my students was conceived via IVF (it was a loooong time ago, so this was a relatively new technology), so when I introduced the topic to the class I said something like, “Maggie! As a test-tube baby yourself you might already know a lot of this.”

    Cue the whole class swivelling to stare at poor Maggie who had NO IDEA about her conception history. She ran out of the room crying and didn’t return. Her parents pulled her from the school, and my contract wasn’t renewed. I hope she recovered and I didn’t permanently scar her.

    Maggie – I’m so so sorry!!

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Okay, here’s one that still makes me cringe, but tends to get laughs too.

      Back in the distant past I had an absolutely stuffed up nose due to working in London (London Paddington = black snot) and had taken to carrying around vics inhalers a lot just to feel I could breathe.

      So there’s a big meeting with the head of this very large company and I took a hasty moment before going in to clear my nose – insert up nostrils, inhale, etc. I didn’t notice the lack of smell…

      Anyway, yours truly walks into this meeting with whopping BRIGHT red stains round her nose because the darn fool had just snorted her lipstick.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        BTW I left that firm in 2012 – and ‘don’t snort lipstick’ is STILL a meme there….

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            It was part of my standup routine back when I did that too :) one of my coping methods for bad stuff is to make others laugh with it!

            (So all your comments felt v good :)

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      To be fair, based on what you’ve written here I don’t think you should have been the main focus of the punishment — your colleague should not have been sharing that info (WHY would that be relevant to teaching her?)

      Although it is a topic you can safely assume most people are sensitive about.

      Once in college I had to basically grade some submissions which I was doing in a lecture room although with other team members. We were reviewing a submission I didn’t particularly admire submitted by another student I was friendly with.

      Well, the student in question surprisingly cut through the lecture room at the same time that I was discussing (critically) their submission. For some reason, my brain short-circuited: I waved and greeted them….without processing that this meant I should change the topic. So then I *continued* my critique as they walked through. The other team members I was with shut me up real quick. To this day, I have no idea if they realise it was their submission I was reviewing.

      1. londonedit*

        I agree – while it was obviously a faux pas and not an ideal thing to say to a class full of children, I think the colleague who shared the information needs to share some of the blame/awkwardness here! You were new, you (presumably) didn’t know it was a huge secret and that Maggie wasn’t aware.

        Anyway, to make you feel better, one of my tales of woe is also from the early days of my working life. I was receptionist at a small publishing company, and one of my jobs was to send on the boxes of advance copies of books that would arrive from the printer for our authors. They all looked pretty much the same and they’d be addressed to the author c/o our office, so all I had to do was slap a new address label on and get them couriered to the author’s address. Well, one day one of these boxes arrived, and I duly re-addressed it and got it sent off to the author, who lived in Australia. A couple of days later, one of the editors started chuntering about a load of important display items that were needed for a big book launch and hadn’t arrived. From what I could tell, this editor had been in touch with the supplier and the courier and was getting increasingly irritated because everyone was telling her they’d been delivered when they clearly hadn’t. She kept asking me and the post room staff whether we’d seen the shipment – no, I hadn’t! No idea where it was but it definitely hadn’t come to me! It all got re-ordered and re-supplied before the event, but it was touch and go and the editor was not happy. Fast forward to a couple of weeks later, and I got an email from the author in Australia thanking me for her parcel but wondering why we’d sent her a load of postcards and display posters and marketing materials for her own book. Oh, crap. Yep, I’d merrily slapped an address label on to the Very Important Box for the book launch and shipped the thing to the other side of the world!

        I never admitted it to the editor – I told the author there had been a mistake and that she could keep the items (thankfully this was before social media – these days I never would have got away with it as I’m sure the author would have been all over Instagram showing off the marketing materials her publisher had sent all the way from the UK!). I always opened the boxes of advance copies before I sent them on after that, though!

        1. Observer*

          You shouldn’t have to tell a teacher than this sort of information is not for sharing!

          You’re right – it’s not for sharing. But Mortified didn’t realize that they were sharing something the kids did not know.

    3. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

      When I was a young idiot new to the workforce I resigned from my hellmouth dumpster fire of a job via a 3-page treatise on the owner’s questionable business practices and general incompetence. Three whole pages of excruciating detail about every single thing I hated about the place. It was Bad. Bad as in: lawyers-got-involved level Bad.

      It wasn’t the first or only explosive rage-quit that business had seen. But oh my god whyyyyyyy did I think it was a good idea to write it all out, put my name on it, AND SEND IT? Why why why whyyyyyyyyy! Even just telling internet strangers about it here, decades later, still makes me shame-cringe.

      1. ratatatcat*

        oh man I can totally see why it was a bad idea, but I sympathize with you because it is just the MOST tempting idea. A whole report on how badly your boss sucks!!! I dream of doing such a thing…

    4. SarahKay*

      Scene setting: in a column a couple of weeks ago I shared my loathing of saggy gussets in tights (pantyhose for the US), and said that before it was possible to buy tights with extra elastic round the gusset I’d wear stockings and suspender belt instead. On this particular day I’d grabbed a red suspender belt, and had my normal black stockings (work required black or neutral and in winter I tended to wear black). The uniform supplied consisted of blouse and a longish flowing skirt.
      I was serving a very pleasant older couple, selling them a fairly large thin rug. They decided they liked it so I gathered it up to take it to the till. What I didn’t realise until I put the rug down at the till-point was that I’d also gathered up my skirt with the rug, and had undoubtedly shown those two customers my potentially-sexy-looking underwear, and quite possibly anyone else that happened to be around.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Oh, man, memories of changing my tyre (back when I could actually do that) outside the office and a windy day showing my undercrackers to the reception staff!

        1. the cat's ass*

          I LOVE undercrackers-that’s a new one for me and having been a nurse/worked in an ER for years, i though i’d heard it all. Nice to know that’s not the case.

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        reminds me of when my skirt blew right up over my face, Marilyn style, as I was getting money from an ATM, on my way to a hot date. In those days, the money came out before the card. I grabbed the money and ran, and the next guy took my card into the bank for me.
        He left his phone number for me to call and thank him, but I couldn’t do it, I was too embarrassed at the thought that he might have seen my hot-date underwear.

    5. Oh gawd, so,so anon for this*

      Ooooooohhh…That does sound bad. I can’t say that I’ve done something similar because I’m in a completely different field, but since you’re asking for stories to take out some of the sting, heres one of personal embarrassment that happened at work, slightly edited for size and content.

      TW for scatalogical references…

      And I need to set the scene a bit…

      One evening, I had a wild craving for a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie…I found a dozen “break and bake” cookies that my wife had stashed away. She wasn’t home at the time, and I could replace them the next evening on the way home from work. Now this is important. My wife is diabetic, so watches her suger intake, and these cookies were sugar-free. They also had a warning on the label thats states “Overconsumtion may have a laxative effect”. This warning, I did not heed. I needed hot, melty, chewy choco chip cookie and needed it NOW! I baked up a dozen of them, and inhaled 6 before the pan had cooled down. Craving satisfied, I go to bed almost purring like a kitten…
      Early the next morning, maybe an hour after my shift starts, I’m working away, still glowing from the awesomeness of those choco chip bites of heaven from the night before. Suddenly and without warning, theres a roiling in my guts…sounds like whale song played 2 octaves lower than normal. Theres no pain, no cramps…nothing to indicate the what is about to befall my existence. I think nothing of it and try to continue my work when…
      BLAMO!! It HITS! Its not a warning that I gotta go…There is no warning…It’s already here…and call of nature isn’t taking no for an answer. I shut down my machine and look towards the restroom, which is a few hundred feet away…So,so far away…I clench. I squeeze…I waddle (because running wont help) towards the door that leads to sanctuary, and through gritted teeth, I’m quietly praying,asking, begging to anyone or anything, ” Oh gwad…oh lawd…oh pleeeeeeese let me make it. Pleeeeease dont let me $h!t myself”. The whole time all this is going through my head, I’m slowly closing the gap between me and safety. Thirty feet…twenty feet…ten feet…at 5 feet, it happened. Total system failure. Resistance had become futile. There’s no stopping it. Everything cuts loose. It’s…bad. Not just bad…it’s like when Egon says crossing the streams would be bad. I won’t go into details, except to say I just threw away all my clothes from the waist down. Once the storm had calmed enough to allow it, I made my way to the locker room where I had my non-work clothes. I got dressed, and went into the offices where the receptionist was because I needed to let someone know I was leaving. She said “Hey, good morning. How are you?” I looked at her and said “Not good. I’m going home. Don’t ask, you don’t want to know.” She looked at me wide-eyed and started to ask what was wrong when I stopped her mid-sentance with “You really don’t wanna know.” Then I turned on my bare feet (cuz yeah, I had to throw my boots away too) walked out the door and drove home, thanking with every passing mile whatever higher power there is that it didn’t hit again.
      And thats the day I learned to heed the warnings on the back of sugar free products and to never, ever eat them again….Ever….
      I hope this helps relieve some of the embarrassment you experienced and maybe got a laugh or two from the commentariate, and that it wasn’t too inappropriate. May you all have a good day and beware sugar free goodies.

        1. Forty Years in the Hole*

          Ah, yes…Haribo gummies. The gift that keeps on giving. The best pass/agg revenge candy.

        2. Oh gawd, so,so anon for this*

          Oh yes, I’ve read them and laughed till I hurt, and felt so bad for the “victims” of the evil that is the sugar substitute that can cause such a powerful disturbance in the force. Heed the warnings! Beware the sugar free goodies. There is a price to be paid for overindulgence…and it may just be your boots!

      1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        I laughed so hard reading this that my reaction could’ve come with its own scatalogical TW.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        You got me on the Egon reference. I haven’t laughed this much in weeks!

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I recently started at a new law firm. Most of the associates are young, only a year or two out of law school. On my second or third day there, a number of us were sitting around the break room table for lunch, chatting about how long we’d been practicing. One of the youngest women did the math in her head and then said out loud, “Oh, Glomarization, you’re old enough to be my mom!”

      1. Nonny-nonny-non*

        My Dad taught at the same school for 38 years. Towards the end of his career a pupil came in and announced to him (and the entire class) “Sir, my granny says you used to teach her when she was at school”.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          My 8th grade science teacher was one of two female students who took my dad’s high school physics class (that is, the one he was the teacher for) the first year his school district let female students register for it.

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            >the first year his school district let female students register for it.
            ???!!!! Oh my goodness. Scraping jaw back up off floor.
            Actually, this brings up a sad memory of my own, from school. One day in chemistry class we discussed the results of a recent, local chemistry contest. All awards were won by boys. One classmate raised his hand. “Are girls allowed to take the tests?” I had never thought of participating in the contest (because chemistry and I did not get along) but that day I felt as though I had let down the cause by not being a star chemistry student.

    7. no name chatterbox*

      I just spent 10 mins on a conf call with my mic open – didn’t realize as I’d also muted the call – I was only on to check attendance. I was mortified when the presenter texted me asking me to turn off my mic. Half of management was on – listening to me say good morning to another coworker and typing away. Luckily I didn’t make any personal calls or say anything embarrassing. I have stickers on my laptop reminding me to check mic is off – but this was the first time in about a year that I was back in the office using my desktop with no such reminders.

      1. uncivil servant*

        I turned mine back on to agree to a short break on a call with an external vendor and a senior member of my team I want to impress. Forgot to mute it again as I walked away, went to the bathroom, FLUSHED and washed my hands. When I wake up at 3am, I still wonder how much they heard.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          If there’s anyone else in the family sharing your house, it was them. Or the plumber. Has to be… it’s in the pandemic social contract.

    8. Disco Janet*

      Here’s my teaching moment of mortification – I had a student who was hard of hearing a couple years ago who I wore a microphone for – it was attached to a lanyard I wore around my neck and connected to her hearing aids.

      One day I had an upset stomach, so I got another teacher to sit in there for a minute while I used the restroom. I’m not going to give you guys a TMI play by play, but it was bad. After returning to class I realized…I was still wearing the microphone. I asked the student what the range was like on the microphone, and she very pointedly told me that it was really far and that she could hear us even when we’re down the hall. I must have turned bright red because she then assured me that it happened to pretty much all of her teachers at least once. Her classmates then wanted to know what she was talking about/what she heard, and thank goodness she wouldn’t tell them or the story would be even more embarrassing.

      1. Lizy*

        Happened to me all the time. I tell you what, I never was so popular as when the teacher left the mic on and was in the office

      2. Rara Avis*

        There’s an incident like that in El Deafo by Cece Bell. Seems like it’s not unusual!

    9. Malarkey01*

      I have one! As a teen I worked in a multi screen movie theater. This was back when you weren’t suppose to have alcohol in the movies and one of my jobs was to monitor different theaters throughout the night to make sure people weren’t being disruptive/eating outside food/having sex/smoking/or drinking (all of these things were somewhat common in our theaters).
      One night there was a group of 4 middle aged men drinking beers during a movie. I asked them to please hand over the drinks and one sort of looked strangely and said “no it’s fine”. The policy at the time was I ask them to stop and if they don’t I can ask the police on duty outside the theater to remove them so a teen minimum age worker isn’t getting into altercations. A lot of the other employees didn’t bother but I was a stickler for the rules….
      So in come the police to escort out the company CEO, VP of marketing, and two potential investors of our theater chain for trespassing. Apparently it was normal for him to bring clients, investors, other directors to different theaters in our metro and they’d have drinks and enjoy a show while also checking on different operations or marketing things they were trying. Something everyone knew but me.
      I was moved to concessions after that and all new hires were told not to try and arrest the CEO.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Grr. This infuriates me. If it’s so bloody important to the CEO that they and their cronies can’t sit through a film without booze—like everyone else has to do—then CEO should possess the clout to arrange a private screening, with alcohol.
        Also, is the CEO so out of touch with their own company’s policies that they’re unaware of the rules that the general public has to follow?
        Also, the responsibility for enforcing this policy falls onto the person that’s probably the lowest-paid on the company roster? That’s just wrong.
        Sorry—this one obviously pushes my buttons. I hate, loathe, and abominate this kind of corporate arrogance.
        Maybe I just need some breakfast …

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          I’ve had my breakfast, and I agree entirely with everything you said.

        2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          And if Malarkey01 hadn’t reported them, they’d have probably gotten in trouble for not enforcing the rules. Some places like to test their lowest paid workers because management/owners can be total shits.

      2. Anthony J Crowley*

        Well that’s not your fault! I’m dead impressed that you did what you were supposed to, and not impressed that they moved YOU.

      3. Mephyle*

        Something everyone knew except you? And how were you supposed to know if no one had told you. This was totally on the management for not telling you, “This particular instance is the exception where you’re not supposed to enforce the rules.” At least they figured out afterwards that they should tell new hires.

      4. Anyhow*

        I think you absolutely did right thing. You didn’t know these people, right? You were doing what you were told to do. You were doing your job. IMO, they should have gotten rid of their alcohol and you should have gotten some sort of award or commendation.

        This makes me so angry. Here’s a story from my first week of teaching from decades ago. First, there was a faculty meeting where we are told that everyone needs to enforce the rules uniformly across the board, regardless of your personal feelings about the rules. So here I go into my classroom and I end up dress coding a student who is blatantly violating the dress code. (Do I personally care that the student has rips and holes in his jeans? Certainly not. However, I’m new and I am supposed to be doing specific things as part of my job. Or so I believed.) Then, not only does absolutely nothing happen to the offending student, but I also lose some clout with my students. So, guess what the chances are of me ever dress coding a student ever again? How, as a new teacher, was I supposed to know that there was an unwritten rule that certain students (ahem, athletes, students with certain parents or certain last names) did not have to follow the rules? Then the principal stands up in future faculty meetings and laments that the faculty does not seem to be enforcing the rules. Oh really! I wonder why that is so? If the higher ups want the lower ranked to enforce certain rules, that means the rules should be for everyone all the time.

        1. Anthony J Crowley*

          Have to say, in that situation i would have been highly tempted to act all confused, well I dress coded this student and there were no consequences for them, can you clarify why that was?! And see what happened next.

          It probably wouldn’t have made any difference, but it would have annoyed the crap out of me, too.

        2. ecnaseener*

          Really, an award or commendation for following SOP? Informal praise should be enough for that.

      5. Koala dreams*

        That incident reflects more badly on the CEO than on you. It makes a funny story though.

      6. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        Also, why couldn’t the CEO have explained who he was when OP asked them to give up their drinks? Instead he treated OP like a fly he was swatting away. Good for you, OP, for doing your job. As the CEO, he should have known that not engaging with the employee meant the next person he talked to was a cop!

    10. Pug Mom*

      So a while ago I joined new job and adored it. I began in the summer and loved every single thing about my new dream job. I loved the fact that I escaped toxic old job, I loved the new jobs’s mission, I enjoyed working with my new colleagues, etc., etc.

      Fast forward to late December of the same year that I joined this organization. I am out Christmas shopping with my sister. I feel a tap on my back so I turn around. I see the office manager and her school aged daughter whom I had met before. The daughter had tapped my back. I then proceeded to introduce my sister to the little girl and our wonderful office manager, her “grandmother.” Yes, I called our office manager the child’s grandmother because I thought she was her grandmother, I didn’t realize she was the little girl’s *Mother.*! Why I thought that I’m not certain. I will say that in my neck of the woods there are some grandmothers on the young side, but still…

      She then simply replied to my sister and me, “This is my *daughter,* (daughter’s name). I hope your Christmas shopping is going well.” I was mortified! Absolutely mortified!

      1. Clisby*

        She might have been used to it. I’ve gotten that plenty – I had my daughter when I was 42 and my son at 48.

    11. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      My former boss set up a pastry shop, and she ran workshops for kids. She asked her husband to help out one afternoon. He was chatting with the kids, saying things like “Oh mummy is going to like this cake”. One little girl said “can I tell you a secret?” and then leant forward to whisper “my mummy is dead”.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        When I was in year 7 at secondary school, our geography teacher was telling this one kid off for something and said “Your mum won’t be very pleased with that!” That kid’s mum had died when he was very young. He didn’t say anything in the moment, but those of us who knew that were all cringing.

      2. OyHiOh*

        My youngest was a month from turning seven when her dad died. In “oh, your dad” situations, she’s prone to announcing loudly and matter of fact “I don’t have an abba [daddy] anymore. Yeah, he died” and getting on with the activity at hand as if she has not just dropped a bomb on the entire group’s enjoyment. It sure tugs on the heart strings every time I hear her do this (or hear about it second hand) but I also admire her willingness to be completely direct about the situation she’s found herself in and not hide it.

        1. Rara Avis*

          My daughter at age 3 or 4 was asked to draw her grandpa. She knew her living grandfather as Zaida. So she drew her grandpa’s gravestone. Some consternation from her preschool teachers.

        2. Grace*

          Not gonna lie, as someone who lost their dad at about the same age, it can be really freeing to just drop that bomb on people who just assume everyone still has both parents.

          I’d much rather have my dad than the ability to weaponize his death for petty comeuppance, but I don’t, so…yeah, as a kid I was not afraid to make it awkward for anyone trying to invoke my dad like he was some kind of magic incantation to make me behave.

    12. Cedrus Libani*

      I’d been part of a mentorship program for teenagers interested in science. I’d been invited back to their big yearly event, so I could serve as a role model for current participants. I was chatting with the program director, when she turned around, such that I was trapped against a wall with her wheelchair stabbing me in the leg.

      Like the very adult college student I was, I politely drew her attention to the situation. She was horrified, and was apologizing profusely. I was bleeding, but it wasn’t so bad that I would need medical attention. So I tried to laugh it off. Except I was flustered, so what comes out of my mouth?

      “It’s OK, I’ve got two of ’em.” As in, two legs. And the instant it left my mouth, I remembered…she had no legs. Maybe 0.7 legs, total. Hence the wheelchair.

      I’m 99% sure she heard, but saw me realize what I’d said, and she had the charity to pretend otherwise – so I was able to limp off to the bathroom, where I hid for the rest of the night.

    13. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I removed a lengthy pile-on criticizing what the OP did. She knows it was a mistake and is mortified; that was the whole point of her post. Laying into her anyway really discourages people from ever starting this kind of discussion topic.

  12. New Business*

    Does anyone have advice for starting a small business? Particularly marketing. I have the legal covered. I’m in Australia. I am writing memoirs and biographies focused on elderly and terminal diagnosis. I want to reach out to elder care facilities and senior centres in my area to see if I can partner with them for their clients. Does anyone have advice on the best way to reach out to places? Phone call, email? I’ve got a website and Fiverr gigs but haven’t gotten any clients so far.

    1. Just an idea*

      I am in Australia and used to work in aged-care adjacent setting. I don’t have any ideas about how to contact the sites directly, but have you thought about approaching companies who work to help the aged care sector more generally? They often have specialist nursing staff, each with a specific focus (say, pain management or palliative care), and will also have contacts with many care facilities.

      I’d recommend a Google search for “aged care assist acfi” to find these private companies, or even ACFI-centered physiotherapists (search for “extra aged care physio”).

      Just an idea, but it may be an avenue to securing a recommendation from a trusted source as your ‘in’. Good luck!

      1. New Business*

        Thank you! I have. I’ve also done in home care before from a non nursing standpoint. I do have a plan to contact those types of places. That particular search term will be very helpful.

    2. required name*

      I am not sure on the answer for your specific question, but Business Victoria has a bunch of resources on starting a small business including a lot of marketing stuff. You don’t have to be Victorian to access them, but your state might also have something similar. They also have mentoring and advice (pretty sure you have to be based in vic for that!).

    3. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Do you want to partner with these organisations for research reasons (to get stories and content) or to market to them as a potential buyer/agent of your product?

      1. New Business*

        So their patients and clients are my ideal buyers. So ideally I want to market to them as potential buyers or get them to let me market to their clients.

        1. Pennyworth*

          I think the buyers are more likely to be the family members of the elderly people – I know someone who briefly did something similar to your venture, and he was usually approached by adult children who wanted a record of their parent’s life. He operated by word of mouth and was a good networker. I don’t know how he got started.

          1. New Business*

            I agree, but I have no idea how to reach those people besides word of mouth. I don’t currently have an in.

        2. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

          I can only speak from experience in the public system so this might differ if you’re going for private aged care providers as they’re not subject to all the same state-based legislation that public servants are. But in either case, I think you’re going to need to tread with more sensitivity here.

          If by “partnering with” what you really mean is asking healthcare staff to facilitate contact with their vulnerable patients and families for your marketing purposes, then that won’t happen. I can think of at least 2 acts in my AU state under which doing that would potentially get a healthcare worker fired.

          And maybe it’s just the term “partnering with” throwing me off here, because in the healthcare world that’s generally a term used in the provision of service and for the sole benefit of consumers. So to use it could seem misleading.

          I’d call the organisation, ask to speak to someone in communication, community engagement or consumer liaison and ask what sponsorship opportunities they have for businesses. Be clear that you would like to market to their consumers, ask what channels (if any) they have for that and be prepared to pay for it. State health services usually have their own charitable foundations too. There’s plenty of sponsorship opportunities with those and different guidelines in regards to what’s considered “partnering with”.

          1. New Business*

            Partner is really the wrong word. I would not use that word with anyone. I wrote the post in a hurry. I know some facilities offer extras to people in their care. Entertainment and that type of thing. But I don’t know what word to use.
            That is very helpful thank you!

    4. Tiffany Hashish*

      Ask if you can sponsor a luncheon, invite residents and their families, and speak on your services with a clear offer.

      Call on estate planners and develop relationships for referrals.

      Create targeted social media content with examples.

      Community orgs are often run by older volunteers – ask to get on their monthly programming.

      Write a regular column in relevant publications and newsletters.

      Your work sounds like such a great niche!

    5. RC*

      Here are some tips from a marketer (in order of impact/ease of execution):

      1. Reach out to the directors of the elder care facilities and explain what you do. Provide samples if you have them–testimonials too–so they know you’re legit. Then ask them if you may leave flyers in common areas as well as posts on their Facebook pages advertising your services. I would similarly target FB groups for elder care, war veterans groups, your local municipality/neighborhood, etc. with these kinds of asks as well, but be sure to ask permission before posting–different groups have different rules regarding advertising.

      2. If you’ve got a website, be sure your SEO game is tight so that people looking for this service will find you. If you have access to LinkedIn Learning where you are (I’m in US so not sure about Australia), there are many very useful vids on there on SEO–or you can look on YouTube too.

      3. Even with a modest budget, Google AdWords and social media ads may be within your grasp, so you may want to check it out. Here in the US many of these vendors have special programs to boost small businesses like yours too, so look into that as well. This option is not free, and will take some testing to see if it works, so realize that ymmv

      I agree with other posters that the families are at least a secondary audience for your service, so I’d seriously consider that as you do your outreach. And if you are interested in how to run a small business, set up a business plan, etc., try looking into learning annexes or lending institutions that may provide these kinds of services free of charge and/or apply for grants for programs that do the same. Good luck!

      1. New Business*

        Thank you! That is very helpful! I do agree the families are a prime audience, I just wasn’t sure how to target to them besides word of mouth and social media. You’ve been very helpful!

    6. RagingADHD*

      As a freelance writer who works on memoir, biography, etc, one aspect you should certainly consider is where to find the audience who can really pay what your sevices are worth. I wouldn’t think elder-care facilities would be a great place to find good clients, because so many of these families are financially burdened by the care. You will get a lot more people who want your services, than can afford it. (Or else you are underpricing yourself by a LOT.)

      I’d recommend networking with financial planners, insurance agents, lawyers for trusts & estates, bankers in the field of wealth-management, and so forth.

      If you want to make, say, $20k for a project, it’s a lot easier to sell that package to a family with millions than to a family who’s worried about the price.

  13. duckface*

    Should I bother teaching young staff unwritten industry norms or is it not worth the capital if they react badly?

    In my industry we have peak times with customers. We love having staff come in and buy things on their time off, but the norm is that staff stay away during peak. Peak is maybe 1-2 hours. If you do come in, don’t distract anyone.

    I had a young staff member come in at peak time and distract everyone. I even refused them service on some things and they still didn’t get the hint. They hung around for ages distracting people.

    Is it worth saying something?

    1. londonedit*

      Definitely say something! It’s distracting for the staff who are on duty, and it’s not great for the person who’s coming in and distracting everyone, either – they could easily find themselves ruining their own working relationships with people. I think it’s absolutely fine to say something along the lines of what you’ve said here – it’s great when staff come in during their time off, but please don’t come in during peak times because staff on duty need to be able to concentrate on serving customers. Make it really clear – some people won’t pick up on hints.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes, just say something. Unwritten norms are a lot harder to pick up on than people sometimes think especially if you’re new to the type of work.

        I think it’s fine to be fairly direct as long as you’re pleasant.

        1. Reba*

          Yes! People aren’t born knowing things, everyone who knows this norm had to learn it at some point.

          There are some settings where this employee’s coming by to shoot the shit with coworkers who are on the clock would be ok. It sounds like they are a little oblivious, and haven’t noticed that this place is not one of them. But giving hints isn’t really instructing the person, and clearly it didn’t work. Plus they are young! Being a little clueless is not a crime, and it may very well be correctable :)

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I’m a little unclear on what you mean by ‘distracting’ or refusing service.

      I think if you haven’t basically said: “hey, between 1 – 3 we’re really swamped with customers, so we can’t talk” then it would be a kindness to do so.

      1. duckface*

        Distracting by trying to have conversations with busy staff. Refusing service in they asked to buy things that would involve staff doing work and I said we were too busy to service staff, even if they were paying. The norm in my industry is even if you are paying you don’t really come as a customer during peak.

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          Yeah. In that case, it sounds like telling her that you’re not able to service staff between the hours of X and Y might do the trick; pointing out that mostly staff come in and request things in the AM (or whenever).

          Good luck with it!

    3. Asenath*

      I think you need to, at least once. If they don’t react well, then any further fallout is their responsibility, but you’ll have tried to do the right thing. It doesn’t have to be much – either in the moment or right after the busy period, say something like “You should really stay away during peak times. We have to concentrate on our customers then.” If you think you might get some pushback like “I”m a customer when I’m off!” you might add “But our customers might know you as staff, and think that you’re getting special attention because of it”. And I’d say it straight out, speaking as someone who doesn’t always pick up on hints. It’s not pleasant to be corrected, but it’s worse to be corrected and then realize that everyone had been dropping delicate hints at you for ages.

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely! In my experience I’m terrible at picking up hints. If you don’t want me to do something, just tell me.

        Just say “Please don’t come in during peak times (identify these). We really need staff to concentrate on serving other customers because we’re so busy then. We’re happy for you to come at other points.”

        It may be the norm that people don’t come in then but if someone is new to the industry they may not be aware of this.

    4. sswj*

      Yes, you do have to tell them.

      I’m in retail, and my company has pretty phenomenal employee discounts. The trade off for that is that employees should not expect the same level of customer service. We don’t get a bag for our purchases, there are a few limits on what/how things can be ordered, and we can’t just return something the way a full-paying customer can (Co has an amazing return policy) unless there really is a defect, or you took it home to try on and it wasn’t the right fit. And you absolutely are expected to know when it’s too busy to be in the store and engaging other staff for anything more time consuming than a simple purchase. We do have to tell new hires this, it isn’t obvious to everyone.

      Of course employees deserve respect, but with the crazy discount we get, the store makes virtually nothing on what employees purchase. The working staff’s time and focus needs to be on full-paying, non-employee customers. They are the ones who will (we hope!) be so happy with their time in our store that they’ll come back again and again, and tell their friends. If they have a bad experience (seeing working staff spending time on other employees) they probably *won’t* be back, and they’ll definitely complain to friends. Bad word of mouth travels faster and farther, and gets blown up, far more that the positive stuff.

      It isn’t always intuitive to people new to retail-type work, and it does need to be explained. Being clear and open about it saves a lot of angst, one way and another.

    5. LQ*

      The kindest thing you can do for someone is teach them unwritten standards and norms.

      That said if someone reacts poorly and you’re not their boss, I don’t know that I’d try twice. I don’t think not getting the hint is taking it badly though so I’d just once try to say something directly.

    6. Chantel*

      Why wouldn’t you say something, unless you’re referring to “the capital if they react badly”? Does a newbie really have such a level of capital?

    7. Observer*

      Is it worth saying something?

      Absolutely say something. If you are going to lose capital where it counts if they react badly, then you have a larger workplace problem.

      This is not just about workplace norms. This is about basic appropriate behavior. It’s just not appropriate to do this, and you should tell them. Especially since this is negatively affecting the rest of the staff an actual customers.

    8. RagingADHD*

      If you don’t want them doing it, use words. Why would you refuse service instead of just saying, “Don’t come in during peak, it’s distracting?”

      Of course they don’t get it. There’s nothing to get.

    9. Tofu Pie*

      I don’t think it’s worth mentioning *every* time an inexperienced employee makes an error. But in this case it’s fine to speak up! In fact our company does this whenever we mention employee discounts- please go to the shop when it’s quiet if you want to try stuff out or ask questions about the item, as our priority will be on serving customers during busy periods. There’s nothing rude about it.

  14. chi chan*

    I have started a new job. It has been a long journey and I am so so grateful. This is not my first job but it is in a new country. If they feel like it they may extend my contract, so I am humbly requesting good vibes for my future. No crazy coworkers and no crazy mean managers. Let my future be a wonderful happily ever after with no conflict over the projects and all. For all commentators I send good vibes in all your endeavors.

    1. WFH with Cat*

      This is lovely news. Sending good vibes for a wonderful future in your new job (and country)!

    2. SarahKay*

      That’s great news. Sending you good vibes, and wishing you best of luck for getting the contract extended.

  15. The answer is (probably) 42*

    Yesterday I experienced something for the first time in my working life- I cleared my ENTIRE PLATE. I had zero remaining tasks, even on long term projects. I’ve had days where I accomplished everything I’ve set out to do, but I’ve never had a day where I finished everything I could possibly do. That doesn’t usually happen with my kind of work.

    Today I’m getting a very early jump start on an upcoming project that I wouldn’t normally start work on yet. Someone in my role would typically not be brought in until significantly later in the development cycle, they’ve just let me know that it’s coming down the pipeline. We have virtually no information about it, but there are some things I might be able to do to prepare for when they give me more to work with. I also asked my project coordinator (I work at a freelance agency) if there are any short term projects or if anyone on a different project could use an extra hand to get through a crunch.

    (To be clear- I’m not asking for advice, I’m celebrating!)

    1. allathian*

      Congrats! A to-do list with every task completed is certainly worth celebrating!

    2. ampersand*

      Woo hoo! That’s awesome.

      I feel you on this–I got my work email down to eight unread messages today, and getting down to the single digits is an accomplishment because it’s our busy time of year. Even if it doesn’t last it feels great right now!

  16. SarahKay*

    Little Joys Thread

    I always enjoy reading this in the weekend thread, so how about a work-related one: what brought you joy this week?

    For me it’s the replacement of my old slooooowww laptop with a beautiful new super-fast one with a solid-state drive. Suddenly booting up in the morning takes three minutes instead of fifteen, and I don’t have a ten-second pause every time I try to do something in Outlook. So happy!

    1. Jay*

      I got to teach on Friday – really teach in the way I love to do. I’m a doc with special expertise in communication and education, and my employer doesn’t really get what I can do educationally. I often do presentations – brief PowerPoint followed by group discussion. I like that fine, but what I really enjoy is working on skills with a small group. On Friday I had three providers working on a specific interviewing process and even over Zoom it was shher heaven.

        1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

          I still read shher heaven as sheer heaven, but as though it was said by a cat with a mouthful of cheezburger.

    2. Bilateralrope*

      Learning that I get extra shifts because I do two things differently to my coworkers:
      – I’m on permanent night shifts, so I sleep during the day, every day. I’ve got coworkers who switch back to days on their days off (we work a 4 on, 4 off rotation)
      – I don’t touch alcohol at all.

      I’ve picked up shifts when someone unexpectedly pulled out because the people who are more familiar with that site are unable to come in because they are drunk* or have been up all day.

      I don’t think my supervisor or manager know I don’t drink.

      *All I know about how drunk is that it was noticable over the phone.

    3. CarCarJabar*

      Today is my last day of maternity leave with my last baby. I’m looking forward to returning to work tomorrow (although I will miss all the sweet, sweet snuggles).

    4. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      The thoughtful person who began their email with: “This isn’t urgent, it can wait a few weeks…”

    5. Elephant Engineer*

      I volunteered to help with a company event which happened last week and asked the manager in charge of the event for some feedback on how I did. The manager was really lovely with their feedback and mentioned I would be good manager material myself, which was a lot more than I was expecting! The project I’m on at the moment has been a little demoralising, so this comes at a much needed time.

    6. Filosofickle*

      I’m freelance and got a new project/client, which is actually a big joy. There’s a little joy tucked inside — in our conversations firming it up, she said after talking to several folks that I really made an impression on her. Nice to hear!

  17. Iced Mocha Latte*

    For anyone whose company decided to go with CDC guideless on masking and social distancing (vaccinated vs. unvaccinated), I’m curious to hear from others as to how it’s going.

    This is what my company is doing. We headed back to the office recently after 100% WFH. I wasn’t sure what the new policy would look like in practice so I asked my boss whose been going into the office a few days a week for a couple months now. (Even though I’m vaccinated and following the CDC in my personal life, I wasn’t quite sure how I’d feel doing that at work given some comments I’d heard from unvaccinated people: “it’s discrimination,” “the company is creating a hostile work environment,” among other things.) He said most people are without masks since the company has more than 80% vaccinated. That made me feel much better heading to work last week.

    So I decided to follow the policy and it’s been great. I feel normal again. Although about 1/3 of my department isn’t vaccinated, they’re following the policy and wearing their masks and they’re all distanced in terms of where their desks are. Meetings could be a challenge, but we have a little time to figure that out. Plus we have access to a large room that would allow distancing without a problem.

    Also, as much as I absolutely loathed the idea of having to go back to the office, even part-time, I feel like I’m a productive member of the company again and that my department is moving forward faster. Not that I wasn’t doing my work before, but being able to just drop by and talk to my senior person for 10 minutes here and there to bounce ideas, relate information, or just give each other “the look” and jointly roll our eyes at something a colleague did has been so nice.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I plan to stick with masks for the foreseeable future.
      Vaccines being 95% effective is great but I have immune-suppressed family members, and anyone with kids under 12 is living with vectors.
      Variants are an issue. The reason we did not have a vaccine for the common cold years ago is because the common cold mutates frequently. The common cold is in the same coronavirus family as covid-19. I would not be surprised if we are living with this problem for many years.

      1. PlantProf*

        Not quite—it’s not so much that viruses that cause colds mutate so often, as that there are a lot of different viruses that cause colds (only some of which are coronavirus a, actually). So it wouldn’t be one vaccine to protect against colds, it would be 20+.

        Influenza is the one where it mutates too fast to really keep up with vaccines, but that’s because the virus has a much higher mutation rate than most, it’s not typical. Covid variants definitely are a cause for concern, but it’s a much more specific and manageable disease than either colds or flu.

    2. Is it tea time yet?*

      I’m doing work that is considered essential. The company dropped the mask requirement for those of us who are vaccinated last month. I had my second shot in April, but am still wearing a mask at work, because the 3 guys who work closest to me are anti-vaxx have resumed their normal lives, including not wearing masks in public (despite state policy). They are also a little more slack about wearing their masks properly now, which honestly irks me, and is part of why I’m keeping mine on, even though I am the only vaccinated person to do so. I have friends with children who are <12, and I am going to continue to be extra careful for them (and others in general). Knowing these coworkers are not following guidelines in public is also why I continue to wear a mask in public (60% vax rate in my area but only 10% of people at the store in masks doesn't add up).

      The anti-vax people aren't hostile about having to still mask up at work, they just don't take this pandemic seriously for various reasons.

      Elsewhere in the company, some of the WFH folks are back, but a lot are not. Not sure how long this will continue since my new boss is gunning to have the people in the departments we work with come back to the office.

    3. ThatGirl*

      My company has asked vaccinated folks to enter that info in the HRIS system and then we are allowed to not wear masks. I’m in the office 3-4 days a week but there’s still a lot of flexibility, I have one coworker who has only come in once in the last six months.

      Mostly I see maskless people in the office but it’s not full, we’re probably not even at 50% capacity yet. And it does feel nice to be taking these steps to “normal”.

      1. Iced Mocha Latte*

        Our office isn’t full either. Other departments are also hybrid and mostly are doing a rotating schedule so we never see it more than maybe 60% full in the office.

      2. the cat's ass*

        I work in a medical office, and CDC mandates that staff AND patients need to mask. There has been some pushback from patients. A guy came in accompanying his wife and was maskless and refused to put one on and i asked him to wait in his car if he couldn’t mask. He then, grudgingly, put his OWN mask on, which he had in his pocket. Seriously, dude, WHY.

        1. ThatGirl*

          So dumb. I’m still wearing my mask at the salon, any medical office I go to, in crowded indoor spots and anywhere else it’s requested or mandated.

          1. tangerineRose*

            I’m also wearing masks at the grocery store. The way I think of it:
            – This is still a fairly new virus, and it’s mutating, so who knows and better safe than sorry
            – There are probably people at the store who aren’t vaccinated and aren’t wearing a mask

          2. Liz*

            I am as well! My hair salon doesn’t require them, but will have the stylists put one on if you ask. My guy had one on, as did every other employee, so I put mine on as well. I don’t mind. I have one with me at all times, even if I don’t need to wear it or feel the need to wear it.

        2. Malarkey01*

          My doctor and kids pediatricians have said they plan to keep masking requirements forever. As my doctor put it “it’s sort of insane to think we had medically vulnerable people, the sick, and people here for routine checkups all mixing together in a big germ soup without masks”. When she said it like that I was like you’re right especially since I always seemed to pick the chair next to the person hacking and sneezing all over the place.

          1. Artemesia*

            I suspect I will also be wearing masks on planes even after we are past this. I used to always get a cold on intercontinental flights — it was worse back when people smoked on planes — I haven’t had a cold in a year and a half thanks to masks and isolation. The idea that 6 feet is enough has been clearly disproven; most of these respiratory viruses are airborne, not as much as smallpox and measles — but enough that distance is not effective.

          2. meyer lemon*

            I always got nervous when I had to go to a public clinic to get a prescription renewed (big shortage of family doctors in my city). The price of the prescription was often getting sick afterwards.

          3. PT*

            My mom said that she hated taking us kids in for our well baby/toddler visits when we were little, because it was a guarantee that we’d always be in for a sick visit the following week with some bug we picked up in the waiting room playing with the toys with some kid who was coughing and sneezing and too little to cover their mouth.

            Our pediatrician renovated their office into two office suites when I was maybe 8 or 9, so they put all the sick visits in one suite and the well visits in another. Which worked until I was old enough to start doing sports as a teenager and started doing injured visits, which of course got you booked into the “sick” office suite with all the gross germy little kids. I’d sulkily wait in the hallway away from the germy babies.

        3. asteramella*

          Also in health care and staff, patients and caregivers who are accompanying patients all must wear masks at all times. Vaccinated staff can remove their masks in areas where patient care does not occur (eg breakroom with a closed door). We have had surprisingly little pushback from patients, even recently, for which I am grateful!

    4. Artemesia*

      Given the absurd politics of being anti-scientific, I just assume anyone in an enclosed space without a mask where I am is also unvaccinated, so I wear a mask shopping and similar places and we still don’t go to movies or theater. You are lucky if your unvaccinated colleagues are willing to wear a mask. My grandkids are too young to be vaccinated and I don’t want to run the risk of picking up even an asymptomatic infection and passing it to them.

    5. Pug Mom*

      I went back in August. I’m a teacher. We followed CDD guidelines *in a school.* The teachers and fellow staff members were 110% on board as far as following all the protocols were concerned. *Some* of the things we did:
      Masking, using hand sanitizer between each class – teachers and students, taking temperatures before entering the building, wiping down each and every surface between classes, sitting six feet apart at lunch, every one had to bring their own lunch, no group work, no sharing of materials (for example each student had to have their own markers for writing on the boards). Everyone followed the rules. There wasn’t any pushback from any faculty or staff. I suppose everyone knew that if they didn’t want to follow the rules, they would be shown the door. The students did have the option to go remote if they didn’t like the rules. After months and months of this, some of the students became more lax about following the rules… especially social distancing and wearing their masks correctly. I had to become a mask policewoman— which was not fun. However, overall, I think everything went as well as could be expected.

      I’m hoping that when we return to school again that the rules will be somewhat relaxed vs. this past school year, even though I am concerned about The Delta Variant.

      1. Loves libraries*

        Yes. I’m in a school too and was the mask police too. I’ll be curious to see if the mask requirement is lifted for vaccinated students and staff or not.

    6. Carbovore*

      I work in higher ed and how it’s working right now is that vaccinated folks may unmask but unvaccinated must continue masking and going for regular testing. (Obviously, a lot of this is based on people being truthful about their status.)

      It’s all going to be moot soon anyway as my uni has a vax mandate–either everyone by August is vaccinated or they’ve received a medical or religious exemption.

      It’s been working ok in my office but we’re a small unit–maybe 15-20 people. I’m the payroll person so I receive more guests than others–I’ve left the clear sneezeguard up at my desk for now. No issues thus far! (But as I said, we’re not 100% back until August. We’ve all been teleworking and popping in here and there.) Will be interesting to see how things play out this fall.

    7. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I’ve been maskless since I was fully vaccinated. I walked in from vacation, saw my boss’s chin, went, “ooh, we’re doing CDC rules,” and pulled off my mask. It’s been lovely. Those things are way too much of a pain to wear when they aren’t doing any good.

      I’m not sure if all of my maskless coworkers are fully vaccinated, but I don’t figure that’s any of my business.

    8. Liz*

      We go back in 2 weeks; not full time, according to our president, but partially until after Labor Day, then we will resume “normal” operations. Whatever that may be. My own bosses mentioned they think we will do one or two days in office until then. After that, I really don’t know although I’d like to continue to WFH maybe 2 days a week. I know I can do at least one, and I believe company policy, with management approval, is two.

      That being said, I really don’t know anything about what will be required, other than employees will need to let HR know about their vaccination status, as those who are, can forgo mask wearing, and those who are not, must wear them. We also have some “training” before we go back, and I really have no clue what will be gone over at that. So its kind of a wait and see.

      I am ok with not wearing a mask when I go inside places, as I am fully vaccinated, alhtough sometimes I have an irrational fear of ventilation. Becuase I can control what I tough, how close to people I get etc, wash my hands and so on, but I cannot control the air I breathe in. Yet sometimes I’m fine, like the other day going out to eat, and yesterday in the grocery store. i went both places with no mask on.

  18. Clare*

    Frustrated but wondering if I am being too sensitive.

    My company is going back to hybrid in person work next month. Of course this means everyone now is worrying about office space again. The building we work in is mostly open plan with cubicles, but with some offices for managers, VPs, and above.

    With staff turnover this past year, I will now be the only manager without an office. There are even a few senior specialists (non managers) who were given offices even though they technically don’t qualify. I did try to briefly bring up the issue to my boss but he completely blew me off, doesn’t see the problem.

    The thing is, while yes some of it maybe is about the status of having an office and being the only manager without one (in a company where my department is often treated like lesser than support, think similar to say, marketing or HR in a law firm)- I also have a legitimate business need for an office. I handle all our finances and work closely with HR on sensitive issues, as well as having multiple direct reports to manage. I need a private space for these types of conversations. Over this past year the volume of my work also substantially increased and I have easily 4 to 6 hours of meetings each day, which I can’t do from my cubicle and there aren’t always conference rooms available.

    How much would this situation bother you, am I being overly sensitive by being kind of pissed off about it?

    1. allathian*

      No, I don’t think you’re being overly sensitive at all. Seems like you don’t feel valued by your employer. In your shoes, I’d start polishing my resume.

    2. Bilateralrope*

      Are there any laws covering the privacy requirements of the information you handle ?

      Because if there are, ask your boss what you’re to do when conference rooms are unavailable and it’s illegal to discuss the matter at your cubicle because you can be overhead.

    3. hamsterpants*

      Have you been very clear with your manager about why you think your work would best be done in an office with a door? The way you phrase your question it seems like you have focused on the office as a status item and the business need for a closing door is more of an afterthought or post-hoc justification. Approach your manager with a business issue — needing a place for confidential meetings — and see where it goes from there. Don’t bring up the feelings of not being appreciated — offices should be given out based on business need, not as status markers, and anyway your boss doesn’t seem to respond to the latter argument anyway.

      1. Clare*

        Definitely didn’t mention to him anything about not being appreciated or wanting an office because of status. The conversation never even got that far anyway, because as soon as I brought up the topic of evaluating office space as we prepare to head back to the office (not just for myself but we need to review things for the group as a whole since we’ve had a lot of changes), he completely dismissed the topic altogether. When I pressed and pointed out that we have plans to hire a new manager who should also have an office (if they don’t then this new manager would also be in a cubicle while one of the senior staff they will be supervising does have an office!), he insisted there was no reason to even think about requesting any extra space, that “offices are only for people with X certifications” which is just simply untrue.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          My boss, who supervises ~5 people, shares an office, and it’s really irritating. I’ve had performance reviews on benches outside, strategic planning conversations in coffee shops down the street, had to schedule around a 3rd person to use their office to meet with him, etc. It doesn’t help that the relationship with his officemate is a little complicated (we need to maintain boundaries between his work and ours but he’s likely to chime in if we’re talking about something borderline relevant to him within his hearing) but it’s made me realize the degree to which managers need access to private space.

          Can you collect some information and approach your boss again? Not “I need an office” but “I had 6 unscheduled conversations with employees and 7 hours of scheduled meetings in last week that would require privacy/a closed door/reserving a conference room, plus another 14 hours of meetings where the topic isn’t confidential but where I participated enough that I’d disturb others in the open area. That’s a pretty typical week when I look back over the last few months. How can we ensure I have access to the space I need for these meetings and conversations?”

          Maybe the answer actually is that you have to do most meetings from the cube farm and everyone else wears headphones, and for management stuff you reserve a conference room/use your manager’s office while he’s out at lunch/go for a walk. And for normal conversations with employees that are about Project X and not performance reviews and such maybe you don’t get total privacy. But focus on the impact to your work and the business needs you need to figure out, not “I need an office.”

          1. Artemesia*

            This. The status thing is important but not the thing to lead with. Focus on the business need — benefits to the business — of your office privacy.

        2. Observer*

          When I pressed and pointed out that we have plans to hire a new manager who should also have an office (if they don’t then this new manager would also be in a cubicle while one of the senior staff they will be supervising does have an office!),

          Why is that even relevant? The ONLY thing that is relevant is the fact that you are having these sensitive conversations that NEED to be private.

          You do need to go back to your manager and start with something like “We need to figure out how I am supposed to have these meetings and conversations that need to be private? We don’t always have conference rooms available, especially when the meeting is not scheduled in advance.” If he insists that you can keep the conversations private even when you are in the open office ask him how. And if he still brushes you off, go over his head.

          But DO NOT mention rank or status! It doesn’t matter that a non-manager has an office while a manager doesn’t. ALL that matters in this context is that you need to be able to actually TALK about sensitive topics where others cannot hear you.

    4. RC*

      A colleague of mine in the HR dept. has always stressed the sensitivity of the records she must manage and that she needs them stored in a locked office. File cabinet locks are flimsy is her other reason for this need. Perhaps you might use this argument?

    5. Artemesia*

      The status part is important; the need for privacy is important. Let me guess, you are just a girl and the male managers have offices?

      1. Clare*

        Ha yeah there is a small element of that going on. We are a majority female department so it’s not that there are zero female managers with offices, but in a majority female group most office have-ers are men. The two managers notably excluded from having offices are both women who did more “women centric” work (the other manager unsurprisingly left this year). Even the specialist who is male was given an office even though he’s not really supposed to have one.

    6. Observer*

      How much would this situation bother you, am I being overly sensitive by being kind of pissed off about it?

      I think you have a real issue here. But this jumped out at me:

      There are even a few senior specialists (non managers) who were given offices even though they technically don’t qualify.

      That’s just not relevant and not something y0u should have brought to your manager. It’s not surprising that your manager blew you off.

      Yes, you have a legitimate issue, but that’s not what you lead with. Talk to your manager again and focus completely on the fact that you are dealing with a lot of phone / video meetings and sensitive conversations that need to be held discreetly (ie not where others can hear them).

  19. Testerbert*

    I’m currently feeling very uncertain about the future of my team/current job. We’ve been slowly losing people from the wider business area for a few years now (after a terribly executed ‘make redundancies and hire an overseas team’ plan implemented by the corporate overlords), but the team I am part of has largely remained intact.
    However, this has now changed with one of the developers having handed in his notice. With all the changes/losses in the surrounding teams, I’m very worried that this will set off a domino effect as the other devs similarly throw in the towel, leaving me as a tester in the lurch. After all, there’s no point having a Teapot Quality Checker if no teapots are being produced. Of course, the company is now making noises about hiring new developers, but I fear this will be too little, too late.
    Should I consider all this a lost cause? I like the team I work with, and the company responded very well to the past year and a half. On the other, there never seemed to be recognition that the redundancies seriously hurt the business unit, and I strongly doubt that we’ll be seeing a decent pay rise any time soon.

    1. hamsterpants*

      No one can know the future of your current position; a great way to respond to this sort of uncertainty is to send out resumes. You don’t have to decide whether to leave your position until you have another offer in hand. Getting a real feel for what your other options are can highlight both what’s good about your current position and what would be better elsewhere.

      1. Testerbert*

        That’s good to hear. I’ve started to circulate my CV again in the hopes of a good fit making an appearance. Due to the shift towards more remote working, it has allowed me to expand my search radius to places I could stomach going to one or two days a week.

  20. NewYork*

    I would love it if Allison would do a survey, like she does for salary, asking what field are you in, city, is your employer calling you to return to office, FT or hybrid.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      There’s more variables than that. Your question starts with the assumption that everyone was WFH during the pandemic and that was not the case for lots of workers.

    2. Great Offer, Bad Timing?*

      I don’t see how this survey would be of relevance or value. There are so many other factors (size of company/office, # of employees, employee roles, whether people actually were WFH during the pandemic, state regulations, etc.) and once the data is anonymized with respect to company name, I just don’t see how this would generate value.

    3. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      It would interesting by industry to see if there is a pattern; I’m not sure that location is important. For instance, some industries have been moving to remote pre-pandemic; was this the push to make it the norm? Did the last year actually cause a backlash and now remote work is being pulled across the board? Were some industries that never allowed remote work now more open to it? Obviously that won’t apply to jobs where physical presence is essential, but no survey covers all possible professions.

      1. Tali*

        Yes I would like to see patterns by industry/role. Some roles will never be remote, some are harder to do remotely, but I would expect that individual-contributor-level desk work could be remote-optional going forward. It’d be nice to see if that is actually happening or not.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      You’d also need options like “we were always remote” or “we were never remote” or “we were always hybrid”, etc.

  21. UnhappyCamper*

    My org (small family run business) is having an in person overnight retreat and I am filled with dread.
    The organization and I do not see eye to eye on the pandemic. I’m one of a minority of staff who wear a mask to work. Our desks aren’t spaced out and they didn’t follow their own policies when staff got sick.
    They neglected to mention the fact that they are family run or that they had an in person overnight retreat last year in the height of the pandemic when I signed on.
    I don’t think I can find a new job in the time before the retreat. Assuming that this is happening, how would others make this less risky / find peace with it?
    My sister is a nurse and so I have a lot of anger about disregard for pandemic safety.

    1. sswj*

      What happens if you just don’t go? Health is a legitimate concern, especially if you have an underlying issue or your family does. And it sounds like you aren’t planning on staying anyway, so there’s not much need to do things you shouldn’t be doing for the sake of your job.

    2. WFH with Cat*

      Is there any way you can decline to attend/participate?

      If you are high-risk, can you get a note from your physician stating that that you should not attend due to (unspecified) medical concerns?

      If you do have to attend, can you continue to mask up and try to maintain some distance from others? For overnight, this might mean asking for or arranging for separate accommodations.

      The whole thing sounds pretty awful. Good luck with it.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      What are the accommodations & facilities? I agree with getting your own overnight space. If it’s camping, I’d bring & set up my own tent, even if others are in a cabin.
      Hopefully daytime will be outdoors in tents. But ask about activities too. I’m thinking about teen retreats where activities that were way too touchy feelie for me for work (trust falls ugh) , let alone during a pandemic.

      1. UnhappyCamper*

        I don’t know yet where it is or what the accommodations will be, but I like the idea of asking for or organizing my own accommodations nearby.

    4. Colette*

      Are you planning/hoping to stay with this company? If you are, it’ll be hard to skip, but if you’re looking elsewhere (and it sounds like you are), there’s less of an issue. If you think you can get away with skipping it (i.e. you won’t be fired immediately and you have the savings to survive until you find a new job), that’s what I’d do.

      “I’m not comfortable being away overnight, but I can attend during the day/hold down the fort in the office”
      “Unfortunately, I have a family committment/medical appointment I can’t move. I wish I could make it!”
      “With the ongoing pandemic, I’m not able to attend overnight events.”

    5. LQ*

      It’s really unfortunate when you come down with a really bad illness before something you really want to do! Aww shucks.

      It doesn’t sound like this is a place worth fighting or even trying to legitimately push back unless you think they’d listen but based on what you’ve said here it sounds like you already have evidence to suggest they won’t. I’d 100% fake illness.

      1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        And if you don’t like faking it, smashing half a dozen sugar free break ‘n bake choc chip cookies could be an option…

        1. New Job So Much Better*

          And make sure to give the cookies time to work their way through, you don’t want to be camping without plumbing when chaos begins….

    6. Ins mom*

      It’s probably not the most important information but is this a social event or real serious training? I agree your health concerns are more important especially since you’ve discovered this isn’t the right place for you. I’ve attended too many meetings where one hour of information was crammed into a full day event…yeah, don’t go using whatever means necessary

      1. UnhappyCamper*

        It’s not a training, more of a planning meeting. I agree I think the work part of it could be done in on day from the office, but they’ve planned multiple days for the team bonding.

    7. Annie*

      Are you vaccinated, and are they? Even if you are and they’re not, you have a GREAT layer of protection from any covid-foolishness.

      Unfortunately, it does sound like you’ll have to suck it up and do this, even though you don’t want to, if you’d like to keep your job. Sometimes that happens as an adult.

  22. Great Offer, Bad Timing?*

    I’ve worked at 4 companies in my industry. Just as I was leaving #3 to start at #4, a former cross-functional SVP from #2 who is now at another company herself reached out because she had a role I would be a good fit for. I let her know that I wasn’t looking because I was about to start #4.

    Fast forward a month. Former SVP reaches out again because she hasn’t found anyone with my skills and the role is still open. She says she’ll double my salary and that if I’m ever interested in leaving #4 (which I’ve been at for 1 month), she’ll make it worth it.

    I have some reservations about the opportunity that Former SVP is describing (would-be #5?), but it actually is a better career move for where I ultimately want to be career-wise than #4. And how do you walk away when someone says they’ll double your salary? (Current salary is not insignificant, btw. I don’t think Former SVP knows my salary, but she knows my job title and the industry well enough to make a good guess).

    1.) Is Former SVP really serious about doubling my salary?

    2.) Former SVP wrote if I’m “ever interested” in a new opportunity. I guess she realizes that I can’t realistically leave #4 after 1 month. But how long is the window of this offer if I’m “ever interested”?

    3.) I’ve been at #4 for one month. I like #4 and it is going well so far, good work-life balance, nice people, they are happy with my performance – definitely not a toxic job, but it isn’t ideal. I like #4 but don’t love #4. (I was deciding between 2 offers when I picked #4 and have been feeling lately like I picked the wrong offer). If I decide to take Former SVP’s offer after a short time at #4, is there any communication with #4 that preserves the positive relationship?

    4.) What’s the best way to respond to Former SVP’s message that communicates interest in learning more without commitment?

    5.) If I decide to stay at #4 and not take Former SVP’s offer, how to I come to terms with walking away from that offer?

    1. Reba*

      Why don’t you ask her Question 2? Of course, SVP doesn’t really care about your relationship with your current company, but I think she’d understand that you do.

      Is there an argument to be made that quitting sooner rather than later is kinder in some way to current company? Like, the other candidates they were interviewing may still be available to start soonish?

    2. RC*

      If it was me, I’d suggest a legit interview with her and evaluate the opportunity with a very critical eye–you need to know things about not only the job but the company, department, etc. that an interview will help you to gather. Other things to consider:

      1. Compensation: On the one hand, it sounds like the kind of opportunity that won’t come along often, especially if it’s at a firm you admire/in the direction you want your career to head. On the other, doubling your salary may not set you up for an ability to move on later–you may be priced out of future jobs and/or the ability to get raises at #5 at that rate, so are you OK with that? Even if SVP can’t truly double your salary, this could be an opportunity to secure other perks like additional PTO, WFH flexibility, bonus structure, etc. that you may value as well.

      2. Reputation: Your current gig might be a burned bridge–and that needs to be something you should weigh into this decision at least a little–but you’ve been there a short enough length of time that you don’t need to put it on your resume going forward (in case that’s a concern). Seriously, if job #4 had a financial crisis tomorrow they wouldn’t bat an eye about laying you off, so I wouldn’t feel all that bad about it.

      3. Your future: Why stay at a “stepping stone” job like #4 when a “career maker” like #5 falls into your lap? The only unfortunate thing is timing–do you want to allow that to get in your way?

      I’d be feeling a little squicky about this too, honestly, but for the timing this sounds like an amazing opportunity that you need to at least investigate.

    3. Free Meerkats*

      Also take into account that doubling your salary may have the effect of handcuffing you to the job, since it sounds out of norm for the job. Expenses have the unfortunate habit of expanding to fit income, and would you be able to take a significant (like 40%) cut in pay to move to a different job later or would the Golden Handcuffs keep you there?

  23. Sunny*

    “Oh, I don’t want to show up for this meeting in a ratty tank top… I’m just gonna throw on this zip-up hoodie. Also, it always makes me feel like someone’s hugging me, and that’ll be nice because I have to get through a rough presentation.”

    I’m actually going to miss the return to in-person, because they’re going to make me dress like a professional, which does not allow for zip-up hoodie over tank top. (My “pants” are a pair of swim trunks at the moment – it’s got everything covered in case I need to get up, which is my only real standard. Given the lighting and camera quality, I doubt they can tell much other than that.)

  24. the north side of trees*

    So I have a very massive work gap. Four years ago I was the trailing spouse and moved with my partner to a place where for the life of me I could not find a permanent job so I wound up temping for a while. Then we moved back, I was finally in real interview processes and was on the verge of getting hired and… poof! Pandemic. My whole field, which was slow at the time anyway, basically froze up.

    My field is hiring again, but do I address the gap in my cover letters? And what the heck do I say?

    1. Reba*

      Well, presumably the potential interviewer would know that hiring during the pandemic didn’t happen, so I think that bit is covered.

      For the previous gap, I don’t know what “trailing spouse” sounds so sad, lol, but it is an accurate and succinct explanation. “I was fortunate to be able to accompany my spouse to Location/Opportunity, and I picked up temp work during that period.”

      Don’t forget that temp work… is work… so you don’t have a total empty hole there!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I agree with this. I know there’s some reluctance to talk about family circumstances in the initial application, usually, but “my partner got an amazing opportunity in City B” is fine– even good– to share. The temping shows that you devoted time to work, and I think a lot of people can sympathize with having trouble finding a job in your new location.

        If you can add anything about keeping up your field-specific skills, reading trade journals, that kind of thing, so much the better.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Own the temping! Put it down as a job with $TempAgency, and bulletpoint your interesting assignments. Dates are from the start of your first assignment until you told them you were moving & couldn’t take new assignments.
      Totally valid to temp during a short-term stay in another city, and IMHO, more honest to the employers there too. (I’m admittedly biased–I temped for a year in a previous recession, and several months while job-hunting after I moved to get married.)
      Any chance you managed ato get any temp jobs during the pandemic-era job hunting period? If yes put that down too. Especially if you went through the same agency in the other city.

    3. Malika*

      Turn your temp work into freelance project work and it sounds way snazzier. The places that matter just discount 2020 job gaps.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I wouldn’t do that, mostly because if you’re employed by a temp agency they can give you a reference, plus they can speak to feedback on various placements.

        1. WellRed*

          Also I feel like freelancers have to hustle (a skill) and manage their freelance biz whereas temps don’t. Don’t do this.

    4. Homophone Hattie*

      Like others have said, temp work is work. It might not be in your field, but it’s not a work gap! Depending on what you did and what your field is, it could even be a plus, if you spin it as proof you are able to get right in there and get the job done, flexibility, willingness to tackle new challenges, that sort of thing.

      1. the north side of trees*

        Should have said this in the original message – the temp work was sporadic assignments of a few weeks to a few months and was all very routine and basic administrative work, so no interesting projects or accomplishments to list. I feel like it would also look really out of place to list it, because I’m in my early 40s and everything else on the resume is akin to Senior Developer of Global Llama Programs and this would be Receptionist or Data Entry.

        (I hope this isn’t coming across as judgy of admin work, because I fully believe in the value of it and that it is a skilled and important career path.)

        1. fhqwhgads*

          But coupled with the “trailing spouse” bit, even though there may not be accomplishments you feel are worth listing, it’s still not a gap, and would look significantly less out of place given the context.

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Is your field one where you can say you were “freelancing” or “consulting”? It has worked for me to put a multi-year block on my resume where I was “freelancing” in writing, editing, and administrative assistant jobs. During this time period I was serially under- and unemployed because of some family issues. The time period included a couple of short-term secretarial jobs, and even a stint as a tour guide at a museum. Instead of listing employers or clients or job titles, I discuss the general types of work I did: proofreading an early draft of a play that ended up on Broadway, bookkeeping at a law firm, etc.

  25. MissGirl*

    What letters that have stuck with you and weren’t some of the more well-known ones? I’ll post the link below for one but the gist of the letter was that the OP had discovered some items on her new manager’s LinkedIn profile weren’t entirely accurate, and she wanted to inform the company. Her letter was dripping of condensation to the new manager and it seemed she didn’t like the woman. Alison said to leave it alone since the OP didn’t know the manager had lied on her resume and she’d been hired after a four-month contract stint so was a known entity.

    I have to be honest and was more favorable to the OP at first because I am very by the books. However, in the comments it turned out the first “lie” was a professional certification that had lapsed. The second was she’d listed she’d done an incomplete masters degree, which was an incomplete graduate certificate. The OP had actually reached out these institutions to verify her manager’s history.

    It brought up a lot of interesting discussion.

    1. Hunnybee*

      Please post the link!!! : )

      …I’d love to hear what ultimately happened in the situation where the OP’s manager stole a family heirloom (a little iron caboose) and gave it to someone else as a Christmas present!

      1. MissGirl*

        I think the ones that stick with me most are the OPs that are so sure they’re right.

    2. EvilQueenRegina*

      The one that’s stuck with me is the one where the boss thought an employee had no call no showed, so had left a rude message on her voicemail, but the employee was dead and the rude message went to her family, and the boss blamed his assistant for not informing him of the death when she had been away at the time and also was unaware. It taught me never to go into a situation all guns blazing and getting angry if there’s any possibility I don’t have the full context and know what exactly has happened.

  26. Anon the Third*

    Hello everyone! I’ve just started a new position in an academic library and it turns out I’ll be creating a series of basic technical workshops for undergrads. How to use Excel, Photoshop, advanced features in Word, that sort of thing. Does anyone have any suggestions for especially useful workshops? Advice about marketing to the students, or any other aspect, would also be welcome?

    1. Canadian Valkyrie*

      Grad student here!!! I have some suggestions.


      1. how to do research/find things in the library — I was out of school for 5+ years before going to grad school, so things like how to find things in a database I was rusty on (e.g. I asked a librarian which databases to go to for X and Y) so yeah, even at higher levels the “how to’s” of research are still important to learn about. Make sure the workshop is specific to the field (e.g. social work, psychology, nursing, medicine, engineering, history).

      2. Excel for statistics (or excel for budgeting, excel for X, Y Z, etc.). I don’t know if I would come to a generic excel workshop. Lots of people might if they’re unfamiliar with it, but lots of people like myself have used it but might want specific support on learning specific functions for specific purposes.

      3. A series of workshops on how to start a small business (e.g. for students who sell stuff they make, are yoga teachers, etc.)

      4. Being a student with ADHD (or insert other mental health issue here)

    2. curly sue*

      Prof here – how to look up books and journals in the stacks and collections. Seriously. I have so. many. students (in second and third year Humanities classes!) who have never physically been to the library. They try and do all their research from home by googling things that sound vaguely appropriate and end up in the weirdest places.

      I work with them on the critical thinking part of ‘how to figure out if this is accurate and useful,’ but so many of them have deep-seated anxiety about walking into the library and ‘looking dumb’ because they have no idea what collections even exist, never mind how to find them. I started working with my library’s subject expert for our field and now she does a workshop for my classes every (in-person) semester to get them familiar with our resources.

      So basic library literacy – how catalogue numbers work, how to find things in the stacks, and how to search effectively on your library’s website, before all else.

    3. hamsterpants*

      I love workshops where the attendees bring their own specific help-needed (data set, research question) and you work through it live using the library tools. As a student I found watching someone else click through a database both soporific and forgettable. Workshops where I bring my own dataset were much more useful! If this isn’t practical for some reason then the organizers can supply a model dataset that everyone will work through together, though it’s very important to make sure that the dataset is representative of the sorts of data the students will be crunching for their own work.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Tech writer here — how to find software functions in a helpfile & find/use online forums & am index. Basic concepts of writing style– things like trying to keep a bullet list the same type of thing. (All nouns, or all adjectives, or all full sentences.)
      Where to find more style help (the Microsoft style guide might be good for your software students.)
      Very basic page design concepts. Concept of paragraph styles to support consistent fonts & sizes.
      The differences between a bunch of programs that do the same thing–ie Google Sheets vs MSExcel, remembering that “save” may not be automatic.

    5. Talvi*

      1. There’s a function in Word (that I don’t actually know how to use, but I’m vaguely aware it exists) that allows you to link tables/graphs with text — so if Table 2 gets moved and becomes Table 5, the mention of e.g. “as shown in Table 2…” in the text will automatically update to the new number. I think there also exist useful citation functions in Word (but I did all of my citations manually, so I can’t suggest anything specific)

      1a. Even just covering some more basic Word skills may be helpful for a surprising number of students. I once had someone come to me while I was on the reference desk asking how on earth to remove the highlight from the number part of a numbered list. Or how to effectively use sections to get page numbers to display correctly (getting my undergrad thesis to show all of the different types of page numbers required by the style guide in the same document took a lot of research and effort!)

      2. Boolean searches can be surprisingly complex to construct well, and covering some of the “word1 AND word2 OR word3” will get different results from “(word1 AND word2) OR (word1 AND word3)” might be very helpful

    6. Chantel*

      As an academic librarian myself, I wonder how the Microsoft suite is an academic librarian’s purview. But it sounds like you look forward to it, Anon the Third, which is great! I’d resent getting tasked with it, so I admire your positivity.

      1. Anon the Third*

        Well, I was a little surprised when I found out about it! But as long as the paycheck clears and I can sell it on my cv, it’s all the same to me

    7. LQ*

      For the excel class have a couple of generic spreadsheets that folks can work with. Just something to let them play around with something close to real data. I’d make one something budgety at least. I’d also talk about not using excel to do word things! And not using word to do excel things. You CAN use word to house a table that you sort and filter and even put some formulas in, but it makes it so much harder as your thing grows to maintain if it’s not in it’s native application. Data in excel. Thoughts and words in Word. Nothing in PowerPoint.

      It wouldn’t be a bad idea to open up things ahead of time to have folks share questions they are having, or ask them to bring them to class. You could have a part of the class dedicated to solving real world problems. It’s something that feels really just about that one person, but it’s often applicable to others.

    8. sociolx*

      I’m a grad student! Here are some things I’ve come across frequently in student work as an instructor/TA where I think library workshops would be really useful!

      1. Citation standards – *when* it’s appropriate/necessary to cite, where to find citational information in a book/article, how to find instructions for the citation format your instructor is asking for (e.g., the Purdue OWL site). In my experience, students often aren’t intending to plagiarize, but many of them were only taught the format for citations and not how to think about when a citation is needed (for example, I always have tons of students who don’t cite the course readings in essays because “they’re common knowledge,” which I think is a holdover from high school teachers not requiring students to cite their textbook).

      2. Relatedly, basic media literacy in finding appropriate/reliable sources and how to evaluate whether a website/article is reliable.

      3. Might be outside the purview of the library, but basic note-taking skills (by hand or on a computer). Some students seem focused on copying down lecture points verbatim rather than distilling ideas into shorter bullet points.

      As for advertising to students, does the university offer mandatory first-year classes (like a writing seminar)? Could you ask the instructors of those courses to advertise these workshops or offer some kind of incentive for attendance?

      1. Oy with the poodles*

        Academic librarian here! A little late but I would say the absolutely first step is to conduct a needs analysis. Why are these workshops going to be offered? Have they been in the past? How has attendance been? If they are new, what will motivate students to attend? If there aren’t concrete answers to these, danger danger danger. A zillion of us have spent eleven billion hours designing “drop in” workshops that no one attend. Students are very busy with classes, activities, work, and family responsibilities. They need some kind of external motivator to go to something like this. Extra credit is the most common currency for undergrads. If you don’t have that…start very small and see how it goes.

    9. Tessera Member 042*

      For advanced features in Word, you might want to develop a workshop in formatting your thesis (if that’s something that happens at your college) for each major/discipline, and market them through the department. I did a lot of Googling about how to adjust page numbers in the auto-generated Table of Contents for my dissertation that was frustrating, and could have been solved quickly with a workshop I attended with my draft.

    10. J.B.*

      I proposed some workshops for an MSIS degree based on my experience during my first masters degree in a different field, and then fleshed it out into a workshop. Learning excel was no big deal, but I was never formally taught how to make charts clear and understandable. Eric Monson at Duke Libraries has some great seminars I drew off of. Pivot tables are extremely useful and very underused and I would consider covering those.

    11. Micans*

      I’d suggest approaches to managing citations as something I saw a lot of peers spend an excessive amount of time and effort struggling with.

      This could include a review of different platforms/systems for managing citations (mendeley and votero were both used when I was last academia-ing, I don’t know what Word’s citation management is like these days but I imagine it’s improved a lot?) and some guidance on best practice (including how to check auto-formatted citations and common pitfalls!)

  27. Orange is so not my color.*

    So…. I am diagnosed ADD. I cried 6 years when my doctor told me as it explained my horrible childhood. I am super competent at work, but can’t find the car keys in my hand or remember to do typical things. Including paying a traffic ticket.
    2 weeks ago, I was pulled over on my way to work and when they ran my license turns out it was suspended and I was arrested (danger to the world I am.) I had just left Starbucks with my coffee and that of some of my team members and that was the last they heard of me. I was allowed to make a phone call after I was booked…. which was 11 hours later. So I sat in a holding cell with three other traffic violators (including 2 other ADD/Suspended licenses) and a woman who shot and killed her husband most of the day.
    My boss realized I had disappeared and after trying to reach me through normal channels, reached out to my sons (17 and 22) via Facebook which sent them in a tizzy. But the the time I made my phone call, 11 hours after my arrest, my sons already knew and were just waiting on me. By the time I was released (16 hours after my arrest) I was tired, sore and exhausted. My boys gave me a recap of their adventures (and getting to meet my boss and great grand boss in the process)
    I messaged my boss to let him know I was out and home and that I would not be coming in the next day.
    I have literally 100 hours in PTO in my bank, as well as several comp days my department owes me. When I started I was a one woman team and literally worked 12 plus hour days 6 days a week for five months without complaint. I have been here 9 months, never called out sick, and held this site together without assistance until they brought in my direct manager. I have been praised to my chain of command by several other departments at my site as well as at HQ for my work and great attitude. When I came back to work I said I was just going to use 2 of my comp days to cover my absences. I was told by my manager that I HAD to use my PTO, take a screenshot and send it to my manager And they had gone to HR because they felt I needed to be disciplined for my “no call, no show.” HR said they couldn’t write me up, but I could be coached. So I was coached for my no call no show.

    Up until that conversation, i really liked my bosses. My direct manager I have work issues with, but as a person I really like him. My grand and great grand boss I have always liked and I felt they respected me and my work. But now I just feel prickly.
    1. Yes I was arrested but its not like I am a dangerous criminal. It was a traffic violation. I don’t even believe I have to put it on a job application.
    2. Requiring me to use my PTO instead of the gazillion comp days they have admitted they owe me. (this doesn’t bother me as much as the next one.)
    3. Coaching me (because I couldn’t be written up) for a no call no show when I could not physically make a phone call for 11 hours. And guess what, my boss was not the person I was going to call with my one phone call anyway.

    I am also not a fan of them reaching out to my kids Although I do understand it. One of the things that helped me through the day is that at least my kids were not worried about me. But also reaching out to my kids was because I disappeared and didn’t show for work which is completely out of character for me.

    Is it wrong for me to feel prickly about this?

    1. Colette*

      I don’t think reaching out to your kids was terribly out of line – you didn’t show up at work. (I hope that they tried to call you first and that your kids are your emergency contact.)

      Not letting you use comp time was ridiculous, as was coaching. What are they going to coach you about – don’t get arrested? I think you already know that.

      (Personally, I’d also use that comp time ASAP.)

      I wonder whether everyone is on board with how they handled this, or if it’s coming from your immediate manager alone.

      1. Reba*

        I also wondered if your manager (who is still relatively new) is trying to show he takes this very seriously or something.

        I get why it would be galling.

    2. D3*

      Feeling prickly in general about the situation, sure.
      Aiming all that at your employer, not so much.
      They did not handle it perfectly, but then it was your not handling things well that caused the issue in the first place.
      You want grace and understanding. Extend them grace and understanding, too.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      They weren’t wrong to call your kids. You basically went missing and they were concerned.

      The PTO? Eh, I can see it. Comp days are often informal– the only organization I know of that formalizes them is the government– so if that’s the case, they should be worked out in advance, which you couldn’t do.

      One thing here that’s kind of critical, though, is that your license was suspended. I’m not a lawyer, but I gather that in some jurisdictions, yes, you can be arrested for driving with one. I don’t know why your license was suspended (you mention unpaid tickets) and it ultimately doesn’t matter, but unless you believe the license was not suspended and law enforcement made a mistake… then I think you’re better off acknowledging that and working with your bosses on getting back on track with them. It wouldn’t necessarily be their business, but it sounds like this happened during your workday while you were on an unofficial work errand, so they’re not wrong to be concerned.

      1. Observer*

        So if that’s the case, they should be worked out in advance, which you couldn’t do.

        Yeah. The OP COULD not do that. But a little bit of flexibility with an employee that’s always shown the willingness to go the extra mile is still something that they should be willing to do.

        The OP’s arrest sounds legitimate. So? That doesn’t make it OK for their supervisor to treat them like this. The OP’s job doesn’t seem to require driving, so this is really not an issue for the supervisor either.

    4. hamsterpants*

      There is a lot in this letter and it sounds like you are under a lot of stress! I think, though, that what you bring up in this letter is more things to talk over with a therapist and less about work dynamics per se. Being coached for a no-call/no-show is a stupid policy given the circumstances you explain, but also, I don’t think it needs to be a big deal. You sit through some silly coaching and then you move on with your life, no? Everything about your ADD diagnosis, your self-immolation at work over the past nine months, your children being “in a tizzy” — this shows that you are deeply emotionally-entwined with your work, to an extent that is hurting you and interfering with your ability to treat work issues as work issues and not as an extension of your personal life and personal worth. If nothing else, definitely take some time off as soon as possible to get some emotional space between yourself and your work life.

    5. Kelvi*

      I mean, you get to feel your feels however you choose. But nothing about this seems unreasonable on their end. You disappeared without contact mid-errand! They were worried. Then it turned out you had been ARRESTED! You write about this very casually, but that’s a big deal! They contacted your sons because they were scared you were dead in a ditch or in hospital after an accident. They required you to use PTO because you missed work due to being in jail! Comp days are generally an informal arrangement, and I’d expect them to want to record this as officially as possible in case of repeat occurrences. Likewise the coaching – they want something recorded as a follow-up so they can progress this if it happpens again.

      You were driving on a suspended license, got arrested, and that’s all on you. I suspect you are embarrassed and ashamed at this being known at work, and are trying to offset some of that by blaming the, for how they handled it. Don’t. Accept the responsibility for your screwup, fix the problem, and recognise that what you did was pretty extreme.

      1. Anon For This*

        Yeah, this. You literally went to pick up coffee for the group and vanished. That’s a situation where reaching out to emergency contacts is entirely reasonable. The PTO thing also sounds like a reasonable requirement – needing to take PTO for unschedule absences is entirely normal.

        The coaching may or may not be reasonable – if you were mortified, apologized profusely for the upset and promised it wouldn’t happen again, there’s not much more they can say. But if you went in with the attitude that this was all really unfair and you were the victim, and it wasn’t that big a deal because you weren’t a dangerous offender, and how dare they contact your family, I can see why they’re really peeved (also if after this you simply texted your boss to say you weren’t coming in the next day). You got arrested for breaking the law. You vanished in the middle of a work day leaving your workplace seriously worried that you had been kidnapped or incapacitated in an accident or something dire like that. That’s pretty major, and they’re going to be upset.

        So I agree with other posters that this isn’t so much a work issue, as a therapy/medical treatment issue.

    6. Bagpuss*

      I’m sorry you went through that. I hope you’ve been able to sort out the ticket and get your licence reactivated.

      I think it’s natural that you feel prickly – you had a horrible experience and the embarrassment of having t o explain it all. BUT

      – I don’t think it’s unreasonable for them to have called your sons – as you say, you being a no show was out of character, they were probably concerned. Would you have felt it was out of line if they had called your sons if the reason for you being a no show was a different one? For instance if you’d been taken ill or involved in an accident (and f so, maybe check and update your emergency contact details and include a note there NOT to contact your sons!)

      – I don’t think its out of line for you to have been treated as a no show no call and for them to have coached you or written you up. I’m not clear why they couldn’t write you up, and I would agree that the coaching was probably useless as you weren’t deliberately failing to update them, but ultimately the reality is that you failed to show up or call, and the underlying cause of that was down to your own actions.(i.e. it wasn’t because you were unconscious in the back of an ambulance)

      – I’m not clear on what the distinction is between you using Comp time and PTO so can’t really comment on that, but if you have a lot of time stored up, maybe use some of it on a planned basis to deal with anything you need to deal with to get your licence etc sorted out .

      – While I appreciate that a traffic stop doesn’t make you a dangerous offender, you did get arrested and spent the day in custody. I think most employers would be unhappy about an employee being in that position so while I completely understand you feeling prickly, I think it’s misguided to direct that against your employer, who don’t , on the face of it, appear to have done anything wrong or unreasonable.

    7. Breadwinner Mom*

      I can’t tell if you’ve ever received any treatment (medical or behavioral) to help yourself cover these gaps. But, since you’re experiencing a high enough level of disorganization to end in license suspension + arrest, I’d say it’s either time to begin treatment/meds, or time to reevaluate the treatment/meds you use.

      Both my husband and I were dxed as adults so I do know the utter relief of an explanation for why certain things are a struggle. But generally it’s not enough to just leave it there, we benefited *more* from being able to take effective steps to mitigate the condition.

      1. A Cat named Brian*

        Agreed. I got diagnosed when my son did. Medication and behavioral therapy to develop organizational skills was a God send. For me and my son.

      2. Observer*

        But, since you’re experiencing a high enough level of disorganization to end in license suspension + arrest, I’d say it’s either time to begin treatment/meds, or time to reevaluate the treatment/meds you use.


    8. Guacamole Bob*

      If it were “company policy says I have to coach you since you didn’t call in, I know you couldn’t get to a phone, conversation over” I’d think you were wrong to feel prickly. Some companies have pretty strict rules about that sort of thing, and maybe the manager’s hands were tied. But the fact that your manager reached out to HR about it because he felt you needed to be disciplined is strange if you have a positive history and a generally good relationship.

      Maybe your manager comes from a stricter/more bureaucratic background when it comes to attendance? I know people in my org who’ve managed union employees have a bit of a culture shift if they move to a non-union department – attendance and discipline for front-line union staff is very strict about going by the book, documenting everything, etc. My department in the same organization is much more “manage your own time, just get your work done.”

      Are you sure it was your manager’s choice to coach you? Maybe he had to call HR to get your emergency contact info when you didn’t show up and didn’t answer your phone, and that started a chain of events with HR that ended up with the coaching?

    9. Nancy*

      If I left work in the middle of the day and never came back, I’d want my boss to start calling anyone they can think of to find out what happened because whatever it is it is not good.

      Not sure why it matters that you had to use PTO. You can still use comp days for something else.

      If policy says you need to be coached, then that is policy.

      You can feel prickly, but their actions are reasonable to me.

      1. Observer*

        If I left work in the middle of the day and never came back, I’d want my boss to start calling anyone they can think of to find out what happened because whatever it is it is not good.

        I agree with that.

        If policy says you need to be coached, then that is policy.

        Except that it does not sound like that is the case. The manager actually wanted to write them up, and HR said “No. You CAN coach them.” And what’s the point?

    10. Mephyle*

      I would like to know how that coaching session would go. “You were supposed to do this thing although it was operationally impossible in the situation you were in.” “Please explain how I should have done it.” “That was your problem, you should have solved it.”

      1. tangerineRose*

        Maybe the coaching would be a discussion where you and the other person brainstorm on ways to make sure you pay your traffic tickets? You might want to have a particular box or something you put important stuff in so that you remember to deal with that stuff?

      2. RagingADHD*

        Or maybe the coaching is to identify other risk factors that could impact the OPs ability to work. For example, they may suspect substance issues. It’s not uncommon for people with poorly managed ADHD to give the impression that they’re using something, even when they aren’t. (And TBH, you don’t get your license suspended for a simple one-time speeding ticket. There is more to this story.)

        Or maybe it’s to identify ways the OP could achieve better work-life balance, so they can have space to attend to important issues instead of racking up so much overtime.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          It reads to me like it wasn’t for a one-time speeding ticket. It was for multiple past unpaid speeding tickets, and the getting pulled over for this one revealed the rest when they ran the plates.

          1. Squidhead*

            That’s how I read it, though in my city unpaid parking tickets can lead to the suspension of your license as well (ie: not necessarily *moving* violations, and the type of thing that even neurotypical people might be inclined to put low on their priority list of things-to-do.)

        2. Kiki*

          Actually, it can be, though usually under weird circumstances. We discovered that my cousin wasn’t legal to drive in New York state due to an unpaid ticket from the ’90’s, during a time when he’d moved a lot and probably hadn’t been updating his forwarding address enough.

          Thankfully he didn’t get arrested and leave me with his car in the middle of nowhere in particular, but I’m pretty sure he could have been.

      3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I got the impression that the work rules called for getting written disciplinary action for the no-show situation, but the coaching is being offered as a less drastic alternative. I had something happen at a job that technically should have resulted in a written report in my file, and my supervisor talked TPTB into a memo to the effect “We talked, end of incident.”

    11. Koala dreams*

      Usually exceptions to rules about calling in are made for things like sudden illness or family emergencies, not unpaid traffic tickets. For you, there’s a relationship between the unpaid tickets and your disability, but I doubt your employer sees it that way.

      They should of course have called your emergency contacts, and you might want to go over your emergency contacts with your boss or HR again.

      The coaching seems a bit silly, it would be more useful to have a refresher lesson at the nearest driving school, but I doubt the real purpose of the coaching is usefulness.

      The comp days situation is a big problem in itself, and I think you should revisit that conversation with your boss later. It’s not fair to dangle the promise of comp days in front of you and never let you take them.

      1. Observer*

        Usually exceptions to rules about calling in are made for things like sudden illness or family emergencies, not unpaid traffic tickets

        The emergency was not an unpaid traffic ticket, but being arrested. The idea that “it’s your fault so you should have found some magic way to do this thing” is absurdity.

    12. WellRed*

      Everyone else is focused on the work aspect and I agree with most of what others are saying although your company seems a little rigid (coaching?) However I am Appalled! That you spent 11 hours in custody!

    13. RagingADHD*

      I have ADHD.

      If you are checked out of really important life stuff like driving responsibly and safely so you don’t get tickets, paying tickets you do get, and ignoring/missing important legal notices like a susprnded license, then your management plan is not working.

      Please stop blaming your work for the chaos thats going on in your life. It’s not going to improve anything.

      Go back to the doctor and get your treatment plan adjusted, and maybe get some behavioral coaching before you stumble into an even worse mess. Maybe a few sessions with a home organizer to help you go through the mail and get a better intake system.

      You need some more robust support in place, because you shouldn’t have to live under this much stress.

    14. DJ*

      I don’t think you’re wrong. From your POV, this was a stressful event that happened TO YOU, and not something you did. FWIW, I think that’s a valid way of looking at it. And I think it makes sense that you would expect your employer to be supportive after something like that.

      The coaching is silly because, even if they blame you for this from their POV, there’s nothing to coach about. You knew you were supposed to call them if you weren’t going to make it back to the office, so they don’t need to explain that policy to you — you would have let them know if you could have; it’s not their place to try to help you with your ADD beyond providing accommodations; and, even if you hadn’t had ADD, your unpaid tickets have nothing to do with them, either. If there were a pattern of behaviour where things kept happening to you that made you miss work it might be worth talking about whether there was something to be done about that — but it doesn’t sound like that’s what’s happening.

      Contacting your kids on Facebook is weird. It’s weird that they would contact the 17-year-old at all. If the 22-year-old is your emergency contact, they should have his phone number. If he’s not your emergency contact, they should have focused on calling the person who was. It’s also weird that this Facebook contact resulted in them meeting your kids vs just letting them know you were MIA, expressing concern, and asking if you were okay (which is what you do when you call an emergency contact in that situation).

    15. SS Express*

      I have a lot of sympathy for your situation. This sounds horrible and stressful, and I do understand that it’s not as simple as “you should have just paid the parking tickets”, and that people with ADD are often at a disadvantage with things like this.

      But I don’t think your bosses are being as unreasonable as you think. I think you might be feeling like this isn’t really your fault because you didn’t mean to do it, and that you therefore don’t deserve to be “punished”. But the thing is, you did still do it. From your employer’s perspective, you didn’t turn up for work because you were arrested. That’s serious! Of course they expect you to use PTO for the time you had off, and it’s hardly surprising that they’d involve HR. I think feeling prickly about this is not only unreasonable but also a very bad look professionally – your managers want to know that you take this seriously, not that you think they’re overreacting to something that’s actually a pretty big deal.

      Sometimes when you’re in the middle of a really hard time you forget what “normal” should be like. What happened here is not normal – it sounds awful! I’d really encourage you to talk to the doctor who diagnosed you (or whoever else is on your healthcare team) because it seems like currently you aren’t getting the right treatment/support.

  28. MMM*

    I’m wondering how to go about phrasing a follow-up email. I had gone through a couple rounds of interviews for a position and then just never heard back, but considering they were looking for people to start tomorrow, I’ve obviously gone ahead and deduced I didn’t get the job.

    The organization is growing—there had been 11 candidates for 7 open roles. I’d like to reach out to the company’s internal recruiter who I had been communicating with, both to officially close the loop on this job, but also to ask if it would make sense for me to consider applying to similar roles with them in the future. I can’t seem to word it in a way that doesn’t sound super passive aggressive—I’m not mad that I didn’t get the job or hear back, just don’t want to waste my time in the future!

    1. Colette*

      I’d follow up as if they hadn’t wanted people to start tomorrow, because it’s entirely possible the deadline has changed. Just say that you’ve enjoyed talking with them and you’d like to know what the timeline is for making a decision.

    2. hamsterpants*

      Can you show a draft of what you have? I’m having trouble imagining exactly what you want to convey.

      1. MMM*

        I guess it’s mostly the second part, trying to ask if it’s worth applying in the future without using those words. So something like “could I consider applying for similar opportunities here in the future?”

        1. WFH with Cat*

          At this point, you don’t really know if the position is filled or not, so don’t remove yourself as a candidate accidentally by making that assumption. Just send a quick follow-up email letting the recruiter know that you’re still interested in the position and asking if there’s been any development or what there timeline is for making a decision.

          As for asking the recruiter if you should apply there in the future, I wouldn’t. That’s just not a question a recruiter can answer for you — and asking it might make the recruiter question whether or not you genuinely want to work there and/or would fit in.

          Best of luck with the job search.

    3. PollyQ*

      Given that you were brought in for multiple interviews, I’d be tremendously shocked if the company’s opinion of you was that they’d never hire you for anything. As others have pointed out, they may still be making their decisions, so you may still be hired. Even if they do reject you, it doesn’t mean they hated you; it just means that they liked 7 people out of this particular batch of applicants better.

      If you feel you must send a follow-up, I’d wait until the end of this week and use Colette’s script.

  29. hamsterpants*

    Tips on navigating on-paper limitless time off when you’re new to a company? The policy is that you can take however much you want as long as you get manager approval and “get your work done.” I’ve been in my position for two months after four years at another company within the industry and I think I’m doing quite well. My manager seems overall reasonable. My challenge is that I struggle to “read the room” and assess how much time off is really OK, how much my work is allowed to slip while I’m off, etc.

    1. Reba*

      This is a direct question for your manager. And polling your teammates. One of the issues with this kind of policy is that the definitions of how much time and level of work “doneness” are undefined, and therefore at each manager’s discretion. Also, lots and lots of people face this problem, so don’t feel shy to ask!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yup! (I seem to be agreeing with you a lot today!) I have unlimited PTO and I have a really, really reasonable boss. I asked him, and he’s very hands off and trusts me, and he explicitly told me to take whatever I need, just give him a heads-up. My role is really independent and I have a ton of autonomy, and that does help enormously because I can monitor my own client load plus give my clients advance notice.

        Now, that sounds great but I’m pretty anxious and really new, so I didn’t feel right about just booking a lot of stuff… until one of my co-workers chastised me (gently) for not taking any time off, and she flat out told me she takes four weeks a year and I should do the same. She is a wonderful co-worker. :-) So far (6 months in) I have taken a few days here and there, I have one Friday coming up that I have blocked out (we usually do half-day Fridays in the summer), and a week off booked in August.

        On the other side of this, my last company just implemented unlimited PTO, and my former co-worker has already been given a hard time for wanting two afternoons off during spring break. “Because it’s busy!” Yeah, and she also works nights and weekends to catch up, so give the woman a day with her kids.

  30. Anon for now*

    Worth applying?

    There’s a job I’m interested in, but looking at the job description, I do have a gaping hole in experience with certain job functions.

    It’s broken down like so:
    – 40% work in which I’m a subject matter expert; it is a complex area
    – 5% attending training, which is no problem
    – 15% work I have a lot of experience doing though not an expert
    – 20% work I am competent to perform
    – 20% work in a subject area I know nothing about and would have to learn, this subject area is a big part of what the organization as a whole is focused on

    The ad requires applicants to answer three questions.
    – One is about the area where I’m a subject matter expert.
    – One is about work I am competent to perform but is all worded to be in the context of the subject area I know nothing about. Say, for example, the organization makes chocolate teapots and the question is like “describe your experience drafting agreements to sell chocolate teapots,” but my experience is drafting agreements to sell rice sculptures.
    – The last one is about the area I know nothing about and there’s no way to spin it to say that I do. It’s like, describe the various chocolates you’ve worked with in the field of chocolate teapots, but I’ve never worked with chocolate in any capacity.

    It feels like they really want someone with experience in the world of chocolate teapots and I have zero, but at the same time I have a ton of expertise in a complicated area that makes up a huge chunk of the job.

    1. hamsterpants*

      If I read it right, it sounds like the job description doesn’t quite match the example questions. For these sort of big, rangy job descriptions, it can be impossible as an applicant to figure out which parts are actually important until interviewing. If you are still interested in the job, I would still apply! For the chocolate teapot questions, write about how you have approached and had success with rice sculptures and how you would approach chocolate teapots. If it would make you feel more confident, take some time to research chocolate teapots so you can inform your answer.

    2. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      Send the application. Worst case scenario, they say no.

    3. Go for it!*

      Definitely apply! What are the chances they’ll find someone who 100% fits that very detailed job description? More likely they’ll get applications from folks like you who fit some, not all. That’s not unusual for any kind of job, and I personally have gotten several jobs I wasn’t on paper even close to a match — and other people who applied who were perfect matches asked me afterwards why I got hired instead of them (small industry, so I eventually met them even though I was new to the industry). Sometimes it comes down to something you can’t know — like you click with the hiring people and others don’t, etc.

  31. Orange Crushed*

    For those who have experience working in government jobs, are the people always so… relaxed? It seems like I have to light a fire under someone just to get their help answering a question or have them do something. It’s a little better if I mention my boss or cc my boss, but I shouldn’t always have to do that. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. LQ*

      There are huge swaths that are like this yes. I expect there are in private places too, but yeah. Honestly, just talk to your boss and CCing your boss may be something you do until you build enough of your own skills to make it work. When I say skills here I mean mostly your rolodex of people who actually do work quickly (I have my favorites in nearly every area I work in and then I will happily trade with people who are also good, so if you do work and you come to me and ask who someone in x area is that will do work, I’ll happily give you that name, most folks will do this though you may have to earn some trust). I’m several steps up the chain of command and I still have to invoke my boss WAY more than I should. I’m doing my job, my boss knows I’m doing my job, why do I have to tell you that I’m doing my job for my boss? That said I tell all my staff to use my name and CC me whenever they need to and then ping me if they need me to lop through with a hammer and say “This work is important!”

  32. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

    My team may be moving to a permanent 2-days-in-office, 3-days-remote schedule. Which I have no intrinsic objection to ….except that space was at a premium before the pandemic (I’m in higher ed admin), and I already hated my basement cube (clearly designed for someone much larger than five-three me), and the idea of hot-desking does not fill my soul with joy. Do people have ideas on what I could suggest to make this work?

    (The part where my studio apartment doesn’t have space for a real home office is a different problem.)

    1. hamsterpants*

      This is kind of out there as an idea, but… can you share a desk with someone with the opposite schedule from you? Not true hot-desking, you’d always have the same desk, just shared with one other person who doesn’t change week-to-week.

      1. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

        That would be a pretty ideal outcome, tbh, especially if the space was easily-adjustable.

    2. Bagpuss*

      What would your preferred outcome be? If you would prefer to be mostly in person then maybe talk to your manager about whether it would be possible for you to move and to have a set desk/workspace. If most people are only going to be in 2 days out of five then there may be a bit more room for negotiation .

      (Alternatively, if they do go with hotdesking can you arrange your schedule so you arrive early and can pic a better desk?)

  33. Olivia*

    I reported a man for using the women’s bathroom, and now I’m embarrassed and worried about it.

    For context, at a prior job, I reported a maintenance guy that had been behaving inappropriately toward me because I got scared when he started showing up in the parking lot near my car (he had asked about my schedule, who I lived with, where I lived, and kept trying to guess what roads I took to get home, so I thought he wanted to follow me home). HR gaslighted me and blamed me until their lawyers told them it was sexual harassment. The whole thing was traumatic. I was also laid off a few months later, even though I’d previously been told I was going to start getting training for a promotion, so I always felt like that might have been a punishment for reporting the maintenance guy.

    I just started a new job last week, and on Friday, when I was washing my hands in the women’s restroom, a maintenance guy came in, went into a stall behind me, urinated with the door open, and then left without washing his hands. I hesitated to tell my supervisor because I was scared I’d get in trouble or she’d think I was being overly sensitive. I ended up telling her because I didn’t want to have to worry about the guy being in the bathroom when I needed to use it.

    My heart was racing when I told her, so I probably came across as flustered. (I told her the straight facts, and admitted I wasn’t sure if it was something that I should report or not. I didn’t imply he had bad intentions or anything because he literally just used the bathroom and then left.) She was horrified and grossed out, and had me tell the receptionist to pass the info along to whoever was in charge of the maintenance guys. The receptionist said she’d report it, but assured me the guy probably went into the women’s room accidentally because the building had more women’s rooms than men’s rooms (most of the employees are women).

    Now I’m panicking. What if my supervisor and the receptionist think less of me now for reporting someone who used the wrong bathroom accidentally? Did I just ruin my reputation at this job? What if the maintenance guys do something in retaliation for me tattling on them? How am I supposed to know when I should report something that seems inappropriate/wrong and if it’ll be taken seriously or if there will be bad consequences for me?

    1. ThatGirl*

      You’re feeling anxious for all kinds of understandable reasons, but this isn’t a huge deal. You’re stuck on a past bad experience that isn’t related to this one. I very much doubt there will be any consequences for you; you weren’t trying to get the guy fired, you didn’t make a huge scene, I can’t imagine anyone thinking less of you. Why would you get in trouble for mentioning that the maintenance guy used the wrong bathroom? There’s nothing to get in trouble for. Take a deep breath, it’s okay.

    2. Colette*

      I think you were right to report it, and no reasonable person would think less of you for doing so. (Could he have walked into the wrong bathroom? Sure. But he knew he wasn’t alone, and he didn’t close the door. That’s very off.)

      1. Nonny-nonny-non*

        This! Wrong bathroom…well, okay, maybe, but then why didn’t he turn round when he saw you there? And not shutting the door to the stall feels kind of actively rude to me. I think you were right to report it, and that it’s your previous sucky workplace making you doubt yourself.
        If it helps, I had a similar-ish situation but (I think) much more understandable and I still reported it and was taken seriously with no drama. In my case I was working late and knew I was the only woman in the building. I was in a stall when someone barged into the women’s bathroom; I called out something like “Who’s that?!?” in probably a slightly freaked out voice, and was told “Security”. The security team have set rounds which does include all the bathrooms, but the bathrooms all have motion-sensitive lights, so they’d know someone was either in there, or just left. Previous security men would knock and pre-emptively call out “Security” if the light was on. I let the Facilities manager know and they simply said something like “Oh, yes, that’s not right, I’ll make sure they don’t do it again.”

    3. Queer Earthling*

      I recognize that you have some trauma that influenced this, the previous maintenance guy was BAD NEWS and you probably suffered unfair retaliation, and seriously, this particular person REALLY should have closed the stall door, but like…as a trans person with trans loved ones, I get really, really anxious when people are super trigger happy about reporting the “wrong” person in a bathroom. Something to consider. (I admit this is somewhat personal; my spouse and I are both AFAB nonbinary, but both tend to dress masc and both tend to use the “women’s” restroom; I’m short so I’m probably not gonna worry anyone, but my spouse is almost 6 feet tall and I’d really like them to not get shouted at or worse when they’re just trying to pee. However, I assure you, my spouse does a thing called “closing the door.”)

      Anyway, I doubt you’ll have any real issues. You reported it; you didn’t punch him in the face or demand he be fired or run screaming out of the bathroom. You even said in your report you didn’t think it was an issue, you were flustered, etc. The most likely result is that he’ll be told to watch what bathroom he’s going into and he’ll probably be mortified that he scared someone, and the receptionist and your supervisor will probably forget about it because they have enough other stuff going on. There’s always the slight possibility that he was doing it for nefarious purposes, and if so, well, now that was dealt with; but honestly, in this particular instance, the signs point to “he didn’t notice you and wasn’t paying attention and had to pee and could use a reminder to pay attention to his surroundings.” I know you’re anxious after your previous experiences! But I don’t think your supervisor or receptionist will put that much thought into you making a report about a concern, you know?

      1. Olivia*

        Not the same thing, but I’m very petite, have a pixie cut, don’t use makeup, and wear lose fitted clothes instead of form fitting ones. I’ve been mistaken for a boy (I look like a teenager because I’m so small and have a “young” face) outside of work when wearing hoodies or jackets. I sometimes worry someone will freak out at me because they think I’m using the wrong bathroom.

        There’s a gender neutral bathroom down the hallway. Would he probably have used that if he was trans? He just looked like a guy to me, I don’t know how to tell if he was possibly trans or not.

        1. Queer Earthling*

          I look like a teenager because I’m so small and have a “young” face

          HAH, solidarity.

          Well, that’s the thing. I’m less worried that this specific person might be trans (probably not), and more like…are you going to kick out everyone in a bathroom who doesn’t “look” like they belong there, but they’re just minding their own business? Some GNC women might not look “right,” some trans women might not look “right,” some nonbinary people might not wanna use the gender neutral bathroom and might not look “right,” y’know? Again, I don’t think you were wrong to report this one dude, and I’m definitely not trying to downplay your legitimate concerns, but it’s also like…a thing to consider, you know?

          But the ultimate thing you were asking was whether this will damage your reputation, and I truly don’t think it will. :) It’s not like this was your only ever interaction with your receptionist or supervisor.

          1. Olivia*

            If it makes you feel any better, I don’t normally pay much attention to the people in the bathroom because I just want to get in and out. I initially was just aware that someone came into the bathroom and went into the stall behind me, and when I heard a steam of fluid hitting the toilet bowl I was wondering, “If they didn’t want their drink, why didn’t they pour it down the kitchen sink instead of pouring it in the toilet? That’s so odd.” Then I heard a zipper and looked in the mirror and realized it was a guy and got weirded/squicked out.

            1. Queer Earthling*

              Oh absolutely fair! I apologize too if I made you feel guilty for doing the reporting; I was uncomfortable with the “man in the bathroom” concerns, but his behavior was weird at best.

              I hope very much that your report has an impact. :)

            2. WellRed*

              Maybe at that point he realized he was in the ladies and then skedaddled without hand washing? I don’t think you were wrong to report it.

        2. meyer lemon*

          I think the larger question is that, given it’s not really possible to know a person’s gender identity by looking at them, it would be best if everyone tried to avoid seeing it as implicitly threatening when you notice someone in a bathroom who you think doesn’t belong just based on their appearance. It’s better to judge them by whether their actions are threatening or benign.

          1. Queer Earthling*

            Yes! This is a much more concise version of what I was trying to say, thank you.

          2. Colette*

            It’s the “not closing the door” that takes this out of the realm of benign for me.

            1. meyer lemon*

              I agree that that part was weird/rude/potentially aggressive. But to me, that is the part to be concerned with, not the “appearance doesn’t seem to match bathroom” part.

          3. RagingADHD*

            I think if you’re gonna pee standing up with the stall door open, you pretty clearly should the mens’ room.

            Regardless of your identity, that’s just not how the norms work in the womens’. If you use the womens, you should sitzpinkle.

            Maybe we should rename the rooms for standing and sitting instead.

      2. hamsterpants*

        This is a time where it’s very, very important to separate someone’s lived experience that we don’t have reason to doubt, from hot-button narratives that are flying around in the popular media and imagination. I don’t see any reason to believe that Olivia is being motivated by transphobia or gender policing. What Olivia reports is 1) a personal history and fear of being victim of sexually inappropriate behavior; 2) inappropriate behavior from the maintenance person (peeing with the stall open, not washing hands); 3) fear and self-doubt around reporting it. Suggesting that Olivia is “super trigger happy” about reporting the behavior is unkind and, I think, not reasonable based on everything in the reported story.

        1. Queer Earthling*

          hot-button narratives that are flying around in the popular media and imagination.

          Trans people exist and our fears are also real, not just theoretical “hot-button” issues. Look up the stats on violence against trans people if you want to have a bad day.

          I agreed that she wasn’t wrong to report it, multiple times, especially due to his specific behavior and her previously existing concerns. I also addressed that her reporting it will likely not impact her negatively, which appeared to have been her greatest concern in this situation once it was resolved.

          I also described why the “man in the women’s bathroom!” fear on its own is sometimes frightening (which Olivia addressed admirably IMO).

          Both concepts can coexist.

          1. hamsterpants*

            The hot-button narrative that I’m thinking of is of the transphobe who reports the innocent trans or gender-nonconforming person for being in the “wrong” bathroom just based on perceived gender.

      3. Observer*

        However, I assure you, my spouse does a thing called “closing the door.”

        I think that this is a key thing. Honestly, it’s gross not to, regardless of whether someone is using the “wrong” or “right” bathroom.

    4. Stephanie*

      So. A man came into the women’s restroom while you (a woman) were in there, urinated with the stall door open and then left. That is legit alarming. I struggle to find a plausible excuse that he was mistakenly in the women’s restroom since, it sure seems like he must have seen you at the sink. You did not overreact. If it truly was an accident, you still did not overreact. If it was an accident, possibly your reporting it will make him pay more attention to which restroom he’s entering. I don’t think that you ruined your reputation. I would be horrified if that happened to me, so do not think you’re the unreasonable one, here. I think that the crap way HR handled that stalker maintenance guy is coloring the way you’re feeling about this. (And for the record, HR at your previous job sucks. That is clearly stalking behavior, and they should have handled it more appropriately.)

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I agree. Don’t report a masculine looking person using the ladies restroom if they behave normally.

        But this person kept the stall door open while you were in the room. Frankly this sounds at least something like sexual harassment. Some exhibitionist getting excited by making you uncomfortable.

        You were right to report it IMO.

        1. DJ*

          This is my thought as well. The part of it that’s weird is that he took his junk out in front of her — regardless of which bathroom he wanted to use. If we totally forget the “which room are you in” part of it, someone should tell him he needs to close the door.

    5. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

      I don’t believe for a minute that he “accidentally” went into the wrong restroom. Moreover, he entered the restroom and there was a female at the sink. If it had been a mistake, he would have immediately apologized, turned around, and left.

      The fact that he didn’t close the door to the stall (located right behind you!) seems to be further evidence that this was not at all innocent.

      You were absolutely right to report it, and I’m relieved that your supervisor took it seriously and was similarly appalled.

      Yes, you have a past history of being a victim of sexual harassment, but that really has no bearing on this current incident: Any reasonable person would find it disturbing.

      You trusted your instincts in both situations, and that was the correct thing to do.

      1. Olivia*

        It’s possible he thought I was a guy. (I’m very petite, have a pixie cut, don’t wear make up, and wear lose fitted clothes. I’ve been mistaken for a young boy outside of work before.)

        But don’t men’s rooms have urinals, so he should have realized something was wrong when he went in and saw only stalls, right?

        1. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

          Yes, you are correct.

          Additionally, you are very new in this workplace, and I’m guessing he has been there longer. How long does it take to learn the correct restroom?!

          I suspect this is not an isolated incident with this man. I would not be surprised if he has a history of entering the women’s restroom (or similar transgressions).

          So even if he wasn’t intending to be offensive, hopefully the message to the maintenance supervisor will be effective.

          In re-reading your original statement, I’m not thrilled that your supervisor asked you, the brand-new worker, to tell the receptionist. She’s your supervisor, and should have taken on this task for you.

          I’m also concerned that the receptionist’s first reaction was to make excuses for this guy. =(

          Does this company have an HR department? I’m not saying you need to file a report there now, but if you see anything else that makes you uncomfortable on a safety level, I’d be going to HR right quick.

          1. Observer*

            In re-reading your original statement, I’m not thrilled that your supervisor asked you, the brand-new worker, to tell the receptionist. She’s your supervisor, and should have taken on this task for you.

            On the other hand, the OP is not a child and she is the one who knows exactly what happened.

    6. Invisible Fish*

      The not closing the door is the big problem for me. I’ve worked on small campuses where adults share the bathroom (think back to the old Ally McBeal show), and rest assured that if any of my colleague had left a stall door open while using the facilities, I’d be going straight to the top about it, because that person was either under the influence at work or having some sort of stroke. (I’m not saying that to be funny or snarky – I’m serious. People who use a shared restroom know they’re using a shared restroom, and they behave appropriately- failure to do so means something is wrong! And your restroom wasn’t even shared!!! Oh my word!!) Adults don’t relieve themselves in front of other adults in public. Someone purposefully doing that was meaning to make you feel uncomfortable at the very least. Bringing it up was exactly the right thing to do- a business can’t let its employees feel uncomfortable like that.

  34. Legal Question*

    What can I do if a lawyer won’t get back to me? My parents hired an attorney, and we reviewed what was done and saw there was an error (like Mom’s name is Beth and in one of the docs it says Christine). It has been over a month since we contacted the attorney (we don’t live in the same state as they do) and she still hasn’t mailed them the correction; she currently works from home (not that we could go there and knock on the office door), and we have emailed and left voice mails. We finally got a response that she would send out the correction but as of Friday it had been over a week and they still haven’t received it.

    1. JobHopper*

      Not a lawyer, but could you contact the state bar association?
      If that lawyer is in private practice, do they have to be in court for a different client? It could explain being so hard to reach.

      1. Legal Question*

        She doesn’t do court stuff, anyway it’s the not getting back to us that’s concerning us!

    2. Not a cat*

      Don’t know where you or the lawyer is located, but is it possible that USPS (assuming this is the courier) is either slow to deliver or lost the document?

      1. Legal Question*

        Of course, it’s possible….they live about 30 miles away from each other. It’s just so frustrating! She’s an elder law attorney (or so it says) and this is an error in a will for an 86 year old! And she didn’t send it out immediately after we contacted her, she waited THREE WEEKS to tell me she would do it “tomorrow.”

        1. PollyQ*

          I’d say it’s time to start looking for another lawyer, then. This one seems to be bad at her job in a variety of ways, and I’d be concerned that whatever will she eventually produces might have serious flaws.

    3. Tesseract*

      The lawyers in my city were swamped with wills with the pandemic. Ours was super behind & slow & she’s still not caught up. It doesn’t help your situation but maybe attorneys are overwhelmed.

  35. queen b*

    am I able to ask for a raise if I already got a cost of living increase? I would like to ask for 10% raise because my responsibilities have changed dramatically since I was hired, but I’m not sure if it’s “allowed” to ask for it after a COL raise – are these seen as different? advice appreciated!!

    1. queen b*

      or maybe it wasn’t a COL thing, I guess it was like a “performance” raise but everyone at the company gets one

    2. ThatGirl*

      Yes, if you have a good reason such as responsibilities changing dramatically, but the best time to do it is at a performance review.

      1. queen b*

        Yeah, unfortunately the performance review just passed. Well, it was in February but I guess that is long ago now that I think about it.

        1. Nonny-nonny-non*

          Depending on your company, it may be too late by the time you have your performance review. At my company we start our budget planning in August for the following year (Jan-Dec), and then in January individual raises are agreed for ‘delivery’ to the person in Feb-March to take effect in April. Someone asking during the performance review would be out of luck that year.
          I would suggest talking to your manager now, and if they agree you should get an increase, ask them something like “Is there a formal process or time frame that I should follow?”
          Good luck!

  36. Victorian Woes*

    Real Estate Professionals:

    How long are you tied to an agent?

    Story: Partner signed an offer contract for a house. Seller officially declined the offer. We asked our agent to ask some follow up questions – she did not. We’ve decided (for various reasons including negligence) to change realtors.

    We still want the house in question, we were the highest offer but they don’t want a VA loan offer (house probably won’t pass their inspection, it’s a Victorian) so we’d have to change to a conventional or rehab.

    Since the offer was declined (and we are doing our own leg work trying to negotiate a deal) are we still tied to that agent if we eventually purchase this specific house?

    1. Reba*

      Did you sign an agreement with the agent? If yes, it should say how to terminate the exclusive relationship. If they are part of a brokerage you could also go o”ver their head” to figure out what to do.

      If there is no agreement, there is no tie to the agent.

      1. Victorian Woes*

        No signed agreement for her to represent us (him) in general, just the offer for that particular property.

        1. Reba*

          Hopefully people from the realtor side will weigh in. (All I know is from getting way too into Nolo when buying a home myself!)

          Unless you live in a state with implied agency rules (enforceable even without written contract), you have nothing keeping you from working with someone else on the same property. I believe state realtor boards establish their rules for what counts as procuring cause (what makes the transaction happen) which would entitle an agent to commission. You haven’t signed anything with her, but look into implied agency and procuring cause to be sure she would not be able to pursue the commission.

          Give a heads up to the agent that you’re breaking up, to have a clear record of the “firing.”

          You should also run this situation by your new agent/agent you’re considering–if any issues the agents would work it out between themselves. Maybe a real estate lawyer if you’ve had any contact with one of them so far.

    2. Generic Name*

      I’m confused about who is who here. Are you the buyer? And are you asking if you are tied to the seller’s agent? Or are you the buyer with a buyer’s agent asking about separating from your buyer’s agent? Or something else? Did you sign any contracts (other than the offer to purchase) with an agent? Typically sellers will sign with a seller’s agent. Buyer’s agents typically don’t come with a contractual obligation. If you did sign a contract, read it. It should have the terms of the length of the contract (typically a few months) and how to end the contract.

      1. Victorian Woes*

        I am the partner of the buyer (he has a VA loan to use, we are not married, I cannot be on the loan).
        We (partner and myself) found a house. Buying agent put in an offer, it was rejected. No exclusivity agreement was signed, only the offer agreement for a particular house.
        Since the offer was declined by the seller we have terminated our relationship with our buying agent (there were a host of problems and we wanted to cut ties).
        Partner and I have circled back to the house and still want it. We’ve now spoken with the selling agent and he’s answered some questions about why the offer was declined. We’d like to put in a new offer (using a new agent) but aren’t sure if we have an obligation to the first agent.
        She didn’t find us this house (I did) only submitted paperwork (which had errors, like name misspelling).

        1. Generic Name*

          Ok, that is more clear. :) if you didn’t sign a contract with your buyers agent, then yeah, you can cut them loose and use another agent.

  37. Sarah*

    So I went back to school for an accounting degree and always intended to go into nonprofit or government work once I was done (fields I’d worked in before), but I’ve been receiving a lot of advice to go into public accounting after graduating to get my feet wet. Yes, I see the benefits of it, and it would probably be much easier to get a job (very important to me, sick of being a broke zillenial), but the hours…

    It’s not even that I don’t want to do it, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to manage more than a few months of 60+ hour weeks. But beggars can’t be choosers. Does anyone who works in accounting have an advice here?

    1. The Dude Abides*

      Don’t go public just to “get your feet wet.”

      I got my feet wet in non-profit, and am now in government. I’m not making what my brethren in bigger cities are making, but I also have a good work/life balance and enjoy what I do.

      1. Sarah*

        Do you feel like nonprofits are okay with hiring new graduates for accounting positions? (I’ve gotten entry-level admin positions before, but the learning curve is lower there.)

        1. Lifelong student*

          Unless you are working for the finance department or something similar in a larger entity, most new grads do little more than bookkeeping/data entry.

    2. Lifelong student*

      Generally the excessive work weeks are only during “busy season”- usually from Jan 1 to April 15. This is when taxes and year end audits happen most heavily.

      The advantages to doing your slave labor in public accounting are-
      1. Exposure to different elements of accounting
      2. Contacts
      3. Practical experience under guidance of professionals
      4. May be necessary to get a CPA license- varies by state.

      While I only did public for three years, it was invaluable for my future career.

      1. Sarah*

        The fact that I got two exact opposite answers if proof of the dilemma haha. Thank you for the insight–I’ll keep it in mind.

    3. Accounting Student*

      I’m currently studying accounting and just finished working a full time internship (co-op) in private, but am planning on going public for my next co-op and then hopefully working in public full time for a bit before switching to some form of non-public accounting. So, similar to you I don’t yet have first hand experience, but I’ve done a lot of research and talked to a bunch of people with first hand experience for their perspectives/experiences.
      I recommend talking to as many people as possible who are actually in or who just got out of the public companies you’re looking at. Most people I’ve talked to got out between 1-3 years of public accounting, so it’s not unusual to move on as soon you can, while still having gotten that experience.
      Hours vary widely based on time of year, specific team, and specific company. Not all tax seasons are Jan-April – for some ex. the busy season is primarily August – October. It also varies a lot based on company.
      One of my friends going into external audit at Big 4 went with D because she talked to people actually working there, PwC and EY, and D had the fewest hours. (Still a ton of overtime, but it was something along the lines of 55hrs/wk instead of 65 or 75 hrs/wk. (not sure on the exact numbers)) So definitely talk directly to people with first hand experience, not just recruiters who may or may not have an accurate idea.

      1. Accounting Student*

        I realize this doesn’t directly answer your question of whether or not to go public, but hopefully it gives you an idea of how to get more information toward deciding.
        If you talk to people you can also all about how long busy seasons are, since my impression is that for some teams it’s ~3 months/yr and then you basically get a bunch of vacation or really light weeks when it’s over, whereas other teams are more year round depending what they do, so that’s important to find out also.
        Good luck with whatever you decide!

      2. Sarah*

        Thanks for the advice! I’ll try to reach out to other students–I haven’t interned anywhere, so I really don’t know what I’m doing asghjk

    4. Canadian Valkyrie*

      My husband went straight into industry as an accountant. He’s adamant that he’d never do public because of the hours. He works for a large company and has gotten loads of experience through them through a series of promotions. He has gotten great experience, loves the org, is happy never to have done public work, and gets compensated well for his work.

    5. Koala dreams*

      There are many accounting firms out there, not only the big famous ones. Generally, accounting has busy and less busy periods, but regular overtime for months on end isn’t necessary. More experience is always good, but different types of experience is valuable in their own right. Overtime hours isn’t the point.

      I would recommend working somewhere you aren’t the only accountant, so you have co-workers to discuss with when you are new. An accounting firm (famous or not) is good, larger organizations with big accounting departments are good too. If you end up at, let’s say, an utility company instead of a non-profit, it isn’t the whole world, you can still use the experience later, it’ll just take longer to get where you want.

      As an anecdote, I regretted being unfamiliar with restaurants when I started out. We had restaurant clients, but having never worked in hospitality, I had to ask so many stupid questions in the beginning. Now it’s funny, but back then it was embarrassing. You’ll never know what kind of experience will be useful in the future. ;)

  38. English, not American*

    When it comes to “reasonable adjustments” for a protected class such as disability, is it unethical to request something that you don’t specifically need to make your job more accessible, but that would help with life in general?

    For example, my ideal in-office/WFH work pattern would be to work in the office in the morning and from home in the afternoon, because that makes it easiest to structure my non-work life and not get overwhelmed. The overwhelm is part of the recognised “disability”, but having that work pattern as a reasonable adjustment doesn’t make my work more accessible, it makes life outside of work easier to manage. Which would reduce non-work stressors being able to affect work, but that’s indirect at best.

    I can see both sides to the argument but have no clue about professional norms. (Though lucky for me this question is moot in my current office)

    1. SarahKay*

      It doesn’t sound unethical to me. You have fewer ‘spoons’ to use overall; if you need less of them for non-work then you have more to go around and both work and home will benefit.

    2. Unfettered scientist*

      Hmmm I would think this isn’t reasonable to ask for. Accommodations are for work, not for your life in general. Sure lots of things would make our lives more convenient and it’s totLly ethical to ask for those changes, but couching it as a disability request seems off to me but maybe that’s just my take.

    3. Unfettered scientist*

      Amending my advice slightly: I see no issue in requesting this. I’d just say lay out the info as you have it here and you sound very reasonable and willing to take no as an answer. As long as you’re honest about it as you are here I see no issue.

    4. Disco Janet*

      What do you mean by “easier to structure non-work life”? If you’re referring to, for example, it being easier to get chores done around the house, schedule repairs or deliveries or anything like that, etc., then I don’t think this is fair to ask for as it’s not a work related accommodation, And calling it disability related is a bit of stretch when this would make life easier to manage for anyone, disability or not.

      But since this is a hypothetical, whether or not a business would agree to this depends on the business. In some places it’s important for workers to be on site and this wouldn’t be considered a reasonable accommodation. In others it doesn’t matter and they’d probably agree to it. My job can’t be done off site, so I would be unable to request this type of accommodation.

      1. English, not American*

        I think I phrased the whole thing badly.

        My assumption would be that it’s a role that can be done from home at a business that allows working from home in some capacity, as that’s how all of my roles have been. The weird thing would be the specific arrangement of in vs out of office not being based on whole days. Obviously roles that require presence on-site wouldn’t work with this at all!

        The point is psychological/energy-based rather than just chores (though of course it wouldn’t hurt chore-wise). Having the clear separation and deadline of “going to work” in the morning is somehow much easier for me than rolling out of bed and starting work by 9am, but spending the whole day in the office is very draining (i.e. every 2-3 weeks I’d come home, have dinner, then sleep for 12 hours). So the combo of morning office and afternoon home means maximum outside-of-work energy. Which is obviously much better for quality of life (and having the energy to get chores done!), but since work was the energy-priority a weird WFH schedule wouldn’t change that.

      2. Observer*

        If you’re referring to, for example, it being easier to get chores done around the house, schedule repairs or deliveries or anything like that, etc., then I don’t think this is fair to ask for as it’s not a work related accommodation

        What makes it unfair? The OP is not claiming that this is the only way they can do their job. Why is it somehow “unfair” to ask for something that will make their life easier? Now, I would say that the employer has a lower obligation to provide this accomodati0n because it’s not directly work related. But there is nothing unfair about asking – just as there is nothing unfair with someone else asking for a different schedule to accommodate some other need.

        People can ask for flexibility. And smart and good employers provide it when it’s realistic.

    5. Generic Name*

      If you didn’t get this accommodation, would you be able to work at your ideal productivity rate indefinitely, or would you end up needing a medical leave of absence or have to cut back to part time in order to juggle life plus work? How much capital do you have at your job and how remote friendly are they generally? I had a similar arrangement so I could pick up my child from middle school. I left the office mid-afternoon, did pick up, and then worked the remaining hours in my home office. I have a lot of capital at my job and we are very remote friendly, so that helped. I wouldn’t say that this request is crazy or anything, but it is unconventional. I assume your disability is protected by the ADA? This arrangement could be the first step in the discussion you have with your employer regarding reasonable accommodation.

      1. English, not American*

        Equality Act, technically, but it’s very similar to the ADA from what I understand.

        I can maintain optimal productivity indefinitely during work hours, but it comes at the expense of my non-work life, which is what’s behind this question. My work wouldn’t be improved because I prioritise it energy-wise, but I’d be able to function better outside of work and not lose an evening a fortnight to sleeping it off.

        Fortunately at my current job this kind of work pattern (once we’re back in the office, government advice is still to work from home if possible) would fall under the new flexible work policy, so this is hypothetical.

    6. RagingADHD*

      This isn’t a question of ethics. It would only be a question of ethics if you were lying or trying to trick someone.

      Ask for what will make it easier to deal with your disability, while also being a productive employee.

      You might get it you might not. But it’s certainly appropriate and ethical to ask.

    7. Alexis Rosay*

      You’re generally allowed to ask for things that will make your outside of work life better, as long as those accommodations don’t hurt your ability to contribute at work, whether or not they relate to a disability. For example, having a long commute is generally recognized as a valid reason to ask for some days working from home, but not a guarantee of having it approved. This seems pretty similar.

      If it were my employee, it would help me if they committed to specific ‘off’ and ‘on’ times for this schedule (e.g., will officially be ‘out of office from 12 – 1 but will be back online at 1 working from home) and if they could pro-actively address any issues this might cause for the business (for example, if X client is only available for meetings in the afternoon, you’re willing to be flexible), but that’s going to be different for each position.

    8. Observer*

      , is it unethical to request something that you don’t specifically need to make your job more accessible, but that would help with life in general?

      Why would it be unethical. Obviously, don’t misrepresent the situation. But other than that, I can’t see any ethical implications to asking for what you want. Unless you are asking for something that itself presents an ethical problem. Like if you wanted permission to violate policy and have a “liquid lunch” once week, sure that’s an ethical problem.

      But “Hey, can I have this schedule that will make my life easier”? What is the ethical problem here?

      1. Disco Janet*

        To answer your question here and in your response to me – I think ethics come into play because we’re talking about a work disability accommodation, and this accommodation would be helpful to most people but (presumably, based on OP’s question) not available to those without a work-related disability even though the connection between the two is questionable.

        1. Observer*

          You have not pointed to anything unethical or unfair, though. For one thing, there is nothing inherent in the request that prevents the company from being equally flexible to others in a similar position. For another, there is no ethical “rule” that an employer may only ever do something to help someone with their work but must NOT help an employee with things that could help them out of work.

          Add to it that this accommodation is probably far more useful to the OP than to most other people.

          I simply cannot understand the idea that someone one must never ask for something unless every single other person can have THAT thing. I would much rather see my employer help employees with whatever helps them, even if I can’t take advantage of it. And I’ll admit that part of it is pragmatic – I hope that my employer will be equally flexible with me, if I need something that others don’t value.

        2. RagingADHD*

          How is that a matter of ethics, though?

          You’re talking about reasonableness, or whether it would be a good policy decision for the employer — which is the employer’s call to make.

          Even if it were totally unreasonable, what ethical principle does that violate?

    9. Micans*

      So. I think that half-days in the office would certainly count as an adjustment that it would be reasonable to ask about. Amongst other things, that’s because having someone able to function better in their life overall will pretty much inevitably impact on their work in some way sooner or later (whether that’s in improving your mood generally and thus the relationships you’re able to build with your coworkers, or in preventing burnout, or whatever else) and because good organisations want their employees to be well and happy. For those reasons I’d actually say that, given that it would impact your health and wellbeing, it’s not at all irrelevant to your work life. I don’t think there’s anything at all unethical about asking.

      It’s then up to the organisation to decide whether from their point of view the accommodation requested is a reasonable reasonable under the terms of the equality act, which it may or may not be depending on the specifics of the organisation, role, etc. – but that’s for them to assess.

      If you approach this being open about the reasons you’re asking, and understanding that the answer may be a no, then I think this is a totally ok thing to bring up.

    10. DJ*

      I personally think this is an okay thing to ask for. One way to look at it is this: if you didn’t have this job, and you were free to structure your day as you liked, presumably you would be exposed to less stress/overwhelm than you are when you work at the job. So the job is adding stress/overwhelm that wouldn’t otherwise be there and you’re asking to decrease how much stress/overwhelm it’s adding, because it aggravates a medical condition.

      As for whether it interferes with your ability to do the job itself: imagine that you had migraines and every day at 5 PM your employer rang a really loud bell to signal the end of the day, and the loud sound triggered your migraines. Technically, the bell would not be interfering with your ability to work, since your work would already be done when it rang, but I think we’d all agree it’s reasonable to ask that they either stop ringing the bell or let you be elsewhere when it happens, since it aggravates your medical condition.

      1. DJ*

        I’m gonna add to what I said: I think the feeling of guilt about asking for stuff like this comes from the fact that we have a culture where we’re taught it’s normal for employment to be a one-sided, exploitative relationship where the employee’s needs are never a consideration. So, when we know that everyone we work with would be better off if they could get some small accommodation that they’ve been denied, it feels unfair that a diagnosis suddenly changes things, and gives us leverage to ask for better working conditions.

        The problem is not that people with a medical condition shouldn’t ask for accommodations — the problem is that EVERYONE should be able to get basic accommodations, and it’s very unfair that they aren’t. But you are not the one doing something wrong by asking — your employer is doing something wrong by saying no to people unless they have a diagnosis.

  39. How to School?*

    I just finished a co-op (working full time as an internship) and tomorrow I start back at college classes. Any suggestions for getting back into school mode, especially with very strict professors/a ton of work outside of class? It’s easy going from classes to co-op – suddenly I’m getting paid, have a set schedule, and no work outside of my set schedule. It’s really hard going from co-op back to classes – Studying? Homework? What are these things and how do I do them?
    Also, I’m taking 2 classes which each meet for 3.5 hours twice a week, and at at least one of them will be entirely remote.
    Any advice? Especially about planning and structuring my days to get everything done while not feeling like literally all I do is remote schoolwork.

    1. Anima*

      I’m sorry, I have no advice. I have been in Zoom school for the past two semesters, and it really is “all I do is remote school”. I try to fit one thing outside per day in my schedule, so I don’t get backaches from sitting (no standing desk), but that’s about it. Some days I have back to back classes from 8 to 5. Push through it and good luck!

  40. UnderACloud*

    I am in a quandary and I could use some advice. After doing contract work when I lost my job at the beginning of the pandemic, I got a great job 6 months ago as a director in a company in my field. It has been going well, with good feedback from my manager, his boss, and my team. I even got a preview of my mid year review from my boss, who said I was doing very well and that his thoughts and mine for what I should work on for the next 6 months were in alignment. Sounds good, right? Yeah… about that.

    2 days after I got this great preview, we had our weekly managers meeting. My boss announced that our department was going to have (another) major reorg in the coming months. We will be sending many of our team members to another department and we will be left with a newly renamed department with fewer but more focused and highly skilled members. All sounds good, right? Well, guess who will not have a position with this new department? With fewer people, they won’t need so many directors.

    I figured that out pretty fast during the meeting and I was very upset. My boss cut the meeting short and called me directly. (All of this was on camera, so there was no hiding my emotions. I do NOT have a poker face when being told my job is being eliminated.) He stressed that the company does not throw people away and that every effort would be made to figure out another spot for me. (I have other skills that are useful to the company and that is part of why I was hired.) His boss also reached out to me – twice! – to reiterate the same things. It all sounds very nice and I know they mean well, but all the reassurance will still not guarantee me a job.

    So what do I do? Hang around and wait and see if they do find or create another position for me? Or cut my losses and start job hunting? Every time I think I have found a great job that will last for a while, something happens. I feel cursed.

    1. Sarah*

      So sorry about this :( It *sounds* like they really will try to find a position for you, so I wouldn’t assume that they’re trying to provide hollow reassurances. Do you have a timeline of when your boss will be able to give you more info?

      1. UnderACloud*

        Not any exact timing. I think that’s mostly because they don’t really have everything worked out yet. And I can’t talk to anyone in the company about this (other than my fellow directors) because it is all very hush hush and very few people know about this. It is very stressful because I am the breadwinner and my salary is what keeps the lights on and the rent paid. I really hate this kind of thing.

        1. Sarah*

          It sounds like it may be good to start taking a casual look at what’s out there right now, update your resume, etc. Not necessarily start your job search just yet, but get ready to, if you know what I mean. In a couple months, you’ll probably have a clearer picture of whether or not you’ll be staying on–until then, I would try not to worry (so easy to say, I know). If it does in fact look like you’ll be laid off, you’ll be ready.

          1. UnderACloud*

            I’ve updated my resume and started looking around. I just don’t know how I’ll deal with interviewing if someone asks me why am I job hunting when I have my dream job. This will not be fun. Thanks for responding.

            1. Bon voyage*

              If you get to that point, something like “an anticipated reorganization is unfortunately making the position redundant” or something similar would explain it. Good luck–I hope you land in a great spot.

            2. Observer*

              Simple answer “My employer is reorganizing so my job will be changing substantially.”

    2. Rick T*

      Those aren’t binary choices! You can start job hunting now, you don’t have to move forward with applications/etc. if you do get a new position. If nothing else it will give you an update on competitive compensation moving forward.

    3. really*

      I can definitely understand that you would be upset — because this is! upsetting! I really don’t like the look of a discussion about this in a zoom meeting thinking you wouldn’t pick up on the subtext or whatever. However, most of the time the biggest pay bumps you get are when you move to another position in a new organization. So — just look. Look even if you don’t think you want to go. Look just because you want to play it safe and take good care of yourself. Then if your office reorg means you move to another position within the company, you may have some backing to say, hey, this is what I am worth in another role at another company, can you match this? Maybe they won’t be so cavalier about reorgs that are announced cold in a meeting…. Maybe they will give thought about repositioning people BEFORE they announce reorgs….. And maybe you will receive a significant raise or a better job with higher pay at another company. You are not at their mercy/ you have power here too!!

    4. Can Can Cannot*

      Start looking now. Even if they find you another job, there no telling whether it is something that you would want to do. Better to keep your options open and actively look for something else.

    5. Voluptuousfire*

      Def spruce up your resume and casually look. Also try turning on the “open to new opportunities” feature on LinkedIn if you have a profile. It’s a hot market and you may get recruiters reaching out to you about roles directly and that could shore up your professional confidence a bit.

      It’s not the green “open to work” thing. It would come up in a recruiter search—a subtle way of letting recruiters know you’re interested in new opportunities.

  41. Carbovore*

    I may be late to the party on this topic in that it may have been hashed out in comment threads ad nauseum already but I’ve been away from the AAM posts for a long time.

    How is everyone feeling about return to work? I work in higher ed and we’re being called back full time as of August. This month, we have a two-day in-office schedule while teleworking the rest of the time. (After having been teleworking full-time for 15 months.) I’m feeling grateful that I survived the pandemic (I had undiagnosed Crohn’s disease last year that was quite literally killing me and I couldn’t get in to see anyone) and in general, feeling happy about getting back to work and re-establishing some home/work boundaries. I’m aware that many people don’t feel the same way for a variety of reasons–some more understandable than others.

    How are people dealing with coworkers refusing to come back? It’s definitely starting some inequities in my office already–we are moving to a new building by the end of the year and well!–moving generally requires people to come to work! (Cleaning and purging files, packing, etc.) We have a handful who are digging their heels in. I’m the “HR rep” for my office in that I direct people to centralized resources but have no official training–some employees have medical needs that will likely be accommodated but we have others who are just pissed and feel “something has been taken from them.” Am I the only one that feels like we were GIVEN something? We got to telework for 15 months. No one in my office died or got sick. We got to stop paying for parking. We didn’t lose pay or our jobs. Maybe it’s because I worked in retail for 10 years prior and would have been one of these frontline workers had I continued but geez… If people want to resign or change work because they’ve fallen in love with telework, I totally get it, and people have that right… but the whining and stand-offs happening with management are nuts to me. It’s definitely at best going to sour team relationships. (For the record–our director and uni have made guidelines and processes for people to come up with hybrid work plans–but for our unit right now, the director wants us to get through this move and then address that. I find it reasonable.)

    1. Lizy*

      Check the recent posts. It’s definitely been discussed.

      I’m not “going back” to the office. I’ve been there the whole time. Our offices closed to the public, but I still went in every day.

    2. Colette*

      It sounds to me that you have a management problem – management needs to stop accepting the whining and impose consequences.

      1. Carbovore*

        Oh, I totally agree. Part of the problem is we’re being told to wait for guidance from the uni leadership but…. obviously, they aren’t coming out and saying what will be done about these nuanced issues. Everyone keeps getting directed to call the staff relations unit. So, a lot of managers are managing in a fear-based way–they don’t know what they’re allowed to do or not do yet so a lot are sitting back while the chaos ramps up.

        I’m hoping this next month will make it all abundantly clear and a lot of the needling and contrarian discussions happening might be alleviated.

    3. Anyhow*

      I has been discussed quite a lot. Check recent weeks/months.

      For what it’s worth, I agree with you. *Note, I’ve am a middle school/high school teacher who went back in August 2020 to hybrid teaching. That means that every single day, every single class period, I had some students who were face-to-face while at the exact same time others were remote. The F2F v. Remote rosters changed daily. I’ve been teaching for thirty-five years. I’ve taught as a TA at the university level, I’ve taught abroad, I’ve taught in public schools and in private schools. This experience from last year was the most stressful teaching experience I’ve ever had. Not exaggerating. JMO, but I think some, not all, of your colleagues are being quite unreasonable.

      1. Carbovore*

        It’s definitely a staff issue–faculty and students are ecstatic to be back. We’ll see how the uni deals with some of it. The August deadline looms closer and while the uni isn’t saying how it’s going to tackle recalcitrant folks out loud, methinks some swift consequences are on the horizon. Our uni president has already said–Our students come to this school for the education AND the experience. And we need faculty and staff who will support an in-person experience.

        1. Anyhow*

          Exactly — if your colleagues want a job that’s 100% remote, then it sounds like they should search for them. There are some jobs that will no longer be remote — or may be only be partially remote. People need to get on board with that or find another job. Period.

    4. Tali*

      I don’t think it’s fair to say that people who worked remotely were “given” something, in the sense that no one died or lost their jobs. What a low bar! There’s no need to give credit for staying minimally compliant with health codes, especially when “no one got sick or died” is just as much a matter of luck elsewhere in life. You can be grateful for your luck in life but don’t thank your employer for that.

      I think a lot of the frustration is because people were forced home and realized how ridiculous it to get dressed and commute just to sit at a desk and look at a screen. I can understand that. But honestly I don’t know why your coworkers are upset that they have to physically come in to help move office–that’s not something you can do remotely and seems perfectly reasonable to me.

  42. Lizabeth*

    I am in the process of thinking how much effort I should be putting in to make sure a coworker does their job in order to do mine. Lately read in the Washington Post about a husband planning his daughter’s birthday party rather than his wife doing it and about how much women carry the mental labor to keeping a household running. And I saw how much that applies to my work situation – the coworker in question won’t change and management won’t do anything about the behavior. I have a remote set up that has been working well since 2018 so there is no in-office to deal with, and I have amply proven that the work gets done in a timely manner on my end. This situation works well for me at the moment – although I have been send out resumes to job openings that sound particularly appealing, but nothing has come of that other that a first round phone call. I am exploring starting my own business on the side to retire into.

    This coworker is really bad with simple things such as spelling of a collection name or the designer’s name, often having things spelled differently within one email. Or basic communication about whether I will be handling the collection project or not. Both of these things have been mentioned repeatedly in emails with TPTB cc’d. It doesn’t make much difference or change behavior – and this is after working with this coworker for 15 years under various bosses.

    I am inclined to stop questioning things that look off (and usually are wrong) and just let the cards fall where they land. I would like to hear other people’s thoughts on this.

    1. Carbovore*

      I’ve had various iterations of this coworker and sometimes this tactic worked and sometimes it didn’t–it really depends on your management or this person’s boss.

      I would just stop doing what they asked. It wasn’t my job. Was adding to my workload. (A few of these types would also deign to argue with me about how I did their work. I’ll do the dishes but you sure as heck aren’t going to tell me HOW to do them!) You can do this fairly non-aggressively: “Hi Bob, sorry, I’m swamped with my own projects at the moment. Maybe ask Sheila or your supervisor how to handle this one.” (I’m assuming of course that these tasks aren’t part of your job… if they are and this person just sucks at giving you good copy to work with, you might be stuck.)

      This tactic would either work in that the person was stuck dealing with their own badly produced work (and getting consequences from their boss/others) or sometimes it didn’t work–once, in particular, I was promoted and people kept expecting me to do my old job because I was “better at it” than the person they absorbed from another unit due to a merger. I kept explaining that I didn’t have the time to do both jobs (for crappy pay!) and I basically got told to shut up and deal or leave. So I left.

      Try to gauge what kind of management you’re working with first. If you suspect the latter–keep job searching and quietly leave on good terms. I uh…. sort of blew my old job up with several HR grenades and left on not great terms. It didn’t effect my current job but I just wouldn’t recommend it because of all the stress.

    2. Colette*

      Are you in some way responsible for his work? If not, I’d offer opinions when asked, but wouldn’t volunteer them (and maybe be clear that you’ve been doing it and are going to stop.)

      1. Lizabeth*

        No I’m not but if something is spelled wrong and it gets printed that way it becomes my problem. And said coworker does participate in proofing and thinks they are good at it…which they’re not since things get caught by someone else after they “proof” something on a regular basis.

        1. Colette*

          Is it your problem because people get upset with you? Because you need to fix it?

          There’s something to be said for letting the consequences happen, but it’s also OK to decide that fixing the issues early is easier for you than letting your coworker fail. Could you talk with your manager about the time/effort it’s taking for you?

          1. Lizabeth*

            The managers are hands off and won’t deal with this coworker problem on any level. They are cc’d on every email about a problem or a clarification. Rarely do they respond and the coworker has a Ph.D in deflection if a conversation steers towards them being held responsible (real or imaginary) for something. It’s an amazing thing to watch in person. It’s not worth having a conversation with said coworker because it’s like trying to teach a cow to sing. I don’t get paid enough to waste mental labor on this coworker anymore. I’ve been listening to what they say and watching what they do for 15 years – their behavior doesn’t recommend them. But like I said earlier I’ve been working remotely for almost 3 years and that in itself is really working for me, which is why I still work for this company.

            1. Colette*

              The managers don’t have to deal with it if you are doing it for them – but if it starts causing real problems, they might decide it’s worth the effort.

  43. Pharmgirl*

    Any pharmacists here that work in specialty pharmacy and provide on call services? Would you be willing to share the on call rate and what’s expected of you when on call? Just trying to see if what my company is offering is online with industry standards.

  44. Goes On Anon*

    I’m dying to gossip but I can’t so please let me scream into the void.

    My ex-boss had 2 job interviews last week and they went really well and she wants to be out by September and I really hope it goes well for her because she deserves it.

    Also she told me I’m extremely good at my job and new-boss would be lost without me and I was so touched I almost teared up a bit.

    Anyways. I’ve never been told something so nice from someone I respected so much and gosh. I will miss her when she leaves. :(

    1. Anyhow*

      Best Wishes to your boss.

      Also, that’s outstanding that you got some praise from someone you respect.

  45. KristinaL*

    Are education-related questions OK?

    I wrote a program that’s supposed to help learn more vocabulary, but I think it might not be as helpful as I was hoping. When you run it, you pick a word list, then it shows you a word on the list and gives you 4 options where the word is being used. (Some of the options are supposed to be at least kind of silly to get people to find it more interesting.) You pick the option that matches the word definition, and it tells you if you’re right and gives you a link that will google the definition of the word.

    I put it online, but I don’t know that it’s that interesting. Maybe this kind of thing can[‘t ever be all that fun.

    I’ve been thinking about either:
    1. Adding code so that when you answer a question right it shows you 10 percent of a picture, so if you get it all right, you can see the whole picture (animals or nature or something). If you miss some, I’d modify it to give people more chances to get it right and see the whole picture.
    2. Giving up on the program and instead writing very short stories (maybe a few sentences) about some of the words so that it’s clear by context what the word is about.

    What do you think?

    1. Disco Janet*

      There are already a lot of existing educational apps and websites that do similar things – what is this program being created for, would be my question.

      My students prefer gimkit or quizziz for review, and they do have vocab review on there (or teachers can create their own.) Gimkit for reviewing as a group, and quizizz for individual.

      1. Anyhow*

        I agree with Disco Janet. In addition to Gimkit and Quizizz, the OP should look at Kahoot! and Quizlet. There are numerous popular vocabulary learning games online.

      2. KristinaL*

        I wrote it mainly for my nephews and nieces, thinking they might enjoy it or at least that it might be useful. I put it online so that others could try it if they want.

        I probably shouldn’t have bothered, I guess, but it seemed like a fun idea. I’ve been working on a list of words that I thought might be useful – mainly words that are written but usually aren’t spoken much. Words like begrudgingly profusely inciting apathy.

    2. Koala dreams*

      That sounds like fun! Is it meant as a programming experience for you or to teach words? Just curious. I think the picture idea sounds great.

      Don’t give up just because people point out drawbacks. Even famous apps like Duolingo get plenty of harsh criticism. You can’t appease everyone. You do you!

      1. KristinaL*

        Thanks! I got the idea because I’m related to some kids who are smart but not really into reading (I love to read, but not everyone does), and I was thinking that there are a lot of words that show up in books that aren’t usually said in normal conversations. I thought if I could make it kind of fun, maybe this would make it easier for them to learn the words, which could be very helpful for SAT testing.

    3. A Girl Named Fred*

      What if you combined your current iteration with your idea in number 2? Make it sort of like a choose-your-own adventure game, but selecting the choice that uses the word’s correct definition takes you a better way or something. (Of course, I could easily see this backfiring and making kids want to choose the ridiculous option to get the funnier story, but depending on how you implement that it could still be educational! Or implement only X number of failures per story, etc.)

      Good luck! Sounds like a fun project :)

    4. D3*

      With the way you describe the program, it sounds like you’re not *teaching* vocabulary so much as testing to see if they already know it. And that means the error rate will be high, which means users will get frustrated and give up. Especially if you’re aiming it at kids!
      You have to give them the tools to succeed before you test them.

    5. KristinaL*

      Removed since it looks like you’ve left over a dozen links to your site on previous posts. Once was fine, but please don’t continue to link to it; if I allow it, other people will want to link to or promote their own businesses and I can’t vet a high volume of those or keep out spam if that’s happening. Thank you. – Alison

      1. KristinaL*

        Sorry about that. I’ll stop doing that. It’s not really a business, at least not yet. I just have a small web site that doesn’t even have ads on it. Based on some of the replies I got, I’m not sure it’s even worth me working on it anyway.

        1. KristinaL*

          I didn’t mean to sound argumentative by saying it’s not a business. Just trying to explain.

          I won’t post the link at askamanager again.

    6. anonymath*

      Honestly it sounds like a fun project that you should continue to play with and test out on family and friends, and also one in a crowded business field. Take this opportunity to do business research, improve your coding skills, learn more about entrepreneurship — and figure that those experiences can help you in interviews for coding positions that will pay much more than a side project.

      Side projects definitely can result in revenue etc., but don’t be surprised if it takes years to get there. The immediate return on side projects is the skills they allow you to demonstrate in interviews for higher-paying jobs.

  46. Help*

    I’m in a toxic job and am often emotionally manipulated and bullied by a couple of coworkers. It’s really starting to affect me and my health, interactions, etc. Until I can find a new job and leave, how do you deal with this? Once I’ve found a new job and am out of the place, how do I not let it affect me in my new position?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Tell your manager in a new job what you need. I’ve had a few folks that have come from really bad working environments and it was noticeable. They took things the wrong way at times, struggled with different things than most new folks did, etc. Knowing the situation helped me to view this in context and also provide extra/different support.

  47. Never Nicky*

    I am in the UK and have a chronic health condition.

    One of the adjustments I have is a shifted working day so I work 8-4.

    Whilst I’m still working the same number of hours as everyone else, this fits better with my body clock, allows me time to participate in put of work activities better (I get chance to eat and time for household stuff before going).

    Do I NEED to do those hours otherwise I can’t (for example) access medical care? No. Do they make my life easier, hence giving me more ‘spoons’ to do a better job? Yes. Hence I had no hesitation in asking for this adjustment. My organisation had no problem granting it either, even though it slightly affects coverage of one service – but I just do more of the 9am slots because I’m already in full gear and my colleagues do the 4pm slots

  48. LegalSeagull*

    Is it ever okay to ask about a raise two weeks into a new job? I just started a new job two weeks ago as a Sr. Project Manager.  My boss let me know yesterday that the Lead PM who has been running our team for the last few years has decided to move up to a different part of the company and so she now wants me to lead the team.  I’m glad she is pleased with my work so far, but this is a lot more responsibility than what I originally agreed to.  I am not opposed to it in general, the team is small and seems to be pretty good at what they do, but it is definitely more work than was originally laid out in the job description when I was hired and will require more hours than I was expecting when I took the job.  When my boss told me she’d like me to lead the team, she did not mention any sort of title bump or salary increase to make up for the additional responsibilities.  Is it appropriate to ask about that even though I am only a couple of weeks into working at the company?  Or should I wait to bring it up until I actually do take over the team (the current Lead is set to transfer out next month)?  It’s a great opportunity, but I’d really like to be compensated for the extra work and hours!

    1. Ins mom*

      They proposed changing your responsibilities and hours. (In a new-to-you organization). First, are you sure it’s a good step for you? Secondly, since the boss hasn’t yet mentioned an increase in title and pay, why should you hesitate to ask??

    2. New Bee*

      I’d bring it up now. Your details about the additional hours and responsibilities make sense, and I think it’s better to say something now so that if you all can’t come to an agreement and you decline they can start the hiring process.

    3. PollyQ*

      Bring it up now, and don’t agree to take on the role until you’ve had the conversation (lest you give up leverage). This is a distinctly different job than you agreed to, so there should be both a title change & salary increase.

    4. Mephyle*

      It wouldn’t be a “raise” for doing the same job, but rather a promotion and additional work.

      If you wait until you do take over the new position, and then ask, it will be clear that you were already willing to move into the new position without compensation, which is a weak negotiating position for you.

  49. Guava*

    Tomorrow I’ll be going back to work after a glorious 9 days off. Other than holidays and a day here and there, I haven’t taken off consecutive days in a year. I didn’t really do anything and I felt bad about it, but then my friend said “doing nothing is something” and I’ve been enjoying the rest of my time off guilt free.

    My job is 100% COVID analysis so to say I was burned out is an understatement. I have a mountain of stuff to go back to…other than just hitting Delete All, how do you prep yourself back up to tackle the beast?

    1. Carbovore*

      I go back 100% in August but in the last few months have gone in a lot more frequently just due to business needs (I work in payroll and our hiring freeze was lifted).

      But some of the things I focused on initially was saving all the various files and junk spread out across home computers onto a thumbdrive, taking it into work and organizing my digital file system. Similarly, this week I will take in all the hardcopy files I’d been keeping at home. For me, this feels like the beginning of getting work OUT of my house which is a big deal for me–really like to keep my boundaries separate.

      Other than that, I’ve spent the initial days/weeks back purging files, cleaning, getting my “systems” back in place, reorganizing my space. My work also sent out a “return” checklist that included things like looking at how you’ll be commuting again (particularly if you took public transit and routes have changed), finding your keys, remembering passwords, signing up for parking again, locating and reactivating any company credit cards, familiarizing yourself with the dress code, having some chats with your supervisor about expectations, coming up with new telework plans if applicable, etc.

    2. 653-CXK*

      I had my vacation last week, and with the holiday today I go back tomorrow (WFH tomorrow and Wednesday, at office Thursday and Friday).

      I wanted so badly to hop on a bus or train out of Boston, but Mother Nature had other ideas…three straight days of hot and humid weather, then a cooler transitional day, and then three solid days of cold, damp weather. I spent a good part of the week binge-watching shows from the comfort of my house, but Thursday I took a little trip to get a book I had wanted (and it was discounted!) because it wasn’t as hot but still humid, and Saturday I took a trip to Target to pick up some things.

      Hopefully with the holiday, there won’t be as many emails, but I expect to carve out most of the morning doing those.

      1. 653-CXK*

        Follow-up: I started at 8 this morning and had over 100 emails; I didn’t stop until 4:30 this afternoon. The good thing was I was home, it wasn’t as hot as last week, and I just went straight through to get it done.

  50. TooFastTooFurious?*

    My cowoker who was hired along with me is kinda…slow?

    I’m not sure if she’s slow, or if I’m just fast but often times she’ll finish tasks right on the day it’s scheduled to be due. If it was just her own things, I wouldn’t think on it so much but we partner up a lot in terms of producing content. Like, I work on X part and then she finishes with Y part, and then the finished product goes to our direct manager for final approval.

    But I get anxiety because she, more often than not, will finish her tasks and send for approval right at the last minute. Technically, it’s not being turned in late…but I don’t know what to do with all the stress it gives me, especially since sometimes we’ll have to redo something because it’s not approved.

    How do I approach this situation?

    1. PollyQ*

      Can you tell yourself to worry less about it? For starters, I’m not sure it’s a problem at all. The due date may be set with the notion that there may be some redo/clean-up afterward, so what feels “late” to you may just be the normal schedule. But even if it is a problem, I’d let your manager handle it. If she’s unhappy getting something on the due date rather than before, she can make that clear to you & your co-worker.

      And I know that “worry less” is not always advice that’s easy to put into practice, but I do think learning how to tell which issues (in work & life as a whole) can be safely left to someone else to deal with is an essential skill.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      She doesn’t sound slow to me. The task is due on X date and she’s getting it done on X date, which means it’s on time. And if she sends something “last minute” and it’s need something redone, does that mean you’re working past your normally scheduled time to leave? Unless it’s affecting you by causing you to work more hours or making your manager upset, there’s nothing to be done other than to stop worrying about it. Easier said than done, but that’s all you can do.

      TBH, I’m similar to your coworker. I’m never late with anything, but if it’s assigned on Monday and due on Friday, chances are I won’t be done until Friday morning or so.

    3. Anyhow*

      IMO, I think you should only worry about your own work. Just keep saying to yourself, “I’ll just stay in my own lane.” Try to put it out of your mind when your coworker gets their work completed. Remember, the last minute is still on time. Some people operate this way. Some people need more time. Some people procrastinate. Some people just take longer. Apparently it’s your coworker’s MO and if it’s on time there’s still no problem. It sounds like you like to get things done ASAP. So, the two of you have different ways of approaching tasks. Unless or until it causes a joint project to be turned in late, I really would not worry about this. You absolutely cannot change other people’s way of doing things, especially if they aren’t doing anything wrong, especially if you are equal to them/are not their manager.

      If – Big If – one day this causes a joint project to be be late, you can confront the issue then with your coworker and/or your manager. Even then, it probably won’t be the end of the world. You will not be in trouble if your portion of the project has been completed, one would think. Even a one time late project may not be that big a deal until it becomes a repeated pattern. At the moment your coworker is getting their work done on time. So, no issue.

      However, for now, you really do not have a problem, IMO. You have a coworker with a different approach and style than you. Please, try to put this out of your mind. It seems to me that you are worrying about something (late project) that hasn’t happened and likely will never happen. Even then, it might not really be *your* problem, but your *coworker’s* problem.

    4. LQ*

      I am with you. I am SO with you. But honestly, this is a you problem. You have to redo stuff that’s not approved even if you got it in early right? Unless the having to redo it means late nights and unpaid extra hours? It’s ok for someone to get it done on the scheduled due date.

      I’m the person who finishes every project as early and ahead of schedule as I can, but that’s a me thing. It’s not that the people who do it just on time are wrong. They just work in a wildly different way that makes me deeply uncomfortable.

      What I’d do is look at the redoing of work most importantly as a new deadline. You have to redo it by 5 pm tomorrow. Ok, doable. You’ll do yours immediately, she’ll do hers at 4 pm. But if she’s done on time. It’s ok. You met the new deadline. (Even if you feel bad about it, the deadline is there because that’s when it’s due, not when you die if you get it wrong :))

    5. Sam*

      Well, this seems like a problem on your end, or possibly a managerial problem if the due dates are wrong. But you can’t fault someone for just doing work as expected, and scheduling their time well.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Do you mean the date it’s due for review / approval is the same as the date it’s due for delivery?

      That’s certainly a problem, and of course it’s stressful, because it’s bad planning. But it’s not your coworker’s problem, it’s a management problem. If the lack of planned revision time is causing needless rush jobs then have a discussion with your manager about staggering the due dates.

      1. DJ*

        This. If the issue is that stuff is going in at the last minute, and then you have to redo it before the end of the day, that’s a huge process problem — the submission deadline should be earlier.

    7. TooFastTooFurious*

      Thanks for everyone’s response! Yea, I recognized its a me thing and so I’ve been working on not worrying so much, but its easier said than done!

    8. SG*

      Is the problem that you (or both of you) need to some time for combining her part with your part, and doing some editing and/or formatting, before sending a finished product to the boss? Reading between the lines, I’m thinking that’s likely the situation. If so, could you talk to Coworker about setting a deadline for your separate parts the day *before* the final due date, so that you have time to combine them into a final deliverable? If you do that, I suggest letting Boss know you’re proposing this to Coworker as a solution, and why, and that that you just wanted to clear it with Boss first (or give her a heads up) before discussing w/Coworker. Then, if Coworker pushes back, or agrees but doesn’t stick with it, then you’ve looped in Boss already.
      However, if you each send your pieces to Boss separately, and no work is needed in terms of combining them into final deliverable, then just send your part to Boss and don’t worry about Coworker’s part, like others are suggesting.

  51. Choggy*

    Well, just got the word we have to start going back into the office now, not in two months which I thought we had, but this week, and every week for at least a few days, and then full time in a month. I have to say my first reaction was panic, but not for the reasons that others might have, but I have nothing to wear. I gained weight, and though I had a couple of months to lose it, so now will be scrambling for clothes. Time to start buying some cheap, fill in clothing until I can lose some pounds.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I’m in the same boat. We went back last week and I realized several weeks ago nothing fits except two shirts. I had to order all new pants and more shirts. I couldn’t find anything in the very few stores around me, so I was forced to get everything online and hope for the best. The pants arrived, but…no shirts. None. The finally shipped today. Thankfully I only have to go in a couple days a week so I can deal with it until the end of this week.

    2. Grace Less*

      We went back several months ago and I am definitely not the only person in Old Navy t-shirt dresses with statement jewelry. It will be okay!

  52. Anononymous.*

    Guys please tell me – how weird is it to record a 90 minute Zoom interview? Note this was an interview that involved meeting multiple members of staff, beyond the CEO and hiring manager. It was flagged before the recording started, so they did get consent but literally as the interview started. Is this common practice in the Covid / remote working era?!

    1. RosyGlasses*

      Not weird at all if there are decision makers that were not able to attend – but I would think they would have mentioned the reason behind the recording (I would have as someone in that position).

      1. Alexis Rosay*

        Yes, I’ve recorded interviews, but I say something like, “Our Senior Manager can’t join because of the time difference. I’m recording this to share with her and want to reassure you it won’t be shared publicly or with anyone else.”

        1. Anonymous.*

          That kind of heads up / level of detail would have been much more reassuring – they basically told me right before I plunged into my presentation. They said it was for note-taking but no mention of how it would be stored or kept etc.

    2. merope*

      It may not have been intentional — I know our Zoom was set up to automatically record all meetings; theirs might be the same and they just have never considered figuring out how to turn it off.

      1. Anononymous.*

        Definitely not accidental! They mentioned it ahead of time (it was a very quick ‘FYI before we move on ahead, we’re going to record this’ type move.)

  53. Michaela*

    I got a standing desk and a cheap walking treadmill to go under it as an upgrade to my home office. Really loving it so far, and averaging 20,000 steps daily, up from around 2,000. As a lazy person, this is working so well – I got the treadmill over a weekend and tried using it in front of the TV and just got bored. While working, it distracts me enough I don’t pay attention to the walking at all. Hoping it will get rid of the Covid related weight gain, which is almost 40 pounds so far.

  54. nott the brave*

    Are sites like Indeed and Ziprecruiter good to use when looking for work? Most of my work experience is in retail environments and I’ve just moved out of state so I don’t have any type of connections to lean on in looking for something more office-based (where I can sit down, yikes!) and am sort of hoping to apply in multiple places and see what sticks. I just don’t know the best ways to conduct a job search in these circumstances.

    Standing and walking and dealing with the public all day for $10.25/hr just… I can’t do it anymore.

    1. ronda*

      I have used indeed and gotten some responses from it. and the employees that I did hire many years ago were the ones that told me about it. I think they are fine.

      But if you are transitioning from retail to office…. maybe temp agencies would be a good interim step while you are looking for a full time position.

  55. The Great Change-Up*

    Is it disingenuous to leave supervisory responsibilities off your resume if you’re looking to get out of supervising?

    I’m trying to switch careers, from higher ed to HR. I’ve been at my institution for 7 years and have earned 2 promotions, most recently 2 years ago into a supervisory role.I’ve had anywhere from 1-5 direct reports in that timeframe. For the past 6 months, I’ve also been in an acting director role, overseeing the entire team of 10 and basically living in crisis mode on the daily because I don’t have the industry experience normally needed for this level, AND had no one else above me to be a resource (we lost the top two leadership levels within months of each other, leaving us with….me).

    I am burnt out on both higher ed and supervising people. I know HR is notoriously difficult to break into, so while I know I have transferable skills, I recognize the need to start at a more entry-level role than I’m currently in — which honestly is fine by me. I worry that by including supervisory experience, I’m pegging myself as “overqualified” for the beginner HR roles I’m looking for. Can I just….leave it off my resume? Or do I ethically need to keep it on there, and address my desire for a career change in a cover letter/interview as long as I don’t get rejected right off the bat?

    1. ZenApologized*

      Speaking as an ex Hiring Manager in HR…it may depend upon what kind of HR role you’re looking for.

      I’m not sure my experience is going to be typical, so take this with as big a pinch of salt as you like but:
      If you’re thinking about an HR role thatr interfaces a lot with the rest of the business – say, a BP role – I’d see upside in having your people management experience on there. It lets me know that you understand what managers might be going through.

      If you’re looking at pureplay IC roles with no line client interaction, then leaving it on diminishes in terms of what it can afford you.

      WHat kind of HR roles are you looking for?

  56. RicksGuardian*

    What a cute cat compilation! I really miss my kitty Rick; I don’t think he would have liked all the noise though. He was a hospice case when I adopted him and I had him for almost 7 months. He helped me through an awful time and I spoiled him lots with gratitude. Such a chatty, personable, charming, lovable kitty.
    I hope Allison’s cats don’t stress out too much from the fireworks.
    As someone with PTSD, the noise is just awful. Why can’t they be pretty and quiet?

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