my employee constantly talks about waiting for 5:00 and the weekend

A reader writes:

I have an employee who has been with my company about five months. She is smart, and easy to work with, but is not performing that well. It’s a tough job (recruiting), and I think she’s just not a good fit. She does something that drives me crazy, and I’m trying to figure out if this is legitimately annoying or if I perceive it that way because I’m frustrated with her performance overall.

Whenever I make small talk with her, she works in something about how she can’t wait for 5:00 and/or Friday. For example, I say, “How are you today?” She says, “Great, but I’ll be better at 5:00.” I say, “How’s it going?” She says, “Just waiting for Friday.” Every. Time. This week, at midday on Tuesday, I was answering some of her questions, and I ended with “Anything else I can help you with?” She replied, “Not unless you can make it Friday.”

I totally understand that many people are working for the weekend, and I certainly talk about looking forward to the evening or the weekend, especially in the context of having fun plans or in reaction to a particularly challenging day. But this occurs in every interaction and has since the day she started. Additionally, she doesn’t say much overall, so it’s not like these comments are tucked into a 15-minute conversation – they are often the only communication I get from her during the day. It also seems weird to me that she would constantly remind her manager that she doesn’t want to be at work. I mean, I know you’d rather be elsewhere, but I don’t need to be reminded of it every day!

She makes these comments to coworkers as well, and I’m concerned about how their frequency might affect morale.

Am I right to be annoyed, or do I need to let this go? Is this just a weird verbal habit, or should I take this as an indication that this person is truly and deeply dissatisfied with this position (or working in general)?

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

{ 175 comments… read them below }

  1. Gwen Soul*

    I recall this letter! It was right around this time I said something similar to a neighbor who asked why I was wishing my life away, really hit me so now I tend to focus on the good each day.

    1. Feta*

      I definitely think this counts as wishing your life away and it makes no sense to me. Especially since the people who do it at my job claim to love their jobs.

      It confuses the heck out of me. I just reply with something like, “Well I’m enjoying myself today.” Hopefully it doesn’t come off as toxic positivity but it’s honestly true.

      1. Cora*

        I agree. I may not love my job, but I don’t want to spend every hour of every work day wishing it was the weekend. Yes, I love my weekends but I don’t overwhelmingly spend my week wishing it was the weekend. Sometimes I’m just doing work, it’s not really that dire.

      2. elena*

        if someone asks how im doing, and its not a close personal friend, my answer is “I’m alright!” said in a cheerful tone. 100% of the time. Doesn’t mean I’m doing great, doesn’t invite sympathy, isn’t complaning.

    2. Grey Panther*

      “Life is suffering, Princess. Anybody who tells you different is trying to sell you something.”
      (I may not be remembering this correctly—am I close?)

        1. No Longer Looking*

          ‘Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.’

          1. quill*

            I mean, are we taking the Dread Pirate Roberts at his word all the time now? Because he also doesn’t think that Rodents of Unusual Size exist…

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          When the kids said something wasn’t fair, I responded, “You’re right. No Ferris wheel, no cotton candy, no fair.”

          They’d groan at the Dad joke and move on.

      1. quill*

        Life is pain but also this is the kind of statement that gets you pushed down a moderately sized cliff.

        1. TassieTiger*

          It’s sure one thing I don’t miss about my ex! (who i did not push off a cliff, tho)

    3. Good Vibes Steve*

      I noticed a friend of mine doing this, and I tried to follow up with questions like “what are you looking forward to do at home?” or “oh, nice, do you have any fun plans for the weekend?” and it made a bit of a difference. But really, after a while, it’s good to call it out gently. As if there’s something going on at work. Does she not enjoy her job? is someone awful to her during the work day? Because an attitude like this goes beyond just working for the salary (which is perfectly fine!), it hints to profound unhappiness, and no one should have to live like that.

  2. learnedthehardway*

    That’s an attitude issue, and you can coach/discipline how someone expresses the attitude, but only they can change their attitude. That said, it’s going to be demoralizing for others, so I would tell the person that they need to be more focused on the job and less on the weekend.

    1. KHB*

      But isn’t “the expression of the attitude” the sole problem here? You’re absolutely allowed to want to be someplace other than work – if you didn’t, they wouldn’t call it “work” – but that doesn’t mean you have to mention that fact to your boss in every single interaction you have with them. At least pretend that you have something on your mind other than how much you don’t want to be there.

      1. Allypopx*

        Yes and no. If the general apathy is part of the performance issue, the core attitude could be a bigger problem. That said there’s some understanding that the more you focus on being unhappy the more unhappy you’ll be (fake it til you make it adjacent) so telling her to cut it out may have more wide ranging benefit

      2. A Person*

        I think you’re actually agreeing with learnedthehardway, here. We can all have whatever attitudes we want inside our own heads. That’s an emotion. But speaking aloud to others is an action that affects others, and we have control over our actions.

    2. Teapot Repair Technician*

      I agree that it may be demoralizing to have a coworker constantly talking about clock-watching. But I would feel even more demoralized if I heard my boss was policing my coworker’s small talk.

      It’s a no-win situation for the letter writer, and their best move would be to focus on the actual performance issue.

      1. tangerineRose*

        If the co-worker had picked some other topic to relentlessly bring into every conversation, wouldn’t you want that to stop?

        1. Stitching Away*

          There are plenty of preferences I might have at work that are 100% a problem if my manager or employer starts making them mandatory.

          If I supported something illegal just because it went along with what I wanted, I’d be ashamed of myself.

      2. Mimi*

        Honestly, if I had a “I can’t wait to get out of here” coworker and that was basically all she talked about, I’d be glad if our manager told her to cut it out. It would be weird to have a manager say, “Sally, you are not allowed to say that you’re excited for the weekend,” but “Sally, please stop constantly talking about how much you don’t want to be here” seems very reasonable to me.

      3. BRR*

        If it’s a coworker who was constantly making these comments I wouldn’t be demoralized at all to have my boss police it. But i’m also specifically thinking of one person that I’ve worked with who was very excessive with these types of comments and it was draining (and in my entire career, there’s only been one coworker who took it too far). It wasn’t only these types of comments but a general aura of negativity so I acknowledge I’m looking at this through a very specific lens.

      4. Llama Fan 28*

        I think if it was *just* the fact that she was constantly bringing up the weekend, 5pm, how she didn’t want to be there, etc. there’s a way to address that which comes off as friendly mentorship rather than micromanaging small talk.

        A simple “you seem to bring that up a lot — and hey, I get it, the weekend is more fun — but when you talk about it all the time it might give people the wrong impression like you’re not in it for the team.”

        I wouldn’t think that would come off as policing as much as just some off-the-cuff professional advice. We’ve all had those idiosyncrasies pointed out that we probably didn’t realize we were doing or that they were annoying and I think most of us find that helpful to know.

  3. MCMonkeyBean*

    I will say that on my team “can’t wait for the weekend” type comments are the go-to small talk. I have always found it a little odd but it is super prevalent. So if she’s relatively new, I wonder if she came from a team like mine where “can’t wait until 5” or “it’s almost Friday” was basically the same as saying “hello, how are you?”

    1. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

      This. When I started my first job, I realized I was saying things like this a lot because I was super anxious and trying to make small talk. Talking about waiting until 5 or the weekend was script I defaulted to. Mercifully, no one ever pulled me aside, but it took a while to realize there were other things I could be saying.

      1. Laura*

        SAME. My last job had over 100 employees working at a single site, of whom I only regularly interacted with about 15 (my immediate team + a related team). Small talk was quite literally all I had to give to the majority of the staff the first 6-8 months, and one guy did call me out on (apparently) always going straight to some variation of “Ugh tired/weekend not long enough/is it 5 PM yet?” (He also called me out on my RBF, which…sorry that’s how my face looks, especially when, for example, I am waiting in a line 10 people deep at 6:45 AM to sign in using the physical sign in book of which there is only one?)

    2. The Rural Juror*

      Every Friday morning when my coworker comes in he says “Happy Friday!!!” in a very genuinely happy way. I’ll always answer something like, “Yes! We made it!” or “Almost the weekend!” It definitely gets repetitive, but it hits a lot differently when its said in a celebratory way.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        “Happy Friday” just an alternate to morning greeting, though. That’s different than saying “I wish I were not at work” especially on Tuesday when you have 3-4 work days left.

      2. Mimi*

        I was thinking about this while reading the letter, too. “It’s Friday!” as a cheerful Friday greeting doesn’t hit in the same way, probably because you’re overall upbeat and excited, rather than actively wishing the workweek away.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        When I worked in person in the office there was a security guard who was very nice. He started greeting everyone with “Happy Friday” which was all fine and good… but then after a while, on Thursday he started with “Happy Friday Eve” and I think it even grew into Wednesday at one point.

        I admit I did start to find it a bit grating. I felt bad because he was so nice, but like man I’m just rolling in and haven’t had coffee yet and a lot of the time he’s probably literally the first human I am interacting with that day and I am just not mentally prepared to be that perky yet lol.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          We have one of these…Happy Friday bled into Happy Friday-eve, which moved to Happy Friday-eve-eve interspersed with Happy Hump Day and then Happy Hump Day Eve…on Monday he just says Happy Monday!

    3. Jay*

      My coordinator Emails me every afternoon with my schedule for the next day. Thursday afternoon’s Email always has the subject “Friyay!” That’s fine except when I’m working the weekend….(and no, I’m not going to say anything – she works her butt off for not very much money and she’s great, so I can shrug this off)

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Ugggh, yeah that’s the worst. I have a boss who is big into “Happy Friday!!” which is fine except during busy season when she expects us to work on the weekend! Makes me very glad we are virtual so she can’t see my face in those moments…

    4. Grace Poole*

      She might not realize that she’s saying it so often. It’s the flip side of the “Not until I’ve had my coffee” office banter.

    5. Lacey*

      Yes! Even at my job, where we’re all pretty enthused about our work, people talk about wanting it to be 5 or Friday all the time. It’s weird, since we all like the work and each other, but it’s definitely a thing and someone who worked in our department as their first job would certainly come away thinking it’s normal and harmless.

    6. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      This is definitely a thing in some workplaces. People who do it, I don’t think they actually think that much about it or literally mean what they say. It’s just a culture thing in some places that you’re supposed to act like you hate your job. It can be weird to hear if you’re new there or a temp worker – you’re excited to have a new job, or to have a job at all, and everyone else seems to find it horrible.

    7. Former Young Lady*

      Yeah, it’s like answering “Good morning! How are you?” with a wry, “I’m here.”

      Used sparingly, it can be a good-natured shorthand for “Something or someone is being a royal pain in my tired old butt right now, but I’m powering through it!”

      If people come to recognize it as your default, though, it will make them wonder if you’re just checked out/unpleasable.

    8. quill*

      For me, I think the difference is if the comment seems anticipatory “oh sweet, going to go do weekend things!” or complaining. Because anticipation seems more like small talk than bringing down the mood, intentionally or not.

    9. Marthooh*

      It’s one thing for coworkers to say this sort of thing to each other, but saying it to a manager is just clueless.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, and it’s worse if they don’t say anything else that isn’t directly work related.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        I mean, now that we are remote pretty much the only time we talk to each other is in team meetings including our managers. And my manager is on of the biggest “can’t wait for Friday” offenders *shrug*

  4. It's All Elementary*

    Ooh, this happened to me in my very first “professional” job. I was yawning a lot apparently and my boss looked at me dead face and said “If this job is that boring to you I can send you home.” What a eye opener. I quickly learned to adjust my work persona.

    1. lost academic*

      Frequent yawning is an early sign for a migraine for many people (learning that really helped me!).

      1. It's All Elementary*

        In my case I was a young and stupoid and was staying out too late at night!! And the job was truly boring. It was all filing and data entry. But, his comment made me realize that my work persona was taken seriously and if I wanted to do more I needed to look, act and project that I was to be taken seriously.

          1. anonymous 5*

            I think it’s a perfect term for the things we do in our youth that we then look back on and consider ill-advised. It wasn’t truly, fully stupid; just stupoid!

          2. MtnLaurel*

            stupoid is my new favorite typo and I may well ascribe a definition to it! Thanks for the giggle.

          3. Carol the happy elf*

            No, StupOID would be stupid-like. You have coined my new favorite word! My daughter had a favorite word for my son; much, much worse than “stupid”. When he bugged her, he was a “Stupiot”.

            Oh, and a good friend says, “There is no Tuesday; it’s “Monday II, The Sequel”. And so on, until you get to the end of the week, Monday five, and you feel like a Rocky movie where they beat you up in a boxing ring.
            The best comeback to Thank Goodness It’s Friday was

        1. It's All Elementary*

          I am so glad my typo may end up being a part of word history. 100 years from now some young’un will be googling the origin of stupoid and my moniker will pop up. LOL

      2. Despachito*

        Yup, that’s me, and apart from an occasional migraine, a sudden change in weather can do this to me.

        I’d be pretty annoyed if a boss said this to me.

        1. SpaceySteph*

          Yawning frequently also seems to be a side effect of my long-covid shortness of breath.

          Yawning is not really caused by boredom generally, this is an old wives tale. Boss sounds like a jerk.

        2. allathian*

          Yeah, I’m more likely to yawn because I’m tired than bored. I’d hate it if my managers or coworkers were policing my physical reactions, but luckily this didn’t really happen even at the office because I share a two-person office with my closest coworker, and we sit back to back with a cubicle wall in between. So we aren’t looking at each other as wel work.

      3. James*

        This took me forever to figure out!! Growing up we didn’t know what migraines were; my parents thought I was faking it because I hated school (nerd in a football town; gee, wonder why). It was only when I started semi-rigorously tracking my migraines to figure out my triggers that I noted the connection. Would have saved me a great deal of grief, in all aspects of my life, if I’d have known that earlier.

        It’s a good reminder for me to keep a lookout for this in my kids, too. We know one kid gets migraines, and it’s really hard for a kid that young to tell you the signs.

        I also tend to stare off into space during meetings. People that don’t know me assume it’s because I’m bored/disinterested. In reality I’m comparing what’s said against other data that I have–maps, reports, diagrams, sample data they often don’t know exists, things like that. Once they get to know me people tend to accept that this is how I work, but the first time I tell them “Wait a minute, I’m still reading that map” while staring at a blank wall confuses people. I’ve also learned to keep part of my mind aware of where I’m looking….I didn’t always do that when I was younger, and was very surprised at how angry people got when they thought I was staring at them.

    2. The Rural Juror*

      A coworker once asked me why I roll my eyes so much. I wasn’t! I tend to look up towards the ceiling when I’m trying to think of a solution or recall information. It helps me to look away and just have blank space to look at for a moment. Apparently from the angle she was viewing me, it looked like I was always annoyed at something. I started looking down at my desk instead.

      1. Super Duper*

        I do the same. It’s also a way to prevent crying if you’re an easy crier. One time my therapist thought I was rolling my eyes during a session when I was just looking up in thought. (She wasn’t offended, just checking on my reaction to what she was saying, but I did feel bad! I wouldn’t roll my eyes at someone unless it was in jest.)

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I do the same thing – usually accompanied with alternating raised eyebrows, which apparently looks really entertaining to people stuck watching me think.

      3. Saraquill*

        Thankfully no co-worker has commented on my eye rolling. It means I’m mid-seizure and in no place to talk.

    3. Aquawoman*

      Things that people interpret, like yawning, sighing, eye contact, and sitting still are very often based on NT extravert norms.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        I just got told that I squint one eye when in deep and substantial thought.
        Evidently my people can tell how puzzled I am by how squinty I make that eye. Never knew it.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yes, I yawn a lot and I cannot control it! I do sometimes mention it to my coworkers just so they don’t think I’m being rude, but there’s really not much else I can do about it. Like, sorry if my body’s sudden need for a large influx of air offended you???

        1. Workerbee*

          Until the decades of equating yawning with being bored of the person or scene, or tired, have been overridden with the relatively newer findings, I’d err on the side of overexplaining that I wasn’t trying to be rude. And make sure I covered my mouth and said “Excuse me” if the latter wouldn’t be even more disruptive.

          1. RagingADHD*

            Part of the etiquette issue is (has always been) that it’s generally unpleasant to have to look at people’s tonsils. So please continue to cover your mouth, regardless of the underlying cause.

      3. Autistic AF*

        100%. Autism tends to look like behavioural issues, but they’re actually communication issues.

    4. Jennifer Strange*

      As someone with asthma who sometimes has to force myself to yawn in order to get a good breath, I would have been annoyed by his comment.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        This reminds me of The Good Place when Janet is trying to be more relatable and just ends up spewing random nonsense. “Where’s the beef? I’ll have what she’s having. Hump day!”

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Oops, this wasn’t meant to be a reply. Treating an involuntary physical response like a performance/professionalism issue is pretty ridiculous.

        2. SpaceySteph*

          This is exactly what I thought of. Is this person an alien in a person-suit trying to fit in?

          Semi-relatedly, my 4yo came with me to pick up a grocery order yesterday. As the grocery employee is loading stuff into my trunk she says “I want to come to your house, looks like you’re having a barbeque.” My 4yo became extremely fixated on this: “why did that lady say she’s coming to our house?” “is she coming to our house?!” and when we got home “Dad, the lady at the grocery said she’s coming to our house!”

          Sometimes normal human jokes/sayings don’t hit the right note.

          1. Caliente*

            Mmm reminds me of the fear struck in my sons heart when he was young when someone said they were going to steal him because he’s so cute!
            It did start of his love of euphemism’s/turns of phrase and after I explained all that stuff he was always listening for those later, trying to figure out what they meant. Lullaby’s can be crazy too!

          2. Moonlight Elantra*

            Ha, my 4 year old would absolutely fixate on that too and be delighted that the lady from the store was coming over. I made the mistake of telling him that an errand we had to would be “a piece of cake” because he was FURIOUS then after we did the thing and there was no cake for him after.

          3. generic_username*

            Lol, I used to work retail and kids were so funny sometimes because they just take things so literally. I worked at a shoe store and one kid came through to buy some light up shoes and he showed me the light up function, so I said “Oh, those are really cool! I wish I had a pair like them!” and then he tried to show me where they were in the store (which was so cute) so I was like, “Oh, they don’t come in my size. My feet are huge!” and he was so bothered for me, lol. As they left he was like, “I hope you find some shoes in your size”

      2. It's All Elementary*

        I understand that but he read me right. He was actually a pretty nice boss and he knew that I was young and right out of school and didn’t know how I came off. I hold no ill will towards him.

    5. Unkempt Flatware*

      That’s shitty. I yawn when taking in a lot of new information. I now will warn people about it but that’s obnoxious AF.

    6. Laura*

      Oh wow. I would pray for a sinkhole to open up under me and swallow me whole if that happened. I am a frequent yawner (not a migraine-haver though), even when I am well-rested and across all parts of my life – always have been, as far as I can remember.

    7. Llama Llama*

      Because people only yawn when their bored right?

      This really pisses me off. Bosses shouldn’t be policing unconscious bodily functions. You could have been tired for any number of reasons that were none of their business. You were there, at work, presumably doing the job they hired you to do. That should be enough. You get to yawn if you have to yawn.

      1. It's All Elementary*

        I understand that but he read me right. He was actually a pretty nice boss and he knew that I was young and right out of school and didn’t know how I came off. I hold no ill will towards him.

    8. Paris Geller*

      Ugh I hate the idea that yawning = disinterest. I yawn a lot because right now I’m averaging about 4 and a half hours of sleep a night according to my fitbit–I have sleep apnea, I have been affected by the CPAP recall, and I’m yawning because I’m tired, not bored. Doesn’t mean I can’t do my work (though I probably would do it a lot better if I was getting more sleep!)

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah, unless it’s an obviously intentional, performative yawn, the notion of yawn=bored is cartoon logic. In real life I’d never assume a natural yawn indicated anything other than tiredness or lack of airflow.

    9. Lacey*

      That seems a harsh for yawning. I yawn a lot, I know because people always joke that I’m making them sleepy, but it’s not boredom or even sleep related, it’s just needing more air.

      Now, I did have a young coworker who fell asleep at his desk every day. Our boss didn’t even notice though until people started placing minor bets on how long he’d sleep!

    10. quill*

      Happened to me but uh, if you turn out all the lights and start a projector? I will fall asleep no matter how well rested or interested I am. Doubly so if I have the beginnings of a cold. (Yes, high school was fun. Sleeping in class is a skill we all develop inadvertently.)

      My manager followed my explanation of this up with “if you’re sick, go home” which was absolutely fair but also I did not have any PTO because I was a contractor!

        1. Quill*

          A stuffy chemistry lecture during the one warm day in March is the best sleep you’ll ever get.

          1. zaracat*

            We used to have histology lectures straight after lunch: hot, dark lecture room watching boring slide show which made staying awake super difficult. Bonus hazard – very steep tiers of seats. One day a guy next to the aisle fell asleep and rolled down the stairs. Not hurt, but it sure woke everyone up.

  5. Dr. Rebecca*

    I wonder(ed) if her poor performance and her verbal tic are in some way causally related? Like, if I was performing badly, everyone including me knew it, and I’d gotten “may be time to let you go” vibes from my boss, I’d be yearning for 5pm/Friday too.

    1. Ann Perkins*

      I thought this too when I saw she’s in recruiting. If she’s making these comments to her boss, she may be making them to candidates as well, which would be a major turnoff for a candidate.

  6. Take This Job*

    I don’t ever want to be at work, either. But since it is a necessity, I make the best of it and only grumble in low tones when no one is around.

  7. YetAnotherAnalyst*

    As someone who struggles with the socializing side of work, these read to me as “generic safe/relatable humor”, intended as filler and to smooth the interaction a bit. Obviously it’s not having the intended effect, but between being so new and struggling with her job performance, I’d guess she’s having trouble coming up with small talk that would land better. In similar situations, I’ve found it helpful if someone else drives the small talk so I can learn what fills that “I greet you, fellow human” gap in my new team, or to have managers who just totally omit that part of the conversation.

  8. Everdene*

    One of my reports does this – it drives me up the wall! If you do a usual “Hi, how are you?” He will answer with a commentary on what day of the week it is.

    He’s recieving two different pensions as well as the wage from us, he doesn’t need to be at work and says he loves his job which makes it even more frustrating!

    1. Someone*

      He sounds like a great candidate for Alison’s “this is how you’re coming across” part of the answer.

  9. CatPerson*

    I had a co-worker who opened and closed every work conversation/meeting like that. I hated talking to her because you knew that she was going to have to get the Friday conversation going before we could actually get to business. Fortunately, she left. LW, you are justified in being annoyed!

  10. Allie*

    I think when she responded to the “anything else I can help you with” question with the Friday comment that’s a good situation in which to address it. Yes, some “TGIF” comments are normal but that particular situation feels particularly inappropriate to me. It was clearly a work situation not a small talk bit. Also, presumably that was a more.private conversation already.

    So I wouldn’t have raised it from small talk but that specific conversation or a similar one.

  11. Former Retail Lifer*

    I hate small talk. I’m SO BAD AT IT that if I was even a bit less self-aware I might default to this. If she’s not doing well then the constant talk about being ready to leave may be genuine, but it might be more of a reflex than an honest answer. I can totally see myself, when I was younger and very insecure in a new position, responding this way.

    1. nonbinary writer*

      Yeah, I have social anxiety and one of the ways I manage it is to have some stock answers and scripts for “small talk”-esque questions. I could totally imagine putting this into my “normal human speak” rotation and saying it too often without actually meaning it. These days I stick to “hangin in there!!!” whenever I get a “how’s it going?”

  12. James*

    The working-for-the-weekend thing is common in my line of work, especially among new hires (who always get the hot, labor-intensive, annoying, yet necessary jobs). It’s one of those things that always crops up with newbies.

    I either take it as a verbal tick–like someone saying “Sorry” excessively (guilty of that myself)–and ignore it, or I take it as an opportunity to chat with them. Something like “Oh, got big plans this weekend?” In my experience this tends to diminish the knee-jerk “Waiting for Friday” thing. They either engage in a real conversation, or learn not to say that to me.

    Frankly I find this less annoying than some things. At least she’s talking about something positive, even if it’s not work-related. I work with some folks who respond to “Good morning” with “What’s good about it?” every time. They focus on the negative, and it gets obnoxious quickly.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      like someone saying “Sorry” excessively (guilty of that myself)

      Are you Canadian, perchance? That is very much a Canuck thing.

      1. James*

        No, mostly it’s due to being the only boy. Any injury that involved me was my fault by default. To be clear my parents were loving and caring people–it’s just really hard to explain that your little sister’s hand hurts because she punched you and hit bone. Plus a bit of residual Catholic Guilt. I’m working on it, but “sorry” became a verbal tick meaning “I acknowledge what you said”.

    2. Caboose*

      I’d be tempted to memorize the pertinent bits of the Hobbit to quote back at the “What’s good about it?” people.

    3. allathian*

      Ugh, yeah, the “what’s good about it?” would be worse than just wanting the working day/week to be over.

  13. Mental Lentil*

    The problem with TGIF is that three days later you’re at OSIM.

    You’ve got to make your peace with what you do to pay the bills.

    1. Well...*

      I like this a lot. Constantly counting down does kind of prevent making peace with the moment.

  14. NotAnotherManager!*

    I guess this is one advantage to being in an organization that never sleeps – Friday/weekends don’t have the same anticipation? I don’t know – I more often find myself commiserating with a colleague after a particularly tough day that, “and it’s only Tuesday!” but certainly not in every interaction, which I think is the biggest problem here. OP’s employee says this so much that they’ve become the working-for-the-weekend person.

    I’m not sure recruiting is the best fit for this person. While I don’t think recruiters need to be aggressively perky, they do need to be generally positive and putting a good face on your organization. Also, our recruiters work around candidate schedules, so evening or weekend calls aren’t that uncommon (and I work at a place that is entirely anti-ghosting for anyone who’s even done a phone screen, so there can be a lot of candidates). Most of their work fits into the 9-5, but it’s not like they’re totally off the hook outside of business hours, and their manager tries to be flexible with their schedules because of it.

  15. Mina, the Company Prom Queen*

    That would annoy me too! Of course, most of us would be sipping umbrella drinks on an island somewhere (or whatever) if we didn’t have to work. But you can’t say that at work. Especially in your first 6 months to a year into a new role. And especially to your boss. I agree that you probably want to prioritize addressing the performance issues. But I also like Alison’s examples of how to address the 5:00/Friday comments. Even if a peer kept saying that it would be annoying. While we don’t have to do cartwheels of glee about being at work, most people realize we should at least keep it positive.

  16. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

    I think the problematic part is that OP is saying that to their boss.
    Now, a coworker that isn’t in my reporting chain/otherwise important person? That’s ok, if all parties agree to that style of conversation.
    A couple of us at work have the following exchanges, more or less weekly:
    Monday evening- “One down! Four to go”
    Tuesday evening- “Two down! Almost halfway there”
    Wednesday all day – “Happy Hump Day! Also yay payday”
    Thursday – “Happy Friday Eve”
    Friday – Woohoo TGIF

    1. Fergus The Llama Juggler*

      Oh wow, this is exactly how it is at my job!

      We recently changed our schedule to working 4 10 hour days, and this morning I said to my coworker who is off on Wed, “Happy fake Friday eve!” She loved it.

  17. Zephy*

    I’m also in camp “this is what she thinks passes for small talk.” My go-to smalltalk joke is “nothing ruins your Friday like realizing it’s only Tuesday,” although I’m at least self-aware enough to remember when I’ve deployed it with someone so I don’t say it every time I talk to them. It gets chuckles, that’s good enough for me. I know this is an old letter so I’d love to know what became of her.

    1. Sled Dog Mama*

      LOL! I had a strange week last week and about 1:30 on Friday afternoon I was sitting in my office thinking “How can it be only Thursday? This week seems like it’s taking a long time.” Only to suddenly realize 2 things a) it was Friday b) I had missed a meeting at 2pm on Thursday.

      1. Well...*

        Lol are the weekend countdowners doing us all a valuable service of reminding us what day it is?

  18. Despachito*

    I think you have every right to be annoyed – an occasional TGIF comment, especially after a particularly exhausting day, would be fine, but constant whining about the situation most of the coworkers are in is annoying, and it would make me think if the person would be happier if she was fired.

    1. quill*

      Yeah, the problem is that Friday Complainer hasn’t got anything else to say!

      Even if the style of the office is very, uh, Early Dilbert Humor about what day of the week it is, it helps to have more than one script response to how are you. Because even if you have a handful of one-liners about “how are you” it at least helps to change them up! It also helps to have some humorous small talk and some truthful but bland small talk.

      “How are you?” “Awake” gets annoying if you don’t sometimes actually give a different answer.

  19. Sled Dog Mama*

    I’ve noticed recently that at times I have a “can’t wait until 5:00” or “Wish it was Friday” attitude. For me it’s an expression of feeling overwhelmed or just dealing with a crisis. If someone had asked me how I was about 2 hours ago I would probably have given a response along the lines of “is it 5 pm yet?” But that’s because I walked in to a down production line at 8:45 (should have been ready to go at 7:50) that no one called about (they are supposed to notify me) and we had just figured out that the whole problem was a pressure regulator valve that just disintegrated over the weekend, it’s fixed now and we’re running. I’m much better now but definitely not how I wanted to start my Monday.

  20. RJ*

    I fell into this pattern for awhile at an old job and it was due to being good at a job that I just didn’t like doing anymore. It’s a bad thing to repeat to a co-worker and an even worse thing to repeat CONSTANTLY to your boss. OP, I’d definitely have a sit-down to discuss work tasks/obligations/deadlines and general attitude.

  21. Delta Delta*

    I remember this letter from before. I thought then, and my thought now, is that this is probably a habit of mind for this particular person. It seems like they may be making a joke, but it has started to get old and have different connotations. She may also be desperately looking for relatable Smalltalk, and it’s coming across as dissatisfaction.

    A couple ways to deal with this: 1. Ask her different questions that cannot invite this particular kind of answer. 2. Kindly tell her that it seems like she is fixated on the weekend, and it’s becoming distracting from work (if that’s true).

  22. Chief bobbin winder*

    I work with a lady who is retiring in 3 years and mentions it in every conversation with our boss. She will literally reply to every request with some jokey variant of “don’t expect me to do it, I’m winding down, I’m retiring and I need to wind down”. Our boss has said to me that she’ll be “winding herself out of a job” if she keeps it up. But, I don’t think he’s got the courage to stand up to her. Anyway, I find that irritating, esp when everyone starts counting how long it is til they retire (I am only in my 40’s).

    1. New Mom*

      Yikes, three years away is quite a while to start refusing projects! I think maybe if she was 3-6 months away that would be appropriate, hopefully your boss says something to her about it. I’m already feeling the retirement convo. I’m one of those people looking to retire/semi-retire at 50 so it feels soon which is kind of exciting but I don’t mention it to coworkers except in a joking way.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah. I think it’s perfectly understandable to start winding down a few months before you retire, or during the last year. For example, I was astonished, almost shocked, to learn that my former boss who recently retired was still doing mandatory trainings a few weeks before her last day at work. I would definitely have noped out of those, it’s not like they would’ve been able to fire her or refuse to pay her pension (even if you commit a crime and spend the rest of your life in jail, you’re still entitled to the pension you’ve earned up to that point).

        1. allathian*

          I’m not in the US or in the UK, so all the talk of people doing something bad and being deprived of their pension (especially when it happens to cops in British crime novels or TV shows) is so confusing to me.

    2. Workerbee*

      “So, Ethel, you’re just going to sit around collecting a paycheck for nothing? MUST BE NICE!” —said every time she says her bit, and in the same jokey voice she uses.

  23. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    This kind of stuff gets a bit old for sure.
    I’ve found that genuinely saying something positive about the work right back at them can throw a wet blanket on the default whining.
    “I’m looking forward to smashing my to-do list today.” Or simply a non-ironic “It’s another great day at Teapots Inc.”

    I’ve even said, “Luckily, I like my job, so it’ll keep me busy all the way to Friday.”

    It helps if you actually like your job though. Otherwise, I guess it’s just an opportunity to change the narrative. “Oh, what’s on the agenda for your weekend?” — at least they can tell you that they can’t wait to clean their bathroom or whatever.

  24. New Mom*

    I like AG’s advice. I have had interns over the years and one of them did this a lot and I thought it was so bizarre. His work was fine and he was personable and nice so I never said anything about it, but I wondered if he had seen it in tv/movies or maybe heard someone else at work say it once and then thought it was okay to say on a daily basis.

  25. New Mom*

    Yikes, three years away is quite a while to start refusing projects! I think maybe if she was 3-6 months away that would be appropriate, hopefully your boss says something to her about it. I’m already feeling the retirement convo. I’m one of those people looking to retire/semi-retire at 50 so it feels soon which is kind of exciting but I don’t mention it to coworkers except in a joking way.


    This is beside the point of the letter, but I’m surprised to hear the LW characterize recruiting as a tough job. I am in the process of considering a career change and am looking for a low stress job – I have been strongly considering recruiting.

    Am I off base? I would be extremely grateful if someone could share their experience in recruiting, and whether they found it a difficult/stressful role.

    1. A Person*

      There are SO MANY different ways to be a recruiter but most of them seem to work for an agency, and ultimately it’s a sales job. And some of those agencies are good and others are sleazy.

    2. OP here*

      I think it really depends on your personality and who you are recruiting for. I characterize it as tough because you have to always be on, be available when your candidates need you to be available, and, in some cases, find candidates with extremely rare or even contradictory qualifications. (We had a client who wanted candidates with 10 years of experience and a specific degree….but that degree was really offered until recently, so all the candidates with a least 10 years of experience learned through on the job training, and the candidates with the degree didn’t have the experience! )

      1. allathian*

        Ouch. Did you find the unicorn who had the experience through on the job training but who’d also decided to get the degree?

  27. El l*

    You can say this talk to friends on personal calls – whatever. But to hear this talk more than every blue moon is…incredibly demotivating for everyone in the office. And that the person is saying it to their supervisor says an incredible amount about where their head is at.

    Not quite a fireable offense – but definitely worthy of a good telling-off. (Her advice is good – don’t disagree with any of it)

  28. Cora*

    I do think that “can’t wait for the weekend” is just some peoples small talk and like a verbal tic at work. I have a client who says stuff like this all. the. time. and since she’s kind of my boss I don’t know how to respond – sorry you dislike your job at a company I don’t work at that much? It’s a little weird, but I ignore it. And try to come up with alternate small talk topics. We’re all in different states, so even the current weather is a good topic.

  29. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    “Why, Emmeline, it almost sounds like you don’t want to be here having fun with us!”

  30. Dust Bunny*

    I mean, it’s always annoying when someone seems to have a one-note tack on conversation. My dad can never let a one-liner die and after the millionth time he references something that happened 25 years ago you’re just really over it. A big part of it for him is definitely that he thinks this is what passes for small talk–he’s basically rotely repeating from a rather limited repertoire, like a parrot. It’s still maddening.

    But the fact that she’s complaining about work at the same time is so much worse.

    1. Dr. Rebecca*

      Do we have the same relative? I’ve started to flinch with anticipation from some of the rejoinders.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I have a relative with a catchphrase. I don’t really remember him ever having used it casually/occasionally, but now it’s tacked onto every Facebook post, people will say it TO him in anticipation of him saying it… It’s like he’s a cartoon character and I don’t understand the joke!

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I’ve said it before: One person’s catchphrase is usually everyone else’s “this person needs new material”.

      2. Anon for now*

        I have a coworker that says, “I have returned!” every single time he comes back into the office after an errand, and it is SO ANNOYING. Thankfully, my “welcome back” has become so instinctive that it overtakes the urge to blurt, “who cares?!”

        1. allathian*

          Maybe you should change and say “who cares?” if only to show your annoyance with his verbal tic. I assume he’s a peer, and you’re allowed to show your annoyance with a peer, as long as the reaction’s reasonably mild.

          1. allathian*

            This obviously assumes an otherwise good relationship with your coworker. If you’re continuously annoyed with him for other reasons or have reason to believe he’d react badly to “who cares?” please disregard my suggestion. But if you’re otherwise in a good relationship, or even better, a friendly one where you can joke around a bit, changing your reply might get him to realize that his line’s getting old.

  31. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

    I would imagine her co-workers do find it annoying. And I would also wonder whether this attitude is spilling into her discussions with potential employees. All of this is really not good. It should be addressed. Possibly she really doesn’t like her job and senses that she’s a poor fit for it. Don’t you want someone positive as a recruiter?

  32. DonTony*

    The problem is not your employee. My favorite time of a workday is the moment I get off work. Why lie and say that you’re happy to be working when there are endless other (more enjoyable and useful) things that people could do with their time. Working 5-6 days a week isn’t normal and isn’t fun, it’s not even healthy.

    I’d give the same replies as your employee. Does that mean I’m slacking, or not good at my job? No.
    It means that there are a million places I’d rather be than at work. I work to pay for things that shouldn’t be expensive in the first place, but they are. If people had a choice, pretty much no one would be working.

    1. pieces_of_flair*

      Everyone would rather be doing something other than working. That’s why we get paid to work. But you’re not doing yourself or your career any favors by constantly reminding your boss you don’t want to be doing your job. It also comes across as negative, whiny, and unpleasant.

      1. Pennyworth*

        I’m actually the opposite – right now I have a job that gives me great satisfaction and my home life is blah. I would find constant talk about looking forward to not being at work doubly annoying – diminishing the value of what we do and reminding me that I don’t have much to look forward to when I get home.

        1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          Fully agreed, and I hope things get better for you on the home front. But even as your home life improves, there’s nothing wrong with you actually liking your work and not playing into this performative nonsense that your owe your colleagues a full life outside of work to humanize yourself.

    2. Joielle*

      Ok, but it’s not compulsory to share your every emotion at work! If someone asks how you are, there is absolutely no need to make a tired joke about the weekend. Just say you’re fine.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      You’re not obligated to make it your go-to form of communication, though. You could say something else that isn’t a lie but also isn’t droning about how you’d rather be somewhere else. We’d all rather be somewhere else, given unlimited choices. Don’t make us all wish even more that we were somewhere else with relentless negativity.

      So, yeah, the problem is the employee. Nobody needs to be that honest all the time, especially about something so obvious, trivial, and universal.

    4. James*

      I like my job. Okay, it’s not what I envisioned when I started out, but I was 4; discrepancies are bound to crop up. And no, it’s not luck; you don’t know my background, and I assure you pretty much anything you assume about me is going to be wrong.

      If you’re that hostile to your job either find a new one (if you can), or find a way to make peace with the fact that you have to work. This sort of seething hostility is not normal.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      It’s not that she needs to lie, it’s that she’s bringing it up in contexts where it’s not appropriate and also the only t.hing she ever says. When you’re in a one-one with the boss and asked if they ask if you need their assistance, they’re genuinely asking you a work question, so “not unless you can make it Friday” is needlessly snarky. Don’t pretend you’re happy if you’re not, but answer a question asked in good faith with a real answer.

    6. allathian*

      Sure. I’m very happy to be on week 4 of my 5-week vacation, thank you very much. But that doesn’t mean that I’m putting that on every comment I answer on this blog, which is mainly read by Americans, most of whom have no chance of getting that much time off in a row until they retire. Never mind having the knowledge of that much guaranteed time off next year as well, and for as long as I continue to work for my current employer or switch to another employer in the public sector, where I’d get to keep the PTO I’ve previously earned.

      I’m actually looking forward to getting back to work, I enjoy the stimulation it brings. That said, I work a reasonable 37-hour workweek and very rarely do I need to think about work when I’m not actually working, which is really helpful in ensuring a good work/life balance.

  33. Jimulacrum*

    “Especially since she doesn’t say much overall, it’s possible that she’s settled on this as a thing she says to make small talk with colleagues and doesn’t realize that it’s not a great choice.”

    I’d bet anything that this is the case, perhaps combined with a previous employer where griping and praying for 5:00 every day were the norm.

    And I’d further bet that she does it because she got into some kind of awkward social situation at work in the past, and it left her uncomfortable making impromptu small talk at work. To avoid a future incident, she avoids anything off-the-cuff and instead goes with canned responses on a topic everyone agrees about: finishing work for the day/week. Drawing attention to herself is likely the opposite of her intention, but I’d also bet she doesn’t realize how conspicuous it has become.

  34. JOrts.*

    Honestly I am THE WORST at small talk so I probably say something like this all the time…..I don’t even know if I do this or not so…..!!!! At least at first bring it up gently because this person may not even realize they are doing this – it may be a “go to” reaction to small talk. As someone that struggles with this pointers and helpful mentoring would be very appreciated.

  35. OP here*

    Wow! Was not expecting to see my letter on AAM today! It’s been fun reading through the comments again. Thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

    Unfortunately, we did end up firing this employee for some other issues. I do think she was very unhappy in that role, and I hope she’s found something she enjoys. I did not ever say anything to her about her weekend expressions. It was just so jarring to hear this phrasing with every interaction – I’ve never witnessed anything else quite like it (except for maybe that guy who worked the NFL into every conversation no matter the topic).

    1. Juno*

      Thanks for the update.

      I am sorry to hear the employee was fired. I do hope that there was a sustained, proper attempt to help her improve her performance before she was fired, though.

      I have to admit that while I’ve worked with many people who make consistent comments about 5pm or the weekend before, it’s never bothered me. But that was also because, in all but one of those many cases, the problem was actually management being unsupportive, incompetent, engaging in bullying behaviour, and so on. It was just a way for a frustrated employee to harmlessly blow off steam.

  36. Panny Fack*

    At my previous job, almost 100% of the responses after an employee was asked, “How was your vacation?”

    “Too short!”

    That gets old. And I believe you also rob yourself of some of the pleasure of a vacation when you start creating these kinds of negative associations.

    What a pleasure it is at my new job when someone gives a real description of their vacation – a few highlights, an anecdote or two, and then they happily sum it up and move on. It’s a much better way for this kind of thing to play out for all involved.

  37. Betty Suarez*

    This is honestly something that truly annoys me as well! I just feel like it’s wishing your life away.
    I once managed this incredibly negative, draining young woman who would constantly talk about Friday and 5 PM as well.

    Some verbatim exchanges:

    Me: (coming inside on a beautiful May day) I am SO happy it’s so summery out!
    Her: (sighs) It doesn’t make any difference. We still have to get up and go to work. And when it’s warm out, it just means they’re going to crank up the air conditioner on my train and in the office. And then we’re all freezing.

    Me: Hi, did you have a nice long weekend?
    Her: (sighs) It was busy.
    Me: Well, busy can be good.
    Her: NOT when you are in DESPERATE need of REST.

    She would keep a “mood of the day” calendar facing outwards on her desk and ONLY put up negative moods and would tell everyone about her bad moods all day.
    One day she put up “miserable” as her mood and I told her, “If you put your mood as ‘miserable’ at 9 AM and announce to everyone you are miserable, you WILL be miserable for the rest of the day.”
    Her: Maybe I WANT to be miserable.

    When she was away from her desk, I changed the mood to “Fabulous”. She noticed right away and got nasty.

    Oh my goodness, she was the worst.

      1. Betty Suarez*

        She wasn’t too young (27) but it was her first office job ever, so maybe it just wasn’t what she thought it was going to be.

  38. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

    Sometimes people get like that when they’ve had past jobs with bad cultures, where it was normal to make comments like this all the time because it’s openly acknowledged that the workplace and the work was awful and everyone hated it.

    Very good point, i’d almost forgotten this one

  39. Autistic AF*

    The jobs where I clock watched the most were also the biggest clock watchers. I had zero flexibility, and not out of necessity – starting at 8:35 would have let me leave a full half hour later without affecting my department. My shift started at 8:30, though, so I was stuck catching an earlier bus. I was out of there as soon as 5:00 hit as a result. They were also very bad at D&I despite wanting to recruit neurodivergent folks, which made me both sick and resentful.

    I wasn’t constantly talking about 5:00, mind you, but as mentioned above by Juno, “the problem was actually management being unsupportive, incompetent, engaging in bullying behaviour, and so on”. Flexibility promotes flexibility, and we haven’t forgotten those pandemic lessons of what we’re actually capable of accommodating, right?

  40. L'etrangere*

    This whole discussion reminds me of a local thrift shop, from a good organization dedicated to helping disabled adults get ready for the working world by running several shops, a nursery etc. Alas every single time I’ve been there I get to overhear loud ongoing conversations among the staff about how many minutes remain to be worked till the oddball 3:45 closing time, the weekend etc. It does not make for a good shopping experience :-(, and I usually end up feeling like fleeing too, the difference being that I can..

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