drunken scene at a coworker’s wedding, I said something profane to my boss, and more

I’m on vacation today. Here are some past letters that I’m making new again, rather than leaving them to wilt in the archives.

1. Team member caused a drunken scene at coworker’s wedding

I am a team leader in a very small company. The team I manage only has two other members.

A few weeks ago, one of them, Jamie, got married. A few other colleagues and I were invited to the evening reception. The other member of the team got overly drunk and was abusive to many guests, knocked small children over on the dance floor, and was heard at the bar saying he was going to “F#%k s$¥t up.” When everyone was trying to leave, he started to get naked and violently abusive in the venue’s car park. This led to a massive fight as Jamie asked him to leave and he hit Jamie twice, knocking him to the floor. Guests were trying to eject him, but he was throwing punches and fighting them. He also spat blood all over the bride. His girlfriend punched the bride too. Jamie did not want to spend the night with police giving statements so did not press charges.

Jamie and I have stated to our employer that we do not want to work with this person. Our employer has said that the incident was outside of work so they are powerless. Jamie has been given a week to “forgive and forget” before the other member is sent back to the team.

Your employer isn’t powerless; they can absolutely take action over this if they want to, just like they could take action over, say, a sexual harassment incident that happened outside of work. They might be choosing not to get involved because they don’t know for sure what happened and they’d have to do an investigation, who knows. But yes, this sucks, and asking Jamie to “forgive and forget” the guy who punched him at his wedding, spat blood all over the bride, and generally caused a massive clusterfudge at his wedding is … a tall order.

But if you’re truly stuck with the situation and can’t change their mind, I’d sit down with this guy and tell him that he’ll need to figure out how to repair relations with Jamie, and that when he returns after his week away, you’ll expect to hear his thoughts on how he can do that. Put it on him to figure it out. (And if he doesn’t figure out on his own that any proposal is going to have to involve massive apologies and groveling and possibly a plan to better manage his alcohol use, point him in that direction.)


2. I said something profane to my boss

About a month ago, I got a job at a small company. This is my first job out of college, and my first time working in a fairly informal environment; there is no dress code, and judging by the way my coworkers talk, foul language isn’t just acceptable — it’s the norm.

I’m not used to such relaxed rules, and in a poor attempt to fit in, I made a pretty raunchy comment to one of my supervisors, who was definitely shocked by my choice of words. (I’m totally cringing writing this, but she was warning me about her bluntness with delegating tasks and saying that she hoped I wouldn’t get offended. I told her not to worry, and that “it’s not like I need you to suck my dick every time you tell me to get something done.” Meaning, I don’t need her to do me any favors or soften her delivery when delegating tasks. For the record, I am also a woman, so she knew I couldn’t have meant that literally. I knew I shouldn’t have said that the second it came out of my mouth. Ugh.)

She later told me that another coworker had overheard what I’d said and was surprised/put off that I’d said something like that in the workplace. My supervisor said that she understood that people my age are used to talking in the way that I did (I’m the youngest person in the office, though not by much) but that I shouldn’t say things like that at work.

I apologized for what I’d said and thanked her for telling me, but I’m now afraid of saying the wrong thing again. When boundaries and expectations aren’t clear, how do I ensure that I’m following them? And if a situation like this one happens again, how do I deal with it in a way that shows that I’m sorry and puts it behind me?

Ten years from now, you will find this hilarious. I hope.

But now, yes, you’re mortified! Which … is warranted. But it can be hard to know exactly where the line is when you’re working in an office that has relaxed a lot of them, as yours has. One thing that might help is to think of swear words as separate from truly raunchy language; you can probably see the difference between “this printer is shit” and what you said.

When your boss talked to you about it, you handled it perfectly: you apologized and thanked her for telling you. That’s exactly what you should do. If you’re corrected about something in the future, you could also add, “I will fix this going forward” or “I won’t do that again.”

From here on out, I would err on the side of caution — meaning stay toward the very light end of the profanity spectrum, and don’t do it at all around your boss or other people senior to you, even if you hear them doing it themselves. And it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to cut it out entirely, so that you won’t have to re-train your mouth when you move to your next job. (Many offices are fine with some amount of profanity, but it sounds like yours might be on the extreme end of that spectrum.)


3. Is it unprofessional to write notes on my hands?

I work in a fast-paced environment that’s semi-open to the public, and am frequently running around the office and public area juggling urgent tasks and sudden requests. To keep track of things-I-must-not-forget-but-can’t-do-right-this-very-second, I write on my hands. A lot (palms only). I was meeting my mom after work earlier this week after an incredibly busy day, and had one palm covered in notes (nothing really legible – mostly strings of numbers or a word or two to job my memory. Some were faded out.) She mentioned that I might not want to do that at work, since it seems very “teenager-y” (I’m in my early 20s and looking to move up in the company in the next few years).

What do you think? Unprofessional, stop at once? Eh, not the greatest, but outweighed by other professionalism and the fact that it makes a big difference in not dropping tasks or forgetting things? Personal quirk, no big deal?

Not super professional, no. Not an outrage or anything like that, but I agree with your mom that it’s likely to come across as a little teenager-y. A good litmus test: Can you image a high-level exec doing this to keep track of things?

It’s not a big deal occasionally, but if it’s a standard part of your M.O. (and it sounds like it is), I’d come up with a different system. Can you carry a small notepad? Post-its? Even just a folded sheet of paper? Any of those will serve you better.


4. My writing partner is a hot mess

I’ve entered into a tentative writing partnership with a person who shares my interest in a particular historical period. We have a blog and she’s got a terrific idea for a book. What’s the problem, right?

She’s in the very early stages of learning to write, and makes all the common mistakes in terms of point of view, keeping tenses consistent, injecting personal thoughts into narrative, and “telling” not “showing.” She repeatedly dithers over how her version of history is the correct one, whereas I am fact-based, and will die on that hill rather than bend facts to fit narrative. There is absolutely no motivation or seemingly understanding on her part to do the hard-core, no b.s. research that is going to be critical to writing the manuscript. She repeatedly has asked me to bring an event flyer to our meetings when I have already emailed her the details, as well as a link to the organization’s event page; I’ve caught her rifling through my notes and books, and worst of all, she’s begun imitating my writing style and voice in her blog entries and writing samples.

She’s a nice enough person but has issues to which I can’t relate, nor do I want to try. Do I simply plod along, meeting deadlines and submitting my chapters until she drowns under the actual workload that is the reality of writing a manuscript? Or do I just tell her flat out that her lack of writing experience and skills are clearly the work of a ham-handed novice writer (look, I was like that too, but fifteen years and a lot of courses on writing as well as writing several manuscripts and attending workshops etc. has moved me past it) and I’m unwilling to either edit beyond small mistakes or to actually teach her how to write?

Well, neither. But it sounds like you definitely should put the kibosh on any writing agreement with her — if for no other reason than that it’s coming through loud and clear that you don’t want to be in a partnership with her. And there’s no shame in that. Writing a book with someone else is an intense process. You need to trust the other person’s judgment, writing, and general competence. You don’t trust hers, so this is unlikely to be anything other than a miserable and frustrating experience (possibly for both of you, but definitely for you).

But that doesn’t mean you should call her an amateur and insult her skills when you part ways (even if that assessment has merit). Instead, why not say that as you get deeper into the project, you’re realizing that it’s tough to collaborate when you have such different styles and that you’ve concluded that a joint book isn’t in the cards?


5. A company told me they’d call the authorities if I contact them again — should I show up in person to talk face-to-face?

I applied for the job of my dreams, no, the job of my life — the best job you can ever have in your wildest dreams! Long story short, I got rejected from the job . I was overly eager and contacted the lady who was the hiring manager. Anyway, I was looking at Craigslist and saw they have a few more openings. So I want to talk to the HR manger and address the situation and own up to my mistakes and make things better and right.

I need to do this for myself. I must just take charge and volunteer myself to do something uncomfortable and step outside my comfort zone. What do I do and say? As a side note, the HR manager told me I am no longer allowed to email the lady I was emailing, and if I do, they will take immediate action and may call the proper authorities.

I just do not know what to say. Is it best I just go in to his office and talk face to face or do I call or email if so what do I say and do?

Noooooo, do not do not do not go there in-person. Do not show up, do not call, and do not email. You can’t apply there again at all — they told you that you’re not allowed to email their employee and threatened to take legal action if you do. That is not a company interested in hiring you for anything ever — that is a company that thinks that you’ve crossed a line to the point that they feel threatened. They aren’t going to hire you, and they’re going to be concerned and possibly even frightened if you contact them again. That’s not something companies say lightly; they said it because something happened that made them want zero contact with you in the future. You can’t even think of contacting them again, in any form; you have to move on.

The best thing you can do is learn from the experience and realize that no matter how interested you are in a job, you can only contact them once, maybe twice, without a positive response in return, and that if you press further than that, you’ll torpedo your chances. Take that lesson and apply it other companies that interest you — but you’ve got to leave this one alone.


{ 368 comments… read them below }

  1. Artemesia*

    I hope the LW1 and others who work with Jaime have all found better jobs elsewhere by now. It is utterly outrageous that the man who assaulted the groom and bride at their wedding was not fired. What other monstrous management behavior are they inflicting on their employees. Just drunk? Yeah, ok. Drunk and assaultive. He should be gone.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, me too. I sure hope that the LW is in a better place and that Jamie’s sober.

        But yet again a reason not to mix personal and professional relationships. Granted, I had a small wedding with just my and my husband’s birth families and my MIL’s new spouse present, but even those of my friends who invited coworkers to their weddings only invited work friends who’d become friend-friends and who they otherwise hung out with outside of work.

        1. Anonys*

          Jamie’s the groom who got assaulted, not the drunk coworker.

          I personally wouldn’t invite coworkers to my wedding unless we were super close. But I can understand why you would, especially if the wedding is big and your team small. And anyone should be able to go to a coworker’s (or anyone’s) wedding without committing assault.

        2. AE*

          To be fair, most of the egregious wedding behavior I’ve witnessed/heard of has been on the part of relatives or close friends of the couple! I get where you’re coming from, though–inviting coworkers or other acquaintances who you might not know very well adds an extra risk of Unanticipated Crazy.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar*

            When I was in high school I worked at a place that rhymes with ‘Burglar Teen’, and one of the day shift managers invited her entire crew to her wedding. I wasn’t there but I heard about it. Relentlessly.

            There were lots of insults, pranks, and mayhem by the drunken day shift and the venue called the police. I think charges were filed against a couple of crew members for theft. They were stuffing things into their pockets and handbags – silverware, salt and pepper shakers, dishes, glassware, and full bottles of booze. One enterprising soul stole took a large garbage can to the kitchen and started filling it up in the walk-in refrigerators. I heard there was a shoving match between the drunks, but nobody was hurt.

            I have no love for most of my relatives, but they wouldn’t have done stuff like that.

          2. Roxie*

            I worked at a desk next to that of a woman I found obnoxious. Her work was not up to the standard applied to me (same job/hired at the same time), she spent a lot of time doing non job-related stuff, hogged the phone we had to share, etc. I was not friendly with her so it was no surprise when I was not invited to her wedding with all of the others hired at the same time. For weeks, it was all she and the other women talked about. I expected that afterward there would then be weeks of conversation centered around the wedding and reception. Come that Monday morning after the event, there was not a word said about the wedding -no conversation about the fun they had, the dancing, etc. When the bride returned from her honeymoon, she seemed rather subdued (for her) and the other staff who were at the affair kept distant from her. I never found out what had happened at the wedding reception but got the idea that whatever it was was pretty unforgiveable even by that the standards of that crowd of big drinkers not long out of college. Oh, and did I mention that she married the son of one of the senior VP’s of our company.

      2. Momma Bear*

        I really hope Jaime got a different job. I’d be hard pressed to stay at a company that wouldn’t do anything about a coworker who assaulted me just because it was not on company property. I’d also be upset about being asked to get over it when I was the one attacked. It would show me that the company would never have my back on anything.

    1. turquoisecow*

      If I was Jaime I’d probably be pretty reluctant to go back to work there. And if I was the new bride I’d be urging him to find a new job, unless there’s some extenuating circumstances like they’re the only employer for a thousand miles or they have amazing benefits. I definitely wouldn’t go back to work with someone who assaulted me at my wedding.

      1. Pennyworth*

        That occurred to me – a conviction for assault might have been the only thing that would make the employer take action. Seconding update wishes.

      2. The OTHER Other*

        It’s probably too late after they declined to do so at the time. I can see why they just wanted it all to go away so they could put it behind them but it means things were basically consequence-free for the crazily belligerent drunk teammate. I wonder how many times this has happened before, and will again? The guy sounds like a menace.

        1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

          And his girlfriend (who punched the bride!!!) sounds like a perfect match for him. Well, with behavior like that, he could hardly expect a truly classy lady to give him a second glance!
          I hope his employer wakes up and fires him. If that employer thinks that this will be the only case of spectacularly poor judgment on the part of that drunk, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn that I’ll be happy to sell him…

        2. Certaintroublemaker*

          I get not wanting to deal with police on your wedding day, but I don’t see why they couldn’t go in later. There’s a ton of witnesses, and possibly photos and video. Plus, Jamie could possibly use it to request a restraining order, which work would then have to deal with.

        3. Candi*

          That’s half the reason there’s statutes of limitations and other such laws, and not just in the US. Even for assault it tends to be 90-180 days before charges can’t be laid by the DA’s office (or Crown Prosecution Service, if they’re in Britain like some have theorized.)

          1. Candi*

            Sorry, I was referring to not handling it on their wedding day, but filing charges later.

            I hope they did before time ran out.

    2. ExpatReader*

      I suspect that LW1 is in the UK. (The term ‘car park’ is the giveaway.) I’m a US national living in the UK, and it’s much, much, much harder to fire people here. I’m not sure that there’s nothing the company could have done – perhaps a transfer if the company’s large enough? – but I do think it’s likely that they couldn’t have fired the guy for something that happened away from the workplace.

      Hopefully another UK person can chime in on disciplary options in this scenario, since my knowledge of employment law here is still kinda surface level.

      1. Anthony J Crowley*

        UK person here. This person could have been fired immediately anywhere I’ve ever worked, I’m pretty sure.

        1. Thistle Whistle*

          Yup, years ago I started a contract at a large company and was told on my first day that I was replacing someone who said something racist at a night out.

        2. Bamcheeks*

          Yeah, I work in the public sector and even there I’d be amazed if this doesn’t meet the bar for “suspended on full pay pending an investigation, fired for gross misconduct”.

          1. Storm in a teacup*

            Yeah I agree. This would definitely a violated a number of rules regarding professional conduct. If the person is a registered professional they could additionally be struck off by their professional body for such behaviour too.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Yeah – I think most competent places throughout the world would have imposed some sort of serious consequence on the drunken coworker – if for no other reason than the fact that not doing so would have serious implications for the good employees. How many times have we said it here good employees will have options and will select away from drama.
            The upper management in that letter struck me as being unwilling to make hard calls – so put the onus on the “normal” employees to work around the drama-makers. Eventually that upper management will find themselves employing nothing but a staff full of newbies and drama-makers.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              Yup, that’s partly how I put it to HR with the person I did have to fire – if we let a howling bigot who made threats to LGBTQ people remain in the company we’d lose everyone else.

              (That and this person had the real stupidity to post their activities, in video, under their real name, on a public forum…I mean I like to hire people with something between their ears other than a black hole)

      2. TechWorker*

        My knowledge of employment law is not amazing, but this sounded unlikely to me, so I googled :p. You’re right that the employer needs to be able to justify that the out of work conduct has an impact on how they can do their job, but one of the reasons given there is if it affects their relationship with their colleagues. I agree the employer might not want to argue it if it’s not clear cut, but I don’t think it’s definitely the case they can’t fire someone on these grounds.

      3. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        There’s something that feels somewhat…perhaps unintentionally obtuse with a lot of these “it’s harder to fire people in Commonwealth countries” comments from Americans that I can’t quite put my finger on. Even when it’s a genuine question, as I’m sure this is, places with stronger worker protections don’t just allow people to pull a Jamie’s colleague with impunity.

        1. MK*

          I definitely see an inaccurate view of how labor protections work in many U.S. commenters; so much so, that I suspect deliberate misinformation to discourage advocating for them. E.g. in most of Europe an employer can fire an employee for no reason at all, but they have to pay severance, so when they say they “can’t” fire someone, a lot of the time they mean they don’t want to pay a small sum to get rid of the problem.

          1. Kathlynn (Canada)*

            it’s like this in canada, where you either need to give them sufficient notice, severence, or just cause, and still people think you can’t fire someone without reason. And I’m just like “give the guy +2 week notice and kick his butt out of the company please”

            1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

              Yeah, I’m Canadian, and a public servant in a partially unionized organization. Not one of those things stops us from turfing people. Not. A. Single. One. If we want you gone severance is isn’t all that high of a price to pay.

            2. Asenath*

              Yeah, I’m Canadian and I’ve sometimes hear you can’t fire a person, especially if there’s a union in place. You can. When you’ve got a situtation with someone who is clearly not performing and management wrings its hands and says there’s nothing to be done, it means (a) performance issues aren’t being documented, and management doesn’t intend to start or (b) management isn’t much bothered by the problem worker (perhaps co-workers take up the slack) and doesn’t want any hassle, or both. You need to be willing to follow the proper legal procedures for firing someone, and if you have a legal reason for doing so, you can do it. I am not a lawyer, and haven’t personally known someone to be fired for what happened outside the workplace – but I’ve sure seen news stories about people who were.

              1. LifeBeforeCorona*

                Canadian here, and I’ve seen two cases of unionized workers fired. In the first instance, very illegal and inappropriate images were found on a work computer by colleagues. The union gave the bare minimum support as required and nothing more. In the other instance, the member threatened management to the point that they had to be escorted out of the workplace. Again, the union did not fight on behalf of the belligerent worker beyond what they were required to do.

                1. Canadian Union Worker*

                  I have represented employees at disciplinary meetings where at the end I told the employee that management did everything right and the discipline was reasonable. I was polite and didn’t say they were assholes who deserved it, rather we work with management and the employee to ensure it was all done properly. We want it done properly so that those employees hopefully leave or get fired or improve. We don’t want to work with assholes!

                  The most memorable ones are when managers don’t address the problem until it becomes awful, when they try to find a quick way to get rid of the employee and they do it really badly. Those employees complain, and often end up with more severance than they would have had if the managers had taken a few minutes months earlier.

              2. Shan*

                Yes, I get so tired of the narrative that union = problematic employees are impossible to get rid of. Is it more difficult? Absolutely! But you can, if you have just cause and you’re willing to put in the work of complying with procedure and potential arbitration. Which management frequently isn’t willing to do – but that’s on them, not the existence of unions.

            3. Canadian Librarian #72*

              Also Canadian (and unionized); can back this up. I’m a law librarian and my subject areas are labour and employment law; while I’m emphatically not a legal profesional, I can definitively say that it’s far from impossible to fire employees for nearly anything (fair or not), even if the employee is in a union. We have adequate labour protections, but I wouldn’t say the employment law regime in this country is really that good, certainly not enough to unfairly disadvantage employers.

              If employment and labour protections are better in some country than they are in the US, that really means very little; the US’s bar is about a centimeter (roughly half an inch in freedom units) off the floor.

            4. The Starsong Princess*

              That’s what my old boss used to say. It isn’t “Can we fire this person?’, it’s “How much will it cost us to get rid of them?” She also used to say that sometimes people have got to go – you may feel sorry for them, they maybe can’t be fired for cause , there may be extenuating circumstances but they’ve got to go and the only question is how much it is going to cost. It’s almost always cheaper in Canada to pay them out than have them sue or file with the Ontario Human Rights. Like the guy who freaked out over the bird and pushed his coworker in front of a car – he needed to go but it was going to cost them.

          2. Bamcheeks*

            In the UK it’s mostly, “you can fire anyone for cause, but you need to be able to prove in court that you followed all the correct procedures and have the paperwork to back that up”. So it mostly means, “we can’t be bothered with the paperwork and don’t trust our HR not to mess it up.”

            (Sidenote: my dad was a union rep for forty years and said there were barely any cases he worked on in the entire time where the employee didn’t get some sort of settlement, including the cases where they were clearly, obviously, disgustingly at fault, purely because HR never managed to follow its own rules and always missed the deadlines on things like, “HR will respond within 28 working days”. But the result was that the departing employee still departed but got an extra month’s salary or something, which is a perfectly decent outcome as far as I’m concerned.)

            1. anonymouse for this*

              I remember working in an NHS hospital and the IT manager was fired because he had bought additional mobile phones on the hospital’s contract and given them to his friends – this was back in the early 90s when they were incredibly expensive. He intercepted the bills each month and paid them and was only found out when there was an audit. The hospital tried to fire him but because he had a union rep who pointed out that HR had missed a step – I think it was sending him an official letter – he was allowed to resign with severance and a good reference!

              And I’m not knocking unions – I had them get involved at the same hospital when I had a grievance and I got back pay and a raise because I was doing the same work as someone else for considerably less pay.

              1. Western Rover*

                Forcing the hospital to give a good reference is the part that horrifies me: requiring someone to be dishonest. I might say “I am required to give this employee a good reference” but I couldn’t bring myself to lie, so I’d be on the wrong side of the law for my honesty.
                Just so you know I’m not thinking US good, UK bad here, I was equally horrified by the US government requiring ISPs to lie about helping the government spy on their customers (see warrant canary). I think in both cases (the NHS; the ISPs) people should be either allowed to tell the truth or remain silent.

                1. OhNo*

                  Both of those situations just remind me of the library that put up a sign in the early 2000s saying “The FBI has not been here”, or something like that. Since they weren’t legally allowed to tell patrons when their records had been requested due to the Patriot Act, they found a (mostly, technically) legal way around it.

                  I have to assume there’s some kind of similar loophole that the hospital could use in a situation like this, though I don’t know what it is. Though I suppose “I am legally required to tell you A, B, and C,” would be a pretty big clue all by itself.

                2. anonymouse for this*

                  To clarify – it was a good reference in that it didn’t mention he stole and lied and just said he worked here during this timeframe. The CEO refused to provide anything else. The union rep tried to get something better and he was told the hospital would take legal action for theft against the IT manager if they pushed it any further.

                3. Bamcheeks*

                  “A good reference” almost certainly means “We can confirm that X worked here between [date] and [date]”. There’s no agreement that could create a duty to lie!

                4. Bagpuss*

                  I wonder if it was a good reference of just a neutral one (e.g. “John was employed from [date] to [date] in the role of IT manager” ) Which would be very good compared with “John worked here until it was discovered that he had been stealing from us and selling assets bought with our funds, for personal profit” or “John resigned before the disciplinary process in relation to gross misconduct (dishonesty) were completed”

                  But in general terms, my understanding is that the majority of cases which are successful at Employment Tribunal are were employers haven’t followed appropriate processes or haven’t documented what they have done.

                  There ‘s also the situation that it is expensive for an employer to defend a tribunal case. Even if you are insured, it takes up time, and possible legal costs, and the employer won’t recover any costs even if they are 100% successful, so a lot of the time the assessment from the employers side isn’t “can we win this?” it’s “is it cheaper to grit our teeth and pay to make this go away, than to fight it?”

                  I can think of 2 occasions within the last 5 years when (as an employer) I/we have chosen to do a settlement agreement rather than have the hassle and cost of a potential Tribunal claim – both were situations where we were in a strong position ( and one we actually had a meeting where we agreed that as individuals, we really *wanted* to let this person try to take us to tribunal, because of how they had behaved, and because we were confident they would not have succeeded. We would have very much liked to give them enough rope to hang themself ) but the reality was that as a business it was not a useful or cost-effective thing to do – we’d have had a lot of time and energy of senior staff tied up in it, prepping and doing statements and attending any hearings etc , and no way to recover any of the costs of that when we won, so a settlement agreement which included an agreed reference limited to confirming the dates of their employment was the best outcome from a business perspective.

                  FWIW, giving an inaccurate reference here (UK) can result in liability on the part of the person giving the reference – if you knowing give s reference which isn’t true (e.g. if in the NHS example, they gave a refence that sad he was honest) then they could be liable if he was employed and then stole from his new employer.

                  The rule only requires the reference to be truthful (or for the write to have reasonably believed it was true at the time they gave it) but there is an extremely persistent and widespread belief that employers are not allowed to give bad references

                5. Western Rover*

                  @OhNo: that library sign is an example of what has been called a warrant canary, and as far as I know there’s no case on point saying that the FBI can’t demand the library leave that sign up even after they’ve snooped through their records, i.e. the law requires you to lie.

                6. Gumby*

                  OhNo – my library solved that problem by no longer keeping records of anything that wasn’t currently checked out or recently returned (within the last week? last month?). If you wanted to have a record of what you had already read, you could opt in to having your records retained.

          3. Snuck*

            This would be a bit tricky in Australia…. I’ll add a FAQ link from Fair Work (Govt dept on employment conditions) that clarifies in the next comment.

            Basically you couldn’t automatically fire a person for this level of awfulness in Australia… but you could absolutely have a ‘coming to God’ with them the next morning, and then if they don’t radically improve the workplace relationships you could then performance manage them out (anyone who acts like this at a colleagues wedding almost certainly has other performance issues!).

            However if this causes (or could cause) industry reputation damage to the employer you could terminate employment. This could include things like if a person is in a country town and the whole town knows about it and won’t come into the workplace/creates distinct tension/loses you patronage. Or if there were photos taken and then posted online with hashtags linking the workplace.

            I would unofficially counsel (ie verbally, with no trail) Jaimie to take out a VRO against the coworker…and force work to deal with the issue. And I would not (professionally) expect Jaimie to continue to work with the coworker, and would actively seek to have one of the two reassigned somewhere else for at least a month. I would also start making private back up plans for when one or other or both leaves. Jaimie won’t hang around if drunken coworker stays.

            1. Western Rover*

              Given OP said this is a “very small company”, I doubt it’s possible to reassign the violent co-worker elsewhere. The VRO sounds promising, if the government doesn’t prevent an employer from firing an employee for not reporting to work when they are prevented from reporting to work by a VRO. But you’re making Australia sound even worse than the usual US impression of unfair Commonwealth labor laws, that even an episode of violence isn’t enough to terminate an employee.
              Also eyebrow-raising is in Snuck’s link that whether a dismissal for assault is fair might turn on “whether or not the employee was in a supervisory position”. What?!

          4. Colton H.*

            No there is no disinformation campaign going on around here. How insulting. Americans don’t know everything about labor laws in Europe because we don’t need to know everything about labor laws in Europe. Sometimes we get things wrong or misinterpret things because we don’t have all the information about it. And guess what? Europeans (including you) also sometimes we get things wrong or misinterpret things about US labor laws because you don’t have all the information about it. The only difference seems to be that Europeans get away with it while Americans get called “obtuse” and accused on believing disinformation when we do it.

            1. Lemonade*

              It’s such an odd double standard. When I’ve pointed out to commenters that are not American that their understanding of the US is incorrect, they get defensive and insist they are right because one American told them so, but when Americans do it, its because we’re stupid and manipulated by misinformation… What the hell?

            2. comityoferrors*

              I don’t think MK means a misinformation campaign from American workers/commenters. Of course Americans don’t know everything about labor laws in Europe, because we don’t need to. But we do have preconceived notions about labor laws in Europe, often negative ones, and that comes from *somewhere*. I think the point was that *societally* we’re told about European labor laws like they’re bogeymen, because if we think that those labor laws have negative consequences (e.g. being unable to fire someone who obviously behaved egregiously) then we’re less likely to push for change in that direction, because, well, we all know that model is broken!

              I think that probably has some merit. It’s very similar to anti-union messaging, and we see that literally in day 1 training (or earlier, in pre-interview questionnaires) from many companies. Even my white collar company pushes that rhetoric; my management training class had an entire section about why we must never allow union talk and should rat out our employees if they hint at it. It’s extremely pervasive, and I know a lot of people who have only heard that messaging, have never looked into it more (why would they? unions are clearly terrible for them), and confidently state “facts” about unions that they’ve been fed by corporations. I think it’s entirely possible that the general public is similarly misinformed about labor laws in Europe. I don’t think that’s meant as an insult at all.

          5. JB*

            Yes. As an American, there’s definitely a strong message of ‘you don’t want stronger worker protections, it just causes more problems’. The same line gets passed around re: union jobs in our own country as well.

            Very similar to how we’re constantly given the message that countries with universal healthcare receive terrible healthcare and have to wait months or years for vital procedures.

            You’d think this kind of misinformation would be easy to correct with how connected the world is today – and to some extent it is; the messaging around healthcare, for example, has started shifting to some nonsense about ‘freedom of choice’ (as in, getting to choose which private insurance company you’re getting exploited by, which is extra nonsensical since most Americans don’t have any choice in insurance, it’s whatever is offered by the company we work for). But a lot of these myths continue to hang around, regardless.

            1. a tester, not a developer*

              I’m a Canadian who was hospitalized in Florida, and the nurse asked me (in all seriousness) about ‘the death panels’. If what we here on the news is true, parts of the US are way closer to that situation than we are.

                1. ErinWV*

                  Right-wing propaganda that came up around the time Barack Obama was trying to reform healthcare. His system proposed to make healthcare affordable for everyone; the way the right wing reframed that into a terrible travesty was by inventing the idea that if healthcare is affordable, there won’t be enough to go around, and it will have to be rationed. So the “death panels” would hear all the cases of who needs health care, and decide who is important enough to live and expendable enough to die. This is, of course, utter nonsense.

            2. quill*

              Yeah, we get information from some pretty biased sources.

              Historically there HAVE been unions covering up for misconduct (read about the history of police unions, and mob interactions with unions, sometime) but the current strain of union-busting rhetoric comes less from overestimating actual problems and more from decades of anti-union rhetoric and political campaigning.

          6. Parakeet*

            Bingo. “You don’t want labor protections similar to those in other highly industrialized countries/a union/a tenure system/etc. Picture this most offensive or incompetent employee or coworker you’ve ever dealt with. You wouldn’t be able to get rid of that person!” is a pretty standard fearmongering tactic aimed at workers in the US.

        2. Andy*

          > perhaps unintentionally obtuse with a lot of these “it’s harder to fire people in Commonwealth countries” comments from Americans

          I think that it is an attempt to show superiority of American system. While in fact showing ignorance.

          1. Snuck*

            I’m not sure that the ability to fire staff at will is something to be proud of. It kind of horrifies me. I can let any staff go (in Australia) if the work is no longer required, if the person is grossly incompetent/misconduct, if the person is documented over time to be a poor fit, if the person takes a swing at another employee/customer/me. But I can’t just fire them because I don’t like the colour of their shirt that day.

            1. Bamcheeks*

              I’m also cool with it costing money to fire people! The goal of firing someone for cause should be to get them out of the workplace where they are causing problems and potentially harming other co-workers or clients/service-users– not to punish them or leave them to starve. It’s good if you know that Tommy is going to be financially fine for at least the next three months if you yeet him from your team, rather than having to choose between protecting your other staff from Tommy and Tommy’s kids not being able to eat.

          2. Lemonade*

            Americans who comment here know that our system is not something to brag about. There’s no superiority intended. If anything, its certain European commenters who seem to enjoy concern trolling Americans by pointing out all the ways our system isn’t as good as theirs.

            The unintentionally obtuse comments are based on a limited understanding of a foreign system. Both American and European do it. I’ve seen plenty of commenters from Europeans that jump to weird conclusions about working in the US based on one letter.

            1. Caroline*

              I’ve never heard of “concern trolling” before, but I just looked it up and yep, that’s exactly what happens in the comments of every letter that mentions leave, healthcare, and certain other topics. It’s so obviously insincere, I roll my eyes every time I see it. Now I have a term for it.

          3. Sylvan*

            No, we just don’t know how things work in other countries and get them wrong when we try to comment (we should not do this). This is also what happens when people in Commonwealth countries comment on things in the US.

          4. EventPlannerGal*

            I don’t think it’s an intentional thing – I think it’s more that most Americans I know seem to have grown up hearing the idea that worker protections are basically red tape and bureaucratic hassle preventing employers from getting rid of terrible employees. And even the ones who are very pro-workers-rights have still absorbed that idea and it comes out as “in Europe you can’t fire people even if they’ve done something horrible”, whereas in reality it’s a lot more nuanced. It’s not part of an agenda on those individuals part, it’s just a misunderstanding based on hearing a lot of very slanted coverage of how things are done elsewhere (and I’m sure I certainly don’t understand all the ins and outs of American employment law so fair enough.)

          5. DataSci*

            I really don’t think it’s an attempt to show superiority – if anything there’s a bit of envy. But it is an overgeneralization.

        3. ll!Te ,'e*

          Instead of acting like something suspicious is going on, why not ask that poster who speaks from experience what their experiences are?

          1. pancakes*

            This isn’t a matter of one commenter saying something that sounds odd; it’s a theme every time the issue comes up. I’ve noticed it myself, and it seems clear that is what Something Something Whomp Whomp meant by saying “a lot of these ‘it’s harder to fire people in Commonwealth countries’ comments from Americans” rather than, say, “this comment.”

        4. ExpatReader*

          I’m just repeating what I’ve been told by my UK colleagues: that it’s fairly hard to fire someone here. Maybe that’s just my company (which I am not going to name). When I worked in the US, I knew it would have been fairly easy to get fired even though as a public school teacher I had a contract (non-union state). I can’t comment beyond that. I’ve never looked into it deeply as I’ve never been fired or put on a PIP or otherwise been in trouble for my performance at work, in either country. I personally find the UK system far superior (having recently come off a maternity leave that was far lengthier and paid far better than I ever would have had in the States – I’m also a huge fan of the NHS), so there is no jingoism going on here, at least from me.

          1. Testerbert*

            As a UK person: it isn’t hard, but rules have to be followed.
            If someone has worked for less than two years at a company, they can be fired/let go pretty much at will, with whatever notice period is specified in their contract.
            If someone has been employed for over two years, then the company generally has to follow their own internal processes for dismissing an employee, but generally it means that the employee has to be given a chance to ‘fix’ whatever problem that is going on. You’d be amazed at how such simple things as “Talk to the employee” and “Give them a chance to improve” are so very hard for highly paid managers to deal with.

            Outside of this, you can be fired pretty much immediately for ‘gross misconduct’, which broadly covers sexual/racial/physical abuse in the workplace along with malicious mishandling of computer systems or client data, without being paid your notice period.
            Last, there’s redundancies, where the company says “Sorry, your job no longer exists” which is a whole other tangle of matters, but that’s not relevant to this scenario.

          2. londonedit*

            It’s true that it’s harder to fire someone in the UK – if someone has a permanent contract then unless there’s an incidence of gross misconduct you have to go through a documented series of verbal and written warnings before someone can be fired, and you have to make sure you do it properly or the employee could take the company to an employment tribunal. However, ‘serious misconduct’ means you can issue a first and final written warning, and then fire the person if the behaviour doesn’t improve, and ‘gross misconduct’ means you can fire the person on the spot, if they’ve done something that meets the bar for that. It’ll be set out in the employee handbook but gross misconduct includes things like theft, physical violence, being drunk at work, sleeping on the job, serious insubordination, things like that. So if the company can prove that this employee’s behaviour, while effectively acting as a representative of the company at a colleague’s wedding, rose to the level of gross misconduct then they absolutely could fire him on the spot. Or if it’s at the level of ‘serious misconduct’ (which can include things that would bring the company into disrepute) then they can issue a first and final written warning, which would mean the employee could be fired on the spot if they misbehaved again or continued to act in a manner that would have a detrimental effect on the company.

          3. Bagpuss*

            Agree with both Londonedit and Testerbet, so far as the UK is concerned.

            As an employer, I have been a manager for about 15 years and only ever been involved in one case where we fired someone for gross misconduct (and one where we would have done had they not already been in their notice period) (and that one was a bit strange, and the employee shot themselves in the foot – they tried to lie their way out which is why we fired them for gross misconduct, had they not done , they wouldn’t have kept their job (they were unlucky in that they would up in a full page spread in a national newspaper – the nature of our business combined with the nature of their actions and alleged actions meant that there was no way we could continue to employ them – that would probably have been true even if it had not been for the publicity) but if they they hadn’t lied, then they would have been given notice and either put on gardening leave or paid in lieu of notice. Since they lied, they ended up being sacked for gross misconduct.)

            The procedures are sometimes frustrating, and I’ll admit that there have been times when I can see the appeal of ‘at will’ arrangements, but in general, I think having a requirement for a fair and open process before you fire someone is a good thing.

            I also think that as an awful lot of employers are not very well informed, you do get people who believe they can’t do anything

        5. EventPlannerGal*

          I see that sort of comment quite frequently too – I think they’re the flip side of the idea that worker protections mean that you can never fire anyone, you’ll be stuck with terrible people forever, think of the bureaucracy, isn’t it so much simpler not to bother etc etc etc. I think there are likely a lot of people with an interest in pushing those ideas so I understand why it’s such a common misconception, but in reality most of the time you very much can take action – especially in a situation like this that involves actual physical assault. We don’t want to work with people who beat you up at your own wedding either!

        6. Lemonade*

          The unintentionally obtuse comments are based on a limited understanding of a foreign system. Both American and European do it. I’ve seen plenty of commenters from Europeans that jump to weird conclusions about working in the US based on one letter.

          1. Colton H.*

            haha yes, europeans seem to do this sooooo much more than americans so its funny that only Americans are called out for it.

            1. Canadian Librarian #72*

              Is it really productive to carry on about who supposedly does it more? In my experience, though, it’s not unusual that Americans assume that everyone they speak to on this site is also from the US (unless otherwise explicitly stated), or that every system (healthcare, employment or labour law, etc.) functions more or less as theirs does.

              1. Old Yet New*

                That’s because it’s a US based blog written by a US person. Alison’s experience is US based, so it’s not unreasonable to think that the blog would have a US perspective. I do assume US, no apologies here, and sometimes wonder why Europeans and others don’t start their own workplace blog.

          2. The OTHER Other*

            Misunderstandings between different legal and political systems is to be expected, but it’s tedious to have this back-and-forth about how “things are different here” or “that would never happen here” or “you don’t understand our laws”, “why do you people in _______ country put up with this?” and so on. It comes up very frequently and it almost always derails the conversation.

        7. Kendoll*

          “There’s something that feels somewhat…perhaps unintentionally obtuse”

          Now you know what its like to be an American reading comments from Europeans that clearly misunderstand how things work in the US.

          1. Anononon*

            Seriously. How many times does Alison have to lock down comment threads because they’ve become derailing posts of just how awful American norms are and if only we could be made aware of that?

            (I’m not arguing whether or not the norms are awful, just that the comments here very often lean towards assuming that us poor Americans are just so woefully ignorant and how can we ever stand it?)

      4. The Dogman*

        UK resident here.

        It would be trivial to fire someone over this sort of thing, our laws offer protection to some workers, but not when they have assaulted a fellow worker, even out of work.

        The boss of this LW is not a good boss or person.

        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely. My company has pretty clear rules for sacking people (number and type of warnings etc) when they are bad at their job and that can take some time to work through the system.

          If they commit a criminal offence (theft, beating up colleagues etc) we would not have any problem suspending or terminating them fairly quickly. This has been the case in all of the UK companies I’ve worked in. There are clear rules in the handbook for what constitutes misconduct (gross or serious) and what happens.

      5. Paul Pearson*

        UK here – gross misconduct even when not at work is still gross misconduct. There’s not a workplace in the country that couldn’t fire you so hard you’d bounce twice on exiting the door for assaulting a colleague

      6. puzzled*

        I don’t think it’s the UK as “pressing charges” by an individual isn’t a thing here. Once a matter comes to police attention it’s not possible for a victim of crime to be the one who decides if there’s an investigation or charge. That’s up to the police and later the Crown Prosecution Service, and in this case there would be a bunch of witnesses and victims if he threatened and hit multiple people, so he could be done for affray, common assault, ABH if he hurt someone… So probably not UK.
        I don’t get that bit of the letter really – appreciate that giving a police statement isn’t an ideal wedding night but this is a really serious matter with multiple people affected so I really think Jamie should have given that statement or “pressed charges” (tbh I don’t know how it works in the US).

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes also you don’t have to do it the same day. You can do it some time later. So if Jamie didn’t want to do it on his honeymoon, nothing would stop him from notifying the police when he got back. I worked at a castle that was also a wedding venue and there were a number of incidents over the time I was there and quite often people didn’t call the police at the time but did so a few days later. I was asked for a statement by the police on at least one occasion.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            And I would be willing to bet that drunken coworker made enough of a scene that there would have been plenty of willing witnesses even a week after the fact.

        2. londonedit*

          I have a vague recollection that the OP for this one confirmed that they were in the UK…’pressing charges’ might not be a genuine legal thing but it’s certainly in common parlance in the UK, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people think they can choose whether or not to ‘press charges’ in this sort of situation. I assume they mean Jamie chose not to report the matter to the police because he didn’t want to spend his wedding night dealing with statements and whatnot.

          1. Bagpuss*

            Yes, it’s not up to them, but people think it is and often use the term. And on a practical level, for something like an assault, if the victim doesn’t want to take further action then the police may well not pursue it as the chances of the CPS being able to secure a conviction without the victims cooperation is much lower.

            In domestic abuse cases the police now have guidelines to encourage the police to proceed even if the victim withdraws their allegation or says they won’t support a prosecution, in recognition that there’s often pressure from the abuser, but even then they will only actually be able to proceed with charges if the evidence is good enough

        3. Stitch*

          Pressing charges by an individual isn’t a really much of thing in the US either (there are some really weird minor exceptions in some jurisdictions where someone might be able to bring a case in front of a magistrate but it’s not the norm). In general the prosecutor makes the charging decision. The victim not cooperating just makes it less likely the prosecutor keeps with the case because it’s hard to prove your case without their testimony.

      7. Ginger*

        HR Manager in the UK here. I could *probably* fire someone for this. There are only 5 fair reasons to fire someone in the UK. The company is right in that it’s not something that happened at work (had it happened at drinks after work, then it can be treated as an extension of the workplace). Because it’s not at work, it’s unlikely to be gross misconduct in and of itself. With conduct out of the way, the only other real choice is some other substantial reason, the other 3 aren’t relevant. This could include the loss of trust and confidence, the fact that co-workers refuse to work with him, potential reputation (helps here if it reached the local papers / social media and he’s linked to the company). Co-worker refusal has back-up in case law, and

        With a higher risk appetite, you could also take the view that it’s linked to work, because the only reason he was invited was because he works with Jamie, and fire for gross misconduct. It’s more likely to end up in a tribunal, but even then, there’s a chance that the tribunal could find technically in his favour, but decide that his behaviour contributed so there was limited or no compensation. There are times when the risk is necessary.

      8. Bagpuss*

        It would be possible. There is considered to be an implied term of mutual trust and confidence in any employment contract.

        Also, while it’s not universal, most places will take the view that something likely to be bring the company into disrepute can be a disciplinary matter. Where I am, our employee handbook given examples of things which may amount to gross misconduct, – it specifically mentions assault or attempted assault, as being examples of gross misconduct, , and also specifies conduct (whether or not it takes place at work) can be a disciplinary issue.

        I am in the UK and if this individual worked for me, he would definitely have been subject to disciplinary proceedings and very likely would have been sacked, although of course there would have been a disciplinary process with a hearing/meeting where he would have had the opportunity to speak for himself before a decision was made.

        The bar for disciplining someone for behaviour outside the workplace would normally be higher than behaviour within the workplace, but if you have a situation where an employee assaulted another employee, in front of multiple witnesses I don’t think there would e much difficulty in discipline them, up to and including firing them for serious misconduct. If the team leader witnessed this then they wouldn’t even nee to wait for Jaimie to return from his honeymoon, as she could raise the issue .

        I know it’s a historic letter but if it were current, I’d be urging the LW to raise a formal grievance and encourage Jamie to do the same.

        In England and Wales, the basic rule is that you have to have a fair process for disciplining or sacking people, and if someone feels that they have been unfairly dismissed, then to succeed, they have to show that the decision was one which no reasonable employer would have made. The majority of cases where people succeed in employment tribunals are where employers have failed to follow a fair process, or have failed to follow their own processes, or in cases where there is clear discrimination (e.g. sacking someone for being pregnant or disabled, or treating employees differently for similar transgressions, based on their race/gender/sexuality)

      9. anonymous73*

        I’m in the US, I’ve worked in plenty of different offices over the years and can tell you that for a lot of them, you’d basically have to murder a colleague to get fired. Companies are afraid of law suits, and are rarely quick to fire someone.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      A tangential point: Part of learning to be an adult is figuring out alcohol. If your approach to alcohol will include overdoing it, it is absolutely critical to know what sort of drunk you are. I am fortunate to be a happy drunk. Back in my youth when I might drink too much, the effect would be embarrassing for me, and perhaps for my friends, but I was not abusive or hateful. In certain contexts, this overdoing was socially acceptable. This guy is a mean drunk. Unless he was very young when this incident occurred, he knew or should have known that he was a mean drunk. There may be contexts where this is OK: Fight Club, for instance (but we don’t talk about that). But at a wedding? Nope. If you are a mean drunk, stick to two drinks. If you aren’t able to do that, stick to zero drinks. If you aren’t able to do that, don’t attend the wedding. Also, get help.

      1. SweetestCin*

        All of this.

        I turn into a flaming arse with an attitude problem and a tendency to swing fists first when I consume certain types of hard liquor. I do not consume said certain types of hard liquor, because I know I’ll have to do damage control later (quantity doesn’t seem to matter) and it just is not worth it. I had this decently well figured out by the time I was of legal drinking age.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yeah – knowing your limits and how you personally respond to alcohol is a very important bit of knowledge for any drinking event.

      3. anonymous73*

        Age has little to do with maturity. I wouldn’t have invited someone I only work with to my wedding, unless we were good friends outside of work and I knew how they behaved outside of the office.

      4. Bagpuss*

        Yes, I think many, if not most, people who drink alcohol will at some point have over-indulged, but normally, it’s a learning experience – you learn where your personal limits are, sometimes by hitting them, and then afterwards, you keep well within them.

        And while it’s obviously particularly important if you are a mean drunk , it’s appropriate for anyone who drinks – even if all you’re going to do if you get drunk is fall asleep or tell people you love them, that’s not ideal either for you or others!

      5. laowai_gaijin*

        Reminds me of the Best Christmas Party Story Ever and how the poster described herself as an “effusively nice” drunk who slurred compliments at everyone. If you’re that kind of drunk, great! If not, well . . .

    4. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      Depending on the statue of limitations for reporting crimes…If my boss told me 1 had a week to before someone who assaulted me came back to work, I’d go ahead and file a police report and then get a restraining order. Let the owners figure out how to keep Drunk Coworker 50 feet away from me at all times. But yeah, I hope the LW and Jaime both told the boss they were quitting over Drunk Coworker.

    5. Decima Dewey*

      I don’t know where OP#1 works, but I do know they don’t work for my employer. In my employer’s sexual harassment training it is made explicit that harassment depends on *who you’re with” not where you are. Meaning that if you’re with a coworker or coworkers and do something appalling, my employer has to take action if the something appalling is reported to them. “It didn’t happen at work so we can’t do anything” won’t fly.

      It was time for me to retake the training, so this is fresh in my mind.

    6. Anonymous Hippo*

      Beyond outrageous. If this happened where I worked I would quit if they didn’t let me fire this person. I would be beyond uncomfortable to have to work with someone that I had witnessed behaving in such an egregious manner, and I can’t even begin to fathom asking the victim to work with them.

  2. Wendy*

    re #4: the ONLY person you should ever collaborate with while writing professionally is someone you think is a better writer than you are. (Assuming you have a choice, obvs – I’m talking about co-writing and publishing here.) You won’t get the same use out of co-edits from someone you don’t respect. A successful writing team is one where both parties think they’re getting the better deal :-D

    1. Jack Straw*

      This is my new favorite thing–collaborate with those who you think are better than you. I’ve never boiled it down to this, but it’s perfection.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      This is a good point. As an adult with a workplace team, you want to think “Thank heavens Coriander handles that inorganic chemistry stuff” while Coriander thinks “I’m glad we have Lucinda to deal with the database stuff.”

    3. Brit Chick*

      I don’t mean to be unkind but LW4 is obviously not a professional writer. I am (as in, I earn a good living from writing) and that kind of superior attitude and sneering at writers with a different approach just screams amateur.

      Find your own ideas and write your books the way you want to write them. Let this other person write the books she wants to write. Unless they’re pure non-fiction there is no wrong way and right way.

      1. quill*

        I think you’ve got to be relatively new to walk yourself into a writing partnership of any kind without already really enjoying the other person’s work. Learning experience all around for the OP

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          Yep, I’m quite curious about how OP ended up in a writing partnership with someone whose writing they so clearly disdain. If they have a blog together, how could they not have noticed that this person’s writing is THAT bad? Perhaps they got so excited about this book idea that they rushed in, but that’s on OP and there’s no need to take out their frustration on their co-writer. Caveat… author? Don’t enter a writing partnership with someone unless you’ve checked they can write.

          1. quill*

            Caveat… Scriptor?

            My latin mostly fled my consciousness since college. But yeah. Get a few years of writing under your belt and you realize that it’s not just technical skill (that you may have more, or less than other people,) but the ability to engage without promising partnership and take your time in evaluating people you want to work with.

            LW claims their partner is in the beginning stages of writing, but LW needs to learn that they’re in the beginning stages of working with other writers and make their commitments accordingly. Start with ONE blog post or something, please!

          2. ErinWV*

            Maybe this is unfair to OP, but my reading of the situation is that they can’t leave the partnership because the partner had the really good book idea. They have enough integrity not the to take the idea and run, but I agree with Alison (and everybody) that their attitude is so poor that they should get out before things go really sour.

    4. Alexis Rosay*

      Yeah…I’m in a writing partnership with people I very much liked and respected and I’m sad to say the whole process has ended up fraying our relationships–I still respect them as writers, but our workstyles are very different. I can’t imagine going into the a writing partnership not respecting the person from the beginning.

  3. Artemesia*

    I wrote a book with a co-author with whom I was not well matched — I literally wrote 95% of the book. Do not attempt a writing enterprise with someone who is not a good match. It is hard enough to collaborate without hurdles like these.

  4. Sleeve McQueen*

    Holy Moly. I would love to get an update from LW5 to see what they’ve learned in the past 5 years, because I’m hoping they have learned their lesson and not say, giving TedX talks on How Not to Take No for an Answer.

      1. Airy*

        I’m guessing some bananas intense messages to that poor hiring manager about how they KNOW they are the PERFECT person for their DREAM JOB and if she will just GIVE THEM A CHANCE they will MAKE EVERYTHING RIGHT and on and on and on.
        Given that they seem to be a generally hyperbolic and excessive person, I tend to suspect that if they had got the job, after a few weeks when the bloom was off the rose they would have been bending the ear of anyone who couldn’t escape about how AWFUL and EXHAUSTING and THANKLESS it was and how they felt TRICKED INTO IT.

          1. HigherEdAdminista*

            Absolutely. We see that sometimes with students who want to join something they are not eligible for. They are convinced they are good candidates, though they don’t meet the guidelines, because they think their desire to have something means that they would be a good fit for it. If they don’t understand why the guidelines exist, they do not know enough about the position to understand why they wouldn’t be a good fit, which means there isn’t much point in giving them a chance.

            Now, those who don’t meet the criteria but show they have been working to get closer to the criteria? Those are the ones worth taking a chance on when you can.

            1. LTR/FTP*

              “because they think their desire to have something means that they would be a good fit for it” resonates about so many people…

          2. Stitching Away*

            It’s like on those reality competition shows when someone gets cut, and then they’re telling the camera how they didn’t have a chance to show what they could do. You had the same chance as everyone else on the show!

        1. Anonymous mouse*

          The only scenario I can see for LW5 that didn’t paint them in a bad light would be if the order not to contact the company again came because someone working there got wind of their application and sabotaged their chances due to a personal dislike for them (I’m thinking a bit along the lines of the letter from the person who was secretly being blacklisted by the person they bullied as a teenager, who’d become the company rockstar).

          From the Lw’s POV that would come as a shock if all they’d done is apply and maybe followed up once, as it would appear to be a massive overreaction without any context.

          Not saying this has happened, but it likely has to someone out there

          1. someone*

            Even in that scenario, I don’t see the company threatening to involve the police without something alarming from the OP.

            1. quill*

              Tracking down the hiring manager and pestering her about the job could have risen to that level if OP used, say, her personal account and not her company account… or if her contact info was not provided to candidates at all.

              1. Racrobin*

                That was the only thing I could think of – they contacted her on social media or found her personal phone number.

          2. AcademiaNut*

            The fact that they listed the banning as an aside, and followed it up with asking if they should email or show up in person after the ban, indicates that there was some sort of huge gap between the situation and their perception of it. A single follow up email to a prospective employer that resulted in threats to call the police would result in a very different (and very worried/baffled) letter from most people.

          3. Falling Diphthong*

            The rockstar wasn’t secretly blackballing them–they were open at the company that this was a hard line, do not hire this person if you want me to stay.

          4. Observer*

            I’m thinking a bit along the lines of the letter from the person who was secretly being blacklisted by the person they bullied as a teenager, who’d become the company rockstar

            Except that the company didn’t threaten her with the police (or “proper authorities”). Do Not Hire lists are common. Threatening police? No.

            if the order not to contact the company again came because someone working there got wind of their application and sabotaged their chances due to a personal dislike for them

            Given that that OP admits contacting someone they were not supposed to contact and that they were “overeager”, that’s just not a tenable speculation. Given that they ALSO consider the threat of police an “aside” and that they STILL want to contact HR and are even thinking of JUST SHOWING UP, we know for certain that this is someone with serious judgement and boundary issues.

          5. Starbuck*

            It’s a very generous conjecture, but based on how OP wrote their letter it seems the issue is entirely with them. Maybe the job did the typical crappy poor/lack of communication that can happen when you apply for something and don’t hear back, but it’s still kind of a scary letter to read.

        2. Bamcheeks*

          HUUUUGE jump from “I was overly eager and contacted the lady who was the hiring manager” to “[a]s a side note, the HR manager told me I am no longer allowed to email the lady I was emailing, and if I do, they will take immediate action and may call the proper authorities”!!

          A sidenote!

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I feel like the “long story short” part is an attempt to gloss over a whooooole lot too.

          2. Starchy*

            I had a candidate who after I had rejected him, left me multiple voicemails. When I didn’t call him back he started calling everyone in the office trying to get them to connect him to me. Finally one of my male colleagues told him he had to stop calling that I was going to change my mind. Then he started telling my colleague I must be sexist because I didn’t hire him and would he like to hire him instead.

            1. Artemesia*

              I had one of these who badgered the AA and then when I would not explain why he, such a great candidate, did not even get an interview, he went all the way to the President of the organization complaining of sexism.

              I had originally had him on the list of 10 people to interview but he had worked in another department at our org so I called the manager of THAT department whose very specific feedback let me know we would not be hiring him. Luckily his flamboyant complaints raised enough red flags that we had no problems from management about it. The two people I hired were in their late 50s so the ageism complaint was a non starter.

          3. yala*

            If I had to lay my money on it, I’d give decent odds that what happened was he didn’t get hired the first go ’round and, like a lot of super-creeps in DMs, responded to that objection with a weirdly aggressive, rambling, and utterly unnecessary e-mail

        3. KayDeeAye*

          I’d just like to join in the chorus of, “But we want to know mooooooorrrrre!” What, exactly, did the OP do to creep them out to this extent? And did the OP ever understand exactly where they went wrong? Some of those later sentences (“I need to do this for myself. I must just take charge and volunteer myself to do something uncomfortable and step outside my comfort zone. What do I do and say?…Is it best I just go in to his office and talk face to face or do I call or email if so what do I say and do?” – to which my reaction is, “Eeeeeeeeeek! No no no no no no no.”) lead me to believe that the OP had a lot of learning to do.

          1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

            Well, the OP’s response to being warned that the police would be called (!) if they contacted the company one more time was to wonder if they should send another email or go to the company in person. The OP never mentioned having “learned my lesson” and respecting the order to stop contacting the hiring manager. It’s a fair bet that the tone-deaf reaction – ignore what I was told and keep pestering them about a job – is a clue as to how they behaved when they first got wind of the job; repeated emails, calls, etc. until HR decided that the OP was unhinged and permanently blacklisted them.
            And yes, the OP does sound…unbalanced. Describing a job that they’ve never held as the job of a lifetime? How many AAM columns does one need to read before recognizing that “dream jobs” look very different from the inside than from the outside?? Something is very, very wrong here, and, sadly enough, that company was right to ban the OP from ever working for them.

            1. KayDeeAye*

              Well, yes, I assume the OP had NOT learned their lesson at the time they wrote this letter seeing as at they time this was written, they were still in full-on creepster territory. But after all, this letter originally ran in 2016 so they may have learned some stuff by now. I most certainly hope so – for potential employers’ sake and their own.

            2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              It does take a particular personality to be told “do not contact Lucinda at Acme, Inc. under any circumstances, or we will call the police” and think that an application *via a different hiring manager* would be likely to have any success. It’s such a literal interpretation of their warning.

              It’s like pestering Sally to go out with you, to the point where her parents tell you never to contact her again, and then asking your buddies if they think you should ask Sally’s best friend and twin sister Cathy on a date.

              1. fueled by coffee*

                Ha, I was just going to reply that this feels reminiscent of the guy who I (politely, I think?) turned down after a blind first date who followed up with like 25 texts and voicemails asking what he did wrong and why I didn’t just give him another chance.

                Like, originally, I just felt we had clearly different values related to politics, nothing ‘wrong’ with him per se but that he was wrong for me. But after non-stop attempts to contact me? I think he answered that question himself.

                I think it takes some pretty egregious actions on the part of an applicant to merit a response that the employer will call the authorities if they continue to be contacted.

        4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Exactly. A “dream job, best job of a lifetime” does not exist. LW would’ve known it several weeks after starting at Dream Job, when the honeymoon phase would have been over.

          1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

            And even if you DO get a genuine ‘dream job’, it still comes with less than dreamy conditions. You may have to work weekends or holidays, the pay may not make Jeff Bezos faint with envy and the working conditions may not always be 100% perfect. I have my “dream” (post-retirement, second career) job and, while I wouldn’t trade it for anything, it has its challenges just as any position does. It’s natural to become invested in having a dream job, but it’s crucial to recognize the difference between fantasy and reality…and the writer of that letter doesn’t seem to know this.

        5. Meep*

          I really want to see footage of that interview. I can easily imagine them “selling themselves” by acting like it is a done deal. I know a few people who “hired” themselves into jobs. They got the job due to their sheer audacity, but it never worked out. lol.

      2. EPLawyer*

        It was probably just the HUGE volume of messages. They got told no, but they know if they can just TALK to someone they will change the company’s mind. The OP does not understand that no means no. But they keep trying to get someone to talk to them. There is probably nothing threatening just at some point too many messages enters harrassment territory. The company probably tried to hint to stop calling but OP didn’t pick up on it. Then they flat out said stop calling. Still no clue. They finally resorted to threatening to call the police in the hopes that would work. But the OP STILL thought that going there in person would work.

        This is just a very clueless (or anxious) person who is not picking up the signs. They are most likely harmless. But they’ve latched on to this one thing and will not let go. They need to let go. They need to learn when someone says leave me alone, they should back off. Not demand more contact to try to figure out why the person wants to be left alone.

        1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

          Given the bit about doing something uncomfortable and stepping outside their comfort zone, I’d be willing to believe anxiety is in play here. If you’re getting the overly simplistic message that you can deal with your anxiety by stepping outside your comfort zone, then it can seem like the next logical step that anything outside your comfort zone is something you should do.

          Some things should stay outside your comfort zone – I’m uncomfortable with being burned, but I don’t go around putting my hand on hot stoves in a misguided attempt to “get over it”. I keep my hands away from hot stoves instead.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            This (from someone with anxiety who sometimes has to force herself to do stuff that’s outside of her admittedly rather small comfort zone). This sounds like someone who heard the “get out of your comfort zone” message but is using zero judgment in how to apply that. I mean, I practice by doing stuff like learning to ride the bus (I’m bad at numbers and have no sense of direction at all, which makes reading a bus schedule . . . fun) or making doctor’s appointments. I know better than to harass hiring staff, no matter how badly I want that job.

            1. Liz*

              A thousand times yes. This is what you get when a lack of critical thinking meets GUMPTION!!! I’ve even seen people with anxiety do this. Something or someone tells them that their internal meter for inappropriate behaviour is faulty, and they over extend their “positive risk taking” by never listening to that little voice that says “hey, maybe this is a bad idea?” Because that little voice LIES, right?? Not always, my friend. Not always…

        2. The OTHER Other*

          “Most likely harmless”–well, maybe, maybe not. It’s statistically rare that LW will be a killer, but things like stalking etc are definitely indicated in the letter IMO. This person is not hearing what they don’t want to hear (“NO!”) and editing reality to suit their needs.

      3. Librar**

        We blacklisted someone at my old job because their behavior bordered on stalking. They applied to every job we posted, regardless of whether they were qualified. On the occasions they were contacted for a phone screen (we were a large org, hiring committees didn’t communicate well with each other, and the applicant did have reasonable qualifications on paper for several of the positions), they would proceed to repeatedly call, email, and request on social media every member of the hiring committee. If they didn’t hear back in 1 week, they would come to our front desk and ask for a member of the hiring committee by name, not explaining why they were there, just “Hello, can you help me find X’s office?” This type of request wasn’t unusual in our office, so several times the applicant showed up at the doors of hiring committee members and had to be asked to leave, always insisting “working here is my goal! it’s all I’ve ever wanted! you have to hear me out!” Eventually this happened enough that everyone realized that it had been happening to everyone else and the total number of times the applicant had come to the office was extreme. HR refused to block them from applying, so we left the person’s name at the front desk with instructions to call security and added their info to future hiring committee documents. The whole experience was pretty unsettling. I hope that LW5 has learned (or does learn- there’s always time!) that the best thing they can do for themselves is to let this go. The more ardently they pursue this organization at this point, the worse their reputation will be.

      4. Anon for this*

        We had someone at my work get passed over for a job and phone in a bomb threat against us. He was blacklisted from applying and also using the public-facing portion of our business.

        To note, he was a fully-fledged adult who had applied for a full-time, career-track position with benefits, that required a college degree. We did have part-time jobs for students, but incidentally, almost all of the awful “I can’t believe they did that at a job interview” stories I have came from actual adults applying for full-time jobs. The students usually were in the ballpark and just made forgivable mistakes of inexperience. The adults appeared to be floating in UFOs above the ballpark threatening to abduct and probe us.

    1. Stebuu*

      This guy reminds me of a lady in my town. She had a dangerous dog that the selectpeople ordered her to keep on her property at all times because of its… biting habits. What did she do? She took the dog to the next town meeting to show how it was a good dog.

      That plan did not end well for the dog.

    2. Tisiphone*

      The first thing that came to mind was a story by Lew Gillis “Six Words”anthologized in Malicious Little Mysteries. It’s about a writer trying to convince a publisher to publish his story. He visits in person, stating that he will utter six potent words that get anyone to do what he wants.

    3. The OTHER Other*

      I’m skeptical that they have learned from this experience. They have clearly left out a lot of details that would explain why an employer would go through the extreme measure of threatening legal action should they email them again. And their response is to ask whether they should show up there. This is a severe cognitive disconnect. Their next thought is probably something along the lines of waiting in the bushes near the hiring manager’s car while wearing a snowmobile suit.

      1. Observer*

        It’s obvious that at the time of writing, they had not learned anything. The question (and hope) is that in the intervening years, they have.

  5. Mer*

    #1 – I swear I’ve read this before, right down to spitting blood on the bride and the girlfriend getting involved. Although it could have been something posted by another guest of the wedding that ended up going viral.

  6. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    Would be nice to see an update to #1.
    I also like this new link to the original story at the end of each answer.

  7. Liv*

    Okay LW5 clearly did more than just send one email to the hiring manager. For the company to say ‘we will call the police on you’, the emails must have been constant and/or threatening. I cannot imagine them going from ‘this person crossed a line when they emailed the hiring manager’ to ‘this person is a stalker and we need the cops’ otherwise.

    Regardless, in what universe do you think showing up at the office is going to make things better?!

    1. Observer*

      Well, if you read the whole thing, you see that they have seriously swallowed a lot of self-help speak without actually understanding any of it.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          The letter:

          “I need to do this for myself. I must just take charge and volunteer myself to do something uncomfortable and step outside my comfort zone”

          This guy is drowning in buzzwords absent context or understanding.

          1. Iris Eyes*

            They seem to be entirely missing the concept of other people have a comfort zone and you have already pushed them out of it.

    2. ecnaseener*

      I almost get the sense that they thought the warning only applied to emailing that one person. They hadn’t been specifically told NOT to stalk them in person.

      Either that, or they really believed they could send the One Perfect Message that would change the company’s mind.

      1. JB*

        That is definitely what they believe. And I think (given, the letter is written a bit frantically and is kind of difficult to parse) that the person they’re talking about wanting to go speak to in person is different from the person they were told not to email.

        None of which makes it okay, but I have known someone who wouldn’t immediately understand this and could get himself into this kind of situation. I consider him a long-time work friend but never a connection or someone I’d use for a reference because his judgement on certain things is so terribly bad and he absolutely has accidentally frightened people in the past.

        1. Candi*

          Kari Byron (her version) bugged Jamie until he created an intern position for her, shortly before Mythbusters started.

          I can’t find if she now considers that a spectacularly bad idea. She does have many a verbal thwack for women can’t do science types.

    3. Meep*

      It could also be how LW came off in the interview. If the hiring manager was a woman and he was a man, a joke about how they would “kill” for the job might not be well-received if LW is actually as distributed as they come off.

  8. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    LW5: WTF?!?!?
    Even after being advised of possible legal action against them they still wanted to poke the bear?

    I hope they listened to Alison

    1. Pennyworth*

      I almost wish they hadn’t, and then sent in an update! “Can I contact HR from prison to tell them they made a terrible mistake?”

        1. Anonymous mouse*

          Hello Mr LW5, I understand that you have chosen to forgo legal representation?

          It was more important that my dream company knows how much of a benefit I’ll be to their organisation!

      1. Ella*

        It feels a lot like the former LW who stalked a coworker to the point where she had to call the police, and the update was still the LW not really understanding what she’d done wrong. Terrifying.

        1. Napkin Thief*

          WHAT? How did I miss this? I just tried searching the archives to no avail – link/ideal search terms please?

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            Looks like PollyQ posted it a couple threads down, if that’s the same one. (I hope it’s the same one and there aren’t other stalking issues posted here.)

          2. LifeBeforeCorona*

            I can’t find it either but it was rather sad. The LW had severe anxiety and when a co-worker didn’t say good morning, they found a paystub, got the address of the co-worker, and visited them at their home. They were really trying to control their anxiety but it wasn’t working and they were fired.

              1. no phone calls, please*

                wow. I don’t know how I missed this one (and the two updates!)?! omg. the update #2. O.M.G. I hope the LW has had continued success with the new therapist and support!

        2. ecnaseener*

          I just reread this, and even the first update the LW clearly understood what she did wrong. She was still unable to control her anxiety and got fired for constantly asking HR to pass on her apology message, but she knew it was a big problem. (In the 2nd update she did have it under control.) Are you maybe mixing this up with a different letter?

          1. AY*

            Forgive me for attempting to put words in Ella’s mouth, but I suspect she brings it up because while the OP in the letter seemed to understand that what OP was doing was inappropriate, there was little to no awareness of the effect OP’s behavior must have had on the victim. It was all about OP’s pain.

            1. Ella*

              That’s it, thanks. Although the LW there sought help and seemed to be in a much better position by the final update (thankfully), they still seemed to very much see themself as the victim, rather than the two people who ended up being scared enough to have to take out restraining orders against them.

              1. EchoGirl*

                YMMV, but I didn’t read it that way. Yes, the update is about themselves, but that’s…generally what I would expect an update to be, I guess? To me, the OP “see[ing] themself as the victim” would be if they continued to claim it wasn’t their fault or insist that other people were wrong for how they reacted, but for some reason a large portion of this comment section seems to assume that anything less than a profession of how much they harmed someone else is automatically an indicator that the person is still lacking awareness, looking at it through a self-centered lens, or seeing themselves as the victim, and I just don’t get that. Updates, especially the short ones, aren’t going to contain every relevant detail, so I tend to prefer to give those OPs the benefit of the doubt in those circumstances .

        3. Midwest Teacher*

          I don’t think it’s fair to that LW to say they didn’t understand that it was wrong. They seemed pretty self-aware from their letter and updates, but mental health issues aren’t always logical or reasonable. Just because they knew their thinking and ruminating about the issue was wrong doesn’t mean they were able to control their behavior at the time.

  9. Double A*

    Oh man, letter #5 is usually a pretty perfunctory question about resume formatting or something. My eyebrows were already at my hairline after #1 and they shot right through the ceiling when I hit #5.

    I very much hope LW 5 took Alison’s advice, but if the threat of the authorities being called isn’t enough to make you realize you should not contact that company, then probably nothing is. I hope everyone remained safe in that situation; that mentality is frightening.

  10. goducks*

    #5’s “long story short” is doing a lot of work! I’d love to know how you get rejected with a warning never to contact. I’ve certainly had applicants land on the company’s never ever hire list, but never have had to tell them that we’d call the cops if they ever contacted us again.

    1. turquoisecow*

      I have to figure it was some sort of stalking situation, like showing up at the hiring manager’s home or waiting by her car or her favorite coffee shop, because that would definitely make someone feel unsafe and would rise to the level of getting law enforcement involved.

    2. Tin Cormorant*

      My favorite part is “as a side note” because it’s like it’s not important at all that they’ve nearly got a restraining order. The only thing that matters is that they want this job SO MUCH and there must be words they can use to convince others of this.

    1. Teapot Repair Technician*

      Interesting conclusion: It’s ok to be quirky in the office but you might pay for it with political capital.

      I’d never thought about it like that, but it rings true.

      1. Ray Gillette*

        Yep, it’s a good lesson to learn. I used to have a joke job title in my Slack bio, then I got promoted to management. My own manager told me that there was nothing wrong with the joke, it was actually pretty funny, but keeping it could subtly undermine my authority as a new manager. He was right, so I removed it. The joke didn’t die, but now it’s an in joke with people who have been here long enough to remember, and that’s really where it belongs.

  11. Observer*

    #1 and #5 are the ones I would really love to see updates on. For different reasons.

    I hope #1 has moved on to a more reasonable company – or that they were able to talk some sense into the supervisors.

    I REALLY hope that #5 has gotten the help they pretty clearly needed.

    1. Anonymous mouse*

      Seems as though the OP was thoroughly unaware of the situation and likely didn’t see fit to give that information as they personally didn’t see the problem with what they did.

      Or perhaps they did know what Allison would say ahead of time and thought that by hiding details they may be able to trick her into giving the answer they wanted based on the incomplete information given.

  12. Ludo*

    #5 is so concerning

    Reminds me of that employee who showed up at a co workers house and really scared her. I can’t remember the exact set up but I think she wasn’t supposed to call or email her co worker so she showed up at her house omg.

      1. AY*

        Oh wow. I feel so bad for that coworker. How bewildering and terrifying that must have been for her. I really hope that the OP has kept on a healthy trajectory and left the coworker in peace.

        1. Anonymous mouse*

          A part of me feels sorry for the LW too. It sounds (taking the OP at face value) as though if the HR people had just lied and told them they’d pass on the apology that a lot of pain could have been avoided.

          Not sure whether HR were overly sympathetic to the OP’s condition if I’m honest

          1. Observer*

            It sounds (taking the OP at face value) as though if the HR people had just lied and told them they’d pass on the apology that a lot of pain could have been avoided.<

            Not really. Because with this level of unreasonable behavior, you simply cannot satisfy it. And giving them ANY indication that maybe it sometimes is ok to contact the coworker would have meant that something else would come up and there would be JUST ONE MORE request. It never ends.

          2. PollyQ*

            First, it might not have helped the LW’s anxiety that much. Maybe short-term, but I wouldn’t have been surprised for her internal thoughts the next day to be “But what if she doesn’t understand that I’m really sorry?” and want to contact the co-worker again.

            Second, and more importantly, it wasn’t HR’s job to make LW feel better, it was their job to make it very clear what boundaries are, for sake of the co-worker and their other employees. Even pretending to pass along an apology muddies that message.

            1. Observer*

              it wasn’t HR’s job to make LW feel better, it was their job to make it very clear what boundaries are, for sake of the co-worker and their other employees. Even pretending to pass along an apology muddies that message


  13. Sleeping on the floor*

    No. 5 “as a side note…” I mean, if you’re banned from contacting them again, that’s more than a side note. The lack of self awareness is scary.

    1. Avi*

      Yeah, this is one of those times that you hope a letter is fake. Someone who blithely brushes off a threat of legal action as a minor aside like that while obsessively pursuing something they’ve been rejected from is a person who is wearing their red flags as a frickin’ cape.

  14. Emma*

    I hope LW4 didnt try to steal the book idea when they left the writing partnership but let the more inexperienced writer pursue her great idea.

    1. Trillian*

      I suspect you are not a writer. Ideas are cheap and limitless, and creatives have more than enough of their own. I can have three novel ideas before breakfast, and some days it’s trilogies. Each one I could work up into something. But time is expensive and limited.

      1. Birch*

        That’s sort of the point though, isn’t it? Why else would that LW have stayed in the partnership when they don’t respect, appreciate, or even like their writing partner at all, other than they wanted their share of credit for the idea? LW4 needed to cede the idea and bow out graciously. Nobody was benefiting from that partnership at that point and there are surely other people with the same niche interests as the LW.

        I also think that’s an overly cynical perspective. I’m not a “creative” but I do write professionally, and stealing someone’s idea is unethical and just plain rude no matter what field it’s in. Not everybody has as many good ideas as you do, but they deserve the chance to use them–that’s the point of intellectual property.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          They got into it on the strength of the partner’s ideas; they should leave now that the lack of follow through to carry out those ideas is apparent.

        2. Colette*

          The issue is that “idea” is not enough (nor can it be copywrited). “Inn keeper in small town stumbles on a murder” is an idea. The final product – the book – is unique, but the idea is not.

          1. Birch*

            Sure, but what we’re speculating on isn’t a legal distinction (mainly because we don’t have enough information), it’s more of a “jerk move” distinction.

      2. Dr. Rebecca*

        …yeah…academic writing is *not* like that.

        I, too, hope that *if* the LW developed the idea, they gave proper credit to their former partner.

    2. Brit Chick*

      Yeah ideas are ten a penny.

      If I had a pound for every time someone approached me with some amazing idea they’d had and the suggestion “you write it and we’ll split the money” I’d have… well enough for a large pizza, probably.

      Besides books (or plays or films) always end up completely different from the original idea. Characters do things that surprise you, and the writing evolves in ways you did not expect.

      1. Candi*

        I know that Girl Genius introduced Tweedle because, as the creators put it, Tarvek’s like “yeah, I don’t want to do that.”

        I also remember when one of my characters derailed half the plot when she decided she wanted to use magic. She was a friggin’ archer!

  15. TiffIf*

    I’m now afraid of saying the wrong thing again. When boundaries and expectations aren’t clear, how do I ensure that I’m following them?

    Really? Are you really that bad at understanding what is appropriate to say and what is not? I mean, except for specific industries (medical/theraputic, porn, erotica publishing, sex work, etc) “Don’t talk about sexual acts in the work place” is a pretty well understood bright line. And even in most of those industries where such discussions can be within professional context, in context of your conversation, your words would still be inappropriate. Maybe add “don’t use metaphors or similes involving sexual acts” to your list if you are still confused.

    1. WS*

      No, I can see where the LW got confused – they say “foul language is the norm”. If they’ve been in an environment where swearing was totally out, I can see why they weren’t sure where to draw the line. I’m Australian, we swear a lot, and sometimes people coming here from less sweary cultures do make this kind of mistake.

      1. londonedit*

        I agree – it was their first job after college, so I can imagine it was their first office job, and the culture appeared to be extremely relaxed with people wearing very casual clothes and general swearing not being a big deal. And the OP had never experienced a working environment like that, and was trying to fit in. I can absolutely imagine someone taking it a bit too far in that situation – trying to be one of the gang but just not quite realising that while it’s perfectly fine for everyone to swear in general conversation, it’s not the done thing to say things like that to your supervisor – and being mortified as soon as the words had left their mouth!

      2. Disco Janet*

        I see a huge difference between swearing and making a comment (even a figurative one) about your boss giving you a blow job.

        1. MsSolo (UK)*

          There is, but if you’ve come from a background that treats them as equally taboo, it can take a bit of experience to untangle them.

          1. londonedit*

            Exactly, and if you go into an environment where ‘foul language is the norm’ and you’re not used to that, then it can take a bit of experience to realise that while everyone swears and takes the mickey out of each other in general office discussion, they don’t swear in meetings or in front of supervisors, for example.

          2. Birch*

            …. well no. Even in backgrounds where all profanity is taboo, there is a huge difference between “swearing” which is almost always formulaic and not directed at or about a person, and making up a whole unique sentence that includes inappropriate actions directed personally toward a coworker. That’s an entirely different thought process and it’s not reasonable to assume people who aren’t accustomed to being around profanity can’t tell the difference. Plus, someone coming from that background is going to have a lot more hesitation to engage in the latter than the former. If you’ve got that cultural taboo filter, this is not something that comes out of your mouth without thinking, even if you’ve gotten used to swearing without thinking. This is more an individual difference of some people having less of a filter in the first place getting caught up in trying to calibrate their filter to a more casual environment.

          3. Falling Diphthong*

            This. It’s learning new social norms, and that the “casual profanity” standard has as many finicky rules as the “no cussing” office. They’re just harder to parse.

          4. Chickaletta*

            This! And when you’re young and don’t have experience around it, then you just don’t know yet the difference. I know I grew up in quite a sheltered environment at home, and trying to fit in with my peers in high school and college took quite a bit of trial and error trying to figure out what was funny vs. offensive. I totally feel for OP.

        2. BritChick*

          In my industry no one would even blink at a comment like the one the LW made.

          Obviously that’s rare but every industry and company has its own norms and varies hugely in terms of what’s acceptable and what’s not.

      3. Mami21*

        Very true – once had a Canadian co-worker who took our casual Aussie swearing as ‘let’s talk constantly about our sex lives and porn preferences’. Not… the same thing, dude.

      4. M*

        Thhhiiiiiissss. Most decent “being an expat in Australia” guides even contain sections on how to parse “wow, this workplace is really swear-y, where are the boundaries?” for Americans! Particularly because it intersects with very different norms about what *is* profane – the c-word, not particularly profane in a lot of contexts; a joking comment about shared sexual activity, very much profane in most contexts. Not super-intuitive for an outsider!

        For someone not used to *any* swearing in the workplace, “Sansa mutters [swear words here] whenever she hangs up on a spam-call, wow, there are no boundaries here at all!” is a pretty understandable misread, however wrong.

        1. londonedit*

          I agree about the different norms about what is actually profane and what isn’t – that varies so much between cultures. We tend to swear quite a lot in the UK but I’ve known a few people from different countries who had to tone down their use of the f-word when they came here, because when they were growing up it was cool to swear in English and the word didn’t really mean anything to them culturally, so it was a bit of an adjustment to learn that it was actually a fairly bad word in polite British society. Same with Australians who realise they need to tone down their use of the c-word in most parts of Britain so as not to shock people. And I’ve known Americans who assumed ‘twat’ was the British equivalent of ‘twit’, or who thought ‘wanker’ or ‘bollocks’ were cute British words to use, not understanding the positioning of those words in the actual British hierarchy of swearing.

          1. Anony Mouse*

            Yes, this. I’ve also noticed that in foreign media, British characters are often written just a degree or two more sweary than is actually likely in the context. It’s a difficult thing to get right! And I think it’s reinforced when the actor is British too… it sounds convincing, but the actor doesn’t write the script.

            I’m remembering a couple of times on live TV when American guests have had to be checked when they said something that can’t go out before the 9pm watershed… They knew the rules for broadcast were more permissive in some regards, but not exactly where the lines are drawn.

            I’m not offended by others’ language but err on the side of caution myself and (post-teenage years) have never felt it made me conspicuous in any way.

        2. MsSolo (UK)*

          Mmm, there’s so much nuance to swearing. Sexual/non-sexual roots, people vs objects, adjectives vs verbs … If you grew up in an environment that look askance at ‘gosh’, and you walk into an office where it’s common to joke about the printer going down in lurid terms for the fourth time this week or call Dave in finance a cheeky c__t when he knocks off early on a friday afternoon, trying to identify the line between why it’s okay to call people sexualised swearwords in casual conversation /and/ it’s okay to refer to sex acts, but it’s not okay to refer to sex acts with people you’re having casual conversations with isn’t going to be immediately intuitive.

          1. Candi*

            “If you grew up in an environment that look askance at ‘gosh’”

            I grew up in that environment. When I first heard “gosh”, I didn’t know what it meant, so when I got home from school I wrote it down (so it would be clear) and asked mother. I got yelled at for writing a swear word.

            Later I looked it up and learned it was about equivalent with “for pete’s sake” in sensible language. (Gosh -> God, pete’s -> Peter the Apostle, according to that book.)

            Of course, that made everything mother had ever said about something being wrong suspect. Probably one of the better occurrences in my life as things went.

      5. Generic Name*

        Totally agree. I work in a similarly casual environment, and some people really take it too far. I had a manager who would tell sex jokes during staff meetings.

      6. Junior Assistant Peon*

        I definitely made this mistake in a past job. My first few jobs were at big corporations where any kind of cursing or sex talk was taboo. I then started a job where my jaw would frequently hit the floor at things my coworkers would say – off-color jokes, cursing, etc. I got the impression that there were no rules and I could say whatever the hell I wanted, and it took me a long time to figure out that there were still limits, just different from what I was used to in other workplaces. Looking back, I said a lot of things that make me cringe now.

      7. The OTHER Other*

        I think it’s easier if the LW is not accustomed to swearing to just not swear than to try to navigate this mine field where maybe you can say sh!t but not F*ck and so on. Just because some swearing is permitted doesn’t make it mandatory.

      8. anonymous73*

        There’s a pretty big difference between dropping an F bomb and telling your manager she doesn’t have to “suck your dick”. I have a potty mouth but I don’t just start speaking like a sailor in mixed company until I’m 100% sure that I won’t offend them, regardless of how the others speak to each other.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      Many years ago I was a volunteer fire fighter. This is a pretty blue collar thing to do. I was a bookish nerd. I was sufficiently socialized to know that I had to adapt to fit in, but kind of sucked at it. This involved my overstepping a line that required an abject apologize to a person I offended. That was preceded by one of the guys taking me aside with a combined reading of the riot act and an assurance that they understood my issue, and were OK with my being a bookish nerd. In retrospect I am impressed by the insight shown. Once I settled in I ended being the guy who helped everyone else with book learning, like the one studying for an engineer test (in the operating a fire engine sense), which involves actual math. So yeah, I have sympathy for kids trying to figure out how to fit in, so long as they have some self-awareness about it.

    3. Valancy Snaith*

      This is not necessarily intuitive. Especially for someone younger or newer to the workforce. For example, it can be OK to say f*** in all different forms–“f*** this printer,” “no answer, guess I’ll just go f*** myself,” “f*** I stubbed my toe!” “we didn’t get approved for that project, they told us to get f***ed,” whatever. But it would not be acceptable to say “going to go home and f*** my spouse” or imply in any way you wish to have any sort of sexual relations with another person. Something like OP’s statement could fall on either side of the line. I wouldn’t jump right to castigating this person for screwing it up.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      This reminds me of the LW who called her boss’ daughter a w**** and genuinely thought the problem was the “boss’ daughter” part. There was a follow-up showing that she’d, sadly, grown up in an environment where that word was thrown around so much she didn’t realize how others might react.

    5. Artemesia*

      someone who doesn’t see the difference between crudely describing a sex act and saying ‘oh s$%t’ when they drop the stapler is going to have problems in life. Since they can’t distinguish, they need to quit all of it. And profane doesn’t mean what the headline writer thinks it does as there was nothing profane in any of this.

      1. InsufficientlySubordinate*

        Yeah, I was thinking about that. Many “swear” words are vulgarities as opposed to “profanities” which are generally tied to some sort of religious(generally Christian) meaning.

    6. an infinite number of monkeys*

      I used to work for a web design & digital marketing firm that, seriously, put the “pro” in “inappropriate.” OP’s comment wouldn’t even have registered as a blip there.

      The tricky part was going from that environment to a state government job!

  16. UKgreen*

    I used to write notes all over my hand.
    But now that same hand holds an iPhone, which is a far better note-taking and reminders device!

    1. Batgirl*

      I have a smartwatch that takes great notes, and I still prefer a note on the hand occasionally, alas! If I really must, nowadays I do it on the palm where it’s less visible to others.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I will say if the phone is forbidden (it is in some jobs) a small pad or bunches of post-it notes are a far better way to go. If I remember OP3’s update she went with the post-it approach because she couldn’t use her smartphone.

      1. Call Center Warrior*

        In my job where phones are forbidden, so is paper. Alas. My solution, if something is urgent and I’m afraid I won’t remember, is to ask whoever told me, or whoever is close to please IM/E-mail it to me while I’m still standing there. It works fairly well.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I sometimes write something really urgent like “GET GAS” on my hand. So far I’ve been getting away with it.

      I’m getting tested for attention deficit again in about six weeks (the person that tested and diagnosed me 15ish years ago is now retired, and all records of her testing of me are gone), don’t know what the tests will find, but I certainly do feel that I need all the coping mechanisms I can think of to help me focus and remember things.

    4. Anomalous*

      There are also many pocket-sized notebooks available, often high quality and quite inexpensive. Carry one of these around with you, and don’t be afraid to use it disposably.

    5. The OTHER Other*

      There are so many easy and more effective alternatives, writing on your hand just seems like a strange choice outside of an emergency. I mean, you have or can obtain a pen. Why not also get a piece of paper? It’s not so much a sign of immaturity to me as it is says “this person is unprepared”.

      1. JustaTech*

        You’d be surprised the situations where you have a marker but no paper (or the paper you have you’re not allowed to write random notes on).
        Every lab I’ve worked in has had an intro discussion of “Don’t write important things on your gloves”. Because many, many people write things on their gloves (hands) because they’re not able to get up to get a piece of paper. Or paper (as a material that sheds fibers) is forbidden in that space. Or the only paper you have is a batch record that you can only write on in a very specific way, so you can’t write “more tubes”.

        Personally I keep a pad of sticky notes in my lab coat pocket so I don’t have to write on my gloves, because that’s gross in my lab.

      2. Anony Mouse*

        There is one circumstance I can think of where writing on your hand may work better – if you have a neuro-atypical brain that is apt to lose track of written notes, however prominently displayed.

        Not saying this is the OP’s reason (she said nothing whatever to indicate this) but I am well aware of the “I wrote it on a post-it and stuck it to the edge of my screen, now it’s there but invisible” phenomenon. If it’s actually on your hand… you can’t put it down, and you must act on it before you wash it off.

        Still, this might just mean there was another aspect of the problem to tackle beyond “I need to take notes and I don’t always have paper.”

  17. UShoe*

    I mean, it looks like management handled it excellently so they wouldn’t need to write in, but I would pay money to read #5 from the perspective of the HR manager. Whoa!

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Oh agreed. I would love to know what OP5 was glossing over in their original post. To cast being told to never contact the company again as an aside means they must really have stepped over normal bounds. And probably all the abnormal bounds as well.

    2. Candi*


      Here’s one about a persistent applicant from a decade ago. There might be others under the Hiring tag.

      (FWIW, even if the boss in that link hadn’t given an explicit “no”, nagging that much just doesn’t look good.)

  18. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

    LW1 can talk to police NOW. It’s not a speak now or forever hold your peace situation to file a police report. Also, civilians don’t “press charges” – that’s a misnomer and it’s up to the prosecutors. Civilians make police reports or not (and can file civil suit or not).

    1. Disco Janet*

      Well, NOW is actually six years ago. So at this point I would say they’ve likely passed the statute of limitations for this incident.

    2. Jessica Fletcher*

      Sure, but if the victims don’t cooperate by giving statements, allowing evidence to be collected, etc, it wouldn’t be worth charging. There wouldn’t be any evidence to make the case. I think that’s what was meant here.

  19. FD*

    #5- I really feel for this LW and hope that they figured out how to have a more balanced approach to work and life in general. Whatever they did is Not Okay, but the level of desperation and Magical Thing-ing going on here is so terribly bad for a person.

    (Magical Thing = The idea that a single thing happening the way you want will magically fix all of your problems. This can be anything from losing weight to getting a particular romantic partner to–in this case–getting a particular job. Magical Thing-ing is generally characterized by an extreme all-or-nothing mindset. For example, if Kitty agrees to marry me, I will be perfectly happy and will never have doubts or feel socially awkward again, but if she doesn’t then I’m doomed to die alone and there can be no possible happiness in my future.)

    1. FD*

      (I say whatever they did because there’s such a huge gap between ‘following up once with an HR manager’ and ‘was warned that the authorities will be called if they contact the person again’ that we’re CLEARLY missing some information here.)

    2. londonedit*

      Absolutely. The language of ‘So I want to talk to the HR manger and address the situation and own up to my mistakes and make things better and right…I need to do this for myself. I must just take charge and volunteer myself to do something uncomfortable and step outside my comfort zone’ raises so many red flags for me! They didn’t get a job they applied for – that’s really not the sort of situation that merits such self-flagellation.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Absolutely. The language of ‘So I want to talk to the HR manger and address the situation and own up to my mistakes and make things better and right…I need to do this for myself. I must just take charge and volunteer myself to do something uncomfortable and step outside my comfort zone’ raises so many red flags for me!

        I read that as having hidden behind a third party, probably a recruiter or referring friend/would-be coworker.

        Either way, I agree with the advice. Write this one off indefinitely.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      A load bearing neurosis. Basically what happens when you shove everything wrong onto one pillar that if you can only fix the whole structure will be stable forever.

      It never, ever works.

      1. quill*

        You get it a lot culturally as well as personally: see “Elect Waukeen and suddenly X problem will be over.”

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Another reason I don’t even have a television – I really don’t need to see things that’ll make me more paranoid.

          1. quill*

            Magical thinking is a hell of a drug and it seems like a design flaw for it to be so prominent in a social species! Then again I suppose it doesn’t kill us off reliably enough for there to be evolutionary pressure against it…

            1. FD*

              I think it’s there because it’s very potent at getting us to chase goals! If you believe that killing that mammoth or figuring out how to master fire will cure your problems, that’s a hell of an advantage for the entire species. But it sure does make us act pretty squirrely sometimes!

  20. ecnaseener*

    From #4, I’m confused about this quote:

    worst of all, she’s begun imitating my writing style and voice in her blog entries and writing samples.

    Wouldn’t LW want the blog to have a consistent style? It doesn’t sound like the partner was plagiarizing or anything, just learning from LW’s style (and presumably producing better writing because of it).

    Writers, does this make sense to you or was maybe it a Bitch Eating Crackers situation?

    1. pancakes*

      Trying to imitate the LW and being good at imitating the LW are two very different things. It doesn’t sound like the partner was anywhere near being good at it. This seems very important, too: “There is absolutely no motivation or seemingly understanding on her part to do the hard-core, no b.s. research that is going to be critical to writing the manuscript.”

      1. BritChick*

        The part about research depends entirely on whether the book idea is for a serious academic non-fiction book, or a novel that’s based around real historical events. I might be wrong but somehow I don’t get the vibe that it’s the former.

        When it comes to fiction writing, there are all kinds of approaches to research. Many of the very top writers are stringent about NOT doing too much or in some cases any research until after they’ve finished the first draft, to allow the creativity to flow and to focus on the characters and storyline and avoid getting bogged down in research, or to write in such a way as to show off the research, when research should support the story not vice versa.

        I have close friends who have won Oliviers and Tonys and they don’t do any research until at least after the first draft, even if they’re writing a play or film based on real life events. Besides that’s why publishers have editors and fact checkers, to take care of that.

        Plus… it’s history. I’m slightly wary of anyone claiming there’s One True Version of history. Unless the book covers recent and well-documented historical events, there are always different opinions even amongst professional historians. (I’m writing a play about Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort right now and there’s a huge range of opinion and only basic undisputed facts.)

        Maybe the proposed book was academic NF in which case ignore all that.

        1. pancakes*

          Yes, I know. I don’t see any particular reason to believe the letter writer is quite so unaware of basic differences between fiction and non-fiction, or the fact that history is very, very often subjective.

    2. Sylvan*

      Content writer/copywriter here. I think it’s fine for content with two clear, named writers to have two different writing styles, within shared style guidelines (like Associated Press guidelines for spelling and grammar). Content with a shared username or no name associated with it should be very consistent.

      1. quill*

        There’s still plenty of room for “imitating” to not actually be consistent.

        I’ve read enough fanfiction to know when someone is trying to imitate the tone of the original by using similar words and phrases, but doesn’t have the background knowledge or experience editing their writing to make that actually stick.

        1. Sylvan*

          Yeah, definitely, and it sounds like the OP’s writer doesn’t have the skills to make their writing consistent in quality.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I think the consistent style is more important if you’re trying to do uncredited entries, such as an encyclopaedia or bland corporate announcements. Readers having favorite writers on a blog, editorial page, magazine, etc is a desirable thing, and one where you want writers with a strong voice.

      I suspect LW encouraged partner to find her own writing style and voice–advice that helped LW 15 years ago–and instead partner adopted LW’s style and voice.

      (I think LW is at BEC stage, but this is a genuinely frustrating aspect of the partner not being able to do what’s needed for this gig to work.)

    4. RagingADHD*

      It’s impatience with the mismatch of experience levels.

      If the inexperienced partner perceives that LW is the better writer, imitation can be part of the learning experience. In theory, that’s a good thing *for the partner.*

      But the LW didn’t sign up to teach an MFA. They want to get a book written and published. The partner’s fluctuating style is just another proof that they aren’t prepared to do the work.

  21. TiaraWearingPrincess*

    LW1 – Jamie needs to press charges and get a restraining order. I’d like to see how management deals with that.

    Just because he didn’t do it immediately doesn’t mean he can’t do it when he returns from his honeymoon.

    This is a shitshow of epic proportions and shame on the company for refusing to deal with it. I hope Jamie and the letter writer are looking for new jobs. And i wouldn’t give 2 weeks notice- I’d just leave.

  22. TiaraWearingPrincess*

    Oops just noticed this was an old letter.

    I hope LW1 and Jamie got the heck out of there. And that the drunk fell in a deep deep hole.

  23. Jam Today*

    “I need to do this for myself.”

    Somewhere in the early 80s I think, a really pernicious trend in therapy spun up that gave people cover act 100% selfishly by telling them that the things they want are actually things they “need”. People have learned over the decades that the one thing they *don’t* need is to develop coping skills to handle bad feelings.

    No, LW, you don’t “need” to do this for yourself. You want to, but you will not spontaneously combust if you don’t convince a company that finds you so alarming they’re going to call the police that somehow they should hire you. It ain’t gonna happen. Adapt.

    1. Bamcheeks*

      eh, I don’t think “people” have learned to do anything. People who treat others badly justify it using whatever language is most familiar in their current cultural setting. The same people who be claiming God told them to do it in another cultural setting.

      1. Jam Today*

        “I need to do this for me” is pretty specific to American-style me-first therapy from the 70s/80s, which made its way out into pop culture and the self-help movement.

  24. Albeira Dawn*

    Alison, I’d be interested in hearing about your experience co-writing a book. How did it differ from other collaborative work projects? How did it come into being?
    (That might not totally fall within the scope of this blog, but it would be interesting nonetheless!)

  25. Falling Diphthong*

    An interesting theme here is the correct application of negative emotions.

    #2 felt mortified, and so immediately gave a sincere apology rather than try to power through and argue about metaphor choice with the appalled boss. #3 felt mildly uncomfortable and wondered if this meant she should continue on course or change direction. #4 is getting very clear signals from her emotions (specifically, disdain and annoyance) that she needs to drop this partnership in a hot second.

    #1, coworker needed to experience a bunch of negative emotions that might have derailed his epic meltdown. #5 needs to dial UP their feelings of mild awkwardness more toward deep shame and remorse.

  26. PHDawg*

    OMG, #2 immediately made me think of the “I Think You Should Leave” sketch from the newest season where visitors to a haunted house are told that since it’s adults only they “can say whatever *the hell* we want” and the results are predictably bad. I hope this is already an incident you laugh about, OP.

  27. HR Ninja*

    OP #1: Spitting blood on someone is not only gross and dangerous at any point but during a pandemic!?! I hope you and Jamie are in a position to find a new place to work immediately.

    OP #5: Imagine if a potential romantic partner kept trying to contact you and showed up to your house uninvited because he/she/they thought you were the love of their life. Imagine how threatening and dangerous that would feel. You’re essentially doing the same thing to this company

    1. RagingADHD*

      These letters are old, long before the pandemic.

      I’m pretty sure LW5 would have thought stalking was the height of romance. Hopefully they got themselves sorted out in the meantime.

      1. HR Ninja*

        Ahhhh, okay! Shows how observant I am! :)

        Hopefully both OPs are in a much better space professionally and personally either way!

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Not the pandemic, but I’m 99% sure that blood was considered hazardous material in the before times, too. Between that and the drunken coworker’s gf joining the fray to attack the bride (at least Jamie met someone who’d a perfect match for him… silver lining?), what happened is just so awful, I don’t understand how OP’s management is being as callous as they are. Does Drunken Coworker have dirt on someone in the management or what the heck is going on?

      1. Artemesia*

        Blood is not really a COVID thing — it is an HIV, HepB and assorted other hep things. And gross of course.

    3. quill*

      I mean, the bloodborne pathogen training I’ve had to take has THOROUGHLY put me off being anywhere near blood.

  28. RagingADHD*

    LW#5: Nope.

    This is not what happened.

    Employers don’t call the cops or threaten restraining orders just because a candidate sends a couple of emails. They just spamblock the email address.

    LW did something seriously inappropriate and threatening, and deliberately left it out to try to get the answer they wanted to hear. And even having done that, it’s still such an obviously massive trainwreck that the answer is no.

    I hope they got help before they terrorized anyone else or hurt someone.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I’d love to read the letter from the hiring manager about the stalker candidate who kept muttering magical thinking buzzwords under his breath during the interview

    1. Heffalump*

      I actually did and thought it was very good. Commenting on it later to a friend who had also seen it, I wanted to pinpoint when a particular scene took place. Given the premise of the movie, I felt that to make myself clear, I needed to say, “The part that we saw most recently in real time.”

  29. Miss V*

    I know these letters are old, but it reminded me that the phrase “off the cuff” comes from the fact that men used to write notes on the shirt cuffs. Shirt cuffs used to be detachable, and were made of a linen/paper type of material (think like dollar bills). It wasn’t uncommon for men to write ‘shirt cuff notes’ on them (it actually pops up a lot in the Sherlock Holmes novels). Apparently even some politicians would write speech notes on them for reference.

    However, over time paper cuffs became seen as lower class, so there was a stigma that arose around them. And then cuffs started being sewn on, and you don’t want to ruin an entire shirt to take a note, so they stopped being a thing.

    I know someone posted an update where the LW said they just started using post-it’s, which is probably best. But if anyone does find themselves ever having to scribble a note on their hand just know you’re part of a long tradition of people hitting down notes on whatever they had handy!

  30. Jack Straw*

    I want to thank Alison for the slow build in this post… I was wide eyed at #1 and by the time I got to letter #5 I was full on mouth agape, shouting “OMG. SERIOUSLY?!” at the screen. Well done.

  31. Firm Believer*

    During the height of the pandemic when everything was shut down I worked alone in our office every day. My staff was WFH. I had someone apply to a job but I wasn’t interested. She messaged me on Linkedin. I hadn’t responded. She called on the phone and asked if she could stop by and drop off her resume and see the office. I said no we were not expecting visitors. She asked again and said she would wear a mask. I said no, our office is closed. She showed up any way and walked in when I was alone and literally it shook me. I told her to get out and I told her I would never hire someone who specifically did the exact opposite of what I said TWICE. She said she wanted to see the office. I messaged her back on Linkedin and told her never to enter someone’s private property when told not too. She got super combative. I ran a background check on her and found all sorts of assaults and restraining orders. It was so unnerving.

  32. anonymous73*

    And that’s why you don’t invite acquaintances to your wedding. I mean, any rational person would assume that someone wouldn’t do all the things described at a wedding reception, but when there’s an open bar, bad things can happen and if you don’t know someone well enough to know how they handle their alcohol in mixed company, it’s better not to invite them.

    1. JustaTech*

      It’s also a good reason not to have a full open bar at your wedding. When I got married we had a limited bar (beer, wine and a special cocktail) partly to save money and partly so that one uncle wouldn’t get wasted and make a jerk of himself. Said uncle was terribly offended that we weren’t going to have his tipple of choice. Another family member pointed out it was available at the hotel bar down the hallway, but then he’d have to pay for it himself.

      And guess what? He lived through a wedding without his liquor, he was a fine guest and nothing terrible happened.
      (Our guests actually drank so little alcohol that we got money back from the venue, which was kind of shocking.)

    2. armchairexpert*

      The instinct to find a way in which something is the victim’s fault is so fascinating. This idea that as long as we do everything perfectly, nothing bad will ever befall us.

  33. Lily of the Field*

    For those who have mentioned wanting a link to the original post, if you click on the year at the bottom of each question, those are hyperlinks, and will take you to the original posting.

  34. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    It’s interesting to note that “this job would be perfect for me, help me achieve my longterm goals, and realise my dream” is a very common argument which candidates don’t realise is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT to the employer. You also see this on (eg) talent shows. It displays a staggering misunderstanding of the process.

  35. yala*

    I’m just…I’m just in awe of “Hey, this company threatened legal action if I even contact them again SHOULD I LIKE SUPER-CONTACT THEM IN PERSON INSTEAD?”

    …this person sounds absolutely terrifying

  36. All Caterpillars Are Butterflies*

    I am sure LW 5 crossed a line, but I want to put out a possibility that they didn’t and that the person who threatened to call the authorities could be like Amy Cooper, someone who threatens to call the police simply because they don’t know how to handle a situation or can’t get their way.

    Again, we are missing a lot of the story, and I am sure there could be a reason that they threatened to call the authorities. But crappy police-threatening people exist all over the place. That doesn’t make them Right, and it doesn’t automatically make the “offender” wrong.

    1. All Caterpillars Are Butterflies*

      But yeah, don’t contact them again. Hopefully another company will have a Dream Job for you.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      Sure, but the fact that they A) are writing in to ask if they can circumvent this ban and B) added that they were banned from contacting this person at all (and that doing so could require police intervention) as a SIDE NOTE seem to indicate someone who has a severe lack of understanding about boundaries/professional norms.

      1. All Caterpillars Are Butterflies*

        I’m just putting out a possibility. I am not saying the LW is in the right, nor did I even say that the person who threatened the police was wrong. I’m just trying to avoid the thought-terminating cliche that Someone Who Threatens to Call The Police > Someone Who Is Threatened To Have The Police Called On Them.

        But don’t contact them.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          I don’t think anyone is arguing that that is the case, though. And my response was specifically to your comment of “but I want to put out a possibility that they didn’t and that the person who threatened to call the authorities could be like Amy Cooper, someone who threatens to call the police simply because they don’t know how to handle a situation or can’t get their way.” The way the OP has framed their own question indicates that that is not the case here.

    3. Observer*

      but I want to put out a possibility that they didn’t and that the person who threatened to call the authorities could be like Amy Cooper, someone who threatens to call the police simply because they don’t know how to handle a situation or can’t get their way.

      Nope. For one thing, the OP treats this as an “aside”. And even if it WERE an Amy Cooper type situation, it would still not be a “side issue”. It would still most definitely be a big deal. In a different way, but a big deal, nevertheless.

      Furthermore, the OP admits that they were “overeager” and that they contacted someone who they were not supposed to contact. And they want to SHOW UP IN PERSON, and they “need to do this for myself. I must just take charge and volunteer myself to do something uncomfortable and step outside my comfort zone.”

      This is NOT a reasonable person dealing with an unreasonable situation. This is an unreasonable person.

      If this were the kind of situation you are positing, the letter would look VERY, VERY different.

    4. PollyQ*

      Even before we get to “side note,” that first sentence tells us a lot about LW. “I applied for the job of my dreams, no, the job of my life — the best job you can ever have in your wildest dreams!” already shows a strong lack of perspective. It’s certainly possible that they escalated too quickly, or overreacted to what was perhaps just too-frequent contact. But based on LW’s inability to get a clue even after he was threatened with the authorities, I’d say it’s pretty likely the employer reasonably felt that nothing less would work.

    5. Kevin Sours*

      Dude. He’s asking is he should *show up in person* after being told to stay away. This is a person with boundary issues. And you jump to “well maybe this woman just can’t deal with not getting her way”? That’s some serious bullshit. We’re missing a lot of the story here but it’s not going to reflect well on the letter writer.

  37. GotaPenny*

    #5 reminds me of that Gilmore Girls episode where Rory was told there were no jobs so she just parked it in the office and wouldn’t leave until she got that they said they didn’t have. The whole thing was CRINGE!

    1. JustaTech*

      It’s like the people who go to a store and the thing they want isn’t on the shelf and then the badger the store employees, insisting that there must be more “in the back”. Like, if there was more it would be out there to sell to you!

      1. Candi*

        And they’re still doing it, even after covid has shown just how “just in time” stocking is these days!

        I see Rori’s insistence cited as an instance of bad job hunting examples in media. (Usually informally, in comments.)

  38. Jaybeetee*

    LW5: I do love the “long story short” and “as a side note”. It’s just so casual. It’s like in relationship letters where it’s like, “One thing lead to another, and suddenly I found myself in bed with my wife’s sister!”

    Like… you know that most people go their whole lives without landing in situations like these? Do you know that? That “we’ll call the cops if you ever contact us again” isn’t an “aside” for most people?

    1. Bagpuss*

      I was in court once observing a case and there was a beautiful-to-watch line of cross examination like that.

      “You’ve been terribly unlucky, haven’t you? Very few people get accused of xxx even once in their lives, but you’ve had the misfortune to it happen on four separate, unconnected occasions..”

      1. Candi*

        Reminds me of an episode of New Detectives: Case Studies in Forensic Science. One of the police officers being interviewed mentioned that most people don’t have two wives slip and have lethal falls in the bath, especially within (I think it was) five years. The bath was dry both times, too.

        The perp’s mother also died under mysterious circumstances that weren’t so mysterious once the (real) forensic teams got through.

    2. PollyQ*

      “Needless to say” is another one of those. It’s not a perfect guarantee that the LW took a wrong turn somewhere, but it’s a pretty strong indicator.

  39. Lore*

    Definitely feel for the guy emailing that company. Got a referral and was told I’d 100% get a response in 5-10 days, I’m nearing month 3 and have tried reaching out to two people before giving up and just messaging the main hotline. At this point though, I’m not too worried about getting black listed since the rejection was likely coming anyway. haha

    1. Candi*

      You might be trying to be funny, but anyone should be worried about a company blacklisting you for any reason.

      1) That means you can never, ever get a job at the company ever anywhere. With the number of megacorps out there, this can be a very bad thing.

      2) People in industry talk, and many grapevines run wide and deep. You could wind up informally blacklisted from other companies in the industry.

      Most people, when they’ve (ignored Alison-type advice and) bugged and bugged the heck out of a company they want to work out, get their email blocked and a “this person is not allowed in ever” to the front desk. If the guy is to the point where they told him flat out they’ll call the police, he’s gone far beyond most people’s concept of nagging.

  40. My Boss is Dumber Than Yours*

    #5 is one of my all-time favorites on this site. I use it as an example for my writing students on bad use of “long story short” and “as a side note.” There’s clearly a story that needs to be told to give even some semblance of sense to this, and having people threaten to call the cops on you is not a side note…

  41. Hank Stevens*

    Is #5 for real? This person is intelligent enough to read this blog, but doesn’t have a clue as to how out of bounds the behavior was and is basically asking if it’s ok to make things even worse?

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