riding a motorcycle to work, is my chronic sneezing distracting my coworkers, and more

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

1. Riding a motorcycle to work

This is a low-stakes hypothetical, but I’d like to get your input. I work as a developmental therapist, and my job is to go to people’s homes and encourage toddlers’ development (the toddlers are all less than three years old, and my work is all home visits). There is not a real dress code but I typically try to keep it more professional than others with my title, because I am in my early 20s and they all have at least a decade on me.

Would it be unprofessional to ride a motorcycle to work? The logical side of my brain says it should be fine, as long as the loud noise doesn’t scare the child and I have a way to carry all my supplies. However, something about pulling into my to my clients’ driveways on a motorcycle does not click as a family-friendly/professional thing to do. I am female-presenting, if that’s relevant. What’s your take? I do not own a motorcycle nor do I plan on getting one, but I do think they are kind of awesome. Hypothetically, the fuel efficiency would be beautiful because I spend hours a day driving from house to house.

I think pulling up on a motorcycle to work with toddlers would be badass and not at all unprofessional.

Whenever you’re doing something outside the norms of what people imagine when they picture “generic person doing job X” — whether you’re a lawyer with pink hair or a doctor with tattoos or a developmental therapist for toddlers on a motorcycle — there’s always a risk that some people won’t like it … but there will also be lots of people who do like it, and who see it as a plus about working with you and who like the idea of a lawyer/doctor/therapist who’s different/more relatable/shows personality. Sometimes you might decide that you prefer to screen for clients who will like it or at least not care. Other times you might choose to play it safe. There are also issues of privilege in this — it’s easier to defy norms when you’re not already fighting to be taken seriously because of your age, race, or gender.

2. Is my chronic sneezing distracting my coworkers?

I have terrible seasonal allergies and have all my life. I’ve seen specialists, I’ve gotten injections, I take pills, but when the seasons change I sneeze a lot. There are no real other symptoms so I resigned to my fate a long time ago.

For the first time, I’m now working in a small, open-floor-plan office and worrying that people are getting annoyed by my sneezes. Everyone definitely understands that they’re just allergies and not contagious, and we’ve reached the inevitable understanding that you don’t need to say “bless you” every time, but I imagine it might be distracting or annoying. For reference, on a bad day I might sneeze every 15 minutes three times in a row. Bad days only happen maybe once every two weeks, if I had to guess. If I have a bad sneezing fit or need to blow my nose, I leave the room.

Does this sound excessive to you? I’m so used to it I’d never thought about it, but now I’m worried that it’s rude for me to come into the office when I’m like this. My organization is extremely flexible to remote work and definitely wouldn’t mind if I just told them I was having bad allergies and would be working from home for the day, but I hate working from home and much prefer working in the office, mainly because my home has bad internet and no desk/workspace. Am I overthinking? What would you think if I was your coworker?

Well … it does sound like it could be distracting, but that doesn’t mean it’s rude (it’s not rude) and it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change what you’re doing, especially if you can’t work comfortably or effectively from home. Lots of things happen in offices that are a little distracting, and that’s just the nature of working in close quarters with other humans. Decent coworkers will understand it’s a health issue you can’t control and you’re likely suffering from it far more than they are. (But if you are scream-sneezing, all bets are off.)

3. Interviewer blamed me for a scheduling mix-up that wasn’t my fault

I had an interview scheduling snafu last week and want to see if I should have handled it differently, in case it happens again. I applied to a job and immediately got a call from the recruiter to screen me, check salary expectations, etc. The recruiter was clearly new and awkward at her job, asking the same question multiple times, not able to answer specifics on the role, and struggling to interpret the more technical questions in her screening. She finished up the call saying they’d be in touch. Literally 30 minutes after that, she emailed me and said that the hiring manager wanted to meet with me the next day. Could I meet at 4:30? I responded back that I could meet then.

The next morning, I got an invite at 10 am for a video call with the hiring manager at 10:30. This wasn’t the time we had agreed on, I wasn’t ready appearance-wise to be on camera, plus I had a conflict at my existing job. I double-checked the email and yes, it was 4:30. I emailed her back and said that I must have misunderstood, because I thought we had agreed to 4:30. She didn’t respond, but I got an updated invite for 3:30. Fine, I could make that work.

At 3:30, I’m on camera with the hiring manager. He immediately asks why I couldn’t keep the earlier appointment. I was a bit taken aback by his directness, but I also didn’t want to throw the recruiter under the bus. As a manager, it’s my personal pet peeve when people don’t take accountability, and he clearly thinks this was my fault. So my response was, “There must have been a miscommunication and I’m very sorry for any misunderstanding on my end, but I’m glad we were both able to find a time that works so we can connect.” But he wouldn’t let it go, and said, “I really need someone in this role who can keep appointments.” At that point, I realized this wasn’t the job for me, but continued on through the interview. I sent my thank-you and withdrawal after we were done. If this happens again, is there another way I should have stated this to make it clear that this was not my mistake?

The hiring manager sounds like a jerk, but the answer you gave him did sound like the mix-up might have been your fault and that you were avoiding saying that. It’s still odd that he harped on it to that extent, but it would have been better for you to just be straightforward — “I confirmed in our emails that Jane and I had scheduled for 4:30 today. When she asked this morning to do 10:30 instead, I wasn’t able to accommodate that on such short notice.” That’s not throwing the recruiter under the bus; that’s a simple, factual statement of what happened. I agree that it’s annoying when people don’t take accountability for things they’re accountable for, but (a) you weren’t responsible for this and (b) it’s also annoying when people don’t give straight answers about what really happened!

I also wouldn’t have recommended taking responsibility for the mistake when emailing with the recruiter (like when you said that you must have misunderstood “because I thought we had agreed to 4:30” — you didn’t misunderstand, and you didn’t just think you’d agreed to 4:30; you definitely did agree to 4:30). Ideally you would have been more straightforward there too — “We actually scheduled for 4:30 (see the email below) but if that doesn’t work anymore, I could do 3 or 3:30 today instead.” It sounds like you’re dancing around simple facts to be diplomatic, but in the process you’re letting people believe you’re to blame. Just be matter-of-fact and direct.

4. Should I quit if I can’t get time off at the holidays?

I’m an employee for a pretty big retail company, and months ago I tried to start submitting some time off for holidays (I always submit time off months in advance, so I’m one of the first). For context, I’m a 19-year-old college student who works part-time. I live hours away from my family currently. Every request I’ve made has been denied. I’ve even tried moving the dates around, asking for less and less time off, but nothing will be approved because the holiday season is the biggest time for retail. While I understand this, I feel like my manager should understand that this is the first year I’ve lived on my own, away from my family. I don’t need every holiday off, or weeks at a time off, but they aren’t working with me here. Is it unreasonable for me to quit over this if they continue to not try to work with me?

You get to quit over anything you want! That said, if your question is more whether your employer is being unreasonable, the answer to that is probably not. Holidays are all-hands-on-deck times for a lot of retail jobs, and if they let people have those dates off at all, they may do it by seniority. Employers with hectic holiday seasons won’t normally give extra accommodations to people who are living on their own away from their families for the first time; it’s just not a thing that workplaces generally make special exceptions for. But you get to decide whether the job’s schedule works for you or not.

5. My employees are spending their own money to buy work tools

I manage a team of managers. One of my managers let me know that their reports are buying equipment on their personal cards due to me not getting approval to purchase the equipment through the company.

For example, a manager will tell me that we need to purchase a new flashlight as the old one is not as efficient as it used to be. They’ve taken steps to repair the item but it hasn’t been effective. The manager then requests a new flashlight, I submit a request to purchase one, and it comes back as denied. My managerial report informs his team, and they pool money together and buy a flashlight.

This makes me feel bad and I don’t want my employees spending money on their own equipment. How do I remediate this situation?

It sounds like they’re spending their own money because they need these tools to do their jobs, and for some reason the company won’t pay for them. You’ve got to push back with whoever is denying the requests — figure out why your requests are getting denied and escalate the issue if you need to. It could be something simple to fix (like you need to provide more info in your requests or present them a different way) or they could be going through a Guacamole Bob or who knows what. But the right move here is to actively advocate for your team and figure out why the company isn’t paying for the tools they need to do their work.

{ 601 comments… read them below }

  1. RC Rascal*

    At my last job there was a female marketing manager who rode a motorcycle to work sometimes. No one said anything about it. A few of the guys in the office who were into motorcycles thought she was really cool.

    1. linger*

      See also: sociolinguist Jenny Cheshire, who in ca. 1980, studying the language of adolescents in Reading, quickly established her street cred by turning up in her motorcycle leathers.

      1. Moi*

        My son had an infant therapist who came to our house when he was a toddler. He would have been SO excited to see her drive up on a motorcycle! LW: Parents mainly care about the impact you have on their kids. If you pull up on a motorbike to a house with a little who loves motorbikes you are already ahead (:

        1. TootsNYC*

          I can see a parent cringing because they worry that now their kid will say, “I want a motorcycle–they’re safe, Mom; Mr. Johnson rode one!”

          But still, ride that bike.

          1. Mannequin*

            Well since children aren’t allowed to drive motorcycles, I don’t think it’s really that much of an issue.

        2. Greta*

          I second this one. I still have therapists coming to my house, and my kids would love it if one rode a motorcycle. I only care about the relationship you have with my kids.

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      My toddler nieces would be smooshing their greasy little faces all over the front window squealing with delight about LW’s arrival. And with any luck they’d find dressing up in motorbike gear way cooler than Elsa gear, so +1 from me.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        This was absolutely my thought – both my kids would have ADORED having someone show up to their house on a motorcycle! The only potential downside would have been trying to get them to talk about anything else during the appointment.

        1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

          Yeah, trying to get my son to stop asking if he could ride on it (!!) would be the only problem I could foresee.

          1. Pikachu*

            OP should go ahead and get a CDL and start showing up in all the heavy equipment kids love. “Mom! Dad! The dump truck is here!”

      2. Velma*

        Agree. Riding in on a motorcycle will be a giant icebreaker with young patients. Parents may even assume you’re doing it for that reason, at least in part. It’s insanely cool of you. Carry on!

      3. Max*

        The only thing I’d be concerned about is whether any of the kids OP1 works with has sensory issues. I was pretty sensitive to loud noises as a little kid, so a motorcycle wouldn’t have been the greatest start to things. But these days as an adult anybody who rolls up to work on a motorcycle is definitely real cool.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          A good point. Someone working with that population might want to choose their motorcycle based on the mufflers (i.e. Honda over Harley).
          Personally I wouldn’t want to risk motorcycle on a rainy day so I would want to have a car as well.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            Came here for this: BMWs are much better than Harleys.
            (time for popcorn)

            More seriously: There’s a big range of 2-wheeled powered vehicles available in the US, and a bigger range of them in Europe. My husband only had 2-wheel vehicles the first seven-ish years of our relationship, and it worked great for him. Two Hondas, an Aprilia scooter (did 70mph on the highway with two adults, required a motorcycle license), and the dream bike, BMW.

            The scooter was the safest, btw: legs in front = ankles / knees not destroyed in crashes. The BMW had a funky engine, set sideways, that also gave some protection when the truck hit it, so that he only broke a collarbone. After that, despite 10 years of 2-wheeled daily driving, he switched to cars.

            1. Carol the happy elf*

              PLEASE!!PLEASEPLEASE GET A MOTORCYCLE. Consider one with a sidecar?

              My son (age five) fell out of a very tall tree, onto the roof, then rolled rung by rung down a ladder one autumn, just after kindergarten had started. Many broken bones, big concussion, front baby teeth finished, and when he got out of the hospital, his Physical and Occupational Therapy were both done at our home, one of them by a man with a loud motorcycle AND A SIDECAR.
              The therapy was painful, and the homework was tedious, but the first week he had done everything on the list of task boxes, he got to ride in the sidecar with a helmet. Just a block, but Mommy and Daddy were green with envy.
              Every child in the neighborhood was gauging that tree to decide if it was worth falling, to get a ride.
              This was before Harry Potter; he got called “Ewok” when he was driven around in his fuzzy coat and cool helmet. This therapist drove him to the hospital for his final checkup, and we drove behind in the new “Mini-van” thing we had bought for his wheelchair. He even tied streamers on the antenna for the trip, so people could wave and honk at the little guy.
              My boy’s favorite teacher? Motorcycle therapist. (He did this for almost all of his patients.)
              Sooo amazingly cool, this guy.

        2. PT*

          I’d be more concerned about fumes, personally. My husband has some older motorcycles and while the noise of them is temporary and outside the house, the smell of the fumes sticks to his clothes and hair if he’s been on a longer ride. You’d smell it throughout the appointment.

          1. Roasted Feline*

            He’s running those bikes rich if the fumes are present all the time!

            And newer motorcycles don’t have carburetors to tinker with so that can’t happen like it used to.

      4. MissBaudelaire*

        My kid too! My 3 year old likes motorcycles and she’d be eager to talk to LW about it, as much as a three year old can. My Mom is a biker, so my kids had leathers and boots before they could even walk.

    3. Might Be Spam*

      It was always a treat when Daddy picked one of us up after school on his motorcycle. The kindergarten teachers let the class rush to the window to see which one of us was getting picked up. There were five of us in elementary school at the same time, so it happened fairly often.
      Thanks for the chance to relive a favorite memory.

    4. AJoftheInternet*

      My midwife is a really pretty woman with a waist-length red hair that’s shaved on the sides, “unconventional” earrings, and she drives a yellow bug to her appointments. What I pay her for, though, is being a fantastic carer of pregnant women. As long as LW#1 is a fantastic teacher of toddlers to speak, in my book they can rock up in a minivan, or a mini cooper, or a miniskirt on a motorcycle.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        That’s an excellent point! Look however you want, as long as you’re good at your job IDC.

        My kid has a speech delay. I said in another comment the motorcycle would excite her and give her something to talk about, so that’s a big plus.

      2. Claire*

        This feels very different to me, midwives are generally expected to be more alternative than pediatric therapists

        1. AJoftheInternet*

          I come from a place where midwives are NOT alternative at all. Midwives are 50+ women with silver hair, who live on farms and wear floral dresses. A young, alternative midwife in that place was a serious norm-confronter.

      3. Az*

        My daughter’s preschool teacher has visible tattoos. One day my daughter colored on her arms and told me they were tattoos. I thought it was adorable.

        Her teacher is fantastic and I don’t care if my 4-year-old wants tattoos. Little kids change their mind every other day, so who knows if she’ll still want tattoos when she’s old enough to get one? I only care that my daughter will be ready for Kindergarten next year.

    5. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Am a woman who dresses unconventionally. Most feedback I get is that as long as you’re good at your job people don’t care, but there’s always a bit of ‘I’m really glad you’re out there being a bit different – it helps those of us who feel we have to hide who we are’.

      Person who works for me has a similar disability to mine – revels in subverting expectations when they rock up on their motorbike each day just as I do by sometimes wearing high heels (‘disabled people shouldn’t do those things!’).

      Basically, I don’t see anything wrong in riding bikes. Rock on :)

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Ever wanna see a 40+ year old disabled IT manager rock up in heels, floor length gothic dress, cloak and proceed to rip your database servers a new one – gimme a call :p

          1. allathian*

            I never learned to walk in heels, because I had my growth spurt early, and until I was 15, I was the tallest person in my class regardless of gender (the guys in my class got their growth spurts late), and I was told that if you’re over 5’8″, you can’t wear heels unless you’re also model thin, and I wasn’t. I bought into that rubbish, unfortunately. I seem to remember you saying you’re much taller than I am, but maybe I’m thinking of another poster.

            Or maybe it’s just as well, given that my left foot is a full size larger than my right and I’m flat-footed as well, so I need lace-up shoes. I can get away with nice flat shoes sometimes, but not every day.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              I’m over 6 foot tall yes :) my favourite pair adds another 4 inches on. On the downside, I can’t walk in flat shoes at all.

            2. banoffee pie*

              I heard that rubbish about not wearing heels if you’re tall too! These dadt comments must go around. I didn’t think they meant me anyway since I’m only 5’7” lol

            3. Them Boots*

              If you want to wear The Heels, wear The Heels! First, to walk-stand up as straight as you can, slide your hand along a railing as you practice heel strike then roll to toe, repeat with other foot. You can do it! (Low heels to start, but not those platforms/wedge lifts that also take your entire foot off the ground a half inch or more, those are inflexible and mess up your gait) I had to relearn to walk as an adult-then relearn heels-then relearn heels plus non-pro waltz. Success!! ALSO If you can find them, the ones with a narrow heel laterally are awesome because they go beneath your entire heel width-wise. -but present sideways like stilettos. Super sexy, very stable. That said, I also have found a few rare, semi expensive c-width stiletto pumps with perfect balance. See also stiletto boots-they hold your entire foot steady in the shoe. (I have some injuries most would expect to keep me out of heels. Ha! I worked at a shoe store in Highschool that trained its staff so I know there are options!) Have Fun!! And walk SLOW!

            4. TardyTardis*

              I would love to find a set of lace up heels with box toes in my foot size (which is a weird size anyway).

          2. Them Boots*

            If you ever publish video of you going full out on some troublesome d-bases, we want the link!! Rock on!!!!

      1. Metadata minion*

        “there’s always a bit of ‘I’m really glad you’re out there being a bit different – it helps those of us who feel we have to hide who we are’.”

        So much this! Even if your Weird is not my Weird, it can be so reassuring to find someone who is also bucking social norms and thus is more likely (though obviously not guaranteed, and then it’s somehow doubly upsetting) to be accepting of my own deviations from those norms.

      2. usually anon*

        I think it’s important to go beyond just acceptance in the ‘what you do on your own time/as long as you don’t scare the horses’ vein. We need to proactively encourage and model ‘alternative’ ways of styling our public appearance so that variety becomes the default, not an aberration.

    6. Tara*

      One of my twin sister’s childhood therapists rode a motorcycle to work, we both thought it was very cool (we were six), and my parents (in their 40s) also thought it was cool and saw no professional issue with it. As long as you’re there and doing your job well, it really shouldn’t matter how you arrive.

    7. Alice*

      I would say that, even if the laws where you are allow motorcycle riding without a helmet, I would question the judgment of a professional who rocked up on a motorcycle without a helmet. But otherwise, I don’t think it would be a problem. Stay safe!

      1. allathian*

        Yup. In my area, a person who works with kids would get a side-eye for riding a bicycle without a helmet.

        1. Hillary*

          I was once told off by a neighborhood three year old because I’d unclipped my bicycle helmet when I got to our cul de sac. :-)

        2. TootsNYC*

          Especially because the Letter Writer is going to be a role model for some sort to the kids they work with, I think it’s extra important to demonstrate safety and wisdom.
          Helmet and all safety gear, sedate riding, etc.

    8. Richard Hershberger*

      One of my kids’ teachers throughout elementary school was a woman of a certain age who had a spectacularly different hair color each year. It was a topic of discussion only in wondering what it would be this year.

      1. Recruited Recruiter*

        My wife went back to teaching last year after winter break with a lowlighted pixie cut. She told no-one that she was even thinking about making that major change from her natural blonde/brown and upper back length. She had most of her high school girls come in with pixie cuts a few weeks later.

    9. Blackcat*

      My kid’s pediatrician has a purple mohawk and a big neck tattoo. The only thing that makes me confident she does not drive a motorcycle is that it seems hard to maintain the mohawk if wearing a helmet. And she asks at every appointment about helmets on bikes, so I doubt she’s out there setting a bad example.

    10. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      One of my favorite high school teachers drove a Harley Softtail Daytona Package (with an added luggage rack so he could strap on his instrument cases). Yup he wore the leather jacket and helmet (covered in music notes and symbols) every day. As long as you are professional and abiding by safety regulations – I don’t care what you drive.

    11. TallTeapot*

      My sons went to a preschool (ages 18 months-K) and the head K teacher was an older man who rode a motorcycle. The kids LOVED him, the parents loved him. We loved him because he so clearly loved what he did and was great at it–the motorcycle was just icing on the cake (but pretty awesome icing for a bunch of little kids)

      1. Ms Frizzle*

        You just reminded me of the other kindergarten teacher when I was in elementary school. He was a very large guy—I think a veteran—who rode a motorcycle to and from school. All his students were fascinated!

    12. Koalafied*

      One thing I’d recommend is that a person riding a motorcycle to work locations should always wear a helmet, even if they live in one of the states where it’s not legally mandated. Some people may not care if you do or don’t, but for some people the lack of helmet might call your judgment more broadly into question, giving the perception that you’re somewhat reckless and skew towards risk-taking.

    13. mairona*

      I used to ride a motorcycle to work! My husband and I even used to ride our motorcycles to work together when we worked at the same place. I definitely got attention as a biker chick lol.

      Re: the OP, little kids LOVE motorcycles! The parents might not be thrilled depending on who they are, but typically kids love them.

  2. Sami*

    OP 4: Alison is right. Your employer (and many of all different kinds) won’t/don’t care about your age, how far away you live from your family, etc. It’s just the nature of the working world.
    Be aware if you quit over this, and you certainly can, you might be burning a bridge or at least a good reference.

    1. Chc34*

      I don’t think it would necessarily burn a bridge or a good reference over this. If LW4 waits until the day before the holidays to quit with no notice, then yeah, but we’re far enough out from the holidays for them to be able to do a professional-two-weeks-notice exit.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Sure. If you want to turn in your notice in November, that’s fine. Don’t wait until the holidays, and don’t make it a foot-stompy “if I can’t get time off, I quit!” Just turn in your notice.

        1. lost academic*

          Depends – not all retail locations are going to be able to replace someone quickly and there may be at least some training needed. If a trained retail employee quits at the middle or end of November without warning it will likely burn more of a bridge. I’m not saying that should change what the OP does, but I would expect some ramifications.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            I mean, that’s fair, but we always tell people to quit when you need to quit and not worry about whether it’s a “bad time” for your employer.

            1. twocents*

              Eh but usually with the caveat that if you know you’re quitting during an industry-wide bad time, you may be burning a bridge.

              Alison’s advice is usually: do what you need to, but be aware of the potential consequences.

        2. Cait*

          Agreed. And the OP should also keep in mind that, while it’s good to ask for time off with enough notice, there is such a thing as too much notice. My mom used to be a manager for a department at large university and one of her employees would come into her office at the beginning of the year with a calendar and tell her every day she wanted off that year, including the December holidays. This was a problem because employees rotated holidays so the same people weren’t on call every year. My mom would tell her she could approve the earlier requests but not the ones for the end of the year in case there were other people who wanted the time but didn’t know their schedules yet. This made the employee furious but her approach was meant to be unfair. So OP, don’t assume in your future career that you can request time off as early as possible and that will guarantee approval.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Yes, your manager quite possibly understands the situation perfectly, and you still aren’t going to get the time off, particularly multiple days off. Also, keep in mind that in a lot of jobs the newest person gets last choice for the holidays. When you graduate and get a non retail job, flying home for Christmas the first year still may not not be an option.

      You can certainly quit if you want, but keep in mind that you run the risk of being marked “do not re-hire” at this particular company, so consider about the availability of similar jobs in your area that aren’t connected to the company.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      Completely agree. Also, OP#4 should know that quitting just before the holidays will be viewed by other retailers as a red flag – retailers finish staffing up by about October in order to have people trained for the holiday season. Leaving in the middle of holiday season is going to make other retailers very leery about hiring you. And no retailer is going to agree to a staff person being away for the holidays (particularly not a new employee).

      1. Elizabeth (they/them)*

        Not necessarily! If you’re looking for work around October they’ll probably ask, but in January it’s probably not going to be on a hiring manager’s list of priorities. I hired PT student workers with the understanding that they’d be around a semester or two at most, which was fine because big retailers don’t care about turnover.

        1. Birdie*

          Right, I’ve worked with/around college students my entire career, and it’s not particularly shocking to see them quit a retail position before the holidays or summer break. I’m sure the stores plan for that turnover. Sorry, OP. This isn’t personal, I’m sure, but I wouldn’t expect them to make an exception for you unless you are a superstar employee.

      2. Julia*

        It’s August – I think LW has been pretty good about planning her vacation in advance, and she’d quit now, not right before the holidays.

        1. Nicotena*

          Yeah, IMO people are being a bit much acting like a college student’s part-time job is so critical that she can’t decide to quit in September/October if she can’t work the holidays. I had a billion minimum wage college jobs and it was pretty easy-come, easy-go for a while. This did not create a permanent black mark on my record after graduation; they weren’t even on my resume, because I had solid internships that related to my field.

          1. Rose*

            Lol thank you. This thread has taken a dramatic turn. It literally won’t matter if she’s in a typical city or suburb or college town w a handful of coffee shops and stores she can work in because she won’t even need to put this job on a resume. She can use whatever references got her this job.

          2. usually anon*

            Younger me definitely quit jobs over minor things like holiday leave. I settled down eventually, and the job-hopping faded into the past. One of the perks of youth, if you can afford it (or are willing to deal with the financial hit).

          3. A Feast of Fools*

            This, right here. I have had at least a dozen retail jobs in my younger years and never once had to provide references; just a cursory background check and a drug test. It’s a low-stakes transaction for both the employee and the employer.

          4. Re-tailed*

            Not to mention, we’re currently in the middle of a historical worker shortage for retail and food service.

            She’ll get a new job, and nobody will care too much why she quit this one.

      3. Pennilyn Lot*

        Other retailers? Retail stores aren’t sharing lists to keep track of every teenage employee who quits or cross-referencing their employment dates. It’s a part-time retail job for a student, LW can comfortably burn this bridge. We’re in a labour shortage, LW will likely be able to pick up another retail job easily when they are back home from Christmas.

        1. Happy Lurker*

          OP keep the job until you want to leave, put in your notice and enjoy your holidays!
          In the mean time, hunt around your area and see what the part time job market is. Good luck!

      4. LadyHD*

        Have you near a retail store anytime recently? You can’t spit without hitting a “we’re hiring” sign or banner. Target stuffs them into the pickup order bags. The OP is not going to have a problem getting another retail job.

      5. Sandangel*

        As someone who recently left a retail job for similar reasons, I promise you no one will even notice. Retail really doesn’t care, especially not right now when people are leaving in droves.

    4. Dragon_dreamer*

      As someone who worked retail for FAR too long: is anyone else able to take the time off? That will tell you if the manager is being unfair, basing holiday time off on seniority, or the days are truly blacked out.

      Working holidays are sadly a fact of life in retail. I didn’t have an Easter, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, or Christmas Eve off for over a decade. New Year’s, I was usually able to ask for and get a morning shift NYE, and a closing shift the next day.

      After the bent metal fastener got rid of me, I chose to never go back to retail. Mentally, I can no longer handle it. A huge benefit was, I finally had my holidays back. I make it a point to never go to the stores on those days.

      IF you can afford to quit, and never work retail again, go for it of that is a dealbreaker for you. What the other commenters said is true: you will be burning a huge bridge and may find it hard to get another retail job. If you’re in a place where those are the only jobs available, you’d be shooting yourself in the foot.

      Good luck, OP, either way.

      1. Dragon_dreamer*

        (Oops, missing a word. It should be, “That will tell you if the manager is being unfair, OR basing holiday time off on seniority, or the days are truly blacked out.” Basing holiday time off on seniority is not unfair.)

      2. Meh*

        I’m over here trying to figure out what fastens bent metal? Is there a company called Welders? Screw-Hicky-M’bob? Adjustable Wrenchers?

          1. Dragon_Dreamer*

            Bingo. 10.5 years of my life with them, with another 10 before that at other retail stores. I just choose to obfuscate the company enough that I can’t immediately be identified.

      3. Lara*

        When I worked retail, I got five days off at Christmas (one day to drive 500 miles, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, another driving day) because of my very specific combination of factors.

        1) My whole family lived 500 miles away;
        2) My mother’s birthday is Boxing Day;
        3) I requested the time six months in advance;
        4) I agreed that I would work any other holiday or hectic day asked of me, including 5am Black Friday shifts, Easter, late-night inventory, etc.

        So it’s possible you can get holiday time, but it will be the minimal amount they can arrange to give you, and you will pay for it the rest of the year.

        1. Spotted Kitty*

          I used to work for a big retailer and would ask about taking time off at Christmas because my then boyfriend (later husband) always went back home (500 miles away) for Christmas to see his family. The best that was offered for me was that I work the morning of Christmas Eve, fly out, and then fly back the morning of December 26 to work an evening shift. Considering how flying is during the holidays, and how this was SUCH a small amount of time, I never took them up on it.

          1. MissBaudelaire*

            Just enough time to get off the plane and say hi! Maybe even eat one whole plate of food before you have to go back to the airport.

      4. Quickbeam*

        In nursing, the entire month of December is usually a “no vacations allowed” period. At least at every hospital I ever worked at. It was a tough reality for a lot of new nurses. The only way to get off was to have a baby or a surgery and take FMLA. Everyone wants off.

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          Yeah, at ex job in a hospital it was nearly impossible to get time off around the holidays. We could only have two people off, they went by seniority, and there were people who had been there ten years. The whole five years I worked there, I got Thanksgiving and Christmas off by having a baby or being homeless, so there was no one to watch my kid that holiday. That was it. And I still got people wenching at me that I had taken something from them.

        2. Dasein9*

          Yep! Mom was really popular because we’re an unsentimental lot and were happy to celebrate holidays on a different day so she’d volunteer to work so someone with a younger family could be at home. (She started her career later in life than most.)

        3. Berms*

          I spent several years administering FMLA and disability leave for several organization. I became familiar with the “standard” recovery times for common medical conditions and had a general understanding of recovery time frameworks for complicated illnesses or injuries. For example, most short-term disability plans automatically approve benefits for childbirth for six weeks but may extend the time further for c-sections or complications if the patient’s health care provider documents the need for more leave. Both FMLA administrators and disability claim processors understand that not everyone recovers from a medical condition at the same rate.

          It almost never failed, however, that people on FMLA or disability whose health care providers had indicated that they were expected to return to work in mid to late December submitted statements from the provider to extend the disability period further until (could it be a coincidence?) the first work day after New Year’s Day. The employee would realize that their disability benefits and/or FMLA job protection would end during the holiday season and cajole the healthcare provider into certifying their inability to work until the holidays were over. This happened every December. If I had the opportunity during the process of putting an employee on disability and/or FMLA leave with a projected December return,, I would give a neutral heads-up to my contact at the job site that the leave could go longer

      5. Gothic Bee*

        I have a hard time believing it would be that hard for LW to get a new job, especially right now. I have a family member who is in food service, so not retail, but similar-ish and he’s constantly having to rehire crappy employees who leave with no/minimal notice because no one wants to work. Unless this is somewhere where there are tons of new employees willing to work retail, I doubt LW will find it hard to leave and find a new job. Especially since she’s clearly planning ahead.

        Also, if this is a college town that the LW is in, managers are used to college students quitting and leaving over break. A lot of students can’t stay over break if they live in dorms or have a temporary living situation for the semester. I’m sure the mangers want LW to stay, and I wouldn’t expect to be able to get rehired at this company, but I don’t think leaving (especially with notice) will be a major black mark on their future employment.

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          My sibling quit retail and was told he could reapply after six months. When I worked food service, we had people quit with barely any notice and drift back through three months later.

          I’ve never once heard of a hiring manager going “Well, they quit over holidays so obviously they cannot be hired.” Retail and food service has a super high turn over for a reason. If they didn’t hire everyone who quit that would make their pool so small they could never fill places.

        2. thatoneoverthere*

          Agreed Gothic Bee. Everywhere is hurting for people.

          OP what about a job on campus? Most places on campus will close for break, or be more understanding about you leaving to see family.

          In college I worked at a place that rhyme with Rocker Carol and the entire staff was forced to work on thanksgiving. I said I couldnt do that, since I lived far from home and wanted to see family. So I quit.

          I assure no bridges were burned and I am a successful 30 something person.

      6. Rose*

        Oh god. This is so ridiculous. OP would not be “burning a huge bridge.” Please stop trying to scare a poor teenager. This is burning the smallest bridge it is possible to burn. I moved through retail and waitressing jobs all through college, quitting before holidays, and so did many of my friends. Retailers expect this. You don’t even need a resume for a lot of college town retail jobs. OP can reuse the same references she used to get this job.

        OP, if you care about your coworkers and want to make their life easy, I would quit with two weeks notice in October or early November at the latest. Quit by October and you won’t have burned any bridge as long as you don’t make a big deal about why you’re quitting (just don’t mention it). Even if you burn this bridge, unless this is the only store in your college town that hires students, it will likely have zero effect on you and your life.

      7. AntsOnMyTable*

        I worked at a movie theater when a teen and there was always such blatant favoritism with males being preferred. I asked off for Christmas because my dad, who lived in Japan, would be home for the holiday. I was told if I did that I would have to work New Years Eve. Fine, not a problem. I not only got scheduled to work Christmas I was scheduled to work Closing on New Years Eve (so going home after midnight) and opening on New Years Day (so there at 7 am) while the favorites had all three off. Two decades later I am still salty. Haha Seriously, if I had to live that over again I would have quit right before I had to work that close/open shift.

    5. Well...*

      It probably depends on how OP quits. Months in advance should be fine.

      It’s not inherently bridge-burning to want to be with your family during the holidays. You’re allowed (legally, socially, professionally) to find jobs that meet your preferences. People aren’t slaves.

      1. Tali*

        Of course, if OP quits now there’s likely no problem.
        But quitting retail during the holidays is like quitting accounting during tax season, quitting a sports team during the playoffs, quitting any job that has a busy time of year. I’m sure many of OP’s coworkers have compelling reasons to want to be with their families on the holidays, but it’s all-hands-on-deck.

        1. Metadata minion*

          But if they quit now, or at least in the next month or so, is that actually quitting during holiday season? Given how fast hiring usually works in retail, this gives their employer plenty of time to find someone to cover in late November-January.

          1. quill*

            Yeah. If you quit more than 2 weeks before thanksgiving week in the US? You’re just part of the cost of doing business, they can find someone before Black Friday.

            If you quit DURING thanksgiving week or at any point in December? Coworkers are more likely to be mad at you.

        2. Le Sigh*

          Sure, LW is also 19 and working part-time retail, not trying to build a career in tax services or the NFL. It has been a few years since I worked retail and I’m sure it depends on the company, but the places I worked at were generally a revolving door — people quit all the time and they might not rehire you, but it wouldn’t follow you around to the next place you applied either (nobody was checking references).

        3. Pennilyn Lot*

          Why are so many of you acting like this isn’t part-time retail at what is probably min wage or close to it? The LW could give zero notice and just walk out on December 1st and it would still be well within the realm of normal for retail, even if it pisses people off. Whether they should do that if they can avoid it is a different matter but there’s really a world between your examples of high-paid professionals and low-paid part-time retail.

          1. Lizzo*

            Working in a part-time, minimum wage, retail job doesn’t excuse people from bad behavior, and by “bad behavior”, I mean pitching a fit about not getting the holidays off when 1) you’re the most junior employee, and 2) IT’S RETAIL AND IT’S THE HOLIDAYS. I’ve worked several stints in retail, and if a colleague behaved this way, it would certainly be interpreted as out of touch with the reality at best, and selfish and immature at worst.

            There are plenty of other industries where it doesn’t matter what day it is on the calendar–airlines, hospitals, law enforcement, first responders, foodservice/grocery–work has to happen, and seniority is the top criteria for having vacation days granted. Hell, if you’re a small business owner, you pretty much never get a day off.

            OP, you have choices:
            –Get out of retail and find a different job where things are closed at the holidays.
            –Ask your family if you can shift the holiday celebration to a different day so that you can go home after Christmas and still have the opportunity to be festive with relatives.
            –Start a new family tradition of getting together that doesn’t revolve around the holiday.

            But FYI, when you get your first non-retail professional job, you will probably only have two weeks of paid vacation, if any. Your company is not going to give you extra time off just because “two weeks isn’t enough to both visit family at the holidays and also go on a real vacation”. I say this as someone who has lived halfway across the country from family since leaving for college. What is the choice you’ll make in that scenario? Will you quit? Or will you make the best of the situation?

            1. Pennilyn Lot*

              This is so needlessly intense, the LW can literally just quit if they want to and get another retail job when they’re back in town, even if it offends your sensibilities. They do not need to model white collar workplace behaviour in a minimum wage, part-time job that they would clearly rather quit than skip seeing their family. LW did not “pitch a fit” or demonstrate bad behaviour in being 19 and willing to quit their probably min-wage part-time job in order to go home for Christmas. You’re valorizing personal sacrifice for the benefit of a job they clearly don’t care about for absolutely no reason.

              1. Lizzo*

                LW wants to quit because they do not like the expectations of working around the holidays ***which are normal expectations for retail.***

                This isn’t, “My employer is treating me poorly/underpaying me/fostering an unhealthy work environment/etc and I want to quit.”

                If the expectations don’t agree with them because it prevents them from seeing family, sure, LW can quit and go find another job, but as I mentioned in my FYI, they’re likely going to face the same conundrum if/when they get their first professional job where vacation time is limited, and/or they’re a junior member of staff.

                If 19 isn’t an appropriate age to be navigating these situations with professionalism, what age is?

                1. Pennilyn Lot*

                  I think it’s unreasonable to assume that the understanding that someone has of such norms in the working world will not change at all between a part-time retail job and their first adult job, which is still at least two years away. I also think that your response was unnecessarily judgmental and also unhelpful, because the LW can certainly quit this job with basically zero consequences. Clearly you have a lot of very specific ideas about maintaining professionalism at all costs, but LW does not need to share them, and neither does anyone else, particularly in the context of what is, again, a likely minimum wage, part-time job for a student.

                2. MCMonkeyBean*

                  Quitting because you don’t like the “normal expectations of your job” is really a pretty good reason to quit if you are able to do so. There is literally not one single thing unprofessional about that.

            2. Paris Geller*

              This is very “Well *I* had to pull myself up by my bootstraps and walk to my first job ten miles in the snow every day so you should too!”

              The OP is a part-time college student, most likely in a college town. Retail in that area is going to be use to students cycling in & out. Also, literally every place is hiring right now. It’s fine to say, “hey, once you’re in your post-graduate job you might not be able to get time off for the holidays” so the OP knows, but I think that point has already been driven home. The fact is, they’re not an accountant during tax season or a NFL professional or a nurse. They’re working for probably minimum wage or a little more at a part-time job. They’ll be fine.

              1. Lizzo*

                Perhaps I am out of touch in expecting that people are reliable and hardworking, regardless of their age or the job they’re working. (Exception: if the employer treats you like crap or grossly underpays you, in which case, quit today!)
                Working holidays is expected in retail. Period. If LW cannot meet the expectations of the job, they should find a role in a different industry that better aligns with their values, and they should do it ASAP.

                1. Paris Geller*

                  No one is suggesting the OP no-call no-show. Quitting a job with plenty of notice does not negate being reliable or hardworking.

                2. Lizzo*

                  There are people in the comments suggesting that OP quit in early/mid-December and then get a new job after the holiday. In fact, in the comment I originally replied to: “The LW could give zero notice and just walk out on December 1st and it would still be well within the realm of normal for retail, even if it pisses people off.”

                  Again: Working holidays is expected in retail. Period. If LW cannot meet the expectations of the job, they should find a role in a different industry (on-campus job, perhaps?) that better aligns with their values, and they should do it ASAP.

                3. Pennilyn Lot*

                  To be clear, I am not suggesting that LW do that, but saying that doing so would not be outside of the norms of retail, exactly as you quoted me saying. It IS within the norm of retail to have no-shows and sudden disappearances…. which is why it’s absolutely ridiculous to act as if they’re burning a bridge, being unforgivably unprofessional, or that this will in any way follow them in any other job that they have.

            3. MCMonkeyBean*

              No one is pitching any fits. And I’m not sure what you are referring to when you say “if a colleague behaved this way” because OP hasn’t “behaved” in any particular way that we know of. She’s just trying to determine what’s normal and reasonable, and what does and doesn’t work for her. This is the time for her to learn that! It sounds like she’s learning that the ability to be with her family is a high priority for her and if she wants to leave this job over that and can afford to do so then that is 100% reasonable for her to do.

      2. EPLawyer*

        Yes but employers are also allowed to find employees that meet their legitimate business needs. No one would hire a preacher who doesn’t want to work weekends, and no retail employer is going to hire someone who will not work holidays.

        So yes refusing to work holidays could mean never working retail again. it also has a high potential for not getting a good reference — because it shows someone is out of touch of the business norms of retail.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Your comment makes it sound like the LW is refusing to work ALL holidays, in perpetuity, forever, and that’s not what this is. They’re living away from family for the first time, feeling a little homesick, and wanting to take advantage of the school holiday break to go home. That’s reasonable, and retailers and other employers who work primarily with students and young people who’ve absolutely seen this before.

          LW, if there are other places where you could get a job when you come back from break and you quit this job in a calm, professional way and give adequate notice, I think you should be fine.

        2. Anoni*

          They’re 19 years old. The likelihood of this following them their entire lives and making it impossible to work in retail is slim to none. They’ll be snatched up by another shop no matter how many times they quit right before the holidays. Probably not at the same store after a couple of times, but definitely somewhere else.

          Y’all really don’t have a good grasp on how retails jobs work.

        3. Pennilyn Lot*

          How, precisely, is Target going to know that an ex-Walmart employee quit because they wouldn’t work a holiday? You and other commenters are acting as if retail hiring and employment is the same as white collar workplaces, when it is not. These places take who they can get and do mass seasonal hiring over the holidays, not scrutinize every 19-year-old shelf stacker’s CV to make sure they’re dedicated enough.

      3. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Adults have to do things they don’t like sometimes. It can be a jarring transition from being a full time student to providing for yourself. The sooner LW #2 makes that transition, the easier it will be for them in the long run. And part of that transition is acknowledging that there are trade offs to everything. You want to live on your own, you have to pay bills, and that means you need a job. Which means you may not be able to celebrate the holidays with your family *on* the holiday.

        1. Anoni*

          The writer is 19, is away from family for the first time, and is maybe legally an adult, but emotionally they aren’t. I think it will be okay if they quit for the holidays.

        2. thatoneoverthere*

          I quit jobs in HS and college for far stupider things than not being able to see family at christmas (not that I think its a stupid reason OP). I am well adjusted successful 30 something person. I promise they will be fine!

        3. Betty Broderick-Allen*

          Yes, tradeoffs to everything, including choosing to work the holiday. And becoming an adult means making these choices, not necessarily always choosing the job. If you’re old enough to make the choice to suck it up and work the holiday, then you’re also old enough to make the choice to quit the job and see your family. FWIW I don’t regret any time I visited my family while in college, and I don’t ever think, “Wow, I wish I had worked my part-time retail job that weekend actually” or whatever. Not everyone is going to be in the position to choose quit every job every time, but if you do choose to quit this one, it won’t make you less of an “adult” or less capable of facing the challenges of adulthood.

        4. Pennilyn Lot*

          Except the LW does not have to do this, as they are clearly willing to quit because they value the family time over the job. As many are wont to do, in part-time retail positions, especially in student towns. I feel like a lot of you want to do the whole patronizing “Grow up, life is hard” thing at the LW because they’re a little naive about the working world, but they can literally quit this job with virtually no consequences and I don’t know why we’re pretending otherwise.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            Yeah, if anything to me the idea that they might have to accept lack of holiday vacation in future jobs is an argument in favor of making time with them a priority now! “Spend less time with your family now so you can get used to spending less time with them in the future” is really not a path that makes any sense to me.

    6. Sometimes supervisor*

      Agree. I would stressed the “MIGHT be burning a bridge” in the last line because I think if OP gave plenty of notice and was perhaps gracious in a ‘sorry I didn’t realise how much of a dealbreaker this would be’ way rather than a ‘I can’t believe you wouldn’t let me have time off during busy period’ way then it wouldn’t necessarily cost the reference.

      You’re allowed to pick whichever hill you want to die on, but they are called hills to die on for a reason. If I was to spot somebody quit their last job right ahead of our industry’s busy period (or got wind that the reason they left their last job is because they didn’t want to work busy period), I would be querying that pretty hard.

      I think if you decide that you have a lot of hills to die on then you might find yourself pretty short on job options pretty soon – but if it’s just a case of ‘it’s important to me to see my family at the holidays so, from now on, I’ll avoid retail because I know that’s going to be a problem in that industry’ then that’s fair enough (although I’ll caveat that by noting others in the thread have pointed out it’s not just retail and there may well be years in other jobs where the holidays have to be worked).

      1. ecnaseener*

        Oh, I definitely wasn’t imagining OP *telling* the manager that’s why they’re quitting. Find another job, quit well in advance of the holidays, and quit without mentioning the holidays.

        1. Lab Boss*

          Exactly. Especially in an environment like retail- the employer wouldn’t feel the need to justify to the low-level employee why they decided to cut staff, so they have no expectation of knowing exactly why the low-level employee chooses to leave. Just be polite, I can almost guarantee they’re very used to turnover.

          Or as an old restaurant manager put it when I couldn’t quite give 2 full weeks’ notice: “That’s fine, most people give notice by just not showing up any more.”

    7. Tara*

      I think for the LW – whether you quit depends how much you care about the job, and how easy it would be to get a new one. I took seasonal retail jobs in university, always with the intention of quitting so I could go home for Christmas. It was really easy to get another job when I came back from the holiday, because I was in London and had till experience. I wasn’t aiming to be a great employee, just get some spending money for nights out. I don’t think the employers were thrilled, but it’s also to be expected to a degree if they’re hiring lots of students. If you’re in a position to, I would personally just hand in your notice in time and go home for the holiday you had planned. Being away from home can be mentally exhausting when you’re not used to it.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        This was my thought as well. If you’re not planning on spending a career in retail, burning a bridge isn’t huge here. 25 years out, I can’t remember the last time I used any of my retail references as professional references. I might have used my first manager as a personal reference for my first professional job, simply because she’d known me from age 16 on, and could vouch for my personality and education because she’d watched it in person. And at age < 25, that's pretty useful to have in your pocket.

        But the management from a part time college job in a college town? Uh, not so much. Not even sure HOW to go about contacting anyone there at this point, being that they went under about 10 years ago in the late 2000's recession.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I think the fact this is a college student also complicates things just a bit from a housing standpoint – will the dorms be open and available over the break? I know at the university I attended they liked to close most of the buildings over the break for major maintenance that was harder to do when people were living in the buildings. It’s a little harder to say a college kid has to stay and work if they have nowhere to live during that time.

        1. allathian*

          Yup, and in college towns retailers who hire lots of students know this and are prepared for it, and it won’t cost the students a good reference if they’re otherwise good employees.

          1. Gothic Bee*

            Agreed. I grew up in a college town and went to school locally, so when I was in retail, I was always the one who ended up working around the holidays because students were gone. I was still able to be really picky about where I worked though, and I always got a couple days off. It depends on location, but a lot of decent sized college towns have tons of retail/customer service jobs, so it’s not hard to find a new one when you need to.

      3. NOK*

        I agree. Lot of gloom and doom in the comments over this. OP is 19! She’s got a long career ahead of her and a resume studded with semester-long part-time jobs is not exactly a red flag at her age.

        1. Koalafied*

          Agreed. Also, a resume with gaps while in college is not a red flag. I worked a bunch of short term jobs for pocket money in college and very few of them made it onto my resume even once

        2. Rach*

          Yep, if this was my 18 year old, I would tell her to quit and come home for Christmas. It is such a difficult transition, being away from home but it is supposed to be a transition, and not going home over winter break isn’t a transition. Plus, the dorms, if they are open, are a ghost town.

          1. quill*

            Dorms often don’t have food available over breaks even if they are open. Nothing sadder than working the holiday and coming back to a dark dorm to eat instant ramen alone because it’s the only thing you can prepare in a dorm room besides peanut butter sandwiches or instant mac.

            1. Lab Boss*

              Just remember: $3 bottles of white wine pair with chicken or shrimp ramen, and $3 bottles of red wine pair with beef ramen. That’s your friendly fancy dorm-food pro tip.

                1. Lab Boss*

                  This is true, although as someone who lives in a college town in the US, that generally isn’t much of an obstacle :D

      4. HannahS*

        Yes, exactly. I think it’s very reasonable to quietly and politely leave the job and get a different one in January, if this one won’t hire you back. If you’re not planning to stay in this town and work in retail for the rest of your career, I don’t see a problem. Most students are not planning to stay in the town over the summer, either.

        1. doreen*

          That may or may not be possible – if the OP can get a job outside of retail , that might work. But getting a different retail job in January may be impossible – at the various retail jobs my husband and kids have had, they hire seasonal help around Sept/October and in January, they aren’t hiring at all- they are choosing which seasonal employees they want to keep and laying off the rest.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            I think this year might be a little different in that respect. A lot of retailers and food service employers in my area are still having trouble getting fully staffed, so it doesn’t seem like it would be hard to quit one job and start another one a few weeks later. I don’t know if this is true where our LW is, but it might be.

      5. MissBaudelaire*

        I feel like that’s the way it goes in a lot of minimum wage jobs. Minimum wage, no respect, no room to bend… people quit to be able to go on vacations and just find another one when they come back. It does lead to a history of job hopping, but that does get explained when you’re a student by “It didn’t match my class schedule.” I’m a trainer at current job, and we hire a lot of college kids. It does happen we get them all trained out and ready to go, and then a class change happened and they can no longer work for us. It’s the way it goes when you hire students, their education comes first, as it should.

    8. Elizabeth (they/them)*

      I’ve worked at and hired for multiple big retail chains and I say stop asking your manager about the time off situation immediately (bc they can’t do anything about it even if they are sympathetic) put in your notice 2 weeks before your trip, work out your remaining shifts cheerfully, and find another job when you get back from your family time. Even if (huge if) this is a bridge-burning you can see from space because your manager is petty, the consequences (being noted as do not rehire, manager won’t give a reference) probably don’t outweigh missing out on time with your loved ones. Reference checks for entry level retail are pretty rare and most won’t care if you left your last job during the holidays unless they’re hiring around holiday season.

      Last thing, it might be worth socking a bit of money away now in case it takes longer than you’d like to find a new gig, since post-holidays is usually not hiring season for retail.

    9. Varthema*

      I completely sympathize with hating the seasonality of retail – when what feels like the rest of the world gets a break, you’re hard at work (and in fact work becomes hellish at the exact same time). I used to get really grumpy (inside) when customer after customer would wish me a happy Friday because Fridays and Saturdays were the *worst*. It is absolutely a good reason to quit. It’s one of the big reasons why I left retail!

      That said, it is the nature of the beast, and not just of your current job but all of them.

      Quitting now in August because you won’t want to work over Christmas holidays is unlikely to burn any bridges (but know any retail job hiring in the autumn will require Christmas/New Year coverage so you’ll have to find another type of part-time job, maybe one at your college/uni?).

      Quitting right before Christmas will definitely burn a bridge though, and also any retail manager seeing an end date in December on a past retail job is likely to give that a very hairy eye.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I know what you mean. I used to be a long distance telephone operator, and on Christmas, Easter, ect. I would get customers asking me. Operator!! Why are you working today? You should be home with your family!!” And I always wanted to say, “Well, if people like you weren’t on the phone calling me, maybe I could be!!” Of course, I didn’t because if we had no callers, there would have been no reason for us to be there!! My personal favorite though, was days when it snowed. It was all hands on deck because in my area of the country snow is rare enough that everyone had to to call their friends and family and tell them it was snowing. And there was always that one who would say, “Operator!! It’s not safe for you to be working!! You should be at home!!” Grrr!!!

    10. RabbitRabbit*

      Agreed with what the others are saying. Almost everyone at that job wants off for the holidays. Lots of them live far from family. Your timing might make the difference on whether they’ll rehire you again. Depending on the company that may or may not matter to you, which is fine.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      OP, your focus is on how deserving of time off your employer should judge you to be. That shouldn’t be how it works–that your being away from home for the first time is going to trump Patty wanting to go to her kids’ events, or Joe wanting to travel back to see family on a different continent for the first time in a decade, or Sigrid’s 25th anniversary cruise that she already booked.

      And, really, you don’t want your employer judging worthiness of desire, or you might never get any time off.

      Employers care about coverage. It is always going to be hard to get time off at the busiest time of any employer’s year–the holidays, or tax season, or the month before The Big Thing. Where it is granted, it’s likely to be for long-time proven quantities–aka by seniority, as Alison says.

    12. Purple Cat*

      I agree OP “might” be burning a bridge, but let’s keep things in context. They are 19 and this is a retail job. If this isn’t their career path and if they’re not in a small town with only one major retailer, there are likely a bajillion additional retail opportunities that will be available next year. The potential challenge might be getting a post-holiday / spring job since preference will likely go to employees that were already there for the holiday surge.

      1. Cinderella Sparklepants*

        I came here to say this as well. Unless the OP lives in a truly small town with no other options, if they quit with plenty of notice (and not in the middle of December), this is unlikely to affect them in the future. Most college students go home for the Christmas holidays – this isn’t going to be a huge shock to any retailer.
        I’m honestly baffled by the number of “you’re going to burn all the bridges forever” comments. Is this retail store your career goal? No? Then quit if you need to, especially if you are pretty sure you can find another job quickly.

      2. JB*

        Agreed. Honestly talking about ‘burning a bridge’ with a basic retail job – that it sounds like OP has worked at less than a year – is extremely silly to me.

        I was once fired by a Dunkin Donuts (for a very silly reason) and got a job at another DD’s a month or so later. They never even asked why I wasn’t at the other Dunk’s any more, whether I had gotten fired, quit, etc.

        When you’re working retail and food service, 90% of the time nobody asks any questions and they definitely don’t ask for references. And a lot of the managers are so under-paid, over-worked, and emotionally invested that they take it personally for any good employee to leave, regardless of how much notice the employee gives. Burning bridges isn’t really a concept that applies.

    13. R*

      Burning bridges? This is a college student working a retail job and it won’t even be noticed if they have a gap in their resume at this point. No job — especially not an hourly retail job — is worth choosing over family. This job will not notice, care, or appreciate if LW works on the holiday; it will only get angry if they don’t, and corporate anger is meaningless. I would have had so much of a better life if I’d put the same lack of emotional effort into retail jobs that retail jobs were putting into me.

      1. Gothic Bee*

        I agree with all of this. Retail pretty much depends on taking advantage of people who have minimal career experience and few job options beyond taking some sort of minimum wage job. In my opinion any retail manager ought to just be happy when an employee bothers to give them formal notice two weeks ahead of time.

        So unless LW’s college is located in a small town with like 2 stores, they’re not going to be burning a bridge that will impact them getting a new job elsewhere. I’d just recommend not mentioning the holidays if they quit. Part ways respectfully and find a new job when you need to. If retail taught me anything, it’s how to be comfortable interviewing and how to quit a job.

    14. LadyByTheLake*

      Working holidays is part of the understood deal when working retail. Quitting a retail job two weeks before the holidays would mean that bridge is well and truly burnt. If you really don’t want to work the holidays, quit now so they have time to hire someone else.

      1. Anoni*

        That…isn’t true at all. Really, it’s not so much a bridge as a footpath. And it’s not really burnt so much as slightly warped from the sun exposure.

    15. Daisy-dog*

      I don’t think a bridge will be burned. In fact, they may be able to work with you as long as they know in advance – it depends on how management plans for this time. They will begin hiring for the the holiday seasonal positions soon. It would be ideal if you could work through at least Dec. 19. While the weekdays of the 20-24 will have people on vacation/winter break, the last weekend before Christmas will definitely be crazy. (I’ve actually found Christmas Eve to not be as crazy as you would expect, the only issue is that everyone working doesn’t want to be there – I worked in clothing retail.) Plus, even with “enough” staff, there will be call-outs and last minute no-shows, so they would likely appreciate someone who already knows how to do the job and has demonstrated being reliable (I assume OP4 is).

      I actually miss working in retail sometimes. And then I remember having to close every Sunday night and working until 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

      1. BabyElephantWalk*

        That’s an interesting perspective – I would say the longer he stays, the worse it is. If you put in your notice saying last day is December 19th sure they will let you work that long, but giving notice in December that you’ll be leaving right before the holiday will not generally make friends. Leaving earlier allows management to properly replace and train a new employee to provide coverage.

        Obviously the LW has to do what works for him. But I think quitting in the month of December is what would leave more of a bad taste in the employer’s mouth.

        1. Daisy-dog*

          Because being home for Christmas is very important to OP, then I think she should let her employer decide when the appropriate last day should be. In my experience with the holiday season, most management just want as many people as possible who are available to work any of December. There likely isn’t going to be a one-to-one replacement of OP.

      2. Anja*

        Yeah, sometimes you don’t know until you have to make this type of decision what the response is going to be. If they see if as a desertion or if they want to work with you to make it easiest for everyone and you leave on good terms. But in the end you have to make the call that’s right for you, and hope that you don’t burn the bridge (and like many people have noted – if the bridge is burned it’s probably not the end of the world in most cases as this isn’t a small industry with long-built professional reputation on the line).

        I worked in retail between high school and post-secondary school. I wanted to go to Europe for six weeks in the summer before I went back to post-secondary. I asked for the time off. I was told they couldn’t do that long of a break – they needed the staff as a lot of people wanted to vacation in the summer. I knew I was going to be leaving in September anyway, so I gave my reasons, gave my notice, and quit.

        When I came back from my six week vacation I popped by anyway just in case – and they ended up hiring me for the four weeks or whatever it was between vacation return and me going off to school to set up their Halloween displays.

    16. PolarVortex*

      Adding on to this: most jobs in either retail or food service are going to be this way. Holidays are just required work. Their literal busiest days are holidays. Their busiest seasons are holiday seasons. They can do 3 mos worth of business in the space between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s a crappy part of the job, but it’s what is making them employ you.

      PRO TIP OP: If you’re looking for that holiday flexibility, you need to start searching for an On Campus job. Most of those jobs build in expectations that most of the students aren’t going to work over the holidays. Even their cafeteria/janitorial/landscaping jobs scale down to bare minimum at the holidays.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This is an excellent point about staffing of on campus jobs over breaks when OP would like to travel home.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Added bonus of campus job, sometimes they will hear about dorm closures before students do. And a campus job will generally be required by university policy to accommodate you class schedule, and any changes for finals week.

        The downside is that they generally pay minimum wage only.

    17. BabyElephantWalk*

      My question for this LW is what’s the back up plan and how much he needs this job.

      If he’s going to move to another retail position there is no point – retail is all hands on deck over the holidays, and that goes double for new hires. It’s unlikely at this time of year that anyone hiring in the retail or service sector isn’t thinking about coverage for the holiday period, and anyone hired from September out if unofficially expected for holiday help. Generally the more seniority an employee has, the more likely the are to be able to take that time off.

      So sure, he can absolutely quit if this is a deal breaker for him. Not being able to get time off that’s essential to you is a very valid reason to leave. But what’s the endgame, and what is leaving going to cost in the long run.

    18. Jessica Fletcher*

      It’s a part time retail job. Another clothing store or whatever isn’t going to refuse to hire her because of this. She could come back in January and find something else right away, assuming there’s at least one other employer in the area.

    19. PT*

      This is a bit silly. I managed/scheduled college students and one of the problems you run into is that the ones who live in dormitories, their dormitories often close for the holidays. The school will lock the dorm for (approximately) four days over Thanksgiving and then two weeks over Christmas, and any students staying behind have to pay to rent a hotel or AirBnb or something, plus they’ll have to figure out meals during that time too.

      No student is going to spend hundreds of dollars to rent a hotel room for a minimum wage job. They’ll spend way more money than they’ll earn.

      If they lived in the dorms, I considered them unavailable during that time, full stop. My boss didn’t like it and I told him to stuff it (politely and professionally.) I’m not telling an 18 year old to pay for 4 nights in a hotel room at $400/night (Thanksgiving weekend), because they’re scheduled to work 12 hours @ $10/hour that weekend. That’s unreasonable. Someone who lives in town can pick up some extra shifts that weekend, I am sure they will be happy to make some extra cash for the holidays.

    20. Nanani*

      Eh, a reference for a part time retail job while a student isn’t going to be worth much.
      Odds are high the next similar job won’t care about anything beyond “when can you start” and LW will not be in retail forever. Students usually aren’t.
      I’d say the practice with boundaries and organizing leave is good.

      Note that the boundaries go both ways – maybe next time LW will be setting the boundary with family members who think she can miss “just school” classes/exams/labs to go on a trip. Boundaries work in all directions.

    21. MissGirl*

      I wouldn’t stress too much about burning the bridge. I quit a retail job in December when they wouldn’t accommodate my finals schedule.

      I was so scared to quit but they just shrugged their shoulders and said, okay. It’s retail; they’re used to people quitting.

      OP, one thing many of us did in college was work at retail stores that had locations at both college and home. That way we could transfer during Christmas and summer holidays.

      1. Minerva*

        Students can’t take random weeks off at another time to visit family, and retail jobs notoriously won’t accommodate exams or other school considerations. If a job will fire you if you don’t skip a lab, it’s a non issue if you quit because you need time off. Unless you aspire to retail management, and soon, this is a non issue.

    22. AnonInCanada*

      Also considering the OP is 19, I seriously doubt they’re burning too many bridges, unless this retailer is the only one in town (think The Gap owns Old Navy etc.) and puts OP on a do-not-hire blacklist. Not getting a reference from a retail job when you’re looking for another one isn’t going to be too detrimental on a 19-year-old college/university student.

      Go visit your family, OP — you may not have too many opportunities left once you graduate and move far away from home!

    23. Circe*

      I worked retail for many years. Sometimes casually, and for a while as my career. So I say, if you’re 19 and a college student away from home, working part-time. QUIT. QUIT QUIT QUIT QUIT QUIT.

      Seriously, though, if I were you, I’d go to your boss and tell them the last day of the semester is December whatever, and that will be the last day you’re available for shifts. The new semester will start in January and you can pick shifts up again then. If that doesn’t work for them, then goodbye and goodwill. This was SUPER common when I worked retail in a college town and we just dealt with it.

      When I was fresh out of college, I had a full-time retail job that didn’t give me a week off to take a cross-country road trip with my dad. I should have quit and taken it. They would have worked it out with me. Or I could have taken my three months of experience to the competitor next door. But 15 years later, I regret not doing it. My dad’s still around and we still have great adventures, but we’ll never have that chance for that one again.

      Retail jobs are a dime a dozen. Time with your family is precious. Pick it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

    24. BurnOutCandidate*

      I was a retail manager for seven years. My perspective…

      Corporate policy was no time off requests, at any level, full-time or part-time, were approved for the period from the week before Thanksgiving to the week after New Year’s.

      I had a bunch of college age kids working for me — a major state university was nearby — and I had to balance their school schedules with the store’s scheduling needs anyway, so I tended to be a little more flexible. Yeah, policy was no time off requests, but if my part-timer needed a day off for an exam, I’d factor that in when making the schedule; I wasn’t going to jeopardize someone’s educational career. Plus, I’d been the college kid at twenty, away from home, living in the dorms, working a retail job and having to deal with Thanksgiving and Christmas, when the dorms were closed and I had no place to stay. (I did a lot of couch crashing.)

      A lot of retail jobs are let part time help go after Christmas because business will go down and there won’t be payroll hours. I did that every year. Even if they don’t grant your time-off requests, they may let you go in early January anyway. It’s just the nature of the beast.

      If you’re nineteen and living in the dorms, that’s going to force your hand in a lot of ways because you’re not going to be able to live in the dorms over the holiday break. If you don’t have somewhere to crash for a couple of weeks, put in your two weeks around Thanksgiving so your notice is up before exams, go home and enjoy the holidays, then look for a job when you get back to campus in January.

  3. Phil*

    LW1. I think the problem is that riding gear might not be seen as professional. But an (shameless plug) Aerostich suit can be worn over your street clothes and taken off when you arrive. Riding gear has armor and heavy fabric or leather to protect you if you go down and the adage is, “Dress for the crash, not the ride.” But hey, you might just be seen as the coolest (fill in the blank) ever.

    1. Anomalez*

      Agreed. The biggest negative about riding to work is the gear and you gotta wear the gear. I used to ride to work but then dealing with my gear was too much of a pain for the short trafficy ride to be worth it. I prefer long rides in the country!

      1. Lynn*

        I agree as well. When I used to ride to work (if my client offices were local), it was extra work to be professional on arrival. I would change out my boots for work shoes, store away my riding gear and check that my helmet hair was under some level of control before I went in. I also never rode if there was rain in the morning (I didn’t care as much if I got soaked on the way home so would take more chances with afternoon forecasts). So riding to a client office was a hassle that was sometimes worth it (these days I don’t travel at all, even locally, so it isn’t an ongoing issue).

      2. Cormorannt*

        Yup, I know a lot of people who ride to work and nobody thinks they are any less professional. But, they work in one location and have a place to store their gear and can change clothes when they arrive. It seems like it would be a huge hassle to go from one location to another all day, having to remove your helmet and riding gear each time and stow it away. Plus the concern that your clothes are becoming increasingly wrinkled and sweaty as the day goes on. I guess it depends on the local weather and how many client appointments you have in a day, but where I live it would be great maybe ten days a year and the rest of the time it would be so much easier to just hop in a car.

      3. Donkey Hotey*

        I used to joke that I was the “Biker Mr. Rogers.” I’d show up looking like an extra from the Sons of Anarchy, step into the men’s room, and voila! collared shirt and nice shoes.
        Of course, when I was leaving one afternoon, a saleswoman stopped dead in her tracks as I exited in my riding gear and exclaimed, “I think I once met your twin in a leather bar in Philadelphia.” That was… eye-opening.

    2. BadWolf*

      I was thinking the same! The hassle of swapping out of helmet, gloves, armor jacket, wearing boots, etc.

    3. Here we go again*

      It’s not the gear or the motorcycle, it’s the elements. My almost 3 year old son loves motorcycles. And it wouldn’t bother me at all.
      But I live on a dirt road that can be a mud hole 3 days after a rain. Plus road dust, rain storms, too cold and icy.
      I don’t know of many careers where it’s okay to show up covered in mud.

    4. Cle*

      My sister rides nearly everywhere except the grocery store and work– the gear is just unwieldy to deal with at work. Even with a one piece suit, you still have to put it somewhere, along with your helmet and boots (if you can’t get any that blend with your office attire).

  4. PollyQ*

    #2 — Am I following correctly? One day out of every week or two, you sneeze 3 times? That is absolutely nothing at all to worry about. I wouldn’t even call that “frequent”, let alone “excessive.”

  5. Cranky lady*

    #1- As a parent of a youngster who has worked with many types of developmental therapists over the last 4 years, I couldn’t tell you if any of our therapists came on a bus, bike, motorcycle, or horse. I would only be concerned if you couldn’t bring any materials you needed (e.g., toys, yoga ball, trampoline) because you weren’t driving a car. But if you can make it work, I say go for it. Be sure to wear your protective gear and my son will want to try on your helmet.

    1. Stay-at-Homesteader*

      We also have a therapist who has been coming to our house (as COVID allows) and I agree, in theory. Although as someone who lives in a relatively dense urban area and across the street from someone with a full-blown noisy Harley that he likes to take out at naptime…I have to admit that there’s an unfair part of me that might not be thrilled with the motorcycle, at least at first. But ultimately, as long as it’s not *absurdly* loud and you’re modeling good safety habits, all I care about is how you do with my toddler as a therapist. And he would *love* the motorcycle, so I’d pretend to, too.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I was thinking about the noise too. LW said that as long as the motorcycle wasn’t too loud, so maybe she would, were she actually to go through with this plan she says she isn’t planning to go through, find one that isn’t too loud. One of my neighbors has a regular visitor with the LOUDEST motorcycle I’ve ever heard, who sometimes leaves it idling for 15 minutes at a time and has more than once gone for rides early in the morning on weekdays, and it drives me bananas. Small children who are noise sensitive (as I was and still am) would NOT like LW showing up on such a bike.

      2. LavaLamp*

        I’d like to point out that loud pipes save lives. I’ve seen this in practice. My dad’s BMW sounded like a car and when they sound like cars people don’t notice them even more than usual.

    2. Might Be Spam*

      Storage isn’t necessarily a problem. My dad bought my mother a three-wheeled motorcycle with a trunk so she could take it grocery shopping.
      He used to take Mom camping and pulled a small pop-up camper behind the motorcycle.
      One of his later motorcycles had a sidecar.

    3. jbean*

      Ha, that’s what I was thinking – lots of kids will probably be *super* excited about the motorcycle – to the point it’ll probably be important to have *plenty* of extra sanitizing wipes for the helmet and whatever other gear kids might possibly want to try on. Thinking LW is likely to get try-on requests from toddler clients as well as any siblings who happen to be at home… LW may just want to build in extra time during visits so the excitement/distraction of the motorcycle doesn’t take too much time away from the therapy (or just start building therapy activities around the motorcycle!).

        1. Rebecca*

          This might be regional, but I drove a motorcycle both to my kindergarten job and to the homes of kindergarten students I was tutoring and….nope, they were not even a little bit interested in my helmet or the motorcycle in their driveway. No more than they would be if I put my car keys down on the table in front of them.

          Even if they are, they only will be for the first one.

          I live in a country with a very mild winter, though, so the fact that motorcycles can be year round mean that they are the primary vehicle for a lot of people instead of a second luxury vehicle. They are way way cheaper on gas and parking if they are your primary vehicle.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Based on experience with a nephew of mine: bring along a Haines manual for the bike for all the ‘what does that bit do? How does it work? What’s that cable for?’ questions. :)

        (Think he’s still got the manual for my old clunker of a car…)

      2. BadWolf*

        Deb downer — Kids trying on the helmet isn’t necessarily the good idea. A dropped helmet is theoretically a helmet that needs to be replaced because it’s now had “a crash” and may not do it’s job in the next crash.

        1. TooTiredToThink*

          Couldn’t then the OP then just have a second helmet that is the ones the kids can touch? (I’m not big on motorcycles, I’m just going off how in the movies there’s always a second helmet available).

        2. Jack*

          If you were not wearing the helmet when it was dropped, you can reuse it. The issue is the foam inside that compress and deform in a crash as it absorbs the weight of your head. An empty helmet dropped from a countertop is perfectly fine to reuse.

    4. hbc*

      Heh, when we did the phone intro with our temp nanny/babysitter, he asked if our street had speed bumps because his modified car had trouble with them. My 8 year old thought his spoiler was really cool, and my 10 year old said, “Looks like a midlife crisis car.” (He was probably 22.). Otherwise, zero impact.

        1. Junior Assistant Peon*

          He’s not wrong. I’ve seen way more guys having midlife crises driving lowriders with spoilers than 22-year-olds!

  6. short'n'stout*

    I used to share an office with a coworker with intractable seasonal allergies, who also sneezed a lot. I understood the sneezing just fine, sympathised, and got on with my life. However, she also sneezed very loudly (much louder than normal speaking volume, which I think is a reasonable benchmark), and dismissed my requests to try to muffle it, and I found *that* very startling and distracting.

    What I’m saying is, as long as you are being considerate (and it sounds like you are), I would be fine to share a workspace with you and your allergies :)

    1. Bugalugs*

      That was my thinking as well. If she is a loud sneezer or one that over exaggerates the sneezes then it could be a problem she needs to work on. If not I wouldn’t worry about it.

      1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

        Agreed that if they’re quiet, voiceless sneezes it’s probably not a problem, but to add to this, if she’s one of the types of people (like the ones commenting below) unable to help sneezing very loudly, I do think she should suck it up and work from home when it’s particularly bad. Three loud sneezes in a row every fifteen minutes all day would be way too much for lots of people.

    2. CatBookMom*

      I have recently developed ‘sneezing fits.’ Yeah, not seasonal, exactly; medication doesn’t really help. When a ‘fit’ hits, I have 5-6 or so strong sneezes in a row. Not every day. I have tissues, hankies, at hand, so they’re muffled, but. I hope that letting your co-workers know it’s not communicable, it’s just some weird allergy thing that the doctors can’t figure how to fix, will help them to understand the few minutes of ‘outbursts,’ if you will, however often that happens.

      And, of course, wash your hands a lot. I just ordered actual cotton handkerchiefs, to save on the tissue consumption.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I have these. In my case they’re genetic, they’re triggered by life (and occasionally alcohol) and my record is 12 in a row. It’s not fun. But muffling them and using a tissue is really all I can do. Though mine go on long enough for a quick run to the bathroom if necessary.

      2. sacados*

        At a previous job, we had a rapid-fire sneezer. Not super often, maybe every couple of months or so, but the person always sneezed like 10-15 times in a row! It was an open office, just one big floor filled with cubicles, and the person wasn’t in my immediate area so to this day I have no idea who it was. But it definitely made me chuckle every time it happened haha.

      1. DyneinWalking*

        Just the amount of vocalization and articulation can make a huge difference. As in, resist the urge to “voice it out” with your vocal chords, and also try to reduce the amount of articulation with mouth movements (using tongue, lips, teeth etc.). A sneeze that’s essentially just an un-vocalized, un-articulated expulsion of air is much less noticeable and attention-drawing than a full-fledged sneeze with all the bells and whistles.
        And of course you can cover your mouth, e.g. with your elbows (I tend to wrap both my arms around my head for a sneeze or cough) or a handkerchief.

        It’s even possible to sneeze with your mouth closed, which is probably the most muffled type of sneeze possible. I taught myself to do that while at university, out of a personal desire to not draw attention to myself in a quiet room full of people. It takes practice, but it can be done, though admittedly it’s not quite as comfortable as an open-mouthed sneeze.

        1. DyneinWalking*

          That being said, I can absolutely understand it if OP finds themselves unable to muffle it by much. A constant stream of sneezes would annoy me, but I’d still consider it much less distracting than talking because either way it’s clearly just a sound, not language that needs to be parsed for information.

          As others have mentioned, so long as OP makes a point of being willing to consider options that would make the sneezing less obtrusive (even if they end up not being viable solutions), they should be fine.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          It takes a lot of work (I think, certainly did for me) but training one’s voice to come from a different part of the throat/mouth can also help in reducing the volume of burps/sneezes et al.

          Source: I had to go through a lot of vocal therapy to treat a bad stammer and learnt that if I pitch my voice from deeper in my chest (not explaining it well – visualise speaking from below the voice box instead of above it) I tend to make less noise through involuntary actions as well as stammering less. My sneezes used to make the nearby cats go into fluffy squirrel mode.

          To say nothing of the window shaking burps…

        3. Kelly L.*

          This–some people yell AAAAAAA before they sneeze, and if you’ve heard this, you know what I mean.

        4. Observer*

          It’s even possible to sneeze with your mouth closed,

          It’s possible for SOME people. And a very bad idea even for most of those people. I get that people should try to muffle their sneezes, but this expectation is just unreasonable and unrealistic.

      2. Expiring Cat Memes*

        By keeping their mouth closed and sneezing through their nose instead.

        I call BS on the “can’t help it” roaring and screaming. Like, if my father were hiding in a cupboard from a velociraptor or an axe murderer, I bet he’d find a way to avoid doing his usual attention-seeker sneeze.

        1. Worldwalker*

          I don’t roar or scream, but if I were hiding in that cupboard, I’d get eaten or chopped. I’ve tried various ways of quieting the nasal explosions and ended up with everything from ear infections to extended pain from the back pressure. I focus on preventing the sneeze from happening at all, (pain helps, such as digging your nails into your hand) but I can’t make it quiet if it does happen.

          1. The Magpie*

            I’d definitely get eaten, too, but I think what Cat Memes is talking about is the hooting and yodelling that some people (like our dads, apparently) do. There’s no reason to shriek “AHOOOEY!” every time you sneeze.

            1. Expiring Cat Memes*

              That’s exactly it. It’s not about being silent, it’s just about not roaring like a wanker (like my neighbour 5 houses down the street and around the corner who I can hear from my place).

              In my Dad’s case I know he’s perfectly capable of sneezing quieter because I’ve seen him do it. Quiet as a mouse when one of the grandkids is having a nap, but feels entitled to roar the house down and give my poor mother a heart attack at 2am because in that situation apparently he “just can’t help it”.

        2. The Magpie*

          Wonder if we have the same dad. Why does he have to shriek every time he sneezes? ACHOOOOOO-HHOOOOOOOEEEEY! He like, hoots and hollers during/after his sneeze. I really don’t believe that that’s “involuntary”.

          I sneeze loudly, in that my sneezes themselves are just quite loud – not the delicate, barely audible little “choo” sounds. But I don’t accompany them with a vocal performance that goes on longer than the sneeze itself.

          1. Expiring Cat Memes*

            Mine gives no warning. Silence…. silence… silence BAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!

            The 6 months he was deemed medically unfit to drive and required chauffeuring everywhere was GREAT.

          2. londonedit*

            My mum is like this, except hers go into a high-pitched ‘Ahh-YOOOOOOOOOOOOO!’ It really is ear-splitting sometimes. Possibly because of this, I’ve always suppressed my sneezes so they sound like more of a muffled snort, but then that annoys my brother-in-law who thinks I should just ‘make a proper sneezing noise’, so I don’t think you can win when it comes to sneezing!

          3. Spotted Kitty*

            My dad used to shout out “KER-SHOO” every time he sneezed, and it sounded like he was saying “Curse you”. The last time I visited, he was suddenly sneezing normally. I was shocked.

        3. Waiting on the bus*

          I’m a loud sneezer and I actually can’t sneeze with my mouth closed. Or, I can, but then the sneeze expels ALL THE SNOT from my nose, at incredible pressure so that it goes everywhere. And it really is very, very runny during pollen season.
          Ask me about that day in 7th grade and how long I was mocked for having snot shoot out of my nose that one time.

          I muffle my sneezes into my elbow. It quiets them down by a lot and I feel like the pressure on my nose reduced the threat of continuous sneezes.

        4. MissBaudelaire*

          I just want you to know I’m dying laughing at someone scream-sneezing and a velociraptor coming for them.

          “Why didn’t you take your Allegra today, Peter??”

        5. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I also have chronic allergies and sinus issues, and sneezing with my mouth closed HURTS. But I don’t use my vocal chords at all when I sneeze, and I agree with the people who have recommended sneezing into a cotton handkerchief instead of your elbow or a tissue. It does a lot more to muffle the sound, and if you’re sneezing that frequently the soft cotton will probably be better for your skin than a paper tissue.

      3. It's Growing!*

        I have a louder than usual sneeze, they’ve never been delicate, lady-like sneezes. Sneezing into a well padded elbow helps, but other forms of muffling sends the sneeze right into my ears causing intense pain to my eardrums. Bad idea.

        1. Insomniac*

          Yeah I am super over people who think all others can can choose to be quieter sneezers. I’ve tried to be quiet in church, school, tests, funerals, while someone is napping, etc. If I were hiding in a cupboard from a velociraptor or an axe murderer, I am 100% dead meat.

          1. Veruca*

            I’m also a scream sneezer and I cannot help it. It’s not for attention because I do not want the attention. When I was a teen, my mom actually tried to make a rule that I was not allowed to sneeze in the car. Now my daughter gets mad at me when I sneeze and yells at me to stop sneezing.
            I can’t close my mouth to sneeze. If I attempt to muffle it, you know what happens? I pee my pants. So there you go, that’s your TMI for the day. So when I do startle people, I am mortified and very sorry, but we are both better off that I didn’t pee.

      4. Violet Rose*

        I have two methods. One is to tense up and try to close my throat, mouth, nose, anything I can, and cover my face. This tends to hurt, though, and so I only try it if sneezing would bring dishonor and shame unto my family or something. The other method is the complete opposite – open my mouth, open my throat, let my diaphragm expand, and let the breath come in as big and deeply as it wants. (I wish I had a better descriptor for what’s happening physiologically, but that’s unfortunately the best I have!) Oftentimes, when I do this, the sneeze vanishes on its own! But, if not, I then close my mouth and bury my face in my elbow to let it out.

        Of course, YMMV since we’re all configured a little differently, but I though it was interesting enough to put forward in case someone else wanted to experiment!

      5. RabbitRabbit*

        I absolutely can. Between closing my mouth, pinching my nose, and the changes that DyneinWalking mentions, I can stifle a very large forceful sneeze down to a small * snerk *.

        Pre-COVID, I had three BIG and loud (but not screaming, thankfully) sneezers in cubicles immediately surrounding me. They would not cover the sneeze if they were alone in the cube (and particles do drift in the air), and they would always insist “it’s just allergies!” I have allergies too but I never sneezed in such an uncovered way, and my thought was always “But I don’t know what you have that I don’t!”

        Post-COVID? I am ecstatic to not be working next to them any longer. Frequent sneezing/coughing is bound to be nervewracking to a certain percentage of the population.

        In your case, I strongly recommend always 100% covering and at least muffling your sneezes (wear a mask and sneeze into it, is my best recommendation, and change it as needed), and be absolutely diligent about hand cleansing and sanitizing.

        1. DataSci*

          You make a good point about masks. I’m going to assume the OP’s workplace is being sensible and having people wear masks indoors – does that mean they’re going through a dozen or more masks a day after they get sneezed into? Unmasking precisely before a violent droplet-spewing exhalation doesn’t sound like a great plan either – even though the sneezes aren’t contagious, if I were the co-workers I’d be concerned about COVID not causing the sneezes (which aren’t a big symptom) but an asymptomatic case spreading by the sneezes anyway.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            I usually bring in my own masks because the disposable ones my workplace offers give me a bad skin reaction, and if I have enough notice before the sneeze, I’ll take the mask off and sneeze into a handkerchief instead. That way, the inside of my mask stays dry and my sneeze is still covered.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              Granted, I’m not the LW and I don’t sneeze nearly as many times a day as they seem to when it’s a bad day, so I don’t know what setup would work best for them, just describing my method as a potential option.

      6. Waiting on the bus*

        By sneezing into your shoulder/elbow/thick handkerchief. After the last year and a half I would expect people to have learned to sneeze into their elbow anyway.

        I’m a loud-to-screaming sneezer and even in the before times I’d muffle my sneezes into my elbow to decrease the volume. One of the reasons I always wore long sleeves in the office: I hate the feeling of sneezing directly on my skin.

      7. Gothic Bee*

        If someone’s sneezing a lot, I was thinking a fabric handkerchief of some sort might be more useful at muffling a sneeze than just a tissue, especially if LW’s sneezing tends to be loud and they can’t make it quieter. Granted, LW may not catch it every time, but if they’re sneezing 3 times in a row, they should be able to keep a handkerchief nearby and grab it when it starts.

    3. allathian*

      Yeah. And given that we’re still living in a pandemic, people may react more strongly to someone who sneezes in their vicinity than they otherwise might.

      Even if you’re sneezing because of your allergy, if you’re an asymptomatic carrier, those droplets are still going to spread the virus. So for your coworkers’ health, please wear a mask if you’re sneezing a lot.

      1. Alice*

        This is such an important point. OP2, clearly for you sneezing is happening a lot without a COVID infection and indeed without any infection. However, if you happen to get infected (with or without any other symptoms), your “background level” of sneezing would create infectious droplets and aerosols and put everyone around you at risk.
        If I were sharing an office with you, I would be pretty upset if you were not either wearing mask or doing regular (maybe daily) rapid tests – not because you are any more likely to be sick but because, *if* you are sick, you are more likely to pass it on.

        1. Aggretsuko*

          Yeah, I am freaking out in my head whenever I Hear a sneeze or a cough any more because of Covid. I feel like this answer is different now than it would be in the beforetimes.

      2. e271828*

        This. Whatever is prompting your sneezing, LW#2, you had better be wearing a properly fitted N95 mask while you’re doing it in any room with other people, however well-ventilated. And daily COVID tests aren’t a bad idea either!

    4. Everdene*

      My family are sneezers. My mum, at least once per day, will sneeze exactly 6 times in a row. My sister and I have loud sneezes that sound really dramatic. She can’t stop a sneeze but thanks to many inopportune and embarrassing moments wishes she could. I can “muffle” my sneeze most of the time by tensing my whole body but will usually end up doing 2 or 3 sneezes and will need to sneeze again in 10 or 15 minutes. Sometimes these things really can’t be helped despite the sneezers best efforts.

      1. Telgar*

        It is (sometimes) possible to dispel the urge to sneeze by tickling the roof of your mouth with your tongue. Not terribly comfortable and you have to be able to supress/delay sneezing until the tickling effect works.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          If I need to put it off (generally because my mascara is still wet) I can hold a finger against my nostrils, and that usually works.

          1. Jamie Starr*

            A trick to stifle a sneeze that works for me is to press my index finger against my philtrum (the divet between top lip and nose) until the urge passes.

          2. hodie-hi*

            Jamie Starr, that’s what I do, while also slowly and deeply inhaling with that restricted airflow. That works for me every time.

    5. Amaranth*

      But in the current environment, with worries about covid, isn’t a lot of sneezing going to make people a bit more nervous? I’m just wondering if that should somehow be addressed.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        If they are taking reasonable precautions (not being near others, getting clean masks after sneezing into one, covering it up etc.) then I’m ok.

        The guy I fired for sneezing (and other stuff) was doing it with no attempt to shield it, refused to mask, deliberately aiming it at others, claiming that germs weren’t dangerous etc. Then he did it at a client site and…man the fallout from that.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Oh joy – and I though my idiotic former coworker who was smoking right under a no smoking sign and deliberately blowing smoke in the faces of people he didn’t like as they tried to get past him to go home (he would block the entrance to the parking area to do this) was unique. And yes, this was during Covid.

          Sadly that wasn’t his only less than desirable office habit – just the one that impacted me the most.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            So was I, I even asked here on the open post, I think, what to do with him when this behaviour started because the WTF drive was fully engaged.

        2. Observer*

          deliberately aiming it at others,

          This alone is bonkers. Even without covid. It’s just beyond gross.

          Then he did it at a client site

          Who allowed this idiot on a client site? Again, even forgetting covid, this guy is a rude jerk.

          I can imagine the fall out. Did you manage to keep the client?

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            I can imagine it was one of those scenarios where despite Keymaster’s best efforts to contain him he slipped into the wild to proceed to show everyone that he was raised by feral animals.

            With my cigarette smoke-blowing coworker, he would loudly proclaim that “my PTSD made me do it.” Because he thought nobody would call him on it. And then blew up and quit on the spot when he was called on all of his crap behaviors.

          2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            We’re an internal IT department but the company we serve is huge and very widespread among outside heavy engineering so by ‘client site’ I usually mean ‘the civil engineering depot over at town B’ . I’d messed up, I admit, in assuming that this guy wasn’t daft enough to repeat his behaviour on a call.

            Whoops. He also treated the staff there to a long diatribe of ‘this is all just like a cold’ . They called me (‘don’t you send this (rude British swearing) person here. Or anywhere. Or the union is having words’) and I said I was exceptionally sorry, that I’m going straight to HR to get the guy fired.

            And I did. That depot is okay with me now.

            1. Observer*

              Oh, goodness. I can just imagine that call.

              I almost feel like even though being reamed out by the site must have been pretty bad, it might have felt like a win because it must have given you the ammunition you needed to get rid of him.

              I think I might have asked the person who called me to put what they had just said into an email as backup with HR.

      2. Aggretsuko*

        It makes me nervous. I was dealing with a guy for 2 weeks who smokes and coughs a lot and that was quietly freaking me out every dang day.

    6. HalloweenCat*

      Completely agree! I have a cube neighbor who is a chronic loud sneezer and nose blower and not terribly considerate about it. When I saw that OP would step away from the general public to blow their nose I was amazed at the courtesy!

    7. Richter scale*

      It is worth noting that the most recent reports of a super-spreading incident was because someone thought she just had her usual allergies; so agreeing with all who are emphasizing masking—as annoying as that can be while sneezing. I learned to just knot a tissue under my nose under the mask, and in my case the extra filtration actually reduced the sneezing (until I took it off— then the whole cycle started over…)

      1. londonedit*

        Yes, apparently for double-vaccinated people the most common symptom of Covid is frequent sneezing, so I can understand people being more wary of those who are sneezing a lot!

    8. Lady_Lessa*

      I tend to be a loud sneezer, but haven’t figured out how to muffle it. Especially if it is a surprise sneeze.

      The few times I’ve tried, it almost turned into a cough.

  7. Female-Presenting Motorcyclist*

    I used to do private tutoring and would roll up to people’s homes on my motorcycle. This was for high school students and not toddlers, but nobody ever batted an eye except to think it was cool.

    Saddlebags or backpack easily held all my supplies. I would recommend figuring out your gear — to be safe I would always wear full body gear and that won’t always be the professional look you’re going for, but there are tons of options and some gear is also easy to wear over clothes and quickly strip off. Helmet hair is also a thing to figure out to look professional but I managed to find a way for that not to be an issue for my hair.

    Oh and because I lived in California, I saved literally hours every day since in CA motorcycles are allowed to drive through stopped traffic!

    1. Worldwalker*

      I once saw a motorcycle pull up to a college classroom building, whereupon the rider pulled off his jumpsuit, stowed it in the saddlebags, and a conventional-looking gray-haired professor in a suit and tie went in to teach his class.

    2. NotMyRealName*

      Full body gear is so important. My brother-in-law was in an accident on his bike and while he got a concussion and cracked ribs, without his helmet and body gear he probably wouldn’t have survived.

    3. goingAnon*

      Just be very, very careful! Car drivers don’t always notice motorcyclists. A co-worker who was riding his motorcycle to work died because someone pulled out right in front of him, with no room for him to stop.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        With love and respect, goingAnon, you are not telling a motorcyclist anything they don’t already know. Thank you for your concern. Facing death is a daily part of the ride. It’s the same for drivers, but it’s easier for them to ignore.

  8. KayEss*

    I think the one thing that would really influence my opinion of someone riding a motorcycle to work would be whether or not they wore proper safety gear, particularly if they were working with kids. Maybe I’m a jerk, but I judge helmet-less riders quite a bit when I see them and would consider a coworker who I knew to be doing that similarly to how I’d consider a coworker who I knew occasionally drove while tipsy/drunk.

    1. Raine*

      Oh, yeah. I have pins holding my left elbow together due to me falling off a motorcycle when I was rear-ended. My gear saved me from having an amputated arm or worse.

      The biggest thing I would say about wearing motorcycling gear to work is – there’s a big perception amongst a segment of the non-motorcycling-riding crowd that all leather gear = criminal. But if you have well-kept gear that’s not caked with mud and you’re dressed appropriately under your gear for what you’re about to do (I used to wear khakis under my motorcycle pants), whomever meets you is less likely to look at you and think, “Oh no!”

      [insert “wear full gear and a full-face helmet” soapbox here]

    2. pleaset cheap rolls*

      “Maybe I’m a jerk, but I judge helmet-less riders quite a bit when I see them and would consider a coworker who I knew to be doing that similarly to how I’d consider a coworker who I knew occasionally drove while tipsy/drunk.”

      I find it weird when someone judges people bringing more risk only upon themselves (no helmet) the same way they judge others putting risk on other people too (drunk driving). Yes, yes I know a drunk is a risk to themself too, but it’s the risk to others that is the most offensive part.

      But hey, I guess you like judging quite a bit.

      I do too, but not for that.

      1. pleaset cheap rolls*

        In any case, the OP should thank you sharing your opinion – it may be common and is important for them to know.

        1. Observer*

          Well, as a parent, it IS actually relevant to be aware if their teacher or therapist is someone who takes unreasonable risks. Riding a motorcycle without a helmet IS an unreasonable risk. And that’s not the kind of person I want doing therapy with my kid.

      2. hamsterpants*

        If we all lived in isolation then I might agree with you, but seeing someone’s brain smeared across the highway will definitely harm innocent others, not to mention the loved ones they leave behind.

      3. Lexie*

        In this particular situation the OP serves as a role model for kids whether they want to or not. So not wearing proper protective gear could send a message to those kids that they don’t need helmets to ride their bikes or follow other safety rules. Also, if it’s a place that requires helmets by law it’s not a good look to show up at client’s home obviously violating a law.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        Humans judge each other. This is a human thing.

        As Lexie spells out, parents certainly judge anyone who is going to have authority over their kid, including setting an example good or bad. You can argue that A is an okay thing to judge but B is not–everyone will have different lines there–but ultimately you don’t control what other people are judgy about,

      5. SoloKid*

        No helmets are a shared risk to society the same way not wearing a seatbelt is in that emergency crews and hospitals will have to deal with a dead/maimed body instead of a slightly scuffed one that could walk away. I don’t judge AS much as a tipsy driver, but I still have a “people should just do it” attitude.

      6. AMH*

        Disagree strongly with ” people bringing more risk only upon themselves (no helmet)” — they may not be putting people in physical risk but in the case of a serious or deadly accident, they are putting other people at risk of psychological harm.

      7. Pippa K*

        You may be misunderstanding the basis of the judgment here. I don’t judge helmetless riders negatively because of the harm that they might cause, but for the sheer pigheaded stupidity.

        The helmetless riders obviously disagree with me, but this is one of those cases where someone’s right and someone’s wrong. People can carry on riding helmetless if the law allows, but there’s ample evidence that it’s dumb. You say this is “liking judgment quite a bit” and I say sure: good judgment.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          This is my stance as well – no helmet or gear makes you an idiot. And I will question your judgement in other areas as well – so do I really want to trust my child to the care of someone whose judgement I am questioning?

          1. Zelda*

            I kinda figure that hey, if that helmetless person doesn’t think there’s anything in their head worth protecting, then y’know, they’re probably right!

      8. HannahS*

        Part of my rage against un-helmeted cyclists is that if that if we get into an accident–even imagining it’s an accident where neither of us is at fault–they are way more likely to die or be permanently affected than if they are wearing a helmet. That impacts me; even if it’s not my fault, I don’t want to be involved in killing someone, nor do I want anyone to die. I absolutely judge people for being careless with their lives.

      9. KayEss*

        Yes, driving drunk is objectively the “worse” of the two in terms of effects to others. However, both indicate a willingness to prioritize avoiding minor personal inconvenience over the risk of statistically significant bad outcomes, and a self-perception of being invulnerable overriding basic disaster preparedness. Those are relevant to me regarding who I’m going to rely on.

        It’s a free country, you can think I’m a stick-in-the-mud for feeling that taking really stupid risks says negative things about your judgement even if they “only” affect you, and I can continue thinking that recurring casual unnecessary risk-takers are unreliable.

      10. Managing to Get By*

        Severe head injuries can cost up to 7 figures for ongoing care, and even if the insurance “pays for it” high claims drive up insurance premiums for everyone, and the person with the injury that could have been prevented if wearing a helmet takes up an intensive care bed that someone else could use (this is very relevent today with most hospitals at capacity in ICU where I live).

        Unless the person making the personal choice to ignore simple safety rules is guaranteed to die at the scene and not take up resources and increase costs for everyone else, fine. But to say they’re only bring risk upon themselves is not true. Every decision has consequences and most things that people consider personal choices actually affect others quite a bit.

      11. goingAnon*

        I used to ride a bicycle to work. I always wore my helmet, which turned out to be a good thing when I was hit by a car. I was OK but bruised. The helmet was cracked. After that, I do tend to judge when bicyclists aren’t wearing helmets.

    3. Free Meerkats*

      ATG, ATT.

      When I was riding in Phoenix, it was uncomfortable (before all these hi-tech fabrics), but required. It wasn’t so bad in the SF Bay area, frequently welcome!

      For the uninitiated, that acronym is for All The Gear, All The Time. No, “I’m just going to the store for milk, I don’t need the jacket.”

    4. Yep I said that*

      I judge helmetless riders too.

      Wearing a helmet is such a baseline safety measure, if you don’t do it, as far as I am concerned you’re proving that you lack judgement and might even be an idiot. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  9. many bells down*

    I really feel for #2 because I have a chronic allergy sniffle that’s gotten worse since I moved 8 years ago. And with Covid I have to keep asking people to excuse my sniffle “no really it’s allergies I promise”

    1. it's-a-me*

      I have scar tissue in my nose and throat because of chemical burns, so I am constantly coughing and sniffling too… but I’ve long since stopped trying to explain that, and also tell people it’s just allergies, especially in the current climate.

    2. turquoisecow*

      I used to be the chronic office sneezer due to various uncontrolled allergies. I don’t think I was exceptionally loud, at least not to the extent people complained directly to me (or to my boss, who I’m pretty sure would have told me because he told me other things people said, even if they were unfounded). I would occasionally get someone asking if I was sick, but most people just ignored it after awhile, and only when it was particularly bad did they speak up.

      My sister was in a similar situation as a kid and so my mom adopted a “two bless you” policy. Each person got two “bless you!”s a day and after that you were considered covered, otherwise we would be constantly saying it. I have told other people this concept and they agreed it was a good one. We didn’t go that formal in my office but I told people it was fine if they didn’t say something each time, especially if I sneezed multiple times in a row, which is common. A few people would say “that’s it, you’re done,” and I didn’t take it as an insult.

      Sympathies, OP, it’s definitely not fun. I hope you can find some medication that works for you.

    3. BluntBunny*

      I’m the same chronic year round allergies. I found an air purifier helps minimise some of the symptoms but they don’t go away. When I have bad flare ups I know its time to change the filter. I feel that sneezing is less annoying than coughing I think because of the length of time. I would do whatever helps minimise your symptoms and makes you more comfortable in the office eg more breaks, hot drinks, warmer temperature, pain killers. Sanitise and throw tissues away immediately, if you feel a sneeze coming try and step outside. Also if you have the self tests do them once a week or occasionally to reassure your coworkers. If you have a particularly bad day stay home.

  10. Elizabeth West*

    The Sneezer:
    One of my coworkers used to do that at OldExjob. It was always five times in a row. Once he sneezed three times and we were all like, “Well? Where’s the rest of it?”

    People do get used to things, OP, and you said you were trying to mitigate disruption when it gets particularly bad. As long as everyone knows they’re not Delta sneezes and you’re not frequently going BLAAAAAAHHHHCCCCHOOOOOOOOO!!!! in quiet moments when people are trying to work, I’m sure it will be fine.

    1. Library Lady*

      OMG I’m dying! That phonetic sneeze is a goddamn gift to the English language right there!

      1. alienor*

        Right?! I’m lying in bed with my laptop and my cat is very annoyed that I keep laughing while she’s trying to sleep.

      2. John Smith*

        The chronic sneezer in my department starts off with a basso “Aaaah” then in one of the highest pitches I have ever heard, finishes with a short descending “Choo!”. This is repeated in rapid succession 6 times or so. After 8 years, I still have to hide a smirk whenever she has a sneezing fit.

    2. alienor*

      I must tell you that I laughed out loud when I saw BLAAAAAAHHHHCCCCHOOOOOOOOO!!!! , and I keep giggling every time my eyes go back to it. It’s not often that I see such an accurate visual representation of a sound.:D

      1. BubbleTea*

        My baby does the most adorable sneeze, it is like he is just pretending and has seen this kind of phonetic rendering that he’s emulating (which obviously he hasn’t, he is ten weeks old). He just goes “Aaaaahh!” and never quite reaches the choo.

    3. LemonLyman*

      Ohmygosh, that would be me! Ahaha! I have the LOUDEST most forceful sneezes. Spouse jokes that I rattle windows and blast his and dog’s eardrums. I really can’t help it. And when I try to hold the sneeze volume back, I end up needing to sneeze again multiple times (loudly) and kinda getting a headache.

    4. BookishMiss*

      When i sneeze, it’s always in threes (rhyme unintentional), and my coworkers do the same thing if the last sneeze is a little late.

      The first time it happens around new people, I warn them, they don’t believe me, then they learn. It just becomes a joke after a while.

      Disclaimers: I have been accused of sneezing with authority, I sneeze into my elbow, and now with COVID I’m always masked if I’m around my coworkers.

    5. WS*

      I have a colleague who sneezes about as much as the LW, all through spring, and it’s fine. But one day her sister came in to pick her up to have lunch together and her sister turned out to have the same issue but at about 3000 times the volume!

    6. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Also, so long as I can’t see droplets in the air/window/coworkers desks after!

    7. Thursdaysgeek*

      I almost always sneeze in pairs, so when I was a teen, I decided to switch it up, and the first ‘Ahh-shoo!’ was followed by ‘Ahh-sock!’ I thought it was funny. Until it became a habit and I accidentally did it in front of someone else (non-family). I had to break that habit fast.

  11. ZK*

    OP #4, the holidays are almost always a “blackout period” in retail, and corporate policy dictates that no one gets certain dates off. Your manager may not even have the ability to okay time off during that period. At my last retail job, no matter when you were hired, the manager always went over the November/December holiday policy during orientation and you acknowledged it when you signed off on training. I’m sorry you’re missing your family, but yeah, the retail world doesn’t really tend to care about feelings, or their employees, really. Especially when it gets in the way of them making money.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think it’s useful for the OP to know, though, that this isn’t necessarily just a retail thing or a bad-employer-who-doesn’t-care-about-feelings things. She could end up at a non-retail, professional employer after she graduates, one that generally treats people well, and still find herself in this situation if they have coverage requirements. There are some jobs where it doesn’t matter if a bunch of people are gone in the same week, and others where they need some people to be there. In the latter, who gets the time off usually isn’t going to be decided by who misses their family most (nor should it be, really — you don’t want employers thinking they can judge that).

      1. April*


        My job is the front desk of a retirement community, and we literally *always* have someone at that desk, 24 hours a day, year-round.

        Not long after I got hired, we realized that out of the six? seven? of us, all but one were some kind of nerd/geek. We had to sit down with the local schedule of conventions and split up who got to attend what. It was a bit like: “The two of you can split the anime con, do you have a preference as to Saturday or Sunday? Okay, now me and J are going to the big comic con, which of David Tennant’s events did you want to get a ticket for? I can go the other day.” We worked it out and got the desk covered and IIRC, everybody got to do at least one day of one convention, lol.

      2. Clewgarnet*

        This was the joy of working in an extremely multi-cultural office. We needed one or two people to be on call over the Christmas break, but that was it. With half our team being Muslim, and with Christmas on-call being EXTREMELY well paid, the struggle was to find a fair way of deciding who WASN’T working.

          1. Rach*

            My work has “floating holidays” (employees essentially get to choose their holidays off based on whatever they want), plus we are guaranteed bank holidays off (so major Christian holidays), but employees can also choose to work whatever bank holiday they want and add that to their floating holiday bank. It works out really well for those of non-Christian faiths.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        It reminds me of expecting employers to judge how sick you are before okaying a sick day. It’s bad when employers try to insist on details so they can determine whether or not someone can continue throwing up at home; it’s also bad when employees try to send photographs of their misery like sick time should only be granted to the most worthy. (And then there’s the twist of “the metadata shows you got this image of a toilet off a photo search.”)

      4. Drago Cucina*

        This is an excellent point. Whether it’s medical, tech, the How to Cook A Turkey hotline, etc., there are always people who will need to be working on holidays. There are whole systems put in place to try and not turn the holidays into the misery Olympics and recognize that many people have family and friends they want to be with.
        In my previous role one of my least favorite aspects of the job was dealing with holiday time off.

      5. Free Meerkats*

        My holiday season when I was 19, I was in military training; when I was 20, floating around the Pacific Ocean on an aircraft carrier, I didn’t get to go home. Just off the top of my head, based on personal experience, professions the OP wants to avoid in the future:

        Police/Fire/Emergency services
        Airlines/Car rental
        Utilities (especially water and wastewater)

      6. Jack Straw*

        Agreed. I was a retail manager for two years–when I was hired I was told November and December were six day, 60+ hour work weeks. No vacation requests until inventory was done in early January. It wasn’t that bad for hourly employees, but it the no vacation request policy was the same.

        Fast-forward 20 years to my last job and during our busy season of January-April (events, not taxes), you just didn’t ask for time off. It wasn’t stated, but, to borrow a phrase from another of today’s LW they’d look at you like you had a dead rat on your head. Our busiest month out of that time was four weeks in a row of six day work weeks AND moving into a hotel to be close to the office and event.

        It will vary from job to job, but there’s *always* going to be a time off policy (documented or common knowledge) and it will rarely take into account whose family lives farther away.

      7. Observer*

        I think it’s useful for the OP to know, though, that this isn’t necessarily just a retail thing or a bad-employer-who-doesn’t-care-about-feelings things. She could end up at a non-retail, professional employer after she graduates, one that generally treats people well, and still find herself in this situation if they have coverage requirements.

        Absolutely. This comes up a LOT.

        The OP does not want to be the person who wanted to know why our entire fiscal department could not shut down for a full week when the organization was open and all of the entities we work with are open.

    2. mourning mammoths*

      I imagine there are exceptions to this. I used to work retail in a college town where no one was allowed to stay in the dorms over the holiday break. Anyone affected was not scheduled for those weeks and I don’t recall any of us who lost our jobs due to this.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        It was easy to take time off around the holidays at my restaurant job in college because the town slowed down soooooo much when the students left. They only needed a skeleton crew and the servers who were staying in town usually wanted the shifts. I never missed a Thanksgiving or Christmas in all 4 years because of that. I got lucky lucky because of that scenario and the willingness of coworkers to help each other out.

      2. Observer*

        Sure, there are exceptions to almost everything. But the point is that what the OP is experiencing is totally normal, and it’s not even necessarily a matter of a bad employer who doesn’t treat their employees reasonably.

    3. Drizzle Cake*

      You know, I’m just not sure it’s helpful to tell someone comparatively new to the working world (I’m not assuming this is their first job – it’s just that the OP is still in their teens) that you can draw this kind of conclusion, ie that because an industry has to work a certain way due to the nature of the work, it automatically means the entire industry does not care for its employees. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. But just as the OP shouldn’t expect their manager to give them time off because they miss their family (this isn’t some kind of holiday-getting trump card) they also shouldn’t draw potentially faulty conclusions that needing coverage = doesn’t care. I mean sure, maybe retail doesn’t care. But this judgement shouldn’t be based on the need for coverage at busy times.

      I worked for a global retail chain while I was a student and the rule was that you could have either Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve off, just not both. That worked really well and helped staff retention (a lot of the staff were students).

      1. Katefish*

        Yeah, I’m surprised by all these “100% blackout” comments – worked retail 11 years – at one of my retail jobs, we each got to choose whether we wanted Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s off (and I’d pick Christmas when living 1,000s of miles from home). At another, winters were relatively slow – one of many retail businesses that picks up in warm weather. I agree with the general idea that you should generally be available during your employer’s busy season, though.

        1. Liane*

          The first year I worked for (In)famous Retailer there were blackout dates, but not subsequent years. I don’t know if it was the Store Manager’s decision or if Corporate changed the policy. Time off requests (for any time of year) could be made up to 3 months in advance, but that didn’t guarantee your department assistant manager would click Approved for holiday season dates.
          Another thing, even if there are blackout dates, it may not be the entire November to December but rather just some dates, say “No time off okayed for Nov. 15-Black Friday, December weekends, and Dec. 20 – Jan. 1.” So you might be able to get time off to visit family earlier in the month or not including the actual holiday, assuming you want to and can make it work: University allows you to stay in dorms (my son’s did this for a fee), finals schedule, no relatives who will pitch tantrums and make the whole clan miserable if you aren’t at X on Y date, etc.

          If you do decide to leave the job, I agree you should give notice of 2+ weeks. Just say you are leaving and your last available day will be [date]; no need to go into specifics about being unable to get holiday time off. And contrary to what others have written, in my experience doing it this way won’t burn bridges. At that job and other similar ones, I saw people who left far less politely and far more spectacularly get hired back.

        2. MassMatt*

          I worked retail for several years, many retailers do have blackout dates, especially between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Others are more spread out, and ration vacation time around other holidays but not as strictly. If a retailer makes 50%+ of its money between Thanksgiving and Christmas, they are going to want everyone working in that time, not taking it off. In most re5ail work, holidays are times where you are busy, not when you are taking time off. It’s one of the drawbacks of retail.

          I do find it odd that the store here hasn’t communicated a policy and so they have this new employee wondering what is going on, they should make whatever policy they have clear.

          LW, if you do quit, just be sure to give 2 or kore weeks of notice, and do it well ahead of the major holidays, and you should not have to worry about a good reference. Most retail managers have to deal with turnover all the time.

      2. Philly Redhead*

        There’s no “maybe” about it. I worked in retail for MANY years. No, they don’t care.

      3. Daisy-dog*

        And it’s not like the managers are just scheduling the student workers for this time and not working themselves. I was on a 6-person management team and every one of us was required to work on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. That was certainly not the best way to do it, but it was their determination on what is fair. We all know time with family is being missed, but they tried to make it nicer with things like free food and extra discounts.

        1. MassMatt*

          We can’t make assumptions on that. For most retailers, managers work very hard around holidays, some corporate businesses especially require 60-80 hour weeks at peak, and given the positions are exempt, there is no overtime. There definitely are other places where managers give themselves plenty of holidays off and leave the busy work to the peasants. I had a store manager that would fax a fake schedule to the regional office showing he was working Saturdays etc but post a different one at the store. Regional managers would spot check stores but would rarely do so on weekends or holidays. It’s terrible for store morale, but it happens.

          This manager got caught when a store was robbed on a night he was supposedly working and upper management wondered why he didn’t call them or talk to the police, etc.

          1. Daisy-dog*

            OP is part-time. Even if OP’s managers are corrupt liars, that’s not really impacting someone who is working 12-20 hours/week. OP made no indication that she would like to quit because she wants time off at the holidays AND morale is terrible.

      4. fhqwhgads*

        I didn’t take that comment as a “because” situation, rather a statement that both “this is extremely common to be a complete blackout” as well as “it’s extremely common that they don’t care about their employees”. Not a causal relationship, just both being true.

    4. April*


      I can guarantee, OP #4, that the lower-level management where you work has not seen family (that they don’t literally live with) for the holidays for the entire time they’ve worked there. They will, in fact, have less than zero sympathy for you on this one.

      It’s one of the shitty downsides of retail: during the holidays, you cannot get time off. Period. Doesn’t matter what your sob story is–nobody gets time off around Thanksgiving/Christmas. Which is literally part of why I never want to work retail ever, ever again if I can help it.

      (I do a 24/7/365 shift job now, but staffing needs don’t increase around the holidays; AND I’m now the most senior non-supervisory person in my department. Every year I work Thanksgiving and New Year’s in exchange for Christmas off. And this year I took a solid two weeks off around Christmas, no less; because my partner and I have plane tickets to see extended family in Germany. I also rarely work weekends anymore. The joys of seniority!)

      1. April*

        On a related note: I worked as a mail carrier for a year and a half, back in the early 00’s. I worked Every. Single. Day, except ONE, between Thanksgiving and Christmas. One day off, in that entire month. Even on Sundays, I was driving off packages, because otherwise the building just didn’t have any space for more.

        I was out until after dark almost every day that month. On Christmas Eve, I had to show up early, drive off an entire vehicle’s worth of packages, come back and fill up my vehicle again and do my usual route, and then I was sent to help another carrier with the end of their route. I worked over twelve hours that day. I also worked ten hours the day *after* Christmas, but at least I got that next Sunday off. On the upside: my family understood that I was absolutely exhausted!

        So it’s not just retail that requires you to work more around the holidays.

        I will say that, with the USPS, if you worked there long enough you did get enough seniority to ask for time off near the holidays. But there was a limited number of slots and it was entirely by seniority–if only one person could have that time off in your station and someone had worked there a month longer than you and they wanted it, too bad.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          This, absolutely. Holiday season is go time for the USPS.

          Healthcare is another one where there’s major crunch time around the holidays to try to get time off. Can’t shut down the hospital for the week to let everyone go on vacation.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Yep. I have healthcare providers and first responders in the family, and you get used to *never* having Christmas on Christmas.

            1. AnonaLlama*

              Child of a police officer and a nurse. Between the 2 of them I was a teenager before they each had enough seniority for us to have holidays on the holiday. Christmas would sometimes be at 4am so someone could get to their shift. Those were actually my favorite as a little kid. :-)

        2. kathy*

          I work for a bank, which is not really a ‘seasonal’ business, but it’s a tough environment where people don’t tend to take a lot of vacation. One of my new hires once told me that his family lived far, and so he would like to take three weeks off around Christmas. This was in May or June, so plenty of notice, but three consecutive weeks is just NOT done in my industry. I haven’t had that much time off, even between jobs. Forget about the fact that I’m definitely more senior to him and I might like some time off around Christmas myself.
          For various reasons related to his expectation of work-life balance and a gross misunderstanding of industry expectations on his part, this employee didn’t even make it to Christmas, so the problem solved itself.

          My point being, this is absolutely not limited to retail. The LW should check her expectations – both in her current job and also for her longer career.

      2. Daisy-dog*

        That’s not necessarily true. Yes, there are people who believe “my life sucks and has sucked for longer” who will not care about someone else who has a “minor inconvenience” like wanting to see family for Christmas. But plenty of managers in retail are not entirely heartless and have worked with a lot teenagers (and might have been one just a few years prior – I was 23/24 when I was in a retail manager role) and can absolutely sympathize. Their hands may be tied by rules with retail (and may not be able to plan in advance as well as other years because of the pandemic). It doesn’t mean they’re saying screw you to OP though.

  12. FlyingAce*

    #1 – My husband’s cousin is a developmental therapist, and she is currently working with our son once a week. She *does* ride her motorcycle when she comes to our house (and when she attends the rest of her appointments as well), so you wouldn’t be the only one :D

  13. GNG*

    OP3: You make inccurate statements about how the scheduling snafu came about, twice. First time when you alerted the recruiter to the time discrepancy, and 2nd time to the interviewer. You even had the initial email to show it was not any misunderstanding on your part, but for some reason you chose to not to tell the truth.

    Im baffled about how speaking up to clarify something is throwing someone under the bus. You don’t need to say this snafu happened because Jane isn’t good at her job. You can say I received an invite for 10am, but based on the email exchange I had with Jane yesterday, I was expecting to interview at 4pm. I was surprised but I had a conflict I couldn’t move. If you would like, I can loop back with Jane to figure out how this confusion came about.

    For all you know it may not even have been Jane’s fault. Maybe the interviewer or the interviewers assistant made the mistake. Or there was a weird technical glitch. But you seemed to have made some assumptions and chose to make up a white lie. This time it came back to bite you in the butt.

    I don’t know if you communicated the way you did because of extreme conflict avoidance or for some other reason, but please reconsider your approach because it’s counterproductive.

    1. august*

      Yea, it’s also for the benefit of the company to know where the miscommunication originated.

      Unlike throwing someone under a bus to save yourself unjustly, if there was indeed fault in the Jane’s communication, OP does not have a way to correct this afterwards aside from informing Jane about the snafu after the interview and not knowing if she’ll manage the next recruit properly.

    2. Drizzle Cake*

      I wouldn’t offer to ‘figure out how this confusion came about’ – that’s still not being direct. I’d go with something like: “Jane asked me to interview at 4.30, so that’s when I expected to meet. I was surprised to get an invite for 10.30 instead – I’d love to have made it work despite the short notice, but unfortunately couldn’t due to an existing commitment I couldn’t move.”

      Which is true, and fine to say!

      OP, I am wondering why you think being accountable needs to mean tying yourself in knots, covering or taking the blame for other people’s mistakes or otherwise not just being direct and straightforward? This is doing you a disservice, and it would really be better to rethink it.

      I’d strongly recommend you look into assertiveness. Being assertive doesn’t mean being aggressive or confrontational – it means being direct, honest and straightforward, which would have served you much better here.

      It would also be worth asking yourself why you think you have to handle things the way you did here and can’t just say the actual truth. You mentioned that you are a manager – if you had done something similar to a direct report, would you expect them to take the blame for it? Presumably not?

      1. Talia*

        This. Someone not even managing to make the interview (when people are usually on their best behaviour) is a massive red flag for a job that requires someone to keep appointments. The manager gave the OP *several* chances to explain and she didn’t give any explanation that established it wasn’t her fault despite the interviewer making it clear more than once that it was a crucial point that *needed* explaining.

        Also, despite apparently accepting the blame for the ‘misunderstanding’, I can’t see the OP apologised properly either (quite reasonably in her view since it wasn’t her fault) so it came across that she was both incapable of keeping appointments and also incapable of understanding the importance of doing so – the worst of both worlds.

      2. Unaccountably*

        If LW3 is like a lot of managers I’ve had, they absolutely do expect their direct reports to take the blame.

      3. Observer*

        You mentioned that you are a manager – if you had done something similar to a direct report, would you expect them to take the blame for it? Presumably not?

        That’s the thing that really bugs me. From what they say, they actually DO expect their employees to take the fall for a mistake they didn’t make.

    3. DyneinWalking*

      I’ve always taken “throwing someone under the bus” to mean “saving your own ass by letting someone else take the hit”. In other words, that the sentiment of “it’s really, truly, me who’s responsible but I’m a coward and therefore need a scapegoat” is essential to the saying.

      And I really don’t see why the actual meaning of the idiom should be anything else. I mean, “throwing” suggests an active role in putting someone in a place where they weren’t originally, yes? Otherwise, it’d be “leaving someone where they are about to be hit by and get under a bus”.

      There should be no shame in letting people deal with the consequences they caused themselves, unless it’s a) a minor thing that b) happened as an honest mistake/blunder and c) doesn’t affect your own standing.

      1. FemalePhenotype*

        It can also be pointing out the name when it is otherwise irrelevant just to make yourself look good. Like “we need to fix the ice cream machine” and saying “Jana broke it, but I can fix it”.

      2. Heidi*

        If anything, it seems like the OP threw themselves under the bus to save Jane. Some bosses are crappy and will punish employees for screwups like this, but there’s no indication that would have happened based on the letter. It seems like the OP is in the mindset that the manager needs to take responsibility for all the mistakes that happen on their watch and not scapegoat someone. But the OP is not in charge of Jane, so it’s Jane who needs to take responsibility for the mistake here.

    4. CJ*

      It’s interesting to see people react this way. I agree that it’s not the ideal response, but I almost definitely would have done the same thing as the OP. Part of it is coming from a customer service background, where you’re actively taught to take responsibility and apologize for things that aren’t your fault (and you’re made to feel like you’re being unprofessional if you won’t), and part of it’s coming from a working class background where, if an authority figure and/or somebody with power in the situation seems angry, you don’t put them onto someone else. Period.

      1. Grey Coder*

        It is a tricky balance! I once had a manager specifically tell me to stop softening my language to cover up for other people not doing their jobs, because it meant the root problem never got solved. In a lot of situations, the “allow others to save face” tactic is correct. But in others, it’s more important to have the facts laid out clearly.

        In an interview, you’re putting your best self forward, so you don’t want to take responsibility for problems you didn’t create.

        1. Cinderella Sparklepants*

          That is an interesting comment, but I bet not one that came from a customer service manager. I remember frequently being told NEVER to shift blame to other departments – it makes the company look disorganized and customers simply don’t care.
          That being said, I agree with the rest of your statement, Grey Coder. OP took responsibility for problems they didn’t create, and made themselves look incompetent in the process. Hopefully they’ll remember Alison’s comments and know better for next time.

          1. Grey Coder*

            Ha, yes my manager’s comment was related to company internal interactions! But if you’ve ever worked in an external facing role (where you frequently take the blame for things that aren’t your fault, as you say) it can be hard to switch modes.

      2. katertot*

        Yeah I’m with CJ here- It’s easy for us to all say “you should’ve been more matter-of-fact” but I can guarantee especially earlier in my career that I would’ve used some of the same phrasing OP did in order to ruffle as few feather as possible to get a role- you want to get hired! I definitely can see myself not wanting to point out something like that earlier in my career.
        Now I would definitely clarify with the recruiter and tell the hiring manager there was a miscommunication with the recruiter but I think we are being a little harsh on OP.

      3. Spencer Hastings*

        Also, going “the other person f#%^ed up, not me, here are the receipts” is not a great first impression, and it’s understandable that someone would want to avoid that, at least initially (and it sounds like it may have escalated too fast to course-correct afterward).

        1. katertot*

          Exactly! I can totally see not wanting to point out an error with the recruiter/their hiring process right out out of the gate in the interview.

        2. Observer*

          Also, going “the other person f#%^ed up, not me, here are the receipts” is not a great first impression,

          Well, it’s a whole lot better than “I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to the appointment we made” with no other explanation. And if someone takes it badly when you calmly and politely explain what actually happened, then that’s someone you probably want to avoid working for if you can.

      4. anonymous73*

        If someone asks me a question, I’m going to be honest and not beat around the bush, especially if it was 100% not my fault. You’re not doing the company any favors by lying or taking the blame. They need to know that their recruiter needs to work on some things to be better at their job. And just because someone is angry doesn’t change things. If the hiring manager was angry, he doesn’t get to take it out on OP.

      5. anonymouse*

        OP, you can say, “Berta told me the meeting was at 4:30,” if that the fact.
        It’s not throwing Berta under the bus, it’s explaining that you were given different information than the interviewer. If Berta has to explain to someone why she gave different information to both parties, and it’s uncomfortable for her, well, that sucks. But it is not your fault. It’s not because you were not accountable for a mistake. You didn’t make one.
        It is weird, breaking the us v. them that we all learn in school…the students v. teachers kind of thing. Law of the Playground.
        In my first professional job as an admin, there was a group of four of us. There was one woman who was not well, friendly to new hires. I asked her for guidance about format/syntax for certain type of letter. Her information was incorrect. Our supervisor came to me and told me I did the task wrong. OK. She said I should have asked someone for help. I still remember looking across a long office. I saw Not Friendly looking at us, and my first instinct was, well, I did it wrong, but I decided instead to own just my part.
        “I did ask for help. I was told to do X.”
        And my supervisor started to ask who told me that, but stopped. I think she guessed. Instead she said, “just come to me with questions.”
        I did. She was a great boss. I learned a lot in that job.

      6. Archaeopteryx*

        There’s a difference between apologizing to a customer for an error you didn’t create versus doing that in your regular life. When it’s such a clear-cut issue of having a confirmation email for 430 and then getting a last minute invite for 1030, there’s nothing polite or noble about obfuscating the source of the air and not being matter-of-fact about it. It’s just weird to do.

        It’s not throwing someone under the bus to just say, oh, my email actually says 430. Once you actually have the job you need to be straightforward about that stuff too, so that the office can actually figure out the source of mixups and confusion. I think most managers would be peeved to find out a report of theirs was taking the blame for minor mixups they didn’t cars and refusing to just be forthright about the facts. It doesn’t help anything.

        1. Archaeopteryx*

          Telling the truth about the situation isn’t “throwing someone under the bus” any more than talking to your boss about a problem affecting your work is “making trouble” or reporting inappropriate behavior from a coworker is “gossip”. It’s a misapplied concept.

        2. twocents*

          And in a lot of jobs, this approach would actually make things worse. If I was the manager and couldn’t even get a straightforward answer from an interviewee about a relatively benign thing… How would I ever trust that person to tell me the truth when there’s a serious work concern and the root cause needs addressed?

          I understand LW is all “I don’t want to work there!!” But unless the hiring pool is really weak, I bet she’s not getting an offer anyway.

    5. LKW*

      Absolutely absolutely absolutely.

      Stating facts is not throwing someone under the bus. Throwing blame about can be unprofessional but stating “The recruiter and I agreed verbally to 4:30, I have an email from your organization agreeing to an appointment at 4:30. Unfortunately, the invite was sent for 10:30 am and I was not able to accommodate the change.”

      On almost every project I’ve worked, I push the blame game down the road. “now is not the time for blame, let’s figure out how to solve the problem and then we can deal with lessons learned later on.” And that’s the reframing – when everyone is calm, we go through “lessons learned” like “Rescheduling meetings requires all participants to agree to the new time via email.”

      But being able to talk factually about a problem without judgement is important. You also don’t have to cover for someone else’s ineptitude. Especially if you’re not even on the team. You don’t have to be a dick about it but you don’t have to cover it up either.

      1. hbc*

        “Stating facts is not throwing someone under the bus.” Pretty much came here to say this. Of course, you can selectively state them or emphasize certain facts, but if you’re at all worrying about the impact on someone else, you probably won’t be doing that.

        I will often leave a face-saving opening while still stating my case, or at least being very, very clear about what I know. “I have an email from yesterday afternoon saying we were scheduled at 4:30 today, and didn’t see or hear anything different until 10:00 this morning. I don’t know if there is a timezone issue or an aggressive spam filter involved, but I can forward you the original email if you’d like to dig further.”

    6. Mockingjay*

      It’s okay to be direct when stating facts. That’s not throwing people under the bus. The problem is that you apologized for something that wasn’t your fault.

      Perhaps you felt sympathetic toward a clearly inexperienced recruiter, but what’s at stake here is your career, not the recruiter’s performance. The recruiter’s role is to connect potential employee with potential employer. Your role is to convey your suitability for the job. If the recruiter is not doing their part or making mistakes in scheduling, it’s okay to let that be known.

    7. Nora*

      This is a situation where passive voice is your friend. If you don’t want to throw the recruiter under the bus, you can say “I’m so sorry, I was told the meeting was at 4:30” instead of “I’m so sorry, the recruiter told me that the meeting was at 4:30”

    8. LBRose*

      I’m stuck on that – OP3 threw themselves under the bus. Twice!

      Also, the statement that “it’s my personal pet peeve when people don’t take accountability, and he clearly thinks this was my fault” REALLY bothered me. A lot. You are not failing to take accountability when you did not do the thing, even if your manager thinks you did.

      Some situations are certainly unclear and there are times when a person is failing to understand that they are in the wrong, but this was black and white. You have to be fair to others and to yourself!

    9. Allison*

      My husband communicates this way, out of some sort of deep rooted avoidance of conflict and anything that might seem even the tiniest bit unpleasant. Just saying something neutral like, “unfortunately, I won’t be able to do that” is torture for him. His whole family does it, and it’s extremely annoying! Sigh….

    10. Brendan*

      Her response was very confusing. To me it sounded like it was her fault from the response she gave during the interview. I would’ve been annoyed too if I was the interviewer, especially because there still wasn’t a clear answer. There’s nothing wrong with being honest if someone else messed up because clearly the recruiter was not honest with the company. That’s on the recruiter

  14. Today*

    Oooohhh, #1 go for it. I used to work in an interdisciplinary team with neurodevelopmental therapists (not me) and I think if one of them had rocked up on a motorbike, their clients (adults and kids) would have loved it. Excellent instant engagement for little boys – even if they are so delayed they are not speaking and barely mobile, they mostly love motorbikes!
    But, are you an independent contractor? Doesn’t your employer provide transport? I’m used to having pool cars available.

    1. LW1*

      My employer doesn’t provide transport, but they do pay a flat rate for mileage, and on top of that I get reimbursed for my drive time at the same rate I get reimbursed for direct therapy time. So not only would a motorcycle be cool as hell, it would also save me a bit of money on gas, as right now I drive a 15-year-old tank of an SUV.

      1. Today*

        Oh, yes. Then I think you’ve decided! A motorbike would be awesome. Do you ever have to provide large items of equipment? If you’re working only with under three year olds, stuff won’t be too big I guess.

        1. LW1*

          No, I just take a few toys, my laptop, and a few manila file folders with me. I mostly try to use the parent coaching model so I really like to use a lot of what parents already have in the home. I could jam all of it into a backpack if I needed to.

          1. The Rural Juror*

            I mean…a sidecar would be pretty cool for that… You could roll up with a huge teddy bear as your co-captain! Or you could be practical and get a removeable basket/carrier that could sit behind you.

          2. goingAnon*

            Please be careful! Some drivers don’t seem to notice motorcyclists, and that can be very dangerous.

          3. Insert Clever Name Here*

            My son would have been THRILLED if his speech or OT provider showed up on a motorcycle. You would have been the star of our home. Go for it!

      2. Cards fan*

        Former Developmental Therapist here. I also got flat rate mileage (in a very rural, spread out area). A motorcycle would have saved me a lot of gas money. I can’t think of any of “my” families who would have objected. Wear your safety gear and enjoy!

      3. Meinschatz11*

        Developmental therapist here. My employer just changed our dress code policy so now I’m rocking some pink hair. Love the idea of you riding the motorcycle. My only concern is if you smell of gas fumes after you ride! My BF in high school used to drive a motorcycle to school and the fumes were quite potent when he got off the bike. Maybe a trusted friend could help you out there! Otherwise I think it’s awesome!!

      4. Lexie*

        My husband rides and works in a motorcycle shop so just some practical things to consider. What will you do with your safety gear at client’s houses? I know several people have mentioned kids wanting to try the helmet on but you may not want kids messing around with something intended to save your life. Plus a dropped helmet should really be replaced even if it looks fine because of hidden damage so just setting it on the bike seat isn’t a good idea and they can be pretty expensive. There’s also weather. An unexpected rain shower and you’re soaked. A day that just seems cool when walking around can be downright frigid on a bike. All that said the gas mileage is pretty great and can save you money after you get past the initial expense of the bike and all the gear (which like I said can be pricey).

  15. Jess*

    No. 2
    All I can think about is the Dear Hank & John Podcast where an allergist (doctor) told a patient that “Sneezing isn’t normal, I never sneeze.” that patient went onto relay the story to the Podcast.
    All this is to say that you’re normal or close to it & so long as you’re not loud (seemingly not a problem) you’ll be fine.

  16. Ms. Ann Thropy*

    OP’s sneezing every 15 minutes all day is certainly distracting (to put it mildly) to his coworkers, even though they know he’s not doing it on purpose. They should not be made to endure that.

    1. turquoisecow*

      So what’s your suggestion? OP should work from home? Not work at all? It’s not like it’s something they can control. (Former chronic sneezer and allergy sufferer here – trust me, if I could stop sneezing, I would have.)

      1. The Rural Juror*

        Right, and people probably already wear headphones and whatnot to cut out distractions. If someone is one the phone, they’re unlikely to even pay attention to the OP unless they’re extremely loud. I think the coworkers can endure it.

    2. Shirley Keeldar*

      Sure, it’s distracting, but the culprit here is the open office, not the OP. OP can’t help sneezing, she’s not ill/contagious, and she shouldn’t be made to endure working from home for an entire allergy season if that’s difficult and less productive for her.

    3. Me*

      Should not be made to endure a normal body function that they have no control over….? What are you suggesting? The OP have to sit outside?

      People sneeze. Frankly things like that are background noise to me in the office. But should a coworker fund the sound of sneezing to be unbearable, I’m sure they can exert control over the situation and wear some earplugs or headphones.

    4. Mockingjay*

      OP has seasonal allergies, which are common enough that it likely doesn’t bother coworkers to the extent that you might think. I’m in the Swampeast and spring pollen is unbelievably thick. We ALL sneeze. (I don’t have true allergies, but at its thickest the pollen irritates me as well.) Fall is marginally better.

      That aside, what advice would you give OP? You can’t move employees or send them home for every distracting noise they might make. As long as they aren’t contagious and let their coworkers know that, they should remain to do their work.

      1. Humble Schoolmarm*

        Indeed it is! I taught a student with pretty loud and severe Tourette’s. Their ticks were distracting at first, sure, but quickly became white noise. If a class full of middle schoolers can deal with near constant squeaks, throat clearing and swearing (pretty rare in Tourette’s, but this kid had it), OP’s coworkers will learn to tune out some sneezes.

    5. Recruited Recruiter*

      I used to share an office with a constant sneezer, and then she had a day lacking sneezes, and that was actually more distracting than the normal intermittant sneezing.

    6. Recruited Recruiter*

      I used to share an office with a constant sneezer, and then she had a day lacking sneezes, and that was actually more distracting than the normal intermittent sneezing.

    7. Metadata minion*

      I mean, sure, it would be super distracting and would take a few weeks before I wasn’t jumping out of my skin every time (I have an overactive startle reflex), but sneezes really aren’t something you can control and after a while most people would get used to it, the same way they’d get used to an old HVAC system that made weird banging noises. There are a few things you could try like seeing if there was a better desk arrangement so the acoustics would be more muffling, or encouraging coworkers to wear headphones, but you can’t really just demand an employee stop sneezing.

    8. Dr. Rebecca*

      I was with you up until that last sentence; what is it you think he, or they, can do about it?

    9. Observer*

      OP’s sneezing every 15 minutes all day is certainly distracting (to put it mildly) to his coworkers,

      That’s actually not necessarily true. Depending on how the OP is sneezing, it could be a noise that people just filter out.

  17. Pyjamas*

    Re: motorcycle — was this going to be your only transport and if so, is there going to be an issue with doffing wet rain gear in inclement weather?

    1. LW1*

      I mean, I do have the means to go and buy a motorcycle somewhat comfortably without giving up my current gas-guzzling SUV. I could also sell my SUV which I’m not happy with anyway, and get a beater/daily driver for inclement weather. That comes with its own financial risks as well (what thousand dollar repair will a car like that need in a few months?)

      I work in a school district as well (contract position), so when I’m not getting paid for that during the summer months, riding a motorcycle would maybe cut down on costs. On the other hand, not spending thousands of dollars on an extra vehicle I don’t necessarily need would probably more than counteract any money I saved on gas. Sure would be cool, though.

      1. Aldabra*

        Life is short. Buy the motorcycle. Ride it safely. As long as you’re financially in a position to do so, it sounds like it would bring you a lot of joy. If it doesn’t work out or your clients hate it, you can always sell it or just keep it for personal use.

      2. Storm in a teacup*

        Maybe swap the SUV to an electric or hybrid vehicle – will also drastically reduce your fuel costs and not all hybrids are plug-in and then also get the bike

      3. AutolycusinExile*

        How much are ubers/taxis in your area, and how much is a one day car rental? Depending on your local weather and your transportation needs, it’s very possible that it’s cheaper to just rent a car/order a taxi during bad weather. For my driving patterns budgeting for that expense still wound up being less expensive than owning a car and all it’s associated fees and upkeep. Lots of variables depending on your living circumstances, but it’s worth doing the math.

        1. LW1*

          I’m thinking about it, but apparently the pandemic is making it really not the best time to buy a car right now.

          1. Lynn*

            I ride. And I love riding. But, honestly, in any climate where you have to have a car as well and cannot use your bike as your only transportation, it is not likely to really save you money. You have, of course, the fixed cost of buying that second vehicle and the needed gear. And your bike will likely get better mileage than the SUV. But you also have ongoing costs to buy and replace gear as it wears out, to maintain a second vehicle, including repairs, and the biggie-insurance. Having to maintain a second insurance policy is likely to cost more (often a lot more) than any potential gas savings. If the point of comparison is an SUV or pickup with low mileage vs a bike that gets good mileage, then you will be closer. The more miles you put on, the closer you might get to actually breaking even or saving a small amount. If, however, you are looking at a compact, efficient car and/or if you are talking about fairly low mileage, the gas savings won’t be as great as you imagine them to be.

            As an example-my bike is pretty good and gets between 50 and 55 MPG. But it takes premium gas, so that increases my gas costs. My car is very efficient and gets about 40 MPG. My gas savings is there, but it will be overwhelmed by the cost of carrying a second insurance policy. Of course, I am WFH now so that is no longer a consideration for me.

            On the other hand, my husband’s bike is a beast and gets about 40 MPG. In comparison to his truck, that gets about 20 MPG, he will save some on gas only. But his bike also requires premium, which closes that gap some. And he cannot ride every day (he is a teacher, so the best part of the year in terms of being able to ride is also when he isn’t going to school as often). Again, the cost of that insurance policy completely overwhelms his gas savings. And now that I don’t drive it to work, he usually takes my car which means no gas savings at all to riding the bike.

            I have a friend who lives in Florida who maintains a bike as his only vehicle. He does save money by having a bike, as he has chosen an inexpensive older bike that gets really good mileage (he says about 60 MPG) and doesn’t require premium. He rides through whatever weather may hit and, in the 2 years since he went bike only, has only admitted to being unable to get out on 3 days in that time.

            But, overall, motorcycling is an expensive hobby. My husband and I both ride to work as we already have the expensive hobby, so saving a bit here and there by riding to work here and there is nice (plus riding to work starts the day off with something we enjoy doing). But don’t go into it expecting to actually save much money unless/until you take all of the costs into account.

            PS-all of that said, I wouldn’t give up my bike for anything. I love riding and would be more than happy to try to talk you into it. I’m always willing to try to talk people into my hobbies. :>

          2. Metadata minion*

            It’s also, going by my area, very much not the best time to count on reliable taxi or rideshare service, even if it’s normally good in your area.

            1. The Rural Juror*

              Yep. Used cars are incredibly difficult and expensive right now to buy in my area AND it’s been tough to get a rideshare. My poor friend who was recently in an accident and totaled her car (she was uninjured, thank goodness) found all of this out the hard way :(

      4. hamsterpants*

        Just in case you are not already aware, waterproof motorcycle suits are 100% a thing. Ice and snow are more of an issue.

        1. Lexie*

          They are but there’s the issue of dealing with the suit when they get to a client’s house.

          1. hamsterpants*

            Either put it in your panniers or hang it up at the client’s house like you would a wet non-motorcycle overcoat (assuming they allow it). You will have protective gear to manage regardless of the weather anyway.

            1. Lexie*

              Yes, and in another thread I did comment that dealing with the fear could be an issue at client’s homes. With the full body rain gear it’s not just putting it somewhere, it’s the removing of clothing in a client’s home. Even though they are fully clothed underneath it could get a bit awkward logistics wise and some people might be a little confused if a professional in their home starts taking off more than a jacket and gloves.

  18. Drizzle Cake*

    #4 All other things aside, I just wanted to pick up on this: “I always submit time off months in advance, so I’m one of the first”

    In general this approach won’t be possible in every workplace. For example in my last job, the managers would ask everyone in my team what dates they were hoping to have off around the holidays and figure out how to make it work with coverage – you could usually get the dates you wanted but you couldn’t book early. And some places will give priority to people who didn’t get to book first the previous year.

    1. LemonLyman*

      I used to work in food service when I was in college. We always had a thing where you had to either work Christmas Eve or New Years Eve. Manager would start to collect preferences around Thanksgiving (this is in the US) so we had time to make plans. I always volunteered to work on Christmas Eve so my coworkers who were parents could spend it with their kids. Also, I was a college kid so I much rather enjoy Athena evening off for New Year’s Eve (but always had to work NY day! Ugh! Ha)

    2. pleaset cheap rolls*

      “In general this approach won’t be possible in every workplace”


      In fact, in there is *nothing* that is possible in *every* workplace.

    3. Jack Straw*

      I don’t think the LW had this intent, but the idea that you request early so you can have time off and your coworkers cannot isn’t the best look. I work on a team of three, and I don’t request the full week of Christmas off or an extra day around Labor Day without checking with my coworkers to see what their plans are. Like you said, working it out together as a team is what I’ve seen happen at most jobs.

  19. Raida*

    #1 if you do get a motorcycle, don’t get something with a loud exhaust. Start with a moped.
    Consider road bikes instead of chopper/harley style bikes which are more sleek, quiet, cool.

    #3 I’d suggest the best way to handle that would have been to say “I was asked if a 4:30pm video call would work, I accepted. This morning the invite came through for a 10:30am appointment and that simply could not be accommodated – I would not have accepted that time if suggested yesterday afternoon.
    Clearly just some miscommunication, no harm done I’d thought…?” and prompt him to confirm this issue is done.
    I certainly don’t think it’s necessary to ‘not throw them under the bus’ when something IS ANOTHER PERSON’S FAULT AND YOU ARE BLAMED FOR IT. What’s the payoff? That person doesn’t know, and doesn’t improve, and you are labelled as evasive and flighty.
    Better to be clear, calm, state your conclusion that this issue is nothing insurmountable, and then afterwards send feedback to the recruitment agency on this person’s performance – you don’t even know if they are the one responsible for this screw-up! It could have been someone in your interviewer’s office.

    #5 Instead of forwarding on denials, start to push back on them. A goddamn flashlight can’t be purchased? The business is responsible for providing all tools necessary for staff to perform their roles. Ask why there’s denials, find out the most effective way to get approvals, and if they’re always denials start looking for that person’s manager to find out *why*. If there’s a blanket ban on purchases – the staff need to know! If they purchase an item and someone’s injured – is the business responsible for the tool it didn’t provide?
    There can be a lot of bad things happen from not providing tools, and the business needs to be clear on their risk assessment of this to come to a decision that staff can’t have equipment.
    Hell, I’d ask the staff to list out every task that could not have been performed, or would have been delayed, if they hadn’t provided the equipment. Show that to the people with the purse strings and find out if it’s actually been thought through.
    Honestly, but I’m a total bastard, I’d suggest staff simply inform their managers when a job “can’t be done” due to equipment failures. And sit on their hands until given instructions on how to proceed.

    1. LemonLyman*

      I was just suggesting an electric motorcycle. My spouse has one and I can’t distinguish between when it’s on or off.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        The electric scooters actually end up being too quiet – it’s pretty scary when you can have a motor vehicle coming up behind you, at speed, and you can’t hear it approaching.

        1. turquoisecow*

          They’re starting to require that electric cars make a small amount of noise when they’re going under a set amount (I think 25mph or thereabouts) so that pedestrians can hear them. I’m sure it’s possible to do similar with electric motorcycles, even if it’s not currently a thing.

          1. Lynn*

            Our car, a Honda Clarity, (it is a plug in hybrid, so electric most of the time when at low speed) has a sound file that runs when we are at low speed and the gas engine isn’t running. I don’t think it runs when the engine does, but I could be wrong on that. I wish we could switch it out-playing something like the Imperial March or the opening bars from Iron Man would be way cooler than what it does sound like.

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

      From the example OP gave of a flashlight that still works but isn’t as efficient as it used to be — I wonder if the (non)approver is hearing “employees want a better version of this thing that is actually still working” and pushes back with “make do with the one you already have” (like in the ‘we have X at home’ meme). In that case it would be difficult to say the job “can’t” be done. I would be curious to know some other examples – if they are “improvements” or actually gone inoperative.

      1. Worldwalker*

        Given that the employees are buying what they need with their own money—collectively—it doesn’t sound like the job can be done without it.

      2. Observer*

        In that case it would be difficult to say the job “can’t” be done.

        Any time staff are spending their own money to get replacement tools, you can be pretty sure that it’s actually necessary.

        But, it does highlight one of the problems here. OP, you’re clearly not providing adequate justification for these purchases.

    3. The Ears' Fears*

      Yes, THANK YOU for your #1. I know I wouldn’t be well pleased if a service provider rolled up to my house on a rackety fart machine.

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      Re #5- THIS! This manager seems amazingly passive to me. How did they think their team was doing their jobs when all these requests were being denied? I always view one of my roles as a manager is to ensure they’re getting everything (at least) that they need to do their jobs efficiently, safely and well. And also that I protect them from any corporate BS

      1. Decima Dewey*

        I got in the habit of buying my own office supplies early in my time with my library system. For awhile the supplies they provided were *awful*. Pencils that had broken leads, so that right after you sharpened them the point fell out of the pencil. Pens that had been in the storage room so long that their ink had dried up.

        Of course, at that time the person who ran the storage room would send back requests with nasty notes in red ink about what was wrong with the request. If you asked for white letter-size pads and there weren’t any in stock, he’d just say they weren’t available, even there was a huge pile of yellow letter-size pads right next to the bin where the white pads should have been.

    5. Observer*

      Instead of forwarding on denials, start to push back on them.

      Yes. OP, why on earth have you not been doing that till now? What were you expecting staff to do? If YOU (as a representative of your company) won’t get them the tools, what choice do they have? Will your employer be ok with them not doing their work because they don’t have the tools?

  20. LemonLyman*

    OP 1: If (when?) you do get more serious about possibly purchasing a motorcycle, might I suggest an electric one? You mentioned a motorbike being more fuel efficient than a car. With an electric motorbike, no fuel is needed! Also, they are very (VERY!) quiet. Spouse has one (he has a Zero) and I will often not realize he’s even turned it on!

    1. hamsterpants*

      Not LW1 but I wish I could get a Zero! They can be very hard to find, though. Check out their map of dealership partners, there are a lot of places where you’d have to drive hundreds of miles to get one. And then good luck getting it serviced without taking it allllll the way back to the dealer.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      The noise of a motorcycle was my only concern with the OP’s question. My dad has a classic car and he frequently offers to take families in the neighborhood for a ride. No matter how much small kids love race cars, motorcycles, and “Lightning McQueen,” they are scared of the loud engine. There have been many times where the kids back up and refuse to get close to the loud car. If kids haven’t been exposed to motorcycles before, they really don’t know what the real world experience is.
      With everything else going on with the OP #1’s professional visits, a loud motorcycle may add another layer of emotions/confusion in an already challenging situation. But a modern model that runs quieter would be super cool for any toddler.
      I don’t have any concerns about the visual aspect of riding a motorcycle. I wish all my professional contacts were that cool.

      1. hamsterpants*

        Motorcycles don’t have to be loud! Even traditional internal combustion ones. Harleys are loud because they are made to be loud (many of their demographic like it). You hear loud motorcycles not because motorcycles are loud but because some people like loud motorcycles and buy them specifically because of how they sound.

        1. Lynn*

          Agreed. My baby sounds an awful lot like an angry sewing machine (okay, it isn’t really angry-more like somewhat annoyed). My husband’s bike is louder than mine, but still quieter than our pickup (which isn’t loud either).

          1. LemonLyman*

            I had to reread this because I initially pictured a human baby when you said “my baby” thinking you meant to say that a crying human baby can actually be louder than a motorcycle.

  21. Drizzle Cake*

    #5 I’m curious about why you don’t mention any of the following:

    Have you told them to stop spending their own money, and that if they can’t work without the equipment then that’s ok and so be it?

    You say the request is denied and your managerial report informs their team – but there’s presumably a step in between where you inform your report. What are you saying to them? Are you saying they can’t have the new X, and stating or implying that they should manage without it? Because I think they’d be less likely to feel they have to buy it if you said “X has been denied. Please let me know what this means for your work – what can and can’t be done without it?”

    Who is denying your requests and what reason are they giving? How is the process supposed to work? Has it always had these problems and delays or has there been a recent change to the people and/or processes involved?

    Are you submitting your requests correctly or doing something wrong that’s causing the denial? Are you just accepting the denial and not pushing back?

    You’ve asked Alison for advice without giving much background info. I wonder if you think you’re a bystander or messenger in this situation? You’re submitting the requests. You’re telling people they were denied. Yet you haven’t given any background on how you’re going about this.

    1. John Smith*

      I would also agree a course of action would be to instruct employees not to buy equipment with their own money. Why should they if the company won’t spend their own? If it means work can’t be done or is of a worse standard, well that’s the company’s choice.

      Another aspect to this is to consider employee morale. If they’re not majorly loyal and love their job so much, they’re more likely frustrated, angry, demoralised etc. Are they being bullied or threatened to spend their own money? Possibly the company may be refusing to spend it’s own money when it knows employees will fork out instead. Whatever the case, it needs to stop and your employees deserve an explanation as well as refunds (or some kind of reward) for equipment they have already purchased.

      I often have to fight to have equipment and supplies bought and I can’t tell you how frustrating and demoralising it is to have requests turned down then be blamed for work not getting done because we don’t have the necessary equipment requested.

    2. Cathie from Canada*

      OP5 needs her own equipment budget to distribute to her own managers – its a silly waste of everyone’s time for managers to be dealing with routine stuff like this.
      She should figure out a reasonable amount for each employee to be spending annually – say, $100 per employee X 50 employees, total $5,000 — and tell the company to set this up. She can then provide them with an annual categorized report listing all of the tools purchased, etc so that some accountant can file it somewhere.
      If she thinks her company will push back, then she might also need to include in her pitch an estimate of how much the company is also spending now in hidden costs of the salaries of management and accountants who are dealing with these trivial requests and denials, plus the bad feeling this penny pinching is causing among employees.
      And, if they STILL won’t approve it, she should propose…. A PILOT PROJECT!!!
      I used to propose things this way whenever I wanted to do something differently but I knew that the change would make people nervous — calling it a pilot project meant that I wasn’t asking anyone to commit to the change permanently. So for 6 months or a year I would agree to monitor whatever it was, to make sure everything worked OK and then if anyone was unhappy we would of course go back to the old way.
      And 99 times out of 100, by the end of the so-called pilot project, nobody could remember what the old way was.

    3. GNG*

      Yeah I got a sense that LW sounds oddly passive in this situation. Since employees had to pool money, I’m guessing the equipment is expensive. LW, you need to do more than just feel bad here. I can’t wrap my head around letting employees buy expensive equipment on their own. How would you even manage warranties, future repairs, upgrades, etc?

      You and the manager need to figure out what’s going on. This letter made me think of a letter from a few weeks ago where some employees decided to paint perfectly good cabinets in the office, and pressured other people to give money. LW 5 mentioned the tool is not efficient as before but didn’t say it’s not functioning. LW need to find out if everyone even felt comfortable pooling their money.

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

        There wasn’t a lot of detail, but one way of making sense of all of this is that the company is on a bit of a cost-saving exercise and (as I suggested in my other comment) asking people to ‘make do’ with equipment that’s suboptimal but still working in some sense, rather than replacing it. (Of course that may not be a sound business decision!) And if that’s the case, if OP’s position is really more of a “messenger” or “intermediary” in the company as a whole, that might be something to be conscious of.

    4. Mockingjay*

      OP5, canvass your team and get a definitive list of required tools. Get a list of everything: everyday toolkits: hammer, screwdrivers, etc.; specialty tools; consumables (screws, zip ties, duct tape). Does each team member require their own kit or can they share a common kit? Get an inventory of what’s on hand already, then you can determine what else is needed.

      Then look at the budget. What’s the annual cost for consumables and replacements? Can you find a vendor with discounts for big orders?

      This kind of data gives a much better picture of the real costs, which you can then discuss with senior management. “We need to add tool procurements to the annual budget. Here’s what we need to do the job (well and safely). I’ve got the names of several reliable vendors; would you like me to get quotes?”

      Do some homework before you submit these requests. A request for a single flashlight won’t be considered in the same light as a comprehensive toolkit.

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      I also posted this above, but this is a more direct thread:
      THIS! This manager seems amazingly passive to me. How did they think their team was doing their jobs when all these requests were being denied? I always view one of my roles as a manager is to ensure they’re getting everything (at least) that they need to do their jobs efficiently, safely and well. And also that I protect them from any corporate BS

    6. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Also – if the employees are purchasing those tools, what happens when those employees leave? For example – My mouse broke and I work from home, I was thinking about buying one for myself anyway, so I purchased one that I liked, didn’t expense it to the company, but when I leave this job, that mouse is staying with me. How much equipment will the company HAVE to replace on short notice if these employees feel similarly when they leave?

  22. Everdene*

    LW4, I did this with a student job, I knew I’d have to quit in the February anyway as my shifts were not compatible with an upcoming placement. It was a transient job (similar to retail) and I still got a good reference and similar work for the rest of my time as a student. My work wouldn’t allow any holiday OR shift swapping so I was scheduled to work 17:30 – 20:30 on 24th and 26th December with no flexibility. I gave proper notice was clear on my reason and have never regretted it.

    Now, many years down the line, I don’t go home every year for Christmas due to work/partner/other factors, but the situation has never felt like it did that year. I don’t think doing this as a p/t student will hurt you in your eventual career. Do what feels right for you.

    1. LKW*

      Same! I left a retail job and a food service job in college due to holiday schedules. Also with proper notice, although I can’t remember what reasoning I gave. I lived across the country from my parents and I knew I could find another job when I returned after the holidays. I never needed to put those jobs on my resume. I listed my internships instead, most of which were unpaid (hence the retail/food service jobs), and my career trajectory was not harmed.

      I’m glad I quit those jobs to see my family over the holidays. Those Christmases and NYE’s were some of the last I got to spend with my mom before she descended into advanced dementia. She’s still with us, but not like she was in 2010 and 2011.

    2. The Price is Wrong Bob*

      Agree, OP4 should just quit. I am 35 and no one has ever bothered to care about any job I did from ages 14-21 after the next job was in hand. I doubt they called any past managers. Retail jobs are plentiful and while you direct manager may throw a hissy fit on the spot, they definitely cannot be paying you enough to make staying out of loyalty worth it. It would be one thing if it came with a 401k, health care, transit benefits, etc in addition to a living wage, but it’s a retail job that I assume does not pay a ton more than minimum wage and provides no benefits. I doubt there is a scenario where you can’t get another job of equivalent the second week of January within a week. As long as you quit early enough that it’s not the week before Christmas, just do it. I love my fellow commenters but as with your “permanent record” at school, retailers or other large, low-wage employers sharing information with one another is not a thing that happens. Some people may wish it was true, but absent a truly spectacularly bad exit, you will likely be forgotten rapidly.

      1. ErinWV*

        I am a seasoned professional with 15 years’ experience in academic jobs, but when I was in grad school, I worked for two weeks at Bed Bath and Beyond and it was so terrible there I ghosted them, just quit showing up for shifts or answering my phone.

        This has never hurt me in the professional marketplace. But I haven’t set foot in that Bed Bath and Beyond again, just in case.

  23. LemonLyman*

    OP #2
    Consistent sneezing is the kind of thing people can tune out fairly easily. If I were in your office, I would probably get used to it unless I sat right by you. Even then, it wouldn’t bother me (although I do get majorly distracted by people with chronic sniffles). However, I would be a bit grossed out by it, even though I know it’s allergies. Sorry. After the last 18 months of talking about aerosol droplets and seeing analysis of spray patters, any sneezing — even non covid — makes my skin crawl. I really hope you’re wearing a mask and — if you’re not — that you’d consider wearing one.

    I’m really sorry you have such intense allergies. That doesn’t sound like a fun experience and I think it’s very nice that you’re thinking about the people around you!

  24. Teapotcleaner*

    My middle school dean rode a motorcycle to school sometimes. It was something we all saw and knew and no one batted an eye. We thought she was cool.

  25. LDN Layabout*

    LW1, I wouldn’t consider the bike unprofessional, but the logistics around it could be e.g. are you going to need space/time at every client’s house to change, deal with sweat etc.

    One of the directors at my old job rode a motorbike in except when he had offsite meetings with clients because it was a hassle.

  26. Well...*

    Agrees that it’s counterproductive, but I wouldn’t say I’m baffled by the impulse.

    I would say my best collaborators are those who approach a disagreement as, “maybe I’m misunderstanding” as their first impulse or to open a dialogue. This is a correlation not causation statement, but it tracks with people being less competitive about who’s to blame or who’s wrong and more focused on a solution. Especially with super complicated/ not well-understood problems that are in themselves nontrivial to untangle who went wrong where, or what wrong even means, it’s better to just move forward.

    I still think OP is taking it too far, but I get the impulse.

    1. mreasy*

      Yeah I agree – I am not particularly passive at work but if something like this happens, I’ll say “oh, there must have been a mixup, we had agreed to 4:30,” though without ascribing it to my own misunderstanding. In this case, though, when the interviewer was a jerk about it, I would have been clearer that it wasn’t on me.

    2. Observer*

      There are a LOT of places where “maybe I’m misunderstanding” is a good way to open a dialog. But this is not one of them. And what the OP said to the interviewer is even worse. It sounds like they simply messed up the interview time because they misunderstood what time the interview was.

  27. WS*

    LW 4 – if you’re going to quit before the holidays, give your notice early and be prepared that they may fire you so they have the time to train a replacement. Quitting just beforehand (or worse, not turning up at all) is an absolute nightmare for everyone else who has to work those busy shifts.

  28. Vimes*

    OP3, I admit your thought process is concerning to me, in that I would anticipate a lot of issues when working with someone so avoidant of confrontation that they are willing to sacrifice factual accuracy. By this logic, if hired you might also be unwilling to report it if you found a coworker doing something really wrong, because that could also be seen as “throwing them under the bus”. There are a whole lot of reasons why “no snitching” really can’t be a thing in the workplace—I mean, nobody needs to be a tattletale, but if people aren’t honest about issues when they arise, they become much more difficult, and sometimes impossible, to fix.

    If this was a one time thing, then hey, life happens. But if this is part of a larger pattern of you having difficulty bringing up information that isn’t positive, it’s worth thinking about both where exactly that comes from in your life (like a previous job that embraced toxic positivity) and steps to take to mitigate it.

    1. Lab Boss*

      OP probably didn’t mean it this way, but their actions sent the message “I don’t trust my potential boss to respond appropriately to a fairly minor error, so I’m going to obfuscate.” I’d frankly be more worried about that attitude in an employee than I would be about someone who had a scheduling issue with a meeting I requested on 1 day’s notice. If you’re regularly clouding the water to cover up simple, easily-corrected mistakes you’re both preventing your boss from addressing them while they’re still small, and (when the boss eventually finds out) risking being thought of as a sneak or a manipulator, trying to control the boss’ reactions. Neither is a good look.

  29. Speaks to Dragonflies*

    OP3, and everyone in general…If you know you’re right and a screw up isn’t your doing, don’t claim it like you did it and don’t back down if you get blamed…OTOH, if you did do it, own up to it like a grown person. World works better that way.

    1. Dr Schmoctor*

      100% agree. I used to be very apologetic about other people’s screw-ups, and it got me nowhere. Now, I fight back. I refuse to take the blame for other people’s mistakes, and I own up to my own mistakes. It’s still getting me nowhere, but at least I feel better.

    2. anonymous73*

      This. Be honest and matter of fact. “We agreed to 4:30, the invite was sent for 10 and I wasn’t available.” The hiring manager sounds like a jerk, so all the more reason to lay out the facts in a direct manner. If you try adding too much detail and beat around the bush, if gives him more reason to be a jerk about it.

  30. Liz*

    OP4: When I first started college, I applied to working at a cinema. I was very excited because I love movies (and popcorn!), I had tons of customer-facing retail experiece (which I liked) and I just love the atmosphere at movie places. The interview went great and they offered me the job, but then they mentioned that new hires won’t get any time off during the holidays for two years and even would have to work more than usually to cover for more senior employees. This was a dealbreaker to me and I immediately told them that this wouldn’t work for me and I therefore retract my application. They were not understanding at all and told me I was “very immature” and I “don’t understand how the business world works”. While I was very taken aback, I’m still proud that I stood up for myself. A few days later, I found another great job that closed down the office during the holidays and were very accomodating when it came to taking time off – of course, this wasn’t in retail, but still a great fit. Still miss this job sometimes!

    1. The Rural Juror*

      You’re weren’t immature for considering and deciding to decline a position that didn’t fit your lifestyle. Good on you!

  31. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

    LW #1: I remember, many years ago when I was a much younger and more impressionable team of hobbits (around age 15), volunteering as an assistant counselor at a day camp to gain valuable experience in the adult world of work and/or accumulate community service hours for some high school requirement. One of the “real” counselors, whose camp name was “Chipmunk”, would arrive by motorcycle each day and shed his leathers in the common room used by all staff to prep before the kids got there. The fact that I remember both his camp name and his real name (not included in this comment) 20+ years later indicates to me that this made an impression on me at the time (particularly as the first few times it seemed like a dude we all called Chipmunk was casually removing his pants in mixed company until I got used to the motorcycle leathers concept).

    Anyway, you may want a plan for how you will deal with the whole “and now the semi-pants come off” situation with leathers gracefully. American culture offers many jacket concepts to the general public from a young age, but many fewer Extra Pants That Come Off Sometimes (but have more pants under them, so it’s ok).

    In my state, it is also a somewhat involved process to get a motorcycle endorsement, so if your commuting needs could also be met by a speed-limited moped that might be a simpler path licensing-wise. (My parents actually looked into if then-15-year-old me could legally drive a moped to camp since it wasn’t on a bus line, but alas this was also not an option for those too young to legally drive even in the long-ago days when I could still be shocked by a dude removing clothing in public. I ended up getting a ride each day with a grandparent who also possibly shouldn’t be legally driving anymore at the time, and that was in a large and only mildly decrepit Lincoln Continental that did not necessitate motorcycle leathers.)

  32. Speaks to Dragonflies*

    OP 5- There are some instances where folks do buy their own tools for work, but if your company is supposed to provide them, this needs to be fixed. Working as a machinist, some tools arent provided, but when you leave the job, you keep them if you bought them.* And these arent cheap.* I have thousands of dollars worth of tools I purchased because either the job did not provide, or what they provided was a clapped out POS. If you or your higher ups want the work done and dont provide the tools, thats crappy. If they are buying on their own, it sounds like they are wanting to do a good job. Reward that by giving them the tools to do that job.
    * As an example, Starrett machinist rulers cost $2 to $3 dollars per inch. For a metal ruler. Its crazy,but thats something you can skimp on. Some tools, you want the best because measuring in 0.0001 range gets sketchy with cheapo tools. And the best isn’t cheap.*

      1. Speaks to Dragonflies*

        I’ve felt that pain before, and I commiserate. I’ve found that there some tools that can be skimped on. I bought 2 Brown and Sharpe dial indicators at around $100 apiece. One sharp bump killed each of them. The $20 dollar “import” indicators I got to replace them are still working after 10 years of thumps, bumps, falls, and flooding with coolant.

    1. EPLawyer*

      YEP. Good tools can make the difference in getting the job done.

      Hubby worked CNC and now works as an electrician. He buys his own tools. When he first started out, he saved for a few months to buy THE top quality of some tool. he still has it. People he works with now, they go to home depot and buy the cheap ass tools (not to be confused with the cheap ass rolls). They break quickly.

      Get your folks the tools they need. Or find out why they can’t have them and explain. But the current system is not a good one.

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Starrett machinist rulers

      You’ll have to pry my Starrett scales out of my cold dead hands! They’re worth every penny whether the bean counters realize it or not.

      1. Speaks to Dragonflies*

        Me too…Are you like I used to be and carry a 6″ scale in your shirt pocket? And what is it with machinists calling rules scales? Only folks I know that do that.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          My scale is 24″. My first was left to me professionally by a Customer Service rep I worked closely with, and I ordered the exact same model after I left that job. She used it to cut paper. I did a lot of MiCR work and cheque programming in those days, though, so having 1/100″ at my fingertips was beautiful when I would print out samples to manually verify tolerances. I never failed a lockbox test from my work (but a few from customer meddling).

          Dunno on scales vs. rulers; once I got into the print industry, everyone just called them “scales” short for “linear scales.” It just stuck w/me.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I did say “Scales”… the other one is 48″, but isn’t a Starrett and only goes down to 1/4”. It doesn’t see nearly the use now that I work remotely.

    3. JustKnope*

      The point about them keeping the tools when they leave is important in this scenario – it sounds like OP’s teams are all banding together to crowdfund the tools, so I could easily see conflict happening if/when someone wants to claim a tool when they leave…

    4. Just Another Zebra*

      I think the first issue that needs to be sussed out is Tool Ownership. Are the employee buying the tools for personal use, or for a specific job the company requires? I said this in another comment, but my company does something similar – the techs are responsible for all their own hand tools, and when they leave the company so too go the tools. But if tech needs a tool for the job, the company purchases it and it is returned to us after the job. Most mechanics/ construction workers/ plumbers/ HVAC/ electricians/ IT guys/ etc that I’ve worked with have their own tool kit that they outfit themselves.

  33. Bamcakes*

    How disturbing sneezing is depends on so much like the space, the acoustics, what levels of background noise are there anyway, the people themselves, the type of work they’re doing…

    If everyone in your office has the same ability to work from home (as opposed to some peop having to come in because of the type of work they do), it may be safe to assume that the people who’ve opted in to office working are those who don’t mind other people’s incidental existing noises, and maybe actually find it helps them concentrate. But I think the easiest thing is to ask!

  34. Andrea McDuck*

    LW1, the only work-related concern I would have is securing any confidential files while you’re inside at your appointment. Unless (a) you’re able to bring all your paperwork inside with you, or (b) have hard-shell, weather-impermeable, locking saddlebags, that would seem to pose a problem. But as a parent, I would want a professional to secure that information (and professional ethics or laws may require it as well).

    Oh, and echoing previous comments about helmets. No way would I want a helmet-denier working with my kid.

    1. Redd*

      To be honest all our developmental therapists have moved to online documentation since 2020 happened; I’d be more concerned about dogs. Motorcycles really stress my dog out

    2. Observer*

      Well, even with a car, I’m worrying about how you are securing the documentation. Because just leaving something on the seat of your car is not a good way to handle it either.

  35. German Girl*

    #1 Actually the best thing for driving lots of short distances in terms of efficiency would be an electric vehicle – that could be a car or a motorcycle or even an electric bike.

    Bonus: The electric versions make way less noise and smell.

    My neighbor has a motorcycle and my two year old always says “There is XY with her motorcycle, it’s loud and stinks!”

  36. LondonLady*

    #OP2 – as long as you are sneezing quietly into a tissue & disposing of it hygenically, it really should not be a problem. If meeting new people, you might want to say “ay! allergies” after your first sneeze in case they have anxieties about COVID etc. You might want to say to your nearest neighbour, “sorry it’s a bad day for my hay fever” on bad days, but that’s up to you. I wish all co-workers were as thoughtful as you!

  37. Rebecca*

    I am a tutor working with young children and I rode a motorcycle because it was cheaper – parking, gas.

    Nobody cared, nobody thought it was unprofessional. I didn’t drive a hog or look like a Hell’s Angel, and we’re beyond those stereotypes now, much like tattoos don’t always make us thing of gangsters anymore. The worst I got were mums who were worried I was cold all the time. Do it.

  38. MeowMixers*

    LW 3 – It looks like the Manager was told that the meeting was in the morning instead of the afternoon. I doubt Jane’s ability to own up to her mistake. Base on his response, it sounds like she let him believe you had to reschedule. I understand that sometimes we want to cover for others in good faith. But you didn’t know Jane and she hasn’t done anything in good faith enough for you to cover her. I don’t think the manager was in the wrong. It’s perfectly okay to be factual.

    1. Lab Boss*

      Isn’t that a little harsh on Jane? You seem to be assuming she knows she made a mistake and is hiding it so it looks like LW3’s fault, but if she got her appointment times mixed up and LW3 didn’t tell her, Jane probably still doesn’t even realize there was a mistake. Shoot, the reason the 4:30 appointment wasn’t available is probably because Jane sent applicant B, who’d originally agreed to a 10:30 interview, an invite for a 4:30 interview and they were able to accept it without an issue. No bad faith required on Jane’s part, just a mistake that will never get noticed because LW3 implied it was their own fault.

      1. anonymous73*

        While it’s an assumption that Jane wouldn’t own up to her mistake, it’s fact that she screwed up. She agreed to a 4:30 interview and then sent an invite for the next morning. OP needed to be honest with hiring manager. They did nobody any favors by trying to cover up the facts. If Jane is bad at her job, they need to be aware so they can work with her to improve.

        1. Lab Boss*

          I was responding specifically to the idea that Jane lacked “the ability to own up to her mistake” and “hasn’t done anything in good faith.” It’s entirely possible for Jane to have been at fault for making the mistake, without acting in bad faith or deliberately hiding anything. Mistakes do happen, without it being a sign of bad faith or a bad employee.

  39. Wrench Turner*

    Buying own tools:
    I’m a home services contractor (HVAC, plumbing, electrical, etc) and I have to buy the majority of my own tools. If I need a specific thing to do a job sometimes the company will pay for it. It’s just part of the trades. That said, they’re MY tools and leave with me when I change jobs. I would find out what’s normal for your industry and see how much you can get the company to cover. Also, things get “accidentally destroyed” now and then and need replacing.

    Assuming it’s not a big open pipe roaring machine, unless it was just around the city I would be real hesitant to ride, as much as I love riding every day I possibly can. Safety gear and cargo would be a distraction, but I would also be concerned about weather. A sudden, unpredictable downpour could leave you soaked and a distraction for your next visit, or delayed because it was too dangerous to ride. Or getting stuck in traffic in blistering heat left you a breathless sweaty mess when you got there. I wouldn’t.

  40. Darcy*

    LW4 – yes, of course you can quit anytime you like in the world of retail. If you want to avoid burning a bridge, I’d give notice no later than November 1 so that the employer has time to replace you. If you do this and want to work there again sometime in the future, they might be willing to re-hire you if you give them this courtesy.

    If you really like the job and still want to try to get time off, I’d suggest doing a little more investigation. It sounds like you’ve been dutifully submitting your time off requests in the company on-line scheduling system and getting no feedback when your requests are denied. It’s possible that the computer system is automatically set to decline all requests, so you need to work outside that system. Somewhere in the company, whether at your location or a nearby district/regional office, is a person who handles scheduling. See if you can schedule a 15 minute in-person time with that person to ask how the company handles holiday time off. This person will be able to tell you definitively if there’s any chance of getting the time off that you need. This is not the time to ask for special scheduling consideration; you may even want to mention that when first starting the conversation. What you’re after is an understanding of how the system works and if there’s any chance of getting time off at the holidays, ever.

    By the way – DON’T have this conversation over email or text. Do it in person. Email and text will get you more electronic rejections. What you’re after is context, and you get that from in-person conversation.

  41. Sally*

    I used to use a Scooter (vespa) to work everyday in all weathers. It was my only mode of personal transport in relation to where I worked at that time. I did this for 7 years. The only real downside is having to wear wet weather outer clothing. You can imagine how that looked, arriving at work dripping wet with helmet hair, then having to remove yourself to the bathroom to de robe and sort out your clothing to look presentable. I also don’t recommend wearing foundation, not only does it get all over the inside of your bike helmet if you go for the full works but wearing mascara, does result in a few instances of a not very attractive ‘panda look’ appearing. Just lessons I learnt over the years. Makeup touch ups and a small towel are must haves, also you have to be aware of your work attire. Non iron and ‘easy fabrics’ are also absolutely vital if you don’t want to end up looking a crumpled up mess and you have a bunch of clients to meet. It was fun but for me, only on a dry day though…Rain, fog and icy conditions are rather challenging to say the least.

    1. Scoot Scoot*

      I came to the comments section to recommend a scooter, also, as long as OP isn’t on high-speed highways. Mine wasn’t nearly as loud as the motorcycles I’ve encountered, and they definitely look cuter and more family-friendly. From a quick google, it seems like scooters get better fuel efficiency, you can probably get one cheaper than a motorcycle, and they take up even less space in the driveway. Of course, both motorcycles and scooters will be uncomfortable in bad weather, but I still really enjoyed having a scooter. Would recommend!

  42. Anon-mama*

    OP4, I can relate a little bit. I actually did quit a managerial retail job because they were never going to let me have time off between Thanksgiving and January 2. I live states away from aging parents, sometimes can only barely tolerate my in-laws, and my siblings’ only breaks are the school schedule. I realized I need a job that works with my life, not reworking my life for a job. I gave ample notice (in September) and cited a true-ish reason (focusing on a freelance career). No bridges burned.

    It’s ok to prioritize family, you just have to chart your career path to try to reflect that. As other comments have pointed out, you may not get desired days all the time, and it’s a growing and learning process. And if you do decide to leave, do it early, maturely, and professionally. Just continue being an excellent employee, which may give you enough goodwill to have a reference if you want to reapply there or elsewhere next year. Finally, if having holidays off will be important every year, look at career paths and jobs that have that time built in for everyone: schools, in particular. Certain industries have a tradition of an end of December paid shutdown (or you save your PTO). Good luck!

  43. OutOfOffice*

    LW4: It’s the same in the office world, too. Holidays are peak vacation time, and for those teams that need coverage during that time (I’m in operations), there’s usually some method of determining who can take off. In the past, we’ve done a split. One year, half the team gets Thanksgiving and half gets Christmas. Christmas time is the most desirable (and also can be pretty hectic for year-end reasons). The next year, it flips. If someone new joins the team, they wouldn’t get Christmas, because preference goes to those who had to work (for the company, not in general) the last Christmas. I could see this being the case for a smaller pool in retail, as well – or, it may be that because late fall/winter is a time when folks tend to get sick, and so with the busy schedule and higher potential for call-outs, they don’t approve any vacation during that period.

    Have you asked your manager why these weren’t approved? Having a conversation about it may help you to decide if this is something you can work with (i.e. not unfair) or something that’s going to be an issue longer term.

  44. MsSolo (UK)*

    5 – I have a friend who’s employer is currently tightening the purse strings due to being shut for 9 months and struggling to get customers in now they’ve reopened, and has absolutely been denying requests for things like flashlights, step ladders, and other basic tools that make it safe and possible for staff to do their work. The response to pushback has been to suggest they try and delay those jobs (until when? Who knows?) which means they’ll inevitably turn into much more expensive problems. It’s so ridiculously short sighted that there’s no sensible explanation for being that stupid, but they’re really digging their heels in (presumably so they don’t have to admit it’s a stupid policy).

  45. The Dogman*

    LW#1 get a Trike perhaps?

    Safer, more visible, better control at low speed plus some can pull a trailer or have a much larger onboard luggage space.

    Def never recommend a motorbike, but a trike is a whole different thing yet still cool and different.

    Plus more room for a cool paint job with flames etc! ;)

  46. Maltypass*

    To the retail LW – quit sooner rather than later if you’re going to. As a retail veteran of 10+ years I know you have valid reasons for wanting the holidays off but as someone whose had no time off for the holidays in that time you’d be amazed how many people say they will work that period then quit at the last minute leaving you in the dirt. (I know that’s not you, what I’m saying is if holidays are important to you it really is better to quit – retail just isn’t the place for it, and if you did choose to stay it would win you no favours). Go forth free of the obligation and avoid holiday run up as a bonus!

  47. AnonReply*

    OP#1 – Other commenters pointed out some of the logistical challenges that could arise from riding a motor cycle or suggested other options, but I’m a mom in the population you serve so wanted to throw my thoughts into the mix. My toddler is currently enrolled in early intervention services and if her therapist rode up on a toddler I’d think it was awesome! The population you work with has a lot on their plate raising a toddler who requires therapies for whatever reason – my daughter is enrolled due to pretty significant medical complexities. Peaking outside to see what her therapist drives is very low on my radar (ours has been with us a year and I’ve never noticed). I think your clientele is unlikely to notice, and if they do will probably just think it’s fun. The only caveat would be if it’s very loud, since that could bother a child with sensory issues. Otherwise I say go for it!!

    I really hope my child’s therapist rolls up on a motorcycle soon!

    1. Observer*

      I pretty much agree with you – and I’m from a very conservative community where where motorcycles are really not the norm. I just would NOT care (outside of the issue of no helmet, because I don’t want an IDIOT working with my kid).

  48. Dr Schmoctor*

    #3 A similar thing happened to me once. The recruiter asked if I could go to Othertown for an interview the next day at 3:30. I said “No, I have to be at work until 4:00, and it won’t be possible for me to leave early. And it would take me at least an hour to get to Othertown anyway.” So she said “How about 4:30?” So I repeated what I said (I mean, it’s not exactly advanced calculus). She was quiet for a few seconds and said “Oh, OK” and she hung up.

    Two days later she phoned me wanting to know why I didn’t go to the interview, and how I made her look bad. I explained again why it wasn’t possible for me to be there, and that this was her screw-up, not mine.
    I found a job (no thanks to her), but when I was job hunting again two years later, I discovered that I have been pretty much blacklisted because I “don’t keep my interview appointments.”

    This whole episode happened at a point in my life when I had no confidence and avoided any uncomfortable situations, so I didn’t do anything about it, but I should have contacted the hiring manager myself and explained what happened. There’s nothing wrong with that.

  49. CatPerson*

    May I take a moment to express my irritation at the Bless Yous that always accompany sneezes? Where I work, a sneeze prompts a chorus of Bless Yous. Then the sneezer says thank you. Often the Bless Youers then say You’re Welcome. The same sneezer then sneezes again, since sneezes usually come in multiples, and the whole thing repeats until the sneezer is done. It would be comical if it wasn’t so ridiculous.

    When I am the recipient of a Bless You I always ignore it. I really prefer not to have my bodily functions commented upon in the workplace.

    1. Miss Displaced*

      I hate that too! I know people mean well, but the last thing I want in the midst of a sneezing attack is to draw even more attention to myself.

    2. Phony Genius*

      When I was in junior high school, after a student had sneezed a couple of times on the first day, with the class saying “bless you” after each, the teacher stood up on a desk, raised his arms and said, “You are all hereby blessed for all of your sneezes for the remainder of the school year!” That solved that problem.

    3. Just an autistic redhead*

      Yeah.. I will usually either nod-bow if visual contact is a thing or go “Mm” affirmatively after responding to one blessing per day. Though I usually pinch my nose rather than make a full-fledged sneezing sound. (I’m a pretty quiet person XD)
      The only time someone else sneezing actually bothers me is the scream-or-other-vocalization sneezing… Otherwise I’ll just feel sympathetic, especially if someone is sneezing that much. I mean if someone is right next to me and sneezes really suddenly I’ll super startle, but absent other accompaniments it’ll be fine.

    4. Binky101*

      I worked for a while in an open-office/cubicle-land place where a few workers brought their teenage kids in to work if school was cancelled. One kid (she had developmental disabilities and lowered inhibition) insisted on yelling (truly, YELLING) “Bless you!” every time she heard anyone sneeze. It was so distracting and disruptive, especially as I am also the type to just want to ignore other people’s bodily functions while at work.

  50. Blue Eagle*

    OP2 – You are wondering if your co-workers are distracted and annoyed by your sneezing. The answer is “yes”. However, if they are nice people they realize that it is a medical issue and not you sneezing on purpose.
    What can you do to minimize any annoyance? If it were me I would keep a mask handy and sneeze into that (which is more substantial than just a tissue) every time to reduce the number of air-borne particles I am emitting into the air with each sneeze.

  51. Miss Displaced*

    5. My employees are spending their own money to buy work tools

    I have to say I do this all the time. I work for a huge company, but they are so cheap, or the approval process is so long, slow, and convoluted I end up buying the thing myself. Examples of things I buy: stock photo subscriptions, marketing software subscriptions, Twitter/LinkedIn “test” ads, a training course for a new software I needed to learn, and one of those online gig workers to do data entry I had no time to do.
    My company should pay for these, but you would be wasting all your time just getting a runaround trying to get it (like weeks). I used to turn this stuff in on my taxes, but you can’t do that anymore so I have cut it back to only the stock photos and one software I refuse to give up.

  52. Yellow*

    LW4- you should see if there’s one of your stores near where your family lived. I worked retail in college and we used to go to other locations to cover for them a lot when they were short staffed. Your employer might let you do a store swap.

  53. Erin*

    A lot of little kids I know would think you are some combo of superhero/rockstar/coolest person on the planet if u showed up on a motorcycle! My nephew, who had multiple in home therapists between the ages of 0-5 years old would have absolutely idolized you. He would probably have waited on the porch to see you coming over, excited as h-e-double-hockey-sticks. Also, it would have been great leverage for my sister and her husband to be like “well, let’s practice XYZ that Mr. Superhero Rockstar showed us so we can slay the game next week when he comes over!”

    Totally do it!

  54. WulfInTheForest*

    For OP #5, honestly I’ve seen so much of this since the pandemic started. Complete budget freezes, hiring freezes, employees asking for new hires and supplies they need and being told to “figure it out”, etc. I’m surprised that Alison’s surprised by this, actually. From what I’ve seen, this has become the new normal for a large portion of the workforce.

    1. Observer*

      That’s actually not the case. I realize that there is a lot of cost cutting. But reasonable employers don’t expect staff to magic tools out of the air.

  55. archangelsgirl*

    LW#5. I just couldn’t resist pointing out that teachers spend thousands of dollars on their own supplies. Of course, this is wrong. People should have the materials they need to do their job, and I completely agree with Alison’s advice. I just want everyone to thank a teacher next time you see one, because as is easy to see from this letter, having to fund supplies on the job is wrong. Even better, advocate for your school district to supply the materials needed to educate kids. That’s just my PSA for the day.

  56. Bookworm*

    1. I don’t think the motorcycle itself is unprofessional (seems cool, really). It’s only if you’re on one of those that makes TONS of noise (ie, we can hear you coming and going blocks away). That’s obnoxious and likely disruptive . YMMV, but I can’t stand it as someone who likes the peace and quiet.

    4. I personally think this is something worth quitting over. Yeah, it’s retail, yeah they need people but you’re a person, too, who wants to spend time with family and that’s not unreasonable. That they won’t work with you is a red flag (but it’s retail AND COVID has made it difficult for everyone) But it’s really up to you. Good luck in whatever you decide!

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

      Just want to point out that is is absolutely not a red flag in retail or really any service industry. The company I worked for — which is known for treating its employees very well — had PTO blackout dates during the holidays. No one was getting requested time off during that time unless it happened to fall on your days off (or if your manager was able to shift your days off around to accommodate — but that was a big “if”). It may be a red flag in other industries, but this is just a part of working retail during the holidays and should not be considered a red flag. It can be a personal dealbreaker, sure. But it’s not an indication that a company doesn’t treat its employees well in this specific industry.

  57. Someone On-Line*

    I am having a vivid fantasy of a leather-daddy occupational therapist who rides a motorcycle before helping toddlers with their executive functioning skills. I would totally read that romance novel.

  58. anonymous73*

    #4 – yes you are being unreasonable if your first thought is to quit when you’re not getting your way. Retail is always a busy time for the holidays – so busy that they generally hire extra people just for that time period. I get that you want to spend time with your family, but if you’re going to work a retail job, you need to understand that you probably won’t be able to take much time, if any, off during those peak days. Now you mention that your time off requests have always been denied – if you’re asking for days off during non-peak times and they’re still being denied, then maybe you should quit. But if you’re always asking off when they need you the most, then retail is not for you.

    1. Daisy-dog*

      OP is not being unreasonable. She’s a teenager. It’s not world-shattering to have a **part-time** employee quit to have time-off at Christmas. It’s not a career. She’s not crucial to the operations. OP – just give lots of notice. Many stores usually wrap up hiring for a lot of those positions in October.

      1. Unaccountably*

        Exactly. When I was OP’s age I worked as a seasonal temp at a department store that laid off every seasonal temp but me on December 23rd. I was the only person in the toy department on Christmas Eve.

        Did it suck? Yes. Did the world end? No. Were there riots? No. Lines back to Menswear, yes, but everyone coped and the store didn’t have to close in disgrace. No one, not even hiring managers, really expects a part-time seasonal job to be top priority for a teenager. If they do, then retail probably isn’t for them either.

    2. The Price is Wrong Bob*

      If you’re treated as disposable or like you don’t have a family or other commitments, why not quit and get a similar job 2 months later? The owner of a major retailer won’t think twice about it while they’re sunning themselves in the Caribbean or skiing in the Alps during Christmas week. Unless OP’S last name is “Walton” or they won’t make rent without working the holidays, they should not worry about it. Retail jobs will be there begging you to work next January, you cannot say the same for when you might see your family members again. It could be never!

  59. feral fairy*

    LW4, I feel for you as someone whose worked in retail, but just be aware that most retail jobs have a blackout period during the holiday season which means that no one will get approved for time off no matter how far in advance it’s requested. If that is an issue for you, you’re absolutely entitled to quit this job, but be aware that the no time off during the holiday season policy is widespread industry practice in retail. I’d recommend looking for non-retail/non-restaurant jobs if it’s a dealbreaker.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      You’ll also want to avoid working at a hospital, or a bank (unless you only want the actual holiday itself), or in any job that requires coverage. But education would be a good choice.

      1. HannahS*

        I don’t think the OP needs to limit her future career options based on this. She’s a teenager! Plenty of teenagers would struggle to be away from their families at the holidays when they’re also living alone for the first time, especially given the year+ worldwide crisis they just lived through and the low level of personal investment in a retail job. She might be perfectly fine working Christmas Day as an anesthesiologist in ten years.

        1. Daisy-dog*

          Yes, it’s strange how many posters are acting like this is OP’s career and what decision is made here is an indication of how every year after this will be.

          1. Minerva*

            Seriously, part of the issue is that the letter writer can’t take time in February to visit family this year due to school. After graduation that won’t be an issue, and they may even have a shutdown over Xmas in some industries (I’ve had one in multiple engineering companies).

          2. Happy Lurker*

            Exactly this. I keep thinking you get to make these little snafus in life at 19 and in college. That’s what life is all about at that age!
            Retail jobs are currently a dime a dozen. Go home – enjoy your family. You have the rest of your life to work (for some soulless corporation or not!).

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          I didn’t think we were talking about ten years? She’s going to be looking for a new job while she’s still in college, assuming she leaves her current retail job. She might even be looking for a new job *now*, knowing that her current job isn’t going to allow her to take the time she wants.

  60. Total*

    LW1, I think a motorcycle would be awesome and completely professional. The one thing I’d suggest you consider is that there isn’t really climate control — on hot days you’re going to get there hot (the wind helps some, but not completely, and even well-ventilated protective gear adds a layer of insulation) and on cold days, you’re going to get there cold (the wind really doesn’t help). You’re going to have helmet hair no matter what you do.

    This is not a suggestion not to do it — just giving you a sense.

    And yes to getting good protective gear and a good helmet. Ear plugs are good, too, to protect your hearing (wind noise). Start with a reasonable sized bike (eg under 500cc) that doesn’t weigh too much. Too much power is dangerous at the beginning, and it’s much easier to pick up a 300 pound bike after you drop it than an 800 pound Harley. Consider getting a ‘naked’ bike — one without fairings (expensive to repair), though a windscreen is nice.

  61. PurpleHeartRed*

    The only way a motorcycle would be inappropriate would be if it was one of those painfully, obnoxiously loud ones that rattles the neighbors’ windows and wakes sleeping babies.

  62. AndersonDarling*

    #5 Are there processes you are missing? Are you requesting ladder Model A when that one is no longer being purchased and you should have been asking for Model B?
    It’s possible that supply is pinching the budget so much that everything is getting denied, but it’s possible that processes have changed and you need to investigate how to get items expensed correctly. It’s time to make some calls and follow-up.
    This can turn into a huge liability issue. Imagine one of your techs is injured because his ladder broke and he fell. Then you find out that another employee bought that cheap ladder himself because the company denied the request for the proper ladder. That is a whole mess of a lawsuit!

  63. RussianInTeaxs*

    Motorcycle: please don’t buy the one that wakes up the entire neighborhood, and go ahead, have fun.

  64. Rusty Shackelford*

    While I understand this, I feel like my manager should understand that this is the first year I’ve lived on my own, away from my family.

    No, this isn’t a thing, and you don’t want it to be. You don’t want your manager making a judgement call on who deserves holiday time off more. And you definitely shouldn’t assume that this being your first year on your own would put you at the top of their list if they did make that call.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      If that same sentence had said “While I understand this, I feel like my manager should understand that I’m a college student and the entire campus including dorms closes, so I literally have nowhere to live in this town at that time of year” it’d be a completely different conversation. Still couldn’t necessarily guarantee the manager would care, but of the possible extenuating circumstances involved with a college student, “I have to go home because I’m not allowed to stay here then” is potentially viable, while “this is the first year I’m on my own” is not.

    2. Just Another Zebra*

      When I was worked at FirstJob, I moved out to the Midwest for a year, to open a new location. I’m from NJ and knew I wouldn’t be able to swing getting off for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I volunteered to work Thanksgiving (which meant working from 6pm until 3am to set up servers and displays, but that’s another story) so I could take off for Christmas. It was a give and take – no one wanted that overnight shift and miss Turkey dinner. Moving from family is hard, but it isn’t a factor in business decisions.

  65. Sleepless KJ*

    #4 – I sympathize as I found myself in the same situation when working retail a few years ago, but it’s a given that you’re expected to work holidays (especially if you don’t have seniority.). Same thing with the hospitality businesses like restaurants and hotels etc. That’s when you’re needed most.

  66. I'm A Little Teapot*

    I get annoyed by people not wanting to throw someone under the bus. If you throw someone under the bus, you’re blaming them for something that YOU ARE ACTUALLY RESPOSNSIBLE FOR. You’re trying to shield yourself from the consequences of your screwup.

    If someone else screws up, and you state it, factually and you’re not being a jerk in some way over it, then that’s fine. Will they like it? Probably not. But it’s not throwing them under the bus.

  67. zinzarin*

    #1, I’m clearly in the minority here, but I would *not* like it if you showed up to my home on a motorcycle for professional work. Motorcycles are LOUD. After the 2nd time you showed up on a motorcycle, I would request someone else from your organization to handle my case/account/project.

    This has nothing to do with any “rebel” or “countercultural” association with motorcycles; it has everything to do with excessive noise disturbing the peace in my home. My dog reacts to motorcycles the way he reacts to thunder and fireworks–with furious anger.

    Driving your motorcycle to a workplace? Fine; no problem. Driving your motorcycle to a private home in a residential neighborhood? I don’t like it.

    1. zinzarin*

      Again, this is all about noise. Dress weird, color your hair, pierce your flesh, speak with strange idioms; I support and celebrate all of those things.

    2. allathian*

      Depends on the motorcycle. There are electric and hybrid ones available, and I’d certainly recommend going electric in the suburbs if you possibly can. Most motorbikes aren’t as noisy as Harleys, though.

      1. zinzarin*

        This is a good point. My complaint is only about the kind of motorcycles that announce themselves through the walls of my home. If your motorcycle is no louder than a car, than I won’t even know that’s what you took to get to my house.

    3. Khatul Madame*

      Do you also ask your neighbors not to mow their lawns? to make their kids play far up the street from your place? Do you not use a coffee grinder at home?
      A regular, not Hells Angels bike is no noisier than most domestic or regular neighborhood sounds.

      I won’t even start on having a dog that is prone to bouts of furious anger.

      1. zinzarin*

        None of the examples you provide are even CLOSE to the noise of a motorcycle rumbling in my driveway–or, at least, not the motorcycles I’m complaining about. You’ll note that I’m VERY clear in my comment that my complaint is about noise; if your motorcycle is no louder than a car, then I won’t even know you rode a bike to my house, right?

        Keep in mind that Alison reminds everyone, right above the comment box, to “Please be kind.” You’re not being kind; framing my comment as the type that comes from a Simpson’s “Angry Man Yells at Cloud” complaining about kids playing (!) is insulting at best. Step back.

        And don’t even start about my dog; he’s a rescue, he thinks he’s defending his home from unknown threats, and he’s awesome. He’s also all of 4.5 pounds; he makes his anger known, but he can’t do anything about it, don’t worry. If I’d had him from a puppy, he’d have never become a barker in the first place, but that sweet treasure is what he is now, and he’s my heart. It’s okay that I prefer the absence of the kinds of loud noises that set him off.

      2. Mental Lentil*

        Well, yes, when you live around other people, you have to expect to deal with a reasonable level of people noises.

        But to zinarin’s point, this is about having control over the kind of noise that pulls into your own driveway. You should have a reasonable amount of control over that.

      3. RussianInTeaxs*

        None of these are as loud. I have someone with a motorcycle, and someone with a super loud pickup on my street, and the walls shake when they drive by. They are as obnoxious as the people who play music super loud in their cars with the windows rolled down, and my house shakes from the bass.

      4. After 33 years ...*

        Our town has a group, “Pipe Up”, dedicated to modifying their motorcycles to make much more noise than initially designed for by the manufacturers. They are currently lobbying for the legal right to increase their machines’ decibel output.

  68. Khatul Madame*

    LW5, ask your managers to do a better job explaining why the tools are needed. If a better tool will make the workers safer and lessen potential liability for the company in case they get injured on the job, it needs to be spelled out. Same with tools that help them work faster/do more jobs in a day/reduce downtime/increase the company’s revenue.
    When you receive the purchase requests, don’t just pass them along but add notes on why they are necessary/important. Be an advocate for your teams.

  69. Fabulous*

    Ok, #1 – You could totally market yourself as the Motorcycle Therapist. That would be awesome and I can already picture your business cards LOL

  70. bopper*

    Re: sneezing
    1) Are you doing everything you can to address your allergies? yes
    2) This is the result of businesses cramming a ton of people in to a small space.
    3) You could tell your boss that you know you are sneezing alot during allergy season despite you taking shots and allergy pills so if they think it a bit much you would be happy to work from home if they think that would be good sometimes.

  71. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    #3 what happened was weird. Really weird. I don’t blame you for being put off by that.

    A 1 hour difference could be put down to a time zone mistake. But 10:30 to 4:30?

  72. Pennilyn Lot*

    Regarding the sneezing, think it’s still worth bearing in mind that we are still currently in a pandemic with the ability to transmit a virus even if you’re vaccinated, and while sneezing is not a symptom of COVID, it is a major way that germs are dispersed. As this is still a major concern for us all, I think it would probably be decent to work from home on days when it’s really bad, in the same way that we would expect people with mild but usually ignorable flu symptoms to stay home right now.

  73. Salad Daisy*

    #1 depends on what kind of motorcycle it is! j/k. I think most toddlers would be thrilled to see someone pull up to their house on a motorcycle.

    #5 this needs to stop. The only way management will figure out they need to approve these requisitions is when jobs don’t get done for lack of equipment.

  74. Biology dropout*

    LW1, given what you do for work, I would think about the noise factor. My initial reaction was “go for it!,” but then I remembered how my autistic child reacted to motorcycles as a toddler, even indoors with the windows closed. Hearing a loud noise right before a therapy appointment would have not set her up for success in said appointment and would have turned her off to the therapy person (“Noooo Ms Jane! Too loud!”). It’s definitely a know your clients situation, but it might not be good if you have sensory-sensitive kids on your roster!

  75. Kittykuddler*

    As a woman who occasionally rides a motorcycle to work, I wanted to let the first letter writer know my experience. The optics of riding aren’t unprofessional, but the safety gear needed to ride will limit your ability to dress professionally. Thin materials are not a good choice because if you go down ( and no matter how good of a rider you are, you can’t control inattentive drivers in cars) they will shred. Likewise, good leather shoes or boots are a must. My husband had a motorcycle accident last year and his tennis shoes were literally dragged off his feet, and shredded. And you should always ride wearing a jacket. Some of them are mesh and can have a cooling effect. My husband and I argued over wearing jackets the morning of his accident. It probably saved his life. It definitely saved his upper body from damage. His knees, ankles, and feet were full of road rash, but other than a broken arm and clavicle, his upper body was spared. And obviously, a helmet is the most important item. Without one, he’d definitely not still be with us. We both still ride and the accident was a fluke, but neither one of us will ride without full proper gear again. All that to say, I work in a job where it’s possible for me change clothes when I get to work if I ride, and going to clients homes, you won’t have that option. It’s a fun hobby, but it sounds like you are not currently an experienced rider. While the fuel economy is great, learning to ride on highways, in traffic, or close to semis takes time to gain confidence. That’s when you become the badass.

  76. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    LW1 – My big concern with the bike is safety. I’ve lost two coworkers forever and a third for 6+ months from motorcycle accidents where none of the riders were at fault.

    LW5 – The remedy here is going to bat for the team with the agent who is denying all the reimbursements. This isn’t someone replacing a company-provided tool with something of higher quality or better ergonomics; this is the company not replacing an asset when it breaks.

  77. Cafe au Lait*

    LW 1, whatever you do please make sure you wear a helmet and riding gear. The kids who see you today and think you’re cool will have your image as a basis for badassery.

    Signed, A life saved by a helmet.

  78. Ed Asner*

    OP1: I supervise developmental therapists and I do not think this is unprofessional at all. It’s awesome and would not be a problem for our company as long as you wear a helmet. Rock on.

  79. That One Person*

    4 – Definitely talk to managers about times that are completely unavailable for time off, and once you have that in mind request off as early as possible. I’m talking months if you can. However if there are times people just really can’t then your best bet, unfortunately, you may not get that time or may have to make yourself such a stellar employee that the thought of you leaving over something like a few days off may not be worth it on their part. That’s kind of how it worked out for me when my old job started declaring people couldn’t request Thanksgiving week off at all so I had to reach out to an executive team lead for my section and explain that as that’s the one time of the year my family gets together I was under pressure to go and…well yeah, if I couldn’t get that time off that might be it. Honestly though retail sucks when it comes to holidays because they really do like “all hands on deck” essentially and otherwise time off around them can be really competitive so it may be worth it to weigh whether that job is worth sticking with. May be worth it to look into a temp agency as well to see if you can find better placement outside of retail that can still coincide with your school hours.

  80. KWu*

    All right, hopefully I won’t get too badly raked over the coals for being old-fashioned here or just dismissed as concern trolling, but I could see a parent of a young child having some reservations about a therapist coming in a motorcycle, or at least as a first impression. If you’re in a position of needing additional services that are home visits, you’re probably a bit apprehensive, and my assumption is that building a trusting relationship would be key to being successful in the work. Anything out of the norm can be taken as threatening if you are already primed to be a bit fearful. My mental health as a mom is a lot more stable now, but I remember the weepy hormonal postpartum stages pretty well still, not to mention I didn’t have to war with guilt over someone coming into my house for services my child needed vs. the covid risk incurred. So I do feel like a “normal, unthreatening” persona can be helpful, at least in the early stages before there’s more of a bond established. It shouldn’t be this way, but it’s just hard to feel secure when you have a little kid who needs outside help.

    While I’m on the train of putting out probably controversial opinions, I also think there’s a difference between like, “scary big motorcycles” and “cute scooters.” Scooters read as more quirky to me, like you’d come across more like Zooey Deschanel.

    1. Vimes*

      As the mother of a child who has required services since birth, I say bring on the motorcycles, though I understand that individual opinions may vary. Also I agree with whoever it was who said that super loud vehicles of any variety are not awesome. But hey it’s pretty patronizing to think that parent of special needs child=socially conservative.

      1. KWu*

        Hmm, I didn’t say parent of special needs = socially conservative. That’s great that you haven’t had any hesitations about the services your child has needed. I don’t know if your level of fearlessness should be assumed across the board.

        1. Vimes*

          That wasn’t exactly my point. My point was that you were making an assumption as to what constitutes “normal” and “unthreatening” and projecting that onto all mothers. “Normal” isn’t a universal constant—my idea of what is normal may be waaaaay different than yours, as might my definition of threatening/non-threatening.

  81. Now In the Job*

    Can confirm, OP1. Am a lawyer, with pink hair. Everyone thinks it’s great. :)
    Granted, I don’t go into court, so I have no idea if a judge would think it’s great. But if I worked with kids, they’d probably be pretty on board.

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      There’s a Legally Blonde Elle Woods pink joke in there somewhere, but I can’t find it.
      Like it’s hard?

  82. TimeTravlR*

    #4 – when I was 19 and working retail, I was tone deaf to the norms and would (like you) try to get my requests in early for days off. This is how all our special requests for days off were handled, not just holidays. I recall one time asking for Mother’s Day off so I could go to a family thing with my boyfriend. What Older Me now realizes is that I should have been considerate of the actual mothers who worked there and only asked for the day off if they didn’t want it. My employers system wasn’t great anyway, because it shouldn’t first come first served IMO.

  83. OyHiOh*

    The developmental therapist who worked with my daughter for two years had an asymetrical “unprofessional” haircut, hair that was rarely the same color for more than a month at a time, and sported a great many piercings and tattoos. She was also an incredible professional and terrific human being who remained a friend of our family for years after my daughter aged out of the program. Having been on the client side of the relationship, I say ride the motorcycle!

  84. TheJerk*

    Disagree on #2’s response. Sneezing constantly is not generally going to get a good reception in today’s Covid environment. You should be cognizant of that.

  85. Unaccountably*

    LW #3, “taking accountability” means accepting responsibility for something you’re responsible for. It doesn’t mean taking responsibility for anything that goes wrong at any time, or taking responsibility for anything anyone seems to want to blame you for.

    Lots of managers think taking accountability means the second part, not the first. Those managers create incredibly toxic environments for their employees, who get held responsible for things they have no control over. They also create a culture where real problems never get solved because no one is allowed to say “I confirmed this time with Jane” instead of saying “Yeah, this thing I had absolutely no control over is 100% my fault, I’m sure.” If no one is allowed to say that, then no one in management knows that there’s an issue with Jane’s scheduling that needs to be dealt with.

    Please don’t be that manager. Also don’t be the manager who, when people try to tell you there’s a problem with Jane’s scheduling, accuse them of “pointing fingers” or “playing the blame game,” which are other phrases that managers with a hangup about “taking accountability” seem to love.

  86. Just Another Zebra*

    OP #5, are these tools personal or company tools? I work with plumbers and any personal hand tools are they employees responsibility. If Chris wants a new socket set, then he has to pay for it. But if Chris needs a specific socket for a job, then Plumbing Company buys it, and it stays at our warehouse when the job is complete. I think ownership of the tools in question is a really crucial piece of info that is missing from your letter. Employees shouldn’t be buying tools for Company out of pocket, but if it’s a personal tool that leaves with them… that’s really really normal in contracting jobs.

    1. Jack Straw*

      This is a good question. Does the equipment belong to the office once purchased or is it Jane’s flashlight that she uses at work and if Jane quits so does the flashlight? My partner does IT hardware work and totes his own tools around to sites. He’s used work as an excuse to buy several cool toys he’s wanted, but they are his to keep.

  87. Former Retail Lifer*

    OP#4, the holidays are literally the busiest time of year in retail. You will never get that time off at any retailer. I worked in retail for 20 years and had lots of people quit over that, despite being upfront during the hiring process that time around the holidays was required and not negotiable. I could accommodate a day or two before or after the holiday, but nothing more than that. Retailers have to be fair and consistent with staff, so they’re not going to be able to make an exception just for you during their busiest time. I hated always working around, or ON, every holiday so I eventually left the industry. That’s really the only choice you have.

  88. Nanani*

    I would bet money that a majority of toddlers think its AWESOME.
    Motorcycles are shiny and they go fast, things most toddlers love unreservedly.

    1. TiffIf*

      Though, in my experience toddlers are rather indiscriminate and also love dumptrucks which are neither shiny nor go fast, but in the Venn diagram would intersect with motorcycles on “noisy.” :D

      Agreed though, pretty sure Toddlers would think it awesome!

      1. RagingADHD*

        Also bonus points for “big machine.” For toddlers, anything bigger than them is just “big”, scale doesn’t matter.

  89. sammypammy*

    Growing up, our town pediatrician was known to ride around on a motorcycle. According to my mom, she arrived at the hospital for my brother’s newborn checkup with her bike helmet tucked under her arm!

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

    #4 – When I worked retail, we had a PTO request blackout period in November and December. That’s a time of the year in which many retail companies are hiring temp help because they need the extra hands; it’s not a time when PTO will generally be approved outside of an absolute necessity. It’s just part of industry expectations and making a big thing of it would likely be perceived as a bit tone-deaf. If you want to quit, you can, as Alison said. But what’s being asked of you is incredibly common in retail.

  91. Jack Straw*

    One of my favorite things is when Alison casually links to fantastic previous posts that I’d forgotten about. Today was a twofer–the scream sneezer AND Guacamole Bob!

  92. Vimes*

    OP1 my son has had services since birth and my son (now 7) and I would both think anyone one a motorcycle was super cool (I would think that because me on a motorcycle=instant disaster). Although so far my favorites have been the speech therapist who had hearing aids himself, and the ABA dude who used to lead D & D groups for teens at the library, had zero history working with kids, and was probably the best support human my son has ever had. You just never know where awesome may come from.

  93. Anonymous Esq*

    OP4, I just want to chime in and let you know that although what other commenters are saying about denying times at holidays being the norm in retail environments is true, it’s also true that retail managers expect this kind of turnover, especially in a college town. I went to school in a small southern city, 600+ miles from my family, and I would get a retail job in August and every year would quit in mid October, saying my last day would have to be the weekend before thanksgiving. I was not willing to pay fees to stay in my dorm alone eating ramen over breaks so I could be verbally abused over a pair of shoes that were marked down to $10. Plus after thanksgiving comes finals and Christmas and I just didn’t have the availability then either. And ya know what? Every January I would come back to town and get either my old retail job back or a new one and it was incredibly easy to be hired somewhere. Only one of my managers in 4 years gave me any type of grief about how I operated in this scenario.
    And now I take my vacations in the spring because I let the people with family obligations and children take their days at the holidays and in the summer. Everyone here telling you you’re burning bridges and to avoid allll these different types of careers because of holiday work are giving good advice generally, but as a 19yearold college student, it just isn’t the same thing.
    I’m only commenting at all because if I was in your position, and I saw all these comments basically telling me I’m unreasonable or going to fail at working when I’m no longer a minimum-wage-retail-working student, my anxiety would be killing me.
    Your plan of action here is honestly fine. You will be fine. The fact that you’re even worried enough to write to Alison shows you are a conscientious person and employee. I think you’re gonna be just fine.

    1. Paris Geller*

      You’re a student. Turnover should be expected, and I guarantee you won’t be the only student leaving before the holidays. I’m surprised by how many commenters are talking about burning bridges, never being able to get a retail job again, etc. You’ll be fine, especially since right now retail & food service are struggling to fill positions. Not many managers are going to have the luxury of turning down someone who quit with plenty of notice, even during the busy holiday shopping season.

  94. Duckles*

    #1– fwiw, I despise motorcycles, it’s a dealbreaker for dating, etc. and I still wouldn’t care if an otherwise qualified professional arrived at my house on one, assuming it wasn’t loud.

  95. Bethie*

    I have a co-worker who would clear his throat every few minutes or so. It never really bothered me, as I have a kid and a cat and can tune out most noises. It bothered the mess out of couple of other co-workers. He said it was an allergy thing and had been to the Dr and nothing worked. So, really what can you do? Well, I guess we worked from home 3 days a week before COVID and now 5 days…so it doesn matter anymore :)

  96. Donkey Hotey*

    In late to add to OP#1
    I have arrived to perform weddings on my motorcycle (remove the chaps, change the jacket, add a tie). Do it!
    (I didn’t start riding until I was 40 and spent the first year kicking myself for not starting sooner.)

  97. Donkey Hotey*

    As to #4
    Yes, you’re in college working retail. Give your notice early, work your remaining shifts (being prepared that you might not get as many), go home, and then find a new job in January.
    Get ready for life after college. Junior people have to spend at least one season stuck with the crap shifts. My best recommendation is to trade out with others if/when you can. (I would work pre-Christmas shifts for people in return for them working post-Christmas shifts for me, then run home between Christmas and New Years.) Your family will be happy to see you whenever you make it home.

  98. Bob Howard*

    #5 If your team haev to buy their own tools, how are they getting any necessary safety equipment? If the company does not buy them (hard hat, goggles, ear defenders, gloves etc) do they use them at all?

    Of course it is just possible that the situation has been obscured by your choice of “flashlight” as a metaphore. If you mean “Fancy battery 100Mhz digital oscilloscope” and they have repairable analog models then I can see how purchasing might have issues with out a specific case. E.G. “Our techs spend days tracking down <1nS runt pulses, this instrument has a mode to find them straight away".

  99. Workfromhome*

    #5 I experienced this many times due to things not going in the “right budget bucket”. I remember long ago needing to pay for one internet login for every student in training rooms. It was outrageous so we decided why not buy a router for each of the 10 trainers so they could just pay for one login and share it. Well there was no “budget for this” so we bought one router and put it under office supplies. There was only enough $ in the office supplies to buy one. Then when someone was done with it we put it in a fed ex package and shipped it to the next trainer. The shipping was probably $50 a pop! We would have paid for 50 routers with all the $ we spent shipping the one router around. BUT shipping was a totally separate and much bigger budget than office supplies so we were able to do it. Stupid I know but maybe if they wont budge you can find a way to purchase flashlights etc and call it something else or slide it under another budget. Its far from ideal and I agree letting work grind to a halt because of inadequate equipment would be more likely to get a long term solution.

  100. ObserverCN*

    LW 1 – I’ve known of a couple of pastors, male and female, who rode motorcycles. One of them even served as a chaplain at the Sturgis motorcycle rally. Go for it if you think the kids will like it!

  101. Observer*

    but I also didn’t want to throw the recruiter under the bus. As a manager, it’s my personal pet peeve when people don’t take accountability, and he clearly thinks this was my fault

    I haven’t read the comments yet, but I want to point something out. If this actually represents the way you operate, then I would not want to work for you. I know that’s harsh, but what yo just described is absolutely going to put people into very unfair and difficult situations.

    You are saying that if someone makes a mistake and a different person gets blamed for it, the innocent person is not allowed to defend themselves because it’s “throwing someone under the bus” (it’s not) and it’s “not taking accountability”! Really? Not accepting blame for SOMEONE ELSE’S MISTAKE is is “not accepting accountability”?! What is the person who did NOT make the mistake supposed to be accountable for?!

    Please don’t force people to “accept accountability” for things they didn’t do.

    1. Unaccountably*

      Adding on to this: when does the person who actually made the mistake get in trouble for not accepting accountability? Under this management style, everyone skates except the person who gets someone’s finger pointed at them.

      I’ve worked for managers like this and I never want to again. Not only is it unfair, punitive, and potentially discriminatory, but it’s lazy. You get to just decide who the designated taker of “accountability” is and then you never have to try to fix the real problem.

  102. D*

    While the actual amount of distraction from the sneezing seems totally reasonable to me, in covid times I would want to see a lot of consideration from OP to be okay being in a small space with them. I understand she isn’t (knowingly) positive for covid, but these days any time I sneeze I make sure to get up and move away from people because who knows if I might be carrying something? And sneezing spreads stuff massively through the air. So if you are being considerate and physically moving away from people or wearing an N95 then I think I would be fine with it…otherwise I would be trying to put some distance between our work areas.

  103. RB*

    #2 I shared a cube wall with someone like that, but her sneezes were often accompanied by a coughing and snorting fit. I always tensed up a little because it sounded like she had untreated lung cancer. After she assured me that it was just allergies and that she was receiving treatment and taking her meds, I was able to put it out of my mind because I didn’t stress out about it anymore.

  104. RagingADHD*

    LW#3, one of the problems with this misguided sense of “accountability” for other’s mistakes is that you aren’t taking into account the relative impact of said mistake on the different people involved.

    For the hiring manager, if they simply sent an invite to the wrong candidate, or sent it at the wrong time, this is a minor faux pas. They will feel silly for five minutes and then forget it, with no personal repercussions at all.

    If the recruiter messed up the appointment times, this is a low-level error that means they might need some coaching from their supervisor, but they won’t lose their job over this one incident.

    For both of them, knowing there was an internal error would have allowed them to make adjustments, such as calling the correct candidate for that time slot. Or possibly changing a procedure to catch such errors.

    For you, however, this tanked your shot at the job. The consequences for you were much worse than any potential consequences for anyone else, and with no benefit to anybody.

    It’s as if you jumped on a grenade that was actually just a peanut butter sandwich, but you were the only one in the room allergic to peanuts. You got seriously affected by something that was no danger to anyone else.

  105. Ellen N.*

    If I were the parent of a toddler, I would not want anyone who regularly interacted with them to be seen by them riding a motorcycle. It is unarguable that is is dangerous to ride a motorcycle, so I wouldn’t want my child to see someone that they perceived as intelligent and cool riding one.

    1. RagingADHD*

      If you were the parent of a toddler, you would understand that seeing this at their age will have zero impact on whether or not they want to ride a motorcycle fourteen or fifteen years later. My child was obsessed with the Keebler elf as a toddler. As a teenager now, she shows no inclination to wear a little green hat or live in a tree. She doesn’t even like graham crackers much anymore.

      1. Ellen N.*

        I went through a motorcycle riding phase as a teenager due to being around people whom I perceived as cool riding motorcycles all my life.

        I stopped when an architect friend visited a spinal cord injury rehabilitation center as he was working on designing one. He told me that virtually every patient was the victim of a motorcycle accident.

        1. Observer*

          Knowing ONE person as a toddler who rides a motorcycle is NOT going to have much of an effect on the the risk of your child deciding to ride a motorcycle as a teen or adult, nor on their risk of a spinal cord injury. You know what WILL have an effect? Your fact-free judgmental attitude about motorcycles and your lack of basic knowledge of the causes of spinal cord injuries.

          So, just something for you to be aware of: According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, between 2015 and 2020 38% of all spinal cord injuries were due to vehicle accidents. That includes cars. 32% of all injuries are from plain falls. Think about those numbers for a minute. The bottom line here is that the level of risk you are claiming is simply not real. I don’t know what the deal with the center your friend visited was. But the conclusion you are drawing is simply not valid.

          1. zinzarin*

            From a statistical standpoint, the population of people who fall down is MUCH, MUCH larger than the population of people who ride motorcycles. The fact that they contribute somewhat similarly to the population of people who have spinal cord injuries is strong evidence that motorcycle riding presents a far greater risk of spinal cord injury than falling down.

            1. Observer*


              But there are two things to note here. One is that falling down is similar to ALL vehicle issues, not just motorcycles. Which means that falling down is actually a larger percentage of the population. But also, if motorcycles contribute to less that 35% of spinal cord injuries it’s wildly inaccurate to claim that “virtually all” spinal cord injuries are due to motorcycles.

              If you look at it in that context, you realize the falling down is actually a larger percentage – ans sports (which is considered a wholesome activity) contributes a similar percentage as motorcycle accidents.

        2. Kal*

          Even your example, though, shows how easy it is to discourage people from wanting to ride motorcycles with information about the safety risks. For your hypothetical toddler, if their experience of one person who they looked up to riding a motorcycle when they were 4 is enough to make them seriously think about wanting a motorcycle when they’re a teen, it seems like having an honest talk with them going over safety information about them taken from a reputable source and giving them the tools to look for and evaluate the information for themselves (so the info isn’t only coming from you, which can come across to a teen as you just being a boring parent who is over-exaggerating).

          You were pretty easily discouraged just by one bit of info from a family friend, despite being around people you looked up to who rode motorcycles all your life. It really shouldn’t be hard to counteract the effects of a single therapist from their toddlerhood that is half remembered at best (as toddler memories work).

    2. Observer*

      Do you refuse to allow your toddler to see anyone who ever drinks alcohol? Who drives a car (you do know that 38,680 people actually DIED in car accidents in 2020)? Who engages in contact sports? Speaking of which do you allow your toddler to watch sports? Do you watch sports in their presence?

      I am most definitely NOT a fan of motorcycles. But the idea that riding on is sooooo much more dangerous that all the many things people do that you must protect your child from realizing that actual intelligent (not just PERCEIVED to be intelligent) humans ride them is just absurd.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I was talking about this letter with a friend who’s a kindergarten teacher, and she pointed out that a lot of parents encourage their kids to look up to police officers* … who often ride motorcycles, and yet I’ve never heard a parent complain about that being a bad example for kids. I thought was an interesting comparison.

      * less so these days, with good reason

  106. DJ*

    Want to be motor bike rider mentions the fuel efficiency would be great. Why are they paying for the fuel for work related travel. Are they getting a mileage allowance!! Just wondered.
    Otherwise I don’t see any issue with them using a motor bike for travel even to visit clients.

  107. Kinda wish I had pink hair now...*

    OP1: some logistical questions from someone working also with in-home health care but with a different population. Have you sorted out all the stuff you’re going to have to carry for work? It should be a fair amount of cargo. If you work with kids, I’m going to assume there’s some amount of toys or similar. Also, there should be hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and masks. In some cases, you also have to sort out disposal of those items after you leave the patients homes, so sometimes you’re carrying used masks, wipes, etc. Does that fit on a bike? This usually takes at least half of a trunk in regular size car. If you’re going to have any paper with identifying patient information (even addresses and appointment times), or any computers/devices you’re not bringing inside the patient home, those have to be locked up. Plus you shouldn’t be bringing in a wallet or personal items so those also need to be locked with the bike. Does the storage on your bike have adequate locks? I think you’re awesome for thinking about this. Having done similar work, I could never haul/store everything i need on a bike. Also, I live in Minnesota so bikes are not always an option up here. Whatever you decide, I wish you the best

  108. MCMonkeyBean*

    I was preparing to be pro-motorcycle, but honestly I changed my mind when reading it was about going to people’s houses to work with toddlers. Even aside from the toddler thing, just the fact that you are going to people’s houses. I can’t really put my finger on it but that does seem like maybe not a great idea.

    I also think, aside the question of whether or not it’s “professional” it will definitely leave an impression. The first impression when you arrive at their house. You will be The Woman On The Motorcycle. I think there is a time and a place where that would be awesome. But I can’t imagine that’s how you want your clients to remember you.

  109. Lu*

    OP#1 – We did 3 years of early intervention with my daughter and I never paid attention to what the therapists drove. To me there’s no relation to how you do your job or interact with my child. My only concern would be if a client has a sound sensory issue – will it start the session on a bad note? Will they have a negative connotation that you’re arrival equals a loud noise?

  110. AsterRoc*

    #2, make sure you’re getting tested when you start sneezing and before you go to work. The Marin County, CA, elementary school teacher who infected half her class with COVID went to school sick because she thought it was just allergies.

Comments are closed.