employee got pregnant to avoid working on Christmas, I told my boss to F off, and more

I’m on vacation. Here are some past letters from the archives.

1. Employee said she purposely got pregnant to avoid working on Christmas

My good friend and I are at a stalemate and I was hoping you could help. She’s a pharmacist in a very busy medical clinic, which is open on holidays. During this time of year, she tries to make the schedule as fair as possible to accommodate people’s travel, time with family etc. There are a few employees who do not celebrate Christmas and/or New Year’s, and because they receive double pay, they typically don’t mind working those days. However, there is still some crunching of shifts that just has to be done.

About a month or so ago, she overheard one of her lead techs (who was very pregnant) tell another tech that she’d gotten pregnant on purpose so she’d automatically be off during the holidays…again. This pregnancy is this woman’s second child; her first was born last year, two days after Thanksgiving. She returned to work in late January. This new baby arrived a few days before Thanksgiving, and she’ll probably return from maternity leave around the same time next year. My friend then heard her say something to the affect of “Anna (my friend) screwed me over a couple years ago and I wasn’t going to let that happen again.” Apparently the year before last, they were short staffed and this woman had to work the evening shift on Christmas day. She was paid double and my friend even made food available because she knew that this employee was upset. But she was given a month’s notice that she would be required to work that day.

My friend thinks she should speak to this employee when she returns from maternity leave. I think she should leave it alone. I mean, sure, she could’ve kept that fun fact about her planned pregnancies to herself and it was thoughtless, but I don’t know if it rises to the level of “needs a talking to.” I feel like if there were other issues going on with her performance, then that should definitely be addressed, but my friend is pretty set on speaking with her upon her return. What do you think?

Good lord, no, she shouldn’t say anything to her.

First, I’m skeptical that this woman is truly making her reproductive decisions based on not wanting to work around a holiday, and it’s more likely that the timing just happened to accommodate that. Second, if the comment was 100% sincere, what is your friend going to say — “you need to make reproductive decisions without regard to holiday scheduling”? Of all the things that are none of a manager’s business, an employee’s personal reasons for how she times a pregnancy is high on the list.

Your friend needs to let this go.


2. I told my boss to F off

Last night, some of my coworkers and my boss were at a dinner for a coworker who is getting married. My boss told us earlier that day that she would pay for dinner but not drinks (alcoholic drinks) because it was not a work event.

As the night went on, some coworkers and my boss were at the end of the dinner table talking and laughing. Apparently something was said to my coworker about something that I had said about her (I had said that she was a tough nut to crack in the beginning), and she got mad and left (upset and embarrassed).

My feelings were very hurt because it took a long time to get to know this woman. I don’t want to start over. I started to get angry, so I went to the bathroom. When I got out, my boss said something to me and I reacted by either telling her to “F OFF” or “go screw yourself” (thanks for ruining my relationship with that woman). I was thinking and speaking at the same time. I ended up leaving the restaurant and got a ride home.

Later that evening, I received a text from my boss that said, “DO NOT come to work tomorrow. I talked to Ron and you are suspended for three days without pay and during that time I will decide what I want to do.” I responded with, “Can we talk, I’m home. We weren’t at a work function…I’m sorry I got mad. Whoever told (the woman) what I said was wrong.” My boss’s response was, “Please stop texting me. I will not change my mind. You are suspended for three days while I try to clean up your mess. I will meet with you Thursday morning off site and we can talk.”

Can she suspend me for this? I have no idea what or why she is angry about (I mean I do, but she never actually told me or texted me). This was NOT a work event. I looked up the word “insubordination” and it talks about being IN THE WORKPLACE and getting suspended.

You told your boss to F off! Or to go screw herself! That’s a really, really big deal. They can indeed suspend you for it. Hell, they can fire you for it.

It doesn’t matter that this wasn’t an official work event. Your employer is allowed to take a stand on how you interact with coworker outside of work. After all, if you had punched a coworker or harassed them or used racial slurs at them, your employer would be right to make that a work issue, because it impacts your working relationships and reveals something about how you operate.

Your best bet is to stop arguing that it wasn’t a work event (because that doesn’t matter) and apologize profusely. I have to say, though, if I were your boss I’d have a hard time continuing to work with you — both because of what you said (it was hostile and unprofessional) and because it feels like such an overreaction to what sounds like a fairly minor event. I’d have a hard time trusting your judgment in other situations, unless there were some compelling evidence that this was wildly out of character.


3. Colleague is dressing down on charity dress-down day but refusing to pay

I have a bit of an unusual situation. In my office, we’ve started having a “charity dress-down day” at the end of every month. Each employee can donate £1 in order to dress down for the day, and a different department each month gets to choose which charity the donations go to. They usually organize games related to their charity as well to raise extra.

There is one guy who dresses down every single time, but refuses to donate the £1. He says that he was under the impression that the company would match all donations and as that hasn’t happened, he won’t donate till they do. The thing is, I send out the emails about these charity days and I remember that I told him it wouldn’t be matched the day before the first dress-down day. So he knew in advance that it wouldn’t be matched and chose to dress down anyway — and has carried on doing so every month since.

Now other departments are getting more and more upset/angry about it every month that goes by. I have people coming up and asking whether this guy has donated. They feel like he’s getting away with something that no one else would be allowed to (which is true). His manager is a lovely guy but seems completely unable to force him to either stop dressing down or start paying his £1.

What’s the solution here? Are people being too sensitive about a £1 donation, or should we push harder to make this be taken seriously by management? What can realistically be done even if they do look into it?

Someone in your company needs to decide how serious they are about this whole set-up. If they’re serious about it, then this guy’s manager needs to tell him, “Hey, what you’re doing isn’t cool and you need to either participate in the charity drive or quit dressing down.”

If you’re the person who’s organizing it or otherwise are in a role where you have standing to raise this, you should talk to his manager and point out that this guy is undermining the charity drives and needs to be talked to. Or you can talk to him yourself and say, “It’s fine that you don’t want to donate, but you’re continuing to dress down without donating, and it’s removing the incentive for other people to participate. If you don’t want to participate with a donation, can you please ignore the program entirely so that you’re not undermining other people’s ability to raise money for charity?” If it continues after that, it presumably should be treated like it would if he were repeatedly violating the dress code in any other circumstance.

All that said … I’m no fan of the whole concept, for the reasons here.


4. Our manager got injured at a concert that we all went to

Our manager tagged along to a concert with us, got hurt, and now won’t talk to us. And everyone at the company is spreading rumors about what happened.

I work in a smallish tech company that has a pretty young mix of employees. There’s a group of us who we all found out are in to heavy metal, hardcore, and punk music, and we’ll occasionally go out to concerts after work as a part of a larger group. A few weeks ago, we were sitting at lunch and talking about a show we were going to go to that night and how we had an extra ticket because one of our friends couldn’t make it. Our immediate manager, who’s only a few years older than us, kinda invited herself along. We weren’t really sure about it and tried to ask her if she was up to seeing Napalm Death, Pig Destroyer, and Power Trip. She said she was game, so we figured why not and gave her the ticket.

We get to the show and about halfway through the show, our manager gets elbowed in the face and gets her nose broken. We take her to the hospital and once she’s checked in, we call her boyfriend and she tells us to go home so we leave. The next day, we show up at work and she’s been kind of avoiding us ever since. She won’t tell anyone at work what happened besides “Things got out of hand.” So everyone at work is talking about what we could have done. What do I do to get people to stop wonder what happened and how do we apologize to our manager and get her to start talking to us again?

Stop treating it so delicately — be more matter-of-fact about it! Go talk to your manager right now, ask how she’s doing, and say, “That sucks! I’m sorry that happened.” Note that that’s not you taking responsibility for her injury — you’re not responsible for that. That’s just you expressing sympathy.

She probably feels a bit embarrassed — like she’s the Old Person who went to a concert that she couldn’t handle. By treating her normally, you’re likely to help her feel better. (Hell, if you have any good injury stories yourself, now’s the time to share them.)

And with others who ask what happened, it’s fine to explain. “It was a rough show and someone in the crowd accidentally elbowed her in the face.”

Really, just be straightforward. If you dance around it, it will seem like something scandalous happened and make everyone feel weirder. Be matter-of-fact, be kind to your manager, and assume that all involved will move on, as they should.


5. Should I add a P.S. to the end of my cover letter?

I have been seeing all this stuff on adding a P.S. to the end of a cover letter. Would you recommend doing it?

Nope. It’s gimmicky. P.S.’s make sense when you’re writing by hand and realize you have something more to say. When you’re writing a business letter, they make no sense — they come across as salesy and gimmicky. If you’re relying on gimmicks, it means the content of your letter isn’t strong enough to stand on its own. Focus on the letter itself.


{ 528 comments… read them below }

  1. NeutralJanet*

    #1: Honestly, if this woman actually managed to plan two pregnancies for the holiday season, in consecutive years, just so that she got Christmas off, I…kind of think that’s very cool? What a way to go above and beyond for petty reasons, (especially considering that being pregnant/the mother of a newborn on Christmas is not going to be much more relaxing than working). Note that I don’t endorse that, necessarily, but I admire that level of determination!

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I looked up some numbers after this was posted the first time, and if the employee and her partner are young, have no fertility issues, and were deliberately trying (ie, tracking ovulation), they actually have a pretty decent chance of getting pregnant in, say, two cycles. It’s no guarantee, but it’s not as far out there as you’d think.

        Unfortunately, the ‘tip’ is to be young and have no fertility issues, which is kind of hard to implement.

        1. Stitching Away*

          I worked in reproductive health until recently, and the typical standard for someone under 35 with no known fertility issues is for it to take up to 12 months to conceive before it’s considered unusual, and then on top of that you have about 25% of pregnancies ending in miscarriage, and it’s actually higher if a person has had a previous pregnancy that recently.

          There’s also the massive issue that this medical clinic thinks deciding who has to work holidays based on who celebrates them is a totally fine thing to do, but apparently even the idea of timing a child based on what works best for you is outrageous. Given the reference to holidays, I’m gonna take a wild guess that the non-whites and non-christians get screwed year after year. If you choose to go into the medical field, and work in a place where holiday coverage is a thing, then you work holidays, that’s the deal.

          1. FemalePhenotype*

            Is it really getting screwed to be paid double to work a day you’re not fussed about having off? If there were no extra financial incentive it would feel unequal, but double time is decent.

            1. raktajino*

              Do they get their own cultural holidays off with relatively little fuss because they step up for other days? Or are they asked to work major religious holidays because it’s just another Friday to the Christian default boss?

              1. FemalePhenotype*

                We have no way of knowing, but that’s why I implied that the double pay evens things out in a way that getting standard pay doesn’t.

            2. James*

              “Is it really getting screwed to be paid double to work a day you’re not fussed about having off?”

              There are two reasons why it would be.

              First, being consistently singled out–“Oh, you can work this holiday, not like you care”–is odious. There shouldn’t be a presumption that I’m willing to work extra merely because your culture/faith affects your schedule. I may have other plans; life exists outside of work.

              Second, I DON’T get off for MY holidays unless they coincide with the standard ones. Most folks I work with don’t know when Litha or Mabon or Beltane are, much less what celebrating them involves or when they occur. So this ultimately means I get holy days off by mere chance, if at all. So not only are you asking me to work extra to pick up your slack, you’re denying me that same privilege. There’s a term for that: discrimination.

              As for the double pay thing, what dollar amount would you put to YOUR culture, YOUR religion, YOUR heritage? Because ultimately what you’re saying is that ours is worth an extra 8 hours of pay. That seems a tad low.

              1. FemalePhenotype*

                The rationale behind double pay being decent to my mind is that it would even out taking other religious days as unpaid leave if necessary, which at least wherever I’ve worked would count as a religious accommodation, because religious discrimination is illegal.

                1. James*

                  The problem is it doesn’t always work that way. In fact, I would argue it rarely does. See bumbleblue’s comment below.

                  Further, why should I have to get my pay docked or lose PTO, when my colleagues with different religious or cultural backgrounds get their holidays off without losing PTO or pay? It still punishes me for not following the dominant culture. After all, PTO isn’t just about the money, it’s about flexibility. At least where I work, you use PTO to cover sick days, medical emergencies, even slow periods (it’s consulting). If I need to use PTO to cover religious observances, while my colleagues don’t, that means I don’t get the flexibility they have–again, punishing me for not being part of the dominant culture.

                  There are also more subtle ways this can impact the worker negatively. I live in the South; how comfortable do you think I am going to my boss–with her desk decorated in crosses–and saying “Hey, Litha’s coming up, my family wants to do a ceremony, so I’ll need time off”? Remember, many solitary practitioners are solitary because they’re afraid of what would happen if people found out. You’re asking people with genuine concerns for their safety to put themselves at risk. How comfortable do you think an Arab worker who transfers here would be asking for time off for a cultural holiday? Members of the dominant culture don’t have to worry about that–they get their holidays off without asking, and if for some reason they do need to ask they have a broad base of support.

                  I’ve managed enough people–and been managed by enough–to know that what’s legal and what’s done are often two different things. A manager with experience can find ways to make sure the “right” people are rewarded and the “wrong” people are pushed aside. It’s not religious discrimination to decorate your office with crosses and prayers to the Virgin Mother, after all–it’s your office! And if it keeps weirdos quiet, that’s entirely their decision. I’d never discriminate against someone on the basis of religion, oh my word no! But I will take away their PTO, dock their pay, and make them as uncomfortable as possible making their requests. And that’s not discrimination because…….?

              2. Azure Jane Lunatic*

                1a, in a country with a majority religion, odds are that we have some friends who do celebrate the holiday. For example, while I might feel a little awkward about going to Father Bob’s Midnight Mass, I d0 want to go to my partner’s Uncle Bob’s post-mass party as it’s one of the major family events.

            3. bumbleblue*

              Overtime for a one or few holidays does not make up for having to use PTO for the holidays I celebrate.

              My current workplace shuts down the week between Christmas and New Year; that’s great and I get to enjoy the time off but I still have to use my PTO for my holidays. My other coworkers get to have the time off for holidays AND the same amount of PTO.

              I have been thinking about this a lot since month since this September has four Jewish holidays. In December, nearly everyone I work with basically checks out and blames the holiday season. But I have four holidays and I’m still expected to act like it isn’t a holiday season for me.

              Double time is decent but respect would be a lot better.

          2. Medusa*

            “There’s also the massive issue that this medical clinic thinks deciding who has to work holidays based on who celebrates them is a totally fine thing to do, but apparently even the idea of timing a child based on what works best for you is outrageous. Given the reference to holidays, I’m gonna take a wild guess that the non-whites and non-christians get screwed year after year.”

            I didn’t get that impression from the letter. It seems like LW’s friend takes into account who is willing to work the holiday for double pay and who isn’t, which I think is pretty fair. I’d also have an issue with an employee who said that I had “screwed them over” because they had to work a holiday two years ago and kicked up a fuss about it instead of being an adult human being who accepts that they entered a profession where working on holidays is a requirement of the job.

            1. Bamcheeks*

              Yeah, but there’s some things you’ve just got to not hear as a manager. People are going to complain about the constraints of work. If you accidentally overhear it, you la-la-la and walk on by.

              1. HB*

                This – there’s also the thing where people will say things that they don’t necessarily feel/believe, but it’s a somewhat normal shorthand as conversational filler. My husband has a co-worker who fell into this a lot and when they were on work trips would say things like ‘So nice to get away from my wife for a weekend so I don’t get nagged’ and my husband knows this guy has a great relationship with his wife but it’s like he thinks he’s *supposed* to complain about her (fortunately he appears to have grown out of this habit). The “screwed them over” sounds a little similar. I mean, either the person irrationally believes that they should never be assigned holidays (unlikely), or they were making some sort of semi-sarcastic joke using that “most people complain like this” mode. Since it’s unlikely that the person *genuinely* planned their pregnancies just to get a holiday off, I think it’s basically sarcasm on both sides. “Ha ha, my boss screwed me over by picking me in a fair process, therefore I rearranged my reproductive decisions to get out of it.”

                1. Medusa*

                  Yeah, on second reading it probably wasn’t super likely that she was going on a smear campaign about having to work a holiday.

                  I can’t respond to the comment below, but she did kick up a fuss: “Apparently the year before last, they were short staffed and this woman had to work the evening shift on Christmas day. She was paid double and my friend even made food available because she knew that this employee was upset.”

                  This is irrelevant to her getting pregnant after the fact.

                2. Ori*

                  It struck me as something someone would say while rolling their eyes. “Yes, Janet, I *deliberately* got pregnant in order to skip working the holidays.” /s

                3. Koalafied*

                  Definitely sounded like a joke to me – I’ve heard plenty of people make ironic jokes along the lines of, “Yes, all those months of [laying significant groundwork with great personal cost/effort involved] was part of my genius master plan to [obtain a trivial benefit]! Everything is falling into place, muahahaha.” The whole point is that it’s absurd on its face to suggest that you would do so much to obtain so little.

            2. Lexie*

              I have non-Christian friends who will gladly work Christmas provided they can take one of their holy days off as a holiday instead of having to use vacation time.

              1. Lady_Lessa*

                If I worked in that kind of situation, I would consider that a fair trade. You work my holiday and I work yours.

              2. Still breathing*

                At one time I was the only Christian employee at a company owned by a Jewish family. I was the only one at work on Jewish holidays and got paid double time bc they were company holidays. And on random days my boss would say ridiculous things like “hey I heard that tomorrow is a really important historical day in Christianity; you should take the long weekend as a religious holiday.” But I really think the employees comment was a sarcastic response to someone who accused her of having made that plan. That’s far more likely than it being true.

          3. Myrin*

            Huh? Where are you getting parts of your second paragraph from?

            OP says about her friend:
            “During this time of year, she tries to make the schedule as fair as possible to accommodate people’s travel, time with family etc. There are a few employees who do not celebrate Christmas and/or New Year’s, and because they receive double pay, they typically don’t mind working those days.”

            That does NOT mean
            1. that the clinic decides who has to work holidays based on who celebrates them – in fact, it sounds like there’s a certain kind of rotation – and
            2. that non-Christians get screwed over – the only mention of people who don’t celebrate Christmas is that they don’t mind working then, which makes sense.

            (And following your own logic, that would actually mean that the people who DO celebrate Christmas “get screwed” every year because everyone else gets to work on what is a totally regular day to them all while being paid double. For the record, I don’t view it that way, especially since it doesn’t sound like it’s always the same people getting off, but logically, that would be the conclusion.)

            1. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

              Yeah this seems kind of standard. Like, my fiancee is a non-practicing Jew and a paramedic, and they choose to work Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur so that their Orthodox coworkers can have those days off, and they’ll work Christmas so that those who celebrate it (whether for religious/cultural/family reasons) can have that day off.
              When I worked for an Orthodox college, my Jewish co-workers happily covered my shifts that fell on Christmas, and I didn’t take off their holidays.
              Factoring in who actually cares about a holiday seems to be a pretty useful element in deciding who gets it off!

            2. MissBaudelaire*

              Yeah, I kind of took it to mean that there were some employees who volunteered to work those shifts as they didn’t celebrate the holiday, but were down for double pay. But there just weren’t enough for complete coverage, so sometimes people who *did* want to celebrate had to work it, and weren’t happy about it, but that’s kind of the way the cookie crumbled.

              1. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

                IMHO Anna shouldn’t even be considering what people’s religions are. She should have the mindset of simply asking for volunteers to work the days at double pay, and not dig into or think about why people volunteer.

                That, or just assign people in alternating years, but let them trade shifts if people want to.

                1. fhqwhgads*

                  I don’t think she did consider their religions? I took this as a report-after-the-fact. Asked for volunteers and in the process got a handful of people saying “I don’t celebrate so I’ll do it”. The letter mentions this for context, not as causal.

                2. MissBaudelaire*

                  Although I don’t think Anna did care about the religion or anyone. Like fhqywhgads said, “Do I have any volunteers?” and people volunteered. Then they sorted out the rest of the coverage, likely on a rotation.

                3. Koalafied*

                  Agreed, the statement was “they typically don’t mind,” not, “she assumes they won’t mind.”

                4. Dr Logen*

                  New Year’s isn’t a religious holiday. And sure, Christmas might be a religious holiday for some people but I’m an atheist and it’s my absolute favorite holiday and I celebrate it in a secular way. I’d want to be off work on Christmas but that’s not tied to my religion (or lack thereof).

                  It doesn’t seem like the manager here is considering religion, just employee preference.

                5. Uranus Wars*

                  I am a Christian but do not celebrate Christmas. So I always say “I don’t celebrate, someone who does should”…that is how I was imaging this going down in this scenario.

                  Not celebrating and it not being your religion are not the same thing, and it doesn’t sound to me like religion played a role.

            3. Recruited Recruiter*

              I specifically request to be the person scheduled for Christmas every year because that way, when my family tries to pressure me to visit them for Christmas, I can say “I can’t, I’m scheduled to work.” I do this because I despise my family’s Christmas traditions. My spouse and I have a couple very small Christmas traditions, and all of my co-workers who do want to see family for Christmas get to. If I was non-Christian or part of another religion, I would mind working Christmas even less.

            4. generic_username*

              Yeah, agree. My uncle worked every single holiday he could (Christmas, New Years, Easter, etc…) because they got triple-time pay for it. He was single and childless so it didn’t really matter to him whether he was working on a certain day.

          4. NotJane*

            “Given the reference to holidays, I’m gonna take a wild guess that the non-whites and non-christians get screwed year after year.”

            Non-Christians, maybe, but I don’t know what an employee’s race or ethnicity has to do with anything. There are many, many people of color who are Christians.

            Personally, as a white, Jewish (and childfree) person, Christmas is kind of boring for me, honestly. Most businesses/stores are closed, the streets are eerily quiet, so I spend the day just kind of puttering around my house until it’s time to go to bed.

            So I’d probably consider it a mitzvah to work on Christmas Day and/or Eve, if it meant a coworker could be home celebrating with their family and going to mass or whatever. And I definitely wouldn’t feel like I was being “screwed”, especially if I were being paid double time.

        2. 30ish*

          Yeah, a couple in their 20ies would probably have a 50% chance of conceiving within two cycles. I think people successfully plan pregnancies like this all the time and I have no problem believing that the employee is doing this. You have no guarantee, of course, but a pretty decent shot.

          1. Stitch*

            Except she also apparently got pregnant when her first was what, 4 months old? That’s actually harder, especially if she was nursing.

            My guess is it was actually an accident and she was joking.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              Yes – it’s common not to ovulate for some months after giving birth, particularly if nursing, so having two periods of maternity leave in a single twelve-month window is unusual even if you’re deliberately trying to have children close together. I know several people who have children that close together, but in every case they’ve said the pregnancy was a surprise.

              It’s definitely something I could see myself saying jokingly if my employer’s general benefits or specific maternity policies weren’t super generous. “The only way not to work on Thanksgiving is to be newly postnatal, so I decided to take on a million-dollar commitment for a single day off, lolz.”

              1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

                Pretty much everyone I know that it happened to it was because they heard “lower chance of conception” and heard “almost no chance of conception. Having 2 kids 12 months apart is not exactly the easiest path.

                1. Chelle*

                  Yeah, all obgyn’s will tell you you CAN get pregnant before you see a period again, so make sure you are using some kind of birth control method if you don’t want another so soon. I personally would never take the chance, because also that sounds exhausting.

                2. Stitch*

                  Remembering what it was like when my kid was 4 months, I can’t imagine deliberately adding to that. He was up 5 times a night (4 month sleep regression).

              2. quill*

                Kids born less than 12 months apart are common enough that a term I’ve heard used for them is “Irish Twins” (Which… historically I have questions about.”

            2. Doing the best we can*

              I have a three friends that will disagree that it’s hard to get pregnant within 6 months of giving birth. They found out that for some women it’s unexpectedly easy. they thought getting pregnant wouldn’t realistically happen that soon.

              1. Stitch*

                My own mom is 14 months younger than her older sister so I don’t dispute it can happen. But it’s definitely very hard to make sure it happens.

                1. The Rural Juror*

                  My mother is 11 months younger than her older brother. They actually ended up in the same grade in school so everyone thought they were twins. My mom calls herself “The Happy Accident.”

              2. PhyllisB*

                Yep. My two youngest lack 3 weeks being two years apart. It would have been closer, but baby #3 was two weeks late. I was still nursing so was assured by my LaLeche League leader that I wouldn’t get pregnant until I weaned…she was wrong.
                Also, my sister and have birthdays five days apart. I have heard that women tend to be fertile at the same time each year, so maybe that’s why.

                1. Effective Immediately*

                  Ugh. As someone who works in family planning/abortion care, this (‘you can’t get pregnant while nursing!’) myth is one of those that I wish I could personally call and beg each and every person who spreads it to STOP.

                  Ditto the folks (doctors!) who tell people with PCOS they can’t conceive.

                  I can’t tell you how many patients I’ve had who show up in my clinic absolutely beside themselves because they trusted a provider in this way.

                2. Cercis*

                  Effective Immediately – one book series I read the protagonist was told she couldn’t conceive because she had a tilted uterus. I snorted and almost quit reading the series. I have a tilted uterus and conceived first month with both my kids. It might make it harder, but it’s definitely not impossible.

              3. Observer*

                It’s not that common. But that’s not even the issue. While it can happen, it’s extremely difficult to MAKE SURE that it happens. Because a woman cannot ensure that she will start ovulating at that point.

            3. NotRealAnonForThis*

              I’d kind of assumed there was sarcasm in her statement.

              There was absolutely sarcasm in my statement of “yup, decided that having 2 under 2 would be a ton of fun and I love being pregnant so we went for it” (spoiler: I’m not a happy pregnant person at all and it was utterly NOT planned…nursing infant, birth control pills….didn’t matter…)

              1. Uranus Wars*

                Same! I had a hard time imaging 2 kids under 2….with the reasoning: I GET THE HOLIDAY OFF! I took it as a tongue-in-cheek comment that we’ve all made about something that works out in a way that seems to good to plan.

            4. anne of mean gables*

              Yeah this is 100% something I would say flippantly if I had happened to be pregnant two holiday seasons in a row (yes, I am working on reigning in my flippant/sarcastic comments at work, why do you ask?). It seems way more likely (like, orders of magnitude more likely) to me that she got pregnant two years in a row because she wanted two kids close in age, than she planned her pregnancies to spite her colleague?

              1. Observer*

                It seems way more likely (like, orders of magnitude more likely) to me that she got pregnant two years in a row because she wanted two kids close in age, than she planned her pregnancies to spite her colleague?

                Seriously! Even if it were practical to actually ensure two births a year apart (and it really isn’t), it still seems like a HUGE leap to think that anyone is REALLY going to do that just to get a particular day (or even week) off. Sarcasm seems WAAAAY more likely, even someone who had been unreasonable about the time off policies.

            5. Mary Anne Spier*

              My grandmother told me when I was 13 not to believe that you can’t get pregnant while breast feeding “BECAUSE YOU CAN.”

              My mom and her sister are 10 months apart.

            6. Geteminwhileyoucan*

              As a person who is the same age as her younger brother for 8 days and has two sisters who are the same age for 21 days, it seems really easy to me.

          2. CoveredInBees*

            In their early 20s it might be 50%, but that changes to 25-30% by their mid-late 20s, according to my fertility doctor. That assumes knowing exactly when she ovulates (which can vary more widely than people think), having sex at exactly the right time (which is before ovulation), and have no other issues. Considering the exhaustion an infant plus full-time work wrecks on one’s life, I have a hard time believing it was planned like this.

            1. Dropping in*

              I think 25-30% is the absolute max chance for *each* cycle in that age group, given all the info you listed. So two cycles = maybe 50%. This is just from my own TTC experience as well, but I don’t think it drops off substantially through the 20s/early 30s.

              1. Observer*

                So two cycles = maybe 50%

                You would think so, but it doesn’t really work that way. Which is why most fertility doctors won’t talk to a couple before a year of trying, unless there is more information that would indicate a problem.

                but I don’t think it drops off substantially through the 20s/early 30s.

                Statistically, it absolutely DOES drop off.

          3. FertileMyrtle*

            My husband I were fertile myrtles. We got pregnant in two weeks of not trying. Kinda pissed off couples around us who had been trying for years.

            1. Pickwick Picnic*

              I’m pretty sure I got pregnant literally the first time or second time we “tried” (and “trying” just meant no birth control. I wasn’t even keeping particularly close track of my period and had to guesstimate LMP when filling out forms). I think it was kind of hard for some of our friends who had fertility issues, but it wasn’t actually ideal for us either because we were more testing the waters to see if we even wanted children and sort of just assumed it would take a little while (thus the laissez faire approach to conception).

              1. Cercis*

                Same, for like all of it. We really thought we’d get to “practice” some. Nope.

                I don’t know how I got lucky enough to not have an unplanned pregnancy given how easy it was. I also have a tilted uterus AND I was still nursing the first baby when I got pregnant with my 2nd (they’re 22 months apart, he weaned at around 18 months).

                1. Pickwick Picnic*

                  Ha, my husband and I have been REALLY stressing to each other that we are not to start trying for the second until we’re REALLY REALLY sure we’re ready for it! And no unplanned pregnancies or scares after 10+ years together was definitely a contributing factor to our assumptions it would take a while!

            2. MeleMallory*

              Yup. I’ve gotten pregnant 3 times (over the last 7 years) while using various forms of birth control. Apparently my husband and I are just super fertile. I felt bad announcing it to my friend who has been trying for several months, but luckily she was just happy for me.

        3. Artemesia*

          It took me two years the first time; I was trying to time the second for summer break as I was teaching and had no maternity benefits at all (I was required to pay my own substitute if it were to be needed). Got it in one. In fact because we started a month early not being optimistic about timing it, she was slightly early into our summer break window and colleagues stepped up.

            1. Been there*

              When I was in this situation (college adjunct) they literally look the money out of my paycheck and added it to the sub’s paycheck.

              1. Koalafied*

                Yep, this is also similar to how it usually works when tenured profs take a sabbatical. They have to “buy out” of their teaching obligation to be able to take it, and the money just comes off the top of their check. The best part is they usually deduct the prof’s actual pay rate for the sections they teach, not the cost to replace them, which is typically lower because the teaching deficit is filled by bringing on more adjuncts that year, and adjuncts are cheaper than tenured professors.

        4. Observer*

          they actually have a pretty decent chance of getting pregnant in, say, two cycles. It’s no guarantee, but it’s not as far out there as you’d think.

          Nope, not true.

          Firstly, what @Stitching Away says is true. The other issue is that timing of when you get to try is actually pretty hard to manipulate. AND timing of delivery is even harder to manipulate.

    1. Beth*

      Agreed! I’m betting this isn’t actually the whole story behind her pregnancies—most people take a lot of factors into account when choosing to have kids. But even if she was being sincere and getting Christmas off played a big role in her timing, I feel like she’s earned getting her way on this one. (Not to mention, this method clearly isn’t sustainable long term. What’s she going to do, have a kid every year that she’s in this job? OP’s friend should let it be.)

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        Seriously. Even if she’s doing it on purpose, and even if she goes (went) on to have a lot of kids, the odds that she will be able to time them so they every year she’s off for Christmas is… very poor. This is not going to be a long term, ongoing problem.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Also if Anna even said anything that had a whiff of “you better not be pregnant for Christmas next year” that’s a whole heap of legal issues – so if that IS her long term strategy, so be it!

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Right? I feel like any manager who feels tempted to tell their employee “the timing of your pregnancy and maternity leave was inconvenient for the workplace, don’t do that again” needs to take about 7000 steps back and gain some perspective.

        2. Database Developer Dude*

          Sure. But if the attitude is ‘so be it’, then I don’t want to hear any complaints if the others that it affect move on to other workplaces. If you judge them for it, you’re basically saying “This is okay to do, and your only choice is to accept it”.

          1. FridayFriyay*

            People can move on to other workplaces whenever or for whatever reasons they want. It may come as a shock to them that their new colleagues also make family planning decisions based on what works best for their family and not their employer or coworkers, and that their new employer is equally unable to compel people to only have babies on a schedule convenient for their workplace.

            1. Database Developer Dude*

              This is true. I think after the second year, however, of not being able to get a holiday off because accommodations must be made for others, and knowing that it’s going to be like that going forward would mean the other individuals also make plans based on what works best for them WITHOUT BEING JUDGED FOR IT.

              1. EventPlannerGal*

                “Going forward”? How many children do you think this woman is planning to have? Just knocking one out annually in perpetuity?

          2. Bamcheeks*

            Great! Other employees SHOULD do that if their employer’s business model is “sure, the other employees can absorb the extra”— otherwise what’s the employer’s incentive to be less crap?

      3. old biddy*

        My mom listens to a lot of conservative talk radio and was going off about a proposal to give women 3 months maternity leave, that people would abuse it, etc. I just looked at her with a straight face and asked her if it really made sense to have a kid just to get three months paid leave and she shut up.
        As for the coworker taking off, it kind of reminds me of my parents joking that they were glad I was born a few weeks early (mid-December) so they got an extra year tax credit. If they planned it for both pregnancies, more power to them and their reproductive systems, but I’m guessing it was more like a running joke for at least one of the kids

        1. Cercis*

          No one tells you that that tax credit ends the year they turn 18, even if they turn 18 on December 31. I’d definitely have preferred the tax credit at 18 than at newborn, we were making a LOT more when he was 18.

    2. Redd*

      I’ve noticed that people have Lots of Opinions about pregnancies close together (I got some horrendous comments following the loss of my second pregnancy by people saying I shouldn’t have gotten pregnant anyway until my first child was at least a year old) and can’t help but wonder if this was the employee’s way of deflecting someone’s invasive questions/comments about her pregnancy.

      1. Double A*

        Yeah, this 100% sounds like a joke to deflect judgment about having two pregnancies back to back. Like, someone made a comment and she joked back, “Well Anna really screwed me over working the holidays a couple of years ago so I just made sure to have a baby the next two years in a row.”

        This was probably more about deflecting a comments than her feelings about working over the holidays.

        This being the case….can you imagine the conversation if the boss does go for it?? Flabbergasting.

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          My thoughts went in a similar direction (“who knows if the boss actually captured the context right- overhearing a snippet of conversation is a situation with a high likelihood of misunderstanding”) .

          As for timing one’s pregnancies, or other events that come with statutory leaves / job protection / accommodations (such as elective medical treatments etc.), there are always multiple factors at play, including availability of family help, weather, random preferences & superstitions. If someone wants to make getting out of work during a dreaded holiday season into the mix, so be it. (And it’s even more understandable if some of her co-workers regularly get out of that unpleasant period because of their religious practice.) These are rare events over the tenure of a reasonably long-standing employee. Even in the most rule-bound workplace it is impossible to enforce complete equality or fairness.

          The employer would do well to remember that the employee isn’t having a baby *at* her. As Alison’s answer implies, once you’re tempted to have a conversation with your employee about her reproductive decisions (or similar matters that fall into her prerogative to handle her private affairs as it suits her) it is time to pause and think about where this is going.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            It’s a good comment. I mean, if the business wouldn’t tell off someone for being on the pill, or being sterilised, or getting a termination because ‘that doesn’t affect the business’ then they’ve got no right to tell someone off for getting pregnant. None of those decisions are being made *at* the company or other people.

          2. MusicWithRocksIn*

            Weather is a surprisingly common motivator. My OB told me a lot of women plan their pregnancies (if they can do so) so they aren’t heavily pregnant in the worst of the summer heat. I was super heavy pregnant in the worst of the ice and snow of winter, and constantly afraid I would fall down (my balance has never been super) and hurt the baby. Personally I would have liked to target early summer so you can do the fun outdoor birthday parties.

            1. Cat Tree*

              I planned mine to avoid a winter due date because I was worried about going into labor during a blizzard and not getting to the hospital in time. But it’s a lot easier to avoid 3 months than to aim for a specific window.

            2. tamarack and fireweed*

              I live in an extreme climate environment. Weather factors in just about everything – I’ve never been pregnant and won’t be, but I extrapolated :-)

            3. PhyllisB*

              Even that doesn’t always work. And the weather doesn’t always co-operate, either. My first was born in November, the last two in July. Got the full summer experience with all of them. I can hear y’all thinking, “But November isn’t hot!!” Well, I live in the South where summer can be described as “Hell’s front porch”, and that year we had the longest, hottest summer we had experienced in years. It cooled down I think a week before she was born.

            4. Pickwick Picnic*

              I’m giving birth in about 3 weeks, and while I haven’t ENJOYED being heavily pregnant in the heat of summer in a warm climate, I’m kind of looking forward to mat leave in cozy fall! (And my friends who gave birth in spring were babywearing through summer and that wasn’t ideal either!)

        2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          ^ This is exactly what I was thinking. IT sounds like a humorous way to deflect intrusive questions. I’d love an update to hear what the friend ended up doing (hopefully nothing!)

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Re making a joke to deflect, a coworker at my first job was having a difficult time getting pregnant with their second, and obviously very sensitive and upset about it. Someone asked her “so when are you guys having your next child?” (because of course it was that person’s business), and coworker jokingly deflected with a “we’ll buy it as soon as we’re done saving up.”

          Nosy proceeded to go around telling everyone, in an appalled tone, that Coworker and Coworker’s husband were SO materialistic, they would not even consider getting pregnant again until they had enough money.

          People amaze me sometimes.

          1. Lucy*

            That’s awful.

            If I were that coworker, I’d be tempted to say to Nosy, “We changed our minds and decided not to have any more kids, because we are afraid that they’d turn out like you!”
            (Don’t really do this.)

      2. Teapot Repair Technician*

        Yes, this was clearly a goofy quip. My siblings and I all have our birthdays in a same 2-week span. Every year during our birthday fortnight my parents and everyone else joke about their timing.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            No, no ‘your parents only reproduce via non-contact osmosis and only when the weather conditions are favourable and the sun is in Virgo and there’s a number one song with ‘love’ in the title’

            …according to one of my nephews anyway :p

          2. Rachel Greep*

            Probably! My sister and I have the exact same birthday, one year apart. My mom jokes that the next November (when we were conceived) Dad spent the month sleeping on the couch.

            1. Anonymeece*

              I’ve never met anyone else who has this! My brother and I are born exactly 5 years apart, to the day.

              My cousin brought up – much to my horror – that my dad’s birthday was pretty much exactly the same length of time a pregnancy takes.

              1. Uranus Wars*

                In my family we have dad, son, granddaughter all on the same month/day. So obviously different parents but it runs in our family like twins or something.

                My stepmom also shares a birthday with her mom.

              2. Birthday Twins*

                My sister and I are exactly five years apart as well. And our parents’ anniversary is pregnancy length beforehand.

        1. sunglass*

          Yep, my cousins have their birthdays on three consecutive days. My aunt and uncle get ribbed a lot!

          (And now my baby is due that exact same week, so I’m also getting jokes about the Magic Conception Day.)

          1. Redd*

            My brother and I were each due to be born (though I was born a couple weeks late) that just happens to be exactly 38 weeks after Christmas. My sister’s birthday is 38 weeks after my father’s birthday and my other sister’s is 38 weeks after my mother’s. We started doing the math as a joke and then… hm.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              My brother was born 40 weeks and one day after my first birthday, and my sister was born (one week late by the doc’s calculation) 41 weeks and one day after his first birthday.

            2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              I have one child on roughly my birthday+9m and one on roughly Valentine’s +9m. I was due on my dad’s birthday +9m, and spouse on his mother’s birthday +9m.

              It reassures offspring to think their parents only “do it” on special occasions.

              1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                Comment from me to my mother. Once. “November must be a pretty boring month eh?”.

                (Lot of August birthdays in my family :p)

                1. NotAnotherManager!*

                  My kids’ birthdays fall within the same calendar week 9 months after our anniversary, so we’ve endured a bit of teasing about that.

              2. Cercis*

                My older son was conceived over christmas (family get togethers and husband and I started the conversation about when we wanted to start trying). My younger son was conceived in October, when the older son was 13 months old – we wanted the kids to be about 2 years apart and so started trying then thinking it would take a couple of months at least (it did not).

                One day older son was doing the math and realized he was conceived at xmas, then he did the math for his younger brother “halloween?!?!?” and I said “well, more like Columbus day, but no, we do have sex other than holidays you know” and he turned all kinds of red and ran away. I’m actually kind of proud of that comment (other than the Columbus day bit, but that was before Indigenous People’s day was widely communicated).

            3. Rock Prof*

              I was born exactly 9 months to the day after my parent’s wedding day. (They had been living together for over a decade before getting married, so it’s not like they were saving themselves.)

          2. quill*

            My brother and I have birthdays in the same two week window, which would be less weird if we hadn’t had such close estimated due dates… for which I was early, and he was late.

        2. Coffee Anonymous*

          It seems families have been making these jokes for generations! My dad & his 2 siblings (now in their 70s) all have August birthdays. Years ago, while their mother (my grandmother) was still alive, someone made an idle comment about that being an odd coincidence. Grandma just smiled, chuckled a little, and said, “Well, it gets cold in November.”

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Side note, a few years ago I read in fascination that statistics really do show that in areas with extreme summer heat, the introduction of air conditioning did alter the calendar distribution of births. In other words the song wasn’t wrong: “It’s Too Darned Hot!”

          2. MissBaudelaire*

            I may or may not have an “I’m chilly and there’s nothing on TV this time of year.” baby….

        3. CoveredInBees*

          I have found that this is pretty common. My 3 step siblings have birthdays around the same time of year, my partner’s siblings all have a birthday within about 6 weeks of each other, and my own kids have birthdays at the same time of year as do a number of my friends.

        4. Ali G*

          I used to work with 4-5 other coworkers that were all born within the same 2 month span as I was (same year). Apparently that 2-month span was about 9 months after some significant rolling blackouts on the east coast one winter in the 70’s.

        5. Everdene*

          3 of my dad’s siblings (out of 6) have their birthday on the same day. 14 years difference between oldest and youngest.

        6. EPLawyer*

          My brother’s kids were born on the same day 2.5 years apart. No inducement on the 2nd. After congratulating him I told my brother to Pick.Another.Day. He told me he was trying for the Two for One Deal at Chuck E. Cheese.

          1. Just another librarian*

            I…am so confused. If they were born on the exact same day aren’t they exactly 2 or exactly 3 years apart?

            1. Serenity*

              I’m guessing EPLawyer means something like the birthdays are January 2 and July 2 (6 months apart, but the same day of the month), and 2 years difference as well. It sounds like it’s important in family lore, though not really what this thread about conception/due dates is about.

            2. EPLawyer*

              Yah, I did my math wrong. they are both born December 26 (poor kids). I got confused because of their current ages, mom said half a year for one and not the other. I wasn’t thinking. Can I plead lack of coffee?

      3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I’m sorry for your loss and my word those comments you got were effing heartless. And wrong.

        I can’t blame anyone for wanting to deflect intrusive questions about their reproductive systems. It’s truly nobody else’s business what/when/how someone chooses to do, or not do, about their pregnancy.

      4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        As someone who got a “don’t you know what causes this?” from my OWN FATHER (and the kids were over 2.5 years apart!) I bet that’s what it is.

        I find it so wild that OP’s friend is taking this at face value. No one has a baby *at* their manager. No one in their right mind has two babies 12 months apart to get Christmas off! Either way, the manager is not in any danger of this happening every year! I’m kind of amused by the idea of OP’s friend having a talk about it with the employee. Like, how does she envision this talk going? There’s nothing she can say that won’t make her way out of touch with reality.

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          Right? That family had a baby because it was right for them. I promise that employee didn’t sit awake at night thinking “How can I *really* stick it to the manager?” and decide having a baby during the holiday season was the course of option.

          And if my boss ever came to be and told me I’d better not be having a baby during the holidays again, I’d be filing all sorts of complaints. My reproductive choices are none of their beeswax. If me having a baby makes their life harder, I promise it still isn’t harder than my life having the baby!

        2. Cat Tree*

          Also, nobody thinks that caring for a newborn is easier than working a holiday shift, especially someone who already has a kid.

        3. Botanist*

          Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry you got that comment from you dad! My parents had eight kids so I’m hoping my own dad would never try that line :-) I’m pregnant with my second and feeling generally yucky and I must say I’m practicing inside my head for if anyone tries that line on me- I’m going to hopefully be all prepared to say, “yes, I know what causes it. Did you need someone to explain it to you?” Course, since I’m preparing an answer, probably no one will ask . . . sigh . . .

        4. aebhel*

          Right?? I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that one. Good lord.

          Honestly, it sounds like the manager’s feelings were hurt by overhearing some fairly standard employee grousing about having to work around the holidays, and she’s blowing this completely out of proportion. That, or she has no idea how family planning works. Either way, she’ll come across as unhinged if she brings this up to the employee.

      5. Observer*

        can’t help but wonder if this was the employee’s way of deflecting someone’s invasive questions/comments about her pregnancy.

        Good point!

    3. turquoisecow*

      Yeah it sounds like she was joking around and the boss took it seriously. Not only is planning children to avoid a holiday a ridiculous idea, how long would she intend to keep having children to avoid working holidays? Children are a lot of work and money, and they take up space. OP’s friend doesn’t really think she’ll just have a kid every year to avoid working, does she? And people don’t always get pregnant when they plan to, so even if this woman had the conscious thought of “oh if I get pregnant this weekend, I can have Christmas off,” there’d be no guarantee she’d be successful at that attempt!

      1. 30ish*

        She’s probably not getting pregnant in order to avoid working holidays. But given that she wants to get pregnant anyway, she times it so that she won’t have to work holidays.

        1. Asenath*

          But who does this? Especially with any guarantee that it will actually work. I mean, sure, I know teachers who planned their pregnancies so they’d give birth during the summer holidays, which is a broad target, but doing so in order not to work on the evening of Christmas Day, or for that matter, Christmas Eve or during Christmas Day is weirdly specific. I think she (the employee) was making a joke, and LW took it far to seriously.

          1. ecnaseener*

            Well, it sounds like she takes about 6 weeks of leave after the baby is born so it’s not like it takes much precision to make xmas included in that period.

            1. FridayFriyay*

              But it takes a lot of precision to actually
              get pregnant on command. Whether it works out that way is a total crapshoot – between your ovulation/cycle schedule and the fact that each monthly attempt has approximately 20% chance of success, not to mention the chance of miscarriage even if you do get pregnant. Including any 6 week period in a planned pregnancy is not a simple matter.

              1. KateM*

                In order to give birth during certain six week interval, the couple has either one or two chances to get pregnant. That’s… not exactly much.

                1. Dahlia*

                  Also her first kid was born at the end of November! You can’t have sex for six weeks after giving birth. So that’s January when she was cleared to have sex.

                  No one is planning to get pregnant EXACTLY in February or March, 3 months after giving birth, to get out of working Christmas.

          2. MusicWithRocksIn*

            It’s also not like she’s relaxing and having a super chill Christmas. She is taking care of a newborn! and a Toddler! Her holiday is going to madly sleep deprived and frantic! Maybe her family will be around to help take care of the baby more, but still Christmas frantic + newborn frantic is a very chaotic Christmas!

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Seriously! I still remember the first New Year’s (that’s the big holiday in my home country instead of Christmas) after #2 was born. He was 2.5 months old and his brother was two months shy of being 3 years old. I was so exhausted. I made some kind of a holiday dinner (poorly), set the table in our dine-in kitchen (that also had a TV so we could eat and watch a holiday program), wished my then-husband a happy new year, stumbled back to our only room where the kids were already sleeping, and passed out. Don’t remember if I stayed up until the clock struck twelve, but probably no. Husband was mad at me for years for “ruining the holiday”, but “well, tbf”, I had been half asleep on my feet the entire time. I barely remember any of it.

          3. Temperance*

            I have a few teacher friends, and they all shot for May/June or August/September babies so they could take off the summer and their FMLA.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        Honestly, the fact that the manager took the comment seriously makes me question the manager’s common sense. The fact that they’re considering DISCUSSING this as a work issue with the employee who made the quip just confirms that they are out of touch with reality.

        That said, we’re supposed to take letter writers at their word that they are being accurate. So, it’s possible that the employee literally meant that she timed her pregnancy to get Christmas off. IF SO, what exactly does the manager think the outcome of a performance conversation is going to be with someone whose priorities are THAT screwy? The employee is not going to say “Oh gosh, how thoughtless of me. Let me just abort this baby so that our Christmas work schedule is not messed up.”

        1. Observer*

          That said, we’re supposed to take letter writers at their word that they are being accurate.

          That assumes there are no reasons to question their accuracy or judgement. In this case, I would not question the words the manager heard. But there is a LOT of reason to question their judgement and assessment of the situation.

      3. sofar*

        People at my workplace joke all the time about timing a baby to avoid Q4 (which is a hellish time of year for us). My employer gives 3 months maternity and paternity leave, and that leaves us all short-staffed. BUT! Nobody actually takes those jokes seriously, everyone’s happy for the new parents, and nobody would ever blame them.

    4. Artemesia*

      I had to take over another position on top of mine during our busy quarter twice for the director who timed her pregnancies to be out during the high demand quarter. Yeah you can’t say anything, but yeah it also sucks. But you cannot whine about it.

      As a young prof with zero maternity benefits (and our insurance didn’t cover it either) I timed the birth of my second child for the end of the spring semester so I didn’t miss any classes. She was a bit early and I could either pay a sub from my own pocket or rely on colleagues to cover. Colleagues handled my last classes and finals (I graded but they administerd). I also taught my grad seminar on Wednesday after having the baby on Sunday.

      Maternity benefits are better than the good old days.

        1. Redd*

          After having pregnancy complications, I will now do quite a bit to avoid stress during a pregnancy because I’m worried about straing negatively impacting my health or the baby’s. It makes a lot of sense to me to aim for delivery during a high-stress time, so that I’m not trying to protect a pregnancy during that time.

        2. Stitch*

          My sis in law is an accountant and attempted to time my nephew around tax season, but ended up on bedrest early anyway (everyone is fine today). Babies rarely cooperate with plans.

          1. MissBaudelaire*

            I planned my wedding, put down deposits–and then got the positive pregnancy test.

            Baby was due two weeks after the wedding. Would not recommend being heavily pregnant and supposed-to-be-bedrested-from-early labor at your wedding.

    5. WS*

      Where I live, there’s a ton of adults with birthdays in two particular months timed around calving season. Nobody wants to have a newborn or be heavily pregnant during calving season, so farmers try to time things so that the baby is born 3 months before calving season (time to train the baby to take a bottle while you work) or 3 months after calving season (not too pregnant to work during calving). These days with artificial insemination, calving season is spread out over about six months depending on the farm, so the birthday cluster is no longer so apparent.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Fascinating! I would be interested to see how a *six month* fallow party period affects local kids party venues and entertainers. Chuck-E-Cheese deserted from January to June?

        1. WS*

          Rural area so there are no fast food places or kids’ party venues or entertainers – you go put balloons in the hay shed and if you’re lucky you’ll get a tractor ride from the party child’s dad! But it’s not so much a thing these days.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I suspect the real revelation here is that OP’s worried reporter has no grasp of sarcasm.
      That sounds like something I’d expect from a crabby mother-to-be who’s sick&tire of listening to ‘Fergus’ complain about working a holiday that m2be hasn’t worked for 2 years.
      Picture this in your favorite female comedian’s voice: Yeah right Fergus, I’m having another baby JUST because I don’t want to work the holiday. In fact… /s

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Whoops, just realized OP’s friend overheard it directly. I’ve got to assume OP would know if the friend were sarcasm challenged.
        (And I’ve got to get more coffee.)

    7. Healthcare Worker*

      When I worked in the school system we all planned our babies for May/June! Didn’t always happen that way, but we certainly took summer break into consideration.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        I keep saying if I have another baby I want them born around May or June because I am not being pregnant in summer again.

      2. quill*

        Yup! The breakdown on teachers’ kids is that they’re often late spring or early summer babies, enough that people made comments about how they knew my mom started teaching after she had kids because my brother and I are both winter babies.

      3. MoreThanYourJob*

        It’s interesting, I live in a country with a full year of maternity leave and the teachers I know tended to try for a late summer/early fall baby so they could basically be gone for a school year.

    8. MCMonkeyBean*

      My guess would be that the first one just happened that way, and then maybe it was not so much like “I will get Christmas off no matter what” but more like “hey, I really liked having my maternity leave over the holiday season so if we are trying for another let’s try to do that again?”

      Or maybe she really did just want to time both pregnancy’s to cause issues for LW’s friend. But I can’t imagine that’s really the whole story.

      Question! If you have your maternity leave over the holidays, do you get to extend your leave for the days that are already vacation days? I would hope so…

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        They didn’t for mine when I was in that situation. I was due to come back at six weeks. (It got extended another six weeks for other complications).

      2. Extroverted Bean Counter*

        Depends on how your company works!

        Mine allowed for intermittent FMLA, so I structured my leave (beginning mid-October) to maximize my time out of the office. I took my 6 weeks paid through disability (concurrent with FMLA), then came “back to work” two weeks before Christmas to use up all my vacation time as well as get paid for our winter shutdown, then went back on unpaid FMLA for the remainder of whatever I had left. I was out for 15 weeks all together.

        Thanksgiving did not count as a paid day/add any extension, since I was out on FMLA at the time.

      3. Pickwick Picnic*

        I know my mat leave is happening over the holidays this year, but I don’t plan to extend it because it’s not paid (I’m using up my vacation/sick/personal days and then taking the rest out of pocket). So I’m taking 12 calendar weeks rather than work weeks, but have fewer unpaid “vacation” weeks. If the mat leave is paid or partially paid, it might be different. (Maternity leave in the US is terrible, and I recognize that I’m really lucky that to afford to just take the time unpaid.)

    9. Nayo*

      I’m actually laughing so hard at #1—not at the LW but at the situation itself. The idea of someone planning their family around something like “working on Christmas” is hilarious. I suspect what happened was that they were already planning to have a second kid and figured they might as well try to time it to get Christmas off (assuming she wasn’t just totally joking of course).

    10. Meep*

      Yeah I got the gist she wanted her babies to be close together and because Anna is nosy (and most likely had whined to someone about her tech taking two holidays off and being “ungrateful” about the extra pay & food), the woman just said that knowing Anna was in earshot.

      The last thing you want to do after giving birth is being surrounded by wrapping paper and tensel.

    11. Yeti Spaghetti*

      I have a female relative who is very good at timing her pregnancies. Three of her kids have birthdays in a 12 day period (yes, late October into early November), born every other year.

    12. Chickaletta*

      Yes, this is pretty impressive. Also, like Alison said, not something you want to touch with a 10-foot pole. What are you going to do, start a pregnancy competition?? LOL

  2. Callahan*

    I definitely used to add a P.S. to my cover letters as a post-grad job searcher and this letter just reminded me of it! I don’t know what I thought I was doing…

  3. PollyQ*

    #1 — Is boss only hiring especially touchy employees? First the co-worker goes off in a snit over a fairly mild comment, then LW runs off to the bathroom and drops an F-bomb over the co-worker’s behavior? I wonder just how many drinks everyone had, even if they were paying themselves.

    Anyway, LW’s insistence that it somehow shouldn’t count because it didn’t happen at the workplace reminds me of this other classic letter, about an employee who’d punched another at the holiday party and also thought that shouldn’t be held against him.


    1. Willis*

      This. Even the boss saying she’s trying to clean up a mess sounds a little extra dramatic to me. Everything about this story is too much drama for me.

      1. PollyQ*

        Yeah, upon reflection, a 3-day unpaid suspension sounds like an overreaction to what appears to be a first offense. LW shouldn’t have done it and should be in a super-apologetic mind-set, but a stern talking-to when everyone’s back at the office & sober probably would have sufficed.

        1. Teapot Repair Technician*

          If I were LW’s boss I would consider firing LW, and plan to consult with HR or my own boss about if/how to do that. I suspect that’s what those 3 days are for.

          1. PollyQ*

            Really? Even if it were a first offense and LW was an otherwise good employee? Obviously, it’s not good, but it wasn’t violent, criminal, dishonest, or bigoted, which in my mind cover all the behaviors that someone ought to be immediately let go for.

            1. Teapot Repair Technician*

              Yeah. Maybe I’m overly sensitive, but I would do everything in my power to not have to work with someone who told me to F off even once.

              1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                From a managerial perspective, if the person who said it apologised and acted like a sterling individual afterward I’d quite gladly let it slide (less paperwork).

                However, trying to rules-lawyer out of it (‘it wasn’t at work!’ ‘there were reasons’) would make me start looking at that employee as untrustworthy.

                Basically, if you can’t accept when you’ve screwed up – don’t work for me.

                1. Chelle*

                  Yes this. Being mortified and apologizing would have gone far. If someone thinks they did nothing wrong (or even if they didn’t think they did something wrong but were so clueless about workplace norms to pretend..) I think it’s time to move on from them.

                1. EPLawyer*

                  But were they spreading gossip?

                  Honestly everyone overreacted here. I wonder how much alcohol was involved. First the coworker gets upset over a fairly mild comment. Then OP gets all pissed that her relationship with this person is “ruined.” OP doesn’t bother to think about how to talk to the coworker, but goes right to telling the Boss to F Off. Then the Boss immediately suspends OP for THREE Days. Even the “poorly dressed” midnight driver only got a day. And THEN will talk to her about her behavior.

                  Why didn’t Boss let OP come in, see if she was apologetic about how she acted and THEN decide about suspending? If an employee said that to me I would want to discuss what is appropriate even in a non work setting first. Then based on their reaction decide the next course of action. But everyone in this place goes nuclear at the drop of a hat. It must be exhausting to work there.

                2. Cj*

                  The OP texted their boss “Whoever told (the woman) what I said was wrong”, so it seems like they don’t know who told the co-worker what they said. It’s not clear that the boss said it, and if they did, OP isn’t sure about that.

                3. IndustriousLabRat*

                  I, too, wonder if there’s even MORE to the story; I would bet that there is an undercurrent of social toxicity in the background in this work group. The gossip is no bueno. The boss’ reaction is fierce. It sounds like a low key powderkeg that has just blown up.

                4. Observer*

                  Even if they told you to f- off because you were spreading gossip about them?

                  Actually, the OP doesn’t know who made the comment. Even if it HAD been the boss and the OP knew that, it would not have been an acceptable response. You simply CANNOT tell your boss to f*** off and still expect to keep your job. It doesn’t really matter why. When you are just lashing out at ANYONE because SOMEONE did something, that’s even worse. And the OP makes it clear in their text that they don’t know who made the offensive comment.

              2. Dust Bunny*

                My problem with this is:

                “Apparently something was said to my coworker about something that I had said about her (I had said that she was a tough nut to crack in the beginning), and she got mad and left (upset and embarrassed).

                My feelings were very hurt because it took a long time to get to know this woman. I don’t want to start over.”

                This sounds to me like the boss was in on somebody flippantly sharing something the LW said, which was not necessarily negative but was taken badly by the person about whom it was said (I, too, can be a tough nut to crack. It runs in my family), and isn’t taking responsibility for the fallout it will have between this woman and the LW.

                So . . . the LW was wrong, but I also think the boss is wrong if she was cavalier about it and is just going to let the LW start over with the coworker.

                1. Lady Meyneth*

                  I didn’t get that at all. It doesn’t even seem like the boss was the one who told coworker about OP’s old (and very mild) comment, just that she later spoke to him about it.

                  Frankly, if I were the boss and if the original comment really was as OP described, I’d be astounded at the immaturity of leaving in a huff over it, and might say something about it to the other party (OP). If I got a F off in response, I’d probably be reavaluating the characters of my whole freaking team.

              3. Eldritch Office Worker*

                Yes, you’re overly sensitive. People screw up. You can’t run professional relationships that way. You certainly can’t run MANAGEMENT relationships that way.

              4. Curious*

                While I agree that the employee was entirely in the wrong ,I do think that firing them is disproportionate. It did not involve violence or dishonesty. While the words were certainly insulting, they don’t strike *me* as “wounding” (in contrast to, e.g., bigoted insults). It did not involve clients.
                Also, the fact that the behavior took place outside of the workplace, though at a work-related social event, seems to me to reduce — not eliminate, but reduce — the seriousness of the offense.
                Now, the “fix your mess” comment by the boss may well mean that there are additional facts, unrevealed by the OP, that make the matter much more serious. But, the simple “f— off” by itself doesn’t seem “fireable” to me.

            2. ecnaseener*

              There’s also the context of “OP said something about Jane ages ago that was so bad Jane had to leave the dinner when she found out about it, and that’s what made OP so mad.” If the boss doesn’t know it was a fairly mild comment, it would sound like OP might be just a really belligerent person.

            3. pancakes*

              I notice you don’t include a lack of self-control on this list, which was clearly a problem for the letter writer (“I was thinking and speaking at the same time”). Being reactive without regard for consequences can be really problematic in all sorts of workplace situations. I would be surprised if this was the very first time the letter writer acted out, or displayed a tendency to act first, think later. Their confusion as to what followed (“I have no idea what or why she is angry . . .”) also suggests they have incredibly poor judgment, which can also be really problematic in all sorts of workplace situations. If this had been one angry outburst followed by an apology, sure, firing them might be overly harsh, but that doesn’t seem to be what happened.

              1. Indigo a la mode*

                Also, “I was thinking and speaking at the same time” is interesting phrasing for “I didn’t think before I spoke.”

              2. Batgirl*

                Yeah I spotted that “no idea why she’s angry” claim; immediately followed up by an admission that she knows full well. Sounds like unless it’s spelled out to her, she’s going to try to gameplay it. She’s frustrated at the communication block because she wants to worm her way out of it. OP’s plan sounds exhaustingly immature. Just own up to doing something unacceptable! And admit that you know what you did!

                1. pancakes*

                  Right, it’s the same move as “this shouldn’t be considered a work event because the boss was only paying for dinner, not drinks.”

            4. Observer*

              Really? Even if it were a first offense and LW was an otherwise good employee?

              The employee would have to be stellar to avoid it, imo. And the fact that the OP is trying to rules lawyer their way out of it indicates that they are probably NOT stellar. Also, the fact that they actually tried to use “not at a work function” as an argument, and tried to defend themselves by pointing fingers at the person who made the comment shows a lack of judgement and inability to take responsibility for their behavior.

              What they SHOULD have done was APOLOGIZE. Full stop. No weaseling or finger pointing.

          2. Jackalope*

            So the LW posted on the original letter under the name Bob, if anyone wants to go read their comments. The summary as they gave it in the comments was that the group of coworkers kept at it with the “tough nut to crack” coworker who finally got so upset about it that she left. So it wasn’t just one comment and she left, but a series of comments, one of which was the quote from the LW. The LW also mentioned that they were friends with the boss (possibly outside of work? I don’t remember now, but it’s in the comments) and they and the boss would tell each other jokingly to F off, which is perhaps why the LW didn’t think it was such a big deal. If I’m remembering this right (I read it last night at… a rather late hour), then that’s part of why the LW thought this was unfair; they didn’t think that telling the boss to F off was a 3 day suspension event in part because that was a normal part of their relationship (which is not the best thing ever, but makes the whole thing more understandable).

            1. pancakes*

              I saw that, but it still doesn’t make any sense for the LW to blame the boss for supposedly ruining their friendship with the “tough nut.” Or for causing them to “start all over again,” as if building a friendship with a coworker is like assembling an IKEA bookcase. That’s a lot to put on a boss or a coworker, even without a “fuck off” in the mix. To the extent the friendship between the LW and the “tough nut” was damaged by people airing some gossip unflattering to the LW over drinks, the thing for the LW to do is apologize to the “tough nut,” not try to dump the whole thing in the boss’s lap.

          3. Meep*

            The suspension could have been the only punishment up until the point LW continued to poke the bear and weasel their way out of it. Then the Boss decided to try to threaten them with more if they kept pushing.

        2. Medusa*

          I completely agree with you. It’s not great to tell your boss to fuck off, but the whole situation was ridiculous and if I were in the boss’s situation, I would acknowledge that the whole situation was ridiculous, give them a stern talking-to about never speaking to me that way again, and that would be that.

          I did once tell a colleague to fuck off at work, but that’s because he came to my office and commented on how much margarine I was putting on my crackers.

          1. IndustriousLabRat*

            “I did once tell a colleague to fuck off at work, but that’s because he came to my office and commented on how much margarine I was putting on my crackers.”

            I’ll say that one was totally justified haha. If someone had the audacity to vocally begrudge me my overzealous application of aerosol cheese, they’d get the same response!

        3. Roscoe*

          I don’t know. I feel like telling someone to f-off and them not being fired immediately is pretty even keeled. Manager decided to not make a hasty, emotional decision and still punish the person for their actions.

        4. Artemesia*

          I probably wouldn’t fire someone over a public FU to me the boss but it might also depend on previous history with this employee. And while I probably wouldn’t do it, I might suspend her for a few days while I consulted HR and I do think a boss would be entitled to fire her if she thought it would benefit the business to have her gone.

        5. Cat Tree*

          I’m guessing this isn’t OP’s first odd behavior. The whole thing about a single top-secret comment being revealed and completely ruining a relationship even the comment was fairly benign, then the whole angry stomping off to the bathroom makes me think OP is a drama llama in and out of work. This incident might have been the final straw after a pattern of questionable behavior.

    2. Cj*

      I can’t figure out who was paying for the dinner/drinks has anything to do with the letter in the first place.

      1. Lady Meyneth*

        It’s a way to let us know it really wasn’t a work event and the boss had previously acknowledged it wasn’t. Of course, when you tell your boss to F off, that really doesn’t matter.

      2. Lunch Ghost*

        Boss said it wasn’t a work event when saying she wouldn’t pay for drinks, and LW’s major argument is there shouldn’t be work consequences for a non-work event.

      3. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

        I think it’s very relevant because, to me, the boss paying for the meal is what leans the occasion toward being a work event and not a purely social event. All of which goes to say that LW’s insisting that this didn’t happen “at work” is wrong.

    3. sb51*

      It makes me think that the original comment wasn’t that mild (or the retelling of it) — if it was egregious, that could change the picture. And then OP doubling down is super serious.

      Like, if “tough nut to crack” wasn’t the original phrasing. I can think of several phrases that mean very similar things but with added sexist or racist stereotypes.

      1. IndustriousLabRat*

        Yeah the “tough nut to crack” phrasing also struck me as possibly a toned down version for palatability in the retelling.

    4. JB*

      I would bet quite a bit of money that the coworker didn’t ‘go off in a snit’ at all, but rather was just the first to go home.

      I mean, take a look at how the LW talks about the situation. Describing another human as a ‘tough nut to crack’? Their boss and coworkers were laughing at the other end of the table – which they assume has something to do with what went down with this coworker?

      I expect they have a strange and overblown view of relationships with other people in general, and probably completely misinterpreted how ‘upset’ the other person was. (And may have misinterpreted how much of a ‘relationship’ they had with them as well…)

  4. Heidi*

    So here’s what confuses me about Letter 2: The OP says, “I reacted by either telling her to “F OFF” or “go screw yourself” (thanks for ruining my relationship with that woman).” But later in the letter, it sounds like the OP doesn’t actually know who told the woman what the OP said. But if that were the case, why did the OP yell at the boss? Also, why did the OP make a point of looking up “insubordination?” It doesn’t sound like the boss mentioned insubordination at all? There seems to be a lot of misplaced boss-blaming here.

    1. Bagpuss*

      My reading is that they were all drinking (OP specifically mentions alcoholic drinks) and the OP was drunk. Which could explain both the overreaction and the uncertainty about exactly what they said

      1. Curious*

        As Billy Joel put it, “now you just don’t remember All the thigs you said, And you’re not sure you want to know, I’ll give you one hint, honey, You sure did put on a show.”

    2. Bamcheeks*

      My reading is that “I started to get angry so I went to the toilet” covers some *very* obviously angry/ aggressive/ huffy behaviour that OP is skating over, and that the “it” that the boss is talking about is far more than just “go f** yourself”. I suspect the whole thing was A Scene, quite probably A Drunken Scene, and the boss came over to make sure that OP had calmed down and to suggest she went home or something, and instead OP yelled at her too.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        From what I remember of the original letter (will have to go back and read) a lot felt that there had to be more to the story than was covered in the letter.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          For example, was the comment to the coworker, who ended up being hurt and leaving, as mild as the LW thinks. I can think of plenty of examples where someone says something that, to them, is NBD, but is actually a big deal. Or how big a scene was the departure? One person storming out of the place and another storming to the bathroom to cool off sounds like there may have been a bit of fireworks that the LW thinks were NBD, but others might think are a VBD (very big deal).

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          I was thinking that must be the case. Cause honestly, while telling your boss to go screw themselves is obviously not a good idea–being suspended for 3 days over it did sounds little extreme to me in the situation as described.

          But the letter says the boss said something about “while I clean up your mess” in which case it doesn’t make any sense for the boss to have been the only person OP said/did something to. So it definitely seems like there is more to this story to me…

      2. Ali G*

        Yeah everyone in this letter went from zero to drama llama so fast that there has to be a lot left out by OP. My guess is there was already tensions in the workplace that spilled over to dinner with too many drinks and it was handled poorly by all, but most by OP.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I think LW also overlooks that something had already happened before the party to offend a coworker sufficiently that that coworker left the party on hearing of it. That suggests to me either that LW doesn’t know how to interact with coworkers more generally, or that the entire workplace thrives on drama (or indeed both).

      I would not be surprised to hear that LW’s telling the boss to, erm, go forth was just the final example in a list of not-ok behaviours which finally reached either sufficient magnitude or a sufficiently senior decision-maker.

      Going hunting for the original letter to trawl comments and look for an update.

    4. Office Lobster DJ*

      I was picturing the OP storming off to fume and the boss following and saying something meant to help that the OP didn’t like, e.g. telling someone who is all worked up to “Calm down” or “It’s not a big deal.”

        1. Office Lobster DJ*

          Not in and of itself, no. Reading OP’s comments on the original letter, it seemed like the boss was in on the teasing of the co-worker (or whatever it was) that kicked off the drama eruption.

          1. Gothic Bee*

            She even says in the letter that the boss and some coworkers were the ones at one end of the table having the conversation (where they told other coworker about the LW’s “tough nut to crack” comment). So it sounds like boss was at least involved in the drama, if not the one who revealed the comment. Honestly, I think they all sound unprofessional though, so I didn’t feel like the LW’s comment was nearly as bad as it might be in another workplace.

            1. Office Lobster DJ*

              I just noticed another detail – was the co-worker who left in tears the guest of honor? “Teased” to the point of tears and needing to leave an event meant to celebrate your upcoming wedding is pretty darn awful.

  5. Prefer my pets*

    I think Alison is being unusually optimistic about thinking the employee didn’t actually time the pregnancy. I personally know two women who absolutely 100% intentionally & openly timed their multiple pregancies so they wouldn’t have to work the busy season (accounting firm). I wanted to grab them both & shake them because women pulling that crap is exactly why some companies still hesitate to hire women in that life stage.

    Yes, I know them both well enough to be certain, including listen to one complain at lunches that if she didn’t get pregnant that month then she’d have to wait until next year because she wanted to be sure to have it during our company’s busy time, not her husband’s busy period.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      It’s like claiming you always catch flu to avoid working holidays though. Biology isn’t a Sith – it doesn’t deal in absolutes.

        1. Artemesia*

          no one would argue that you always can time a pregnancy — BUT you sure can try and for people who are normally fertile and also know how to ascertain ovulation it is not terribly difficult. no guarantees but for many, not difficult. I managed it once and I know many others who did too. It is really common among teachers who can’t afford to take a lot of time off and who also have long summer breaks.

          1. gmg22*

            This is a good point — I have a family member who is a teacher and expecting a baby, and I’m pretty sure she and her husband made an attempt to “time” things a bit (baby is due in March, so she’ll need a long-term sub for the last three months of the year but then will also have the summer to add on to her leave). Honestly, this to me is simply a common-sense way to navigate around our complete failure to prioritize parental leave in the United States.

            1. Andy*

              On average it takes a year to get pregnant – to a couple that is trying. So, yeah, they can start at some convenient time, but if they actually want baby, it pregnancy will start at random month anyway.

              Unless they will try only in March every year, in which case they risk never having a baby.

          2. Leah K*

            I have gotten pregnant 3 times in my life. Each time it was on the very first “try”. Unfortunately the first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, but in terms of timing the actual conception, my success rate is 3 out of 3. Had I not educated myself on how long it can take an average healthy woman to conceive and how common miscarriages are, I would have been convinced that timing your baby’s birth was a piece of cake.

          3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            You can to a degree, but not every person, every time. I am thinking more of my friends who are 40+ who bet on having it take at least 3-6 months to get pregnant and planned accordingly, but ended up pregnant their 1st cycle. One of them even ended up bumping up her wedding because she didn’t want to have to get a new dress to accommodate a 6 month belly when she had bought one that could be altered for a 3 month in a pinch. Then let’s not even get into babies coming early/late. Sometimes things just don’t go according to plan (i.e. me sending my mom into labor in the middle of teaching a class 1 month early!)

            Things can happen way faster/slower than people expect, although, on average, people can generally time it to a degree,

    2. PlainName*

      To me, that’s just one more argument for longer paid parental leave. If it’s totally normal to be in leave for a whole year after having a child (as is the case in quite a few countries), then the exact timing of the pregnancy really doesn’t matter all that much, for work at least.

      That said, having and caring for a child is no walk in the park, so if someone wants to at least avoid their busy season in their child’s first year of life, I don’t think they are somehow ruining feminism by doing this.

      1. allathian*

        I’m in a country with long maternity leave, and also long vacations, usually taken in the summer. To maximize the time for both parents to spend together with a newborn, more babies are born during the summer months than at any other time.

      2. TimesChange*

        And parental leave for all parents. If both men and women are potentially out for births, it takes the heat off of women. Of course, it requires men of all ages to step up and take their full leave and others to back off giving them crap about it (like my coworker who likes to trot out his bad-old-days of going to the hospital for a couple hours and coming back to work. Dude, that sucked and honestly was a total fail of your manager even at that time. You should have had more time than that. And tell this story in a “glad it’s better now” instead of “You guys are soft and I want to pass on the pain”).

      3. Gothic Bee*

        This. If I was planning to have a kid, yes, I’d probably want to avoid the busy season too. I mean who wants to work the busy season while pregnant? Or work the busy season while dealing with a newborn? It’s not weird for someone to plan their pregnancy to avoid the worst part of the year. I mean, they spend 9 months making an entire child and then they have to deal with the kid once it’s out. I never plan to have kids, but please, I’m begging the US to have better parental leave, especially for the parent giving birth.

    3. Bamcheeks*

      women pulling that crap

      This is not “that crap”, this is totally acceptable and OK and any employer who has a problem with it shouldn’t be an employer.

      Expecting people to time their actual children’s births for the convenience of the company! Good heavens.

      1. missmesmer*

        How dare she make a decision that is best for her and her family instead of considering the business impact of those! Seriously, what in the late stage capitalism.

        1. Blue Eagle*

          What is so wrong about timing something for the convenience of your employer and your co-workers? People have timed medical procedures and vacations so that it doesn’t unduly negatively affect the employer and co-workers.

          In this case the woman has timed it specifically to inconvenience her co-workers. Which means the childfree workers are screwed again, always having to work the holidays because they have no children. Hey, we have brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews and parents and aunts and uncle who we want to spend the holidays with – – – and getting extra pay does not make up for missing celebrations with family.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            You are way off base with this. There is absolutely no evidence that somebody would choose to get pregnant *just* to mess with their coworkers.

          2. Colette*

            She’s not going to have a child every year. At some point, she will stop having children and will be back on the rotation.

            And it doesn’t sound like anyone has to work every holiday, just that they have to work some of them.

          3. J.B.*

            Pregnancy and anything about kids is unpredictable. You could stop birth control then wham, you could have a failure of birth control, or you could go a year and wind up in invasive infertility treatments. Women give birth. Men are parents too.

          4. pancakes*

            Child-free worker here. I’m a woman in my mid-40s and have never wanted kids. If you feel you are being inconvenienced by other people’s family planning, that is because your employer doesn’t invest in adequate coverage, not because other people have kids. The solution is to mandate paid parental leave, not to try to make people who have kids feel bad about it.

            1. MissBaudelaire*

              This! It feels like the blame is all on the employees to make sure things run smoothly. That’s not the employees responsibility, it is the job of the employer to make sure everything is in place for that to happen. I’ve worked at places with a skeleton crew, where ever flu. birth, injury, and vacation was made to sound like a person attack against us, and that our coworkers hated us. No, they have lives outside of work?

            2. Black Horse Dancing*

              So how does mandated parental leave help the childfree and childless with work coverage? Do you think, especially in the USA, that companies will hire temps? They don’t do that now. And you’re forgetting that budgeting often doesn’t allow for hiring extra people, especially for non profits and government jobs. If your office is allotted four people, that’s it. No getting another unless one leaves permanently.

              1. pancakes*

                I am not forgetting that US employers are notoriously stingy and would prefer to continue lagging far behind every other wealthy country in the world on this issue – I simply disagree with you that we should continue to let them hold the rest of us back. And yes, I do think they would hire temps if well-crafted legislation left them with basically no other choice but to do so or go out of business.

                If you want more details, the US Congress Joint Economic Committee Fact Sheet titled “The Economic Benefits of Paid Leave” is a good place to start.

              2. pancakes*

                To answer your first question more directly, I think it would be an enormous help to all of us who work for a living for paid leave to become standard, and a non-issue. Child-free people like me don’t benefit from the present scenario, in which people are trying to scrutinize one another’s family planning decisions, or whether their coworker really needs a sick day. It’s a horrible way to live.

                1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                  My current employer offers paid maternity leave, paid paternity leave, the same amount of leave if someone has adopted a child, is excellent at letting me have all my medical appointments without docking my pay – that’s the kind of system that inspires loyalty in staff.

                  There have been, once or twice, a complaint on the company forum about why can’t people without kids or medical issues get that amount of time off, but such threads get locked.

              3. Observer*

                And you’re forgetting that budgeting often doesn’t allow for hiring extra people, especially for non profits and government jobs

                If leaves were longer, companies would actually be more likely to get coverage, because it makes more economic sense. And while I can’t speak to government, in the NFP sector, if this were the law then NFP budgets would adapt. I’ve seen this happen – where funders didn’t want to pay for X, but since the law REQUIRED it, it started being factored into budgets.

                The best way to handle something like this is some sort of pool or insurance.

              4. Starbuck*

                “So how does mandated parental leave help the childfree and childless with work coverage? Do you think, especially in the USA, that companies will hire temps? ”

                Proposals that I’ve seen (and support) for such a system are publicly funded – similar to unemployment insurance. So that’s how coverage is provided.

            3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              Agreed. Also a company that does give proper paid parental leave will have less problems hiring staff. Treat your staff right (parental leave, medical leave etc) and people will *want* to come and work for you.

          5. bamcheeks*

            >>What is so wrong about timing something for the convenience of your employer and your co-workers?

            Literally nothing wrong with doing that if you want to! Expecting other people to time their families for your convenience and criticising them if they don’t? Absolutely Not.

          6. FridayFriyay*

            If the flip side of “timed it specifically to convenience her family” is “timed it specifically to inconvenience her coworkers” that is not the pregnant person’s fault or responsibility.

            1. Olivia Mansfield (formerly Mallory Janis Ian)*

              Exactly. If I were able to choose my timing, and were only going to be pregnant a couple of times (give or take) in my entire life, I would time it to convenience my family and make the most of the time at home with the baby. It’s not like I’m going to be pregnant every year for a dozen years in a row.

          7. Elle*

            Hi! Married to a high-level exec at a public CPA firm here. Several of my husband’s co-workers have done this and it’s totally rational for themselves and for the company.

            She didn’t time it inconvenience her co-workers – she timed it so that she wouldn’t have to be heavily pregnant during busy season. This is a weird take that make it al about the effects on everyone else and not about what is best for her life and her family. Timing your baby for January (ish) so that by the time the 80-hour weeks start the baby will be as old as possible (and you will be getting as much sleep as possible) is actually great for EVERYONE including the company! Imagine if you were heavily pregnant during busy season and ended up unexpectedly on bed-rest? Or having a premie? Or just not up to working 6-7 days a week — would co-workers cut you some slack if your were pregnant but still working or nursing a newborn? Most public firm cultures (especially big 4) would not be great at that. Better for everyone to be up to your full capacity or not there at all.

            1. Carol*

              Yeah…I feel like some commenters have, like, no idea what it is like to be working and managing pregnancy symptoms, or working and managing postpartum symptoms, or working and managing a newborn…of course you would think about how to time that to the advantage of your family.

              Honestly every time I’ve planned a pregnancy it’s like a 2-3 year block of time you’re thinking about and trying to anticipate, not just the timing of the leave. Pregnancy itself is grueling/exhausting and takes the better part of a year, birth is dangerous and requires 6-8 weeks of recovery and can cause serious complications, and then raising the baby for the first, like, 1-1.5 years, is just insane. All of these stages have different impacts on your capacity to work.

              1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                My very brief experience with pregnancy (8 weeks) was horrendously hard on both my body and my mental state. Definitely never want to go the whole 9 months.

                Thus I try to give pregnant people at work the accommodations they may need because I assume the actual last thing they need right then is me adding more stress to the situation. That’s likely to cause worse symptoms.

          8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            I mean, you’ll have the last laugh when she has college bills for two kids at once.

            Or medical bills for two kids at once for 20+ years straight. That’ll show her how to get a Christmas off.

            Don’t know why it’d make you feel better, but you do you.

          9. EventPlannerGal*

            Do you genuinely believe that this woman has actually sat down and consciously decided to time her pregnancy to annoy her coworkers? Is that how you think people run their lives?

          10. Pennilyn Lot*

            Yeah you don’t really get to invoke the “childfree people are being discriminated against” card when you’re also advocating for people to make major important life decisions about their family with a focus on how it would affect their childfree coworkers. Like seriously, think this through and really think about what you’re suggesting.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              Am childfree and very much agree with you. The whole ‘I’m having to work extra because someone had a baby’ thing is something you take up with a manager to see if they can do something to help with the workload.

              It is not a reason to start blaming the parents in the office.

              (I’ve had a related conversation with my boss once: about how I could never get time off around xmas because it was ‘reserved for people with children’. I didn’t rant at all the people who *were* getting that time off.)

          11. Lance*

            As others have said in several other spots: having a child isn’t exactly a walk in the park. And having several younger siblings (I’m the oldest) and seeing how much the parents went through to take care of them that early… I might even wonder if they’d have an easier time working a very busy period of time than taking care of an infant.

            Your line of thinking is fairly shallow here.

          12. Anonymous Hippo*

            No, she timed it to convenience herself. If the coworkers were inconvenienced, that’s on the business. It is the businesses responsibility to staff, not the employees.

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                Yeah, it warms my heart to see the childfree and the parents presenting a united front on this one to tell the commenter how obnoxious their logic is.

          13. Esmae*

            I mean, childfree coworkers also have the option of planning medical procedures for during the holidays. I had my wisdom teeth out over Christmas one year. (Terrible idea, do not recommend at all).

            1. Paris Geller*

              Ah yes, I’m having flashbacks to when I got my wisdom teeth removed December 26th. It was a race to get an appointment too, because I was on my parent’s insurance at the time and we had meet all the deductibles & out-of-pocket maximums that year already.

            2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              Had a laparoscopy done on New Year’s Eve. Welcoming in the new year with stitches up your front? Do not recommend :p

          14. Observer*

            People have timed medical procedures and vacations so that it doesn’t unduly negatively affect the employer and co-workers.

            Which is ok – MOST OF THE TIME. But the idea that any person needs to TIME THEIR MEDICAL PROCEDURE for the convenience of an employer is . . . I’m having a hard time finding words for that. But it’s gross and terrible.

          15. biobotb*

            Wait, you think she should have prioritized her coworkers’ needs/wants over her own? How would she do that? Poll them about best dates? What if her coworkers don’t agree? Who does she prioritize first then, if not herself?

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              What if they assign her a date, but she fails to get pregnant 40 weeks ahead of it? should she stop trying? I mean, she has already committed to a date that her coworkers agreed upon. If she cannot meet it, she cannot meet it. And what if she times it to a date and then the baby arrives too early? Does one get written up for this? So many batshit possibilities.

          16. Starbuck*

            There’s nothing *wrong* with it, per se, if an employee feels compelled to do it – but there should be absolutely no expectation from the business that an employee would attempt to time something so unpredictable and so personal as the conception of a child based on their employer’s schedule.

            If you can describe how you would make such a request of an employee of yours, I’d be fascinated to hear it.

          17. missmesmer*

            If you honestly think that this woman has made a major life decision that is going to heavily affect the next 2-3 years of her life (being pregnant, giving birth, being a new mother) *just* so that she could mess with her coworkers’ holiday plans, I warmly invite you to step back and reconsider your position.

    4. TheProblemWithEyes*

      I freely admit to timing my pregnancies to make the absolute most of company downtime/shutdowns, and my partner’s school holidays, and to avoid being heavily pregnant or returning to work during times of high stress. Why shouldn’t I make the very best decisions possible for my family? If I can choose (hypothetically and in an ideal world) to make my life easier by controlling when I have a baby, why shouldn’t I? My company would let me go in a heartbeat if it made corporate sense for them, and that is their right, to prioritise business needs when making business decisions. It’s my right to prioritise my own family when making family decisions.

      I’m deeply sceptical of anyone who thinks it is unacceptable for a woman to put herself first when it comes to her own body. You need to take a look at your thinking around this, it smacks of misogyny.

      1. Stay-at-Homesteader*


        Btw I wanted to time my first pregnancy around the quiet season (summer, I worked in academic admin). It did not work out, and in fact my kid ended up being born early and right in the middle of back-to-school prep. Was anyone thrilled? No. Did anyone comment? No. My reproductive life is none of their goddamn business. And, if you really wanted to, you could argue I left my job in the lurch by quitting (it took them a year to replace me) and I set women back by subsequently deciding to stay home for a few years and having #2. But that’s just as ridiculous, because feminism is about choice.

        1. Jay*

          A friend of mine wanted to have her first child in early July after she finished her third year of residency. Since she knew it might take a while to conceive, she gave herself some leeway….and it didn’t take a while. The baby was born in March – two weeks late. She only had six weeks of leave and worked those two weeks because she wanted to take leave after the baby came, not before. She spent most of those two weeks sitting in my office because no one would let her do anything.

          tl;dr: bodies and babies don’t cooperate with plans.

    5. Alice*

      I’m childfree and I 100% approve of your coworkers, they did what was best for themselves and their family. What was the alternative? Work busy season while heavily pregnant? Give birth and then get back to work during the busiest time of year?

      If you seriously think this is a reason not to hire women, maybe have a good look at your misogyny. And consider why your first reaction was to attack the women who did this, rather than the companies.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Agreed. I mean I’m vocally childfree, have an actual phobia of pregnancy and still believe another person choosing to become pregnant has absolutely nothing to do with me.

        Basically it’s a case of ‘treat others as you wish to be treated’. If I don’t want people to call me names for not liking children I shouldn’t be hostile to them for doing the opposite.

        1. londonedit*

          Absolutely. I have friends who are teachers who have broadly planned their pregnancies so the baby would be born at the start of the summer holidays and they’d have a full school year as maternity leave. I also know people who have planned for their babies to be born in September/October so they’d be one of the oldest in their school year.

          Also, you really can’t legislate for when babies will actually end up being born. I have three friends who were all pregnant at the same time a few years ago – their due dates were within two weeks of each other. But one baby was two weeks early, one was on time and one was two weeks late, so their actual birthdays are more than a month apart. So it’s a bit silly to plan a pregnancy in order to miss one particular holiday – you never know when the baby will actually end up arriving!

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Yup, the only constant I ever observed studying biology is that it has NO constants. There’s always something unpredictable :)

          2. KateM*

            Mine and a friend’s babies had very near due dates. Hers was two weeks before mine. I gave birth a week early, she gave birth two weeks past, making my baby to be born a week before hers. We never have managed to decide which child was older.

        2. Mannequin*

          “I mean I’m vocally childfree, have an actual phobia of pregnancy and still believe another person choosing to become pregnant has absolutely nothing to do with me.”

          I’m so childfree that if my menopause hadn’t hit in 2020, I would have had a “no more fertility party”, and couldn’t care less if/when other people choose to get pregnant.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        I don’t have kids but from what I hear, I would not want to be heavily pregnant during a Houston summer, so if I could time it to avoid that, heck, yes, I would.

        1. Galadriel's Garden*

          Ha yes, this! I had two coworkers who were heavily pregnant in July in Chicago, and they were both *absolutely miserable*. I’ll take No Thank You for 500, Alex!

        2. generic_username*

          Haha, I’m planning my first pregnancy around not being pregnant during summer as well, and around some weddings I’ve been invited to next year (lol, not being pregnant so I can drink during a 4-day wedding extravaganza in May, then being pregnant but not a mother during a destination, child-free wedding in September).

      3. Sylvan*


        Also, a company that shows some understanding that people have lives and families outside of the workplace is a good place for childfree employees, too.

    6. KateM*

      What I think was that employee was very optimistic and in her case, it actually happened. :)

      Signed, someone who was very optimistic when planning her first child, too.

      1. FridayFriyay*

        Hah! Right? The first month trying I was so pleased with our would-be ideal due date. The next 6 months I evaluated the pros and cons of would-be due dates, some of which were convenient and awesome personally and professionally and some which would have been quite burdensome. FIVE years later I finally had a pregnancy stick around and by then the due date timing wasn’t even a factor. My son came unexpectedly 5 weeks early anyways which reigned chaos down upon my workplace. No one complained about the original due date timing because by then they all knew I had no control over it (years of failed infertility treatments and my team knew we were trying unsuccessfully) and when he came early it was just something everyone had to deal with (me included!) Babies don’t give a shit about your plans so purposely planning for the convenience of your employer is a pointless endeavor.

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          Babies come when they darn well choose, and it’s a good reminder that life doesn’t care about your plans. Kids get sick during big projects, people die during busy season, people get injured when it really isn’t great.

    7. WS*

      How long is your busy period??? Maternity leave is a minimum 6 months here and usually a year, but you can ask to hold the job for two years. I work in a small business, most of the staff are female and many aged 20-35, and that’s just something you work with. Male staff are more likely to suffer sports injuries and you don’t get warning for that!

      1. anonymous73*

        In the US, it’s not even close to 6 months. In every place I’ve worked there isn’t even a separate maternity leave plan. Unless you work for a place that has a specific plan, you get a max of 12 weeks under the FMLA act. And that doesn’t even guarantee you the same job when you come back, only A job. It’s crap.

      2. RussianInTeaxs*

        If they are in the US, that can be as little as non, and as much as 3, but very rarely more than that, and not at all guaranteed to be paid.

    8. Stitch*

      Can we not? The idea that someone would commit to 18 years+ of raising a kid to get a Christmas off ridiculous.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        It’s on the scale of a boss who tells his staff member after she got into a near fatal car crash that the timing of it was a bit suspicious and was obviously just done to get a longer summer holiday.

        (Dear Evil Boss 2017 – you sucked in sooooo many ways)

      2. The OTHER other*

        It is ridiculous, but it’s what the LW says someone told a coworker. OK, it’s secondhand info and perhaps the coworker was exaggerating but it was something they said.

        1. Observer*

          but it was something they said.

          Yes, but there is absolutely no reason to believe that those words were taken literally. And given that the Supervisor thinks that it actually makes sense to have a conversation about it, I TOTALLY do NOT trust their judgement on the matter!

      3. Extroverted Bean Counter*

        It’s totally ridiculous to think someone had a child JUST to not work Christmas.

        But it’s fully within the realm of credulity to think a person, who was planning and wanting to have a child, timed it to fit into a certain schedule. Teachers in the US are famous for doing this so they can actually get adequate time home with their infants during the summer.

        And personally I don’t think it’s an outrage for a person to not want to be working during a very stressful time of year while either a) in the throes of the sleepless and often harrowing newborn stage or b) pregnant.

      4. Despachito*

        And to think they might also save some money on the kid’s birthday presents – as it is so close to Christmas, they definitely do not have to buy two full-fledged sets of present, do they?

        (this is intended to be sarcastic. I am sure it is not necessary to spell it out for this commentariat but obviously the pregnant lady’s irony did not land well, so I’d better play it safe.)

    9. Roscoe*

      I mean, I’m a guy, so maybe my opinion doesn’t matter. But so what. Maybe that was also the most convenient time for her husband. Maybe having a baby around that time worked for other reasons. People can choose to have kids whenever and for whatever reason they want.

    10. le teacher*

      I mean…maybe? But it isn’t like you can snap your fingers and become pregnant. Sure you can try but there is no guarantee you’ll actually get pregnant right when you want to.

      1. Katefish*

        Yeah, I’m about to go on a conveniently timed maternity leave (we celebrate Christmas, I’m returning to work ~12/27), albeit not during our busy season. But we also struggled a long time to have this child, and I wouldn’t have been able to plan for a specific maternity leave even if I wanted that.

    11. ecnaseener*

      “Pulling that crap” = “timing massive life changes based on what works best for them personally instead of their employer” ?

      1. Carol*

        I’d even say “pulling that crap” = “taking on a dangerous and all-consuming medical condition for 9 months + 3 months postpartum + 1 year of new baby care with potential life-threatening complications at any time and lifelong impacts guaranteed.”

        Yeah, I feel really bad that the coworkers were not prioritized here (eyeroll)

    12. anonymous73*

      But it really doesn’t matter. If this woman was lucky enough to be able to actually time her pregnancies for a certain time of year, it’s her business and her business only, regardless of why she did it. Yes it’s a crappy reason, but doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Manager should let it go.

    13. FridayFriyay*

      Ah yes, those evil scheming women! How dare they prefer to be on leave with their newborn baby (practically a vacation!) during their company’s busy season rather than heavily pregnant and working long hours or returning to work 6-12 weeks after their baby was born into the busiest time of the year. And audacious, really, to want their partner who also works and likely gets even less parental leave upon the birth of their child not to be working and also helping to care for a brand new baby during their own work’s busy season. /sarcasm

      It’s incredibly easy to see what motivated these choices, and congratulations to anyone lucky enough to wrangle their fickle reproductive biology in cooperating with a plan that best serves the needs of their family.

    14. Chelle*

      Someone could time their surgery. They could time their leave of absence. There are SO MANY things that people could do whether its pregnancy or not. That companies will use ANY excuse to not hire women is ridiculous and really makes no sense in the scheme of things.

    15. Flower*

      You know maybe if we (I’m assuming US) had functional required paternity/non-birthing parent leave, she wouldn’t feel the need to avoid his busy period. Because I’d bet it’s because he wouldn’t be able to get leave approved during his busy period, which leaves her alone caring for a newborn (with another young child!) while recovering from giving birth. If they both got reasonable (read: much longer) lengths of guaranteed/required leave… this would be far less of an issue.

      Other people already talked about avoiding pregnancy during very stressful times or returning to stress with a newborn at home.

      I have no plans of being pregnant. I can’t imagine begrudging anyone’s attempts to time a pregnancy to best suit their family (including having enough appropriate care for the newborn being added).

    16. BethDH*

      Me being on maternity leave at a busy time, communicated well in advance, was far less disruptive to my org than my friend’s bed rest in her second trimester when she had carefully tried to avoid her company’s busy season.
      While there are some jobs that are harder to cover with temps and advance planning than others, I do think it’s a sign of lacks in management if the company puts the burden of one employee’s planned leave on other employees.

      1. Stitch*

        Yeah, maternity leave is anticipated.

        In my office what we had to work on was when a colleague of ours was suddenly diagnosed with a dangerous brain tumor and needed surgery the next day. He went in for what he thought was a pinched nerve in his shoulder.

        But we figured it out. And of course no one blamed him.

    17. AY*

      I know you’re going to get a lot of grief for this comment, but to me, a big reason why many companies hesitate to hire women “in that life stage” is because men either don’t have or don’t take paternity leave. This happened all the time in BigLaw–men were offered fairly generous leave packages but didn’t use them. (It didn’t help that the older attorneys were always going on and on about traveling out of state the day after the baby was born.) This means that only women take extensive leave and are thus given fewer opportunities. In the end, the responsibility is on women to “time” their pregnancies for the benefit of the company. If both men and women were taking parental leave whenever a baby is born, you’d see less of this panic about women “scheming” to screw people over.

      1. AY*

        To be clear, I do not agree with the “scheming” or “pull this crap” framing! It’s an expression of a sexist stereotype about women being schemers and manipulators. What I mean is that this framework would probably disappear altogether if both men and women were taking family leaves regularly, even during busy seasons.

      2. sunglass*

        Yeah, there definitely needs to be better paternity leave availability, but there also needs to be a culture shift so men *actually take it*. A friend of mine worked somewhere where he had six months of paternity leave – paid! And the company hired a temp! He took all six months, but hardly any other men in his company did. Most of them took about a month. He was pretty senior by the time his kid was born so he could weather all of the pointed remarks and things, but it was eye-opening to him to see how people really had a problem with him taking that much time. It just wasn’t seen as The Done Thing for men to take long paternities, even though it was better for him, his baby, and his wife.

        If men taking that time was more available *and* more normal, perhaps women wouldn’t be so negatively affected by taking maternity leave (or just the potential that maybe one day they might possibly take maternity leave).

        1. Parakeet*

          Also, it should just be…parental leave! Families with various gender configurations adopt babies, and the babies still take new-baby levels of work. Cis women sometimes have cis women partners who become pregnant via a donor, and both the birthing woman and the non-birthing one might want to take parental leave. Trans men and nonbinary people sometimes give birth. Trans women and nonbinary people are sometimes a non-birthing partner who wants to be with the baby and the partner in the early weeks/months. I’ve known people in almost all of these scenarios!

          1. quill*

            Seems like it would be much easier overall to standardize parental leave and ensure you have adequate medical leave to deal with complications for the person doing the gestating… but ‘murica.

          2. Galadriel's Garden*

            My company shifted to one month of paid parental leave for both births and adoptions, then added something like an extra 10-12 weeks for moms. All told it’s about four months for a new mom, which isn’t necessarily groundbreaking or the best in the US, but it’s still better than the TWO DAYS OF PATERNITY LEAVE my husband gets. That is still absolutely, mind-blowingly crap to the point of insulting to me, gah! Sure, he can take all of his vacation and sick time as leave, but let’s hope he doesn’t need to actually use any of those for their intended purpose, or to take a kid to a doctor’s appointment, or any other *parent* things. Nope, his company is still operating on the model that he works and I stay home…which is, hilariously, the opposite of what we would want to do should we ultimately decide to have kids.

          3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Part of why I adore my current employer (even though they do have their faults) is that they give equal maternity/paternity leave for biological parents and adoptive parents of any gender.

            I mean, I’m never going to use this leave (childfree person) but it means a lot that a firm is willing to see all things as equal.

      3. TimesChange*

        Yes yes yes. A couple of years ago, my job added a longer paternity leave option and made the additional time retroactive for the previous year. Two of my male coworkers suddenly had an additional 2 weeks to take for their previous year’s babies. Our manager (older and male) pushed them to take it and they did. There was a bit of grumbling from other men (I work with mostly men), but I was so glad they took it (I mean, I think everyone should take all of their leave) and my manager was supportive. I think it’s paying off, this year we’ve had a couple of guys who have been very open about “My paternity leave is coming up” and people comment on it (as appropriate, in context) and I don’t hear the grumbles (probably some are still grumbling but aren’t public about it) but I feel it’s much more normalized. People talk about it in the planning effects “Chris is going on leave next week, you know, assuming things go as planned.” or “Chris is on paternity leave. I think he’s be back in two weeks so should we look at this now or wait for him to weigh in.”

        1. PhyllisB*

          My husband worked in the auto industry when our kids were born, and at the time the union had just negotiated paternity leave. I think one week? Maybe two. Don’t remember. Anyway, he took leave when our first was born, but he got so much teasing and negative comments that he refused to for the others.

    18. RussianInTeaxs*

      I am a child-free woman in my 40s. People based their family decisions based on what’s best for them and their family first, and why wouldn’t they? It’s more important than work being inconvenienced.
      And good for them if their planning worked out.

    19. BlueBelle*

      How dare these women choose their family over their work! *sarcasm* Maybe if women in the US were given decent mat leave and could actually stay home to recover and care for their newborns this wouldn’t be an issue. In other countries, women are given a year and their position is filled to cover for them.
      I bet the non-pregnant spouse isn’t getting talked about like this, even though they likely took time off for the birth of their child.
      Stop punishing women for making choices about their family, and accept the fact that we have an issue in the US that forces women to make such decision which then negatively effects their careers.

    20. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yeah, the problem is totally those scheming women and not the company’s failure to hire adequate coverage to accommodate staff outages or busy seasons, the dearth of appropriate parental leave, or support structures for employees.

      Make sure you give those women a good shake and let them know that they’re given the patriarchy ammunition and need to make their life choices around what’s most convenient for their coworkers and the company – that’ll teach ’em!

    21. EBStarr*

      Yeah… I don’t think that’s why women face gender bias in hiring. Among many, many other fallacies in this comment.

    22. MoreThanYourJob*

      Literally what are you talking about?

      Don’t blame the failures of our society on individual women. Sexist hiring practices are not their problem.

    23. Gene Parmesan*

      You can’t time a pregnancy. At least, there is a fair degree of luck and chance. It is not even close to a guarantee.

      With my first child, I was a high school teacher, and my due date would have been (by chance) at the beginning of Christmas break. Except, the baby came 12 days after his due date, at the very end of Christmas break. I guess I sure made it inconvenient for my employer, having to have a long-term substitute for another two weeks.

      As far as “women pulling that crap”, I think other commenters have covered it. Except I’ll add that pregnancy also usually involves a male partner–does he get any of the blame of inconveniencing the company?

      1. WS*

        Nope, because even if he does have leave available he can often be bullied into not taking it. I remember my brother asking for – not even leave but – more regular hours when he had a newborn, and he was promptly put on the “mommy track” with a whole lot of frustrated women co-workers. He quit and got another job that had paternity leave for his next child.

    24. Observer*

      I wanted to grab them both & shake them because women pulling that crap is exactly why some companies still hesitate to hire women in that life stage.

      No, that is NOT shy companies discriminate. If it were, then they would never hire young men just out of college, since SOME young in that demographic act in ways that make “bro culture” a negative meme. Which is to say that companies who discriminate do so because they are bigoted not because the target group (in this case women) actually do stuff to cause companies to LEGITIMATELY worry about hiring them.

      Yes, I know them both well enough to be certain, including listen to one complain at lunches that if she didn’t get pregnant that month then she’d have to wait until next year because she wanted to be sure to have it during our company’s busy time, not her husband’s busy period.

      Notice that things did not always go exactly as she planned, and she wasn’t able to plan for having two children exactly a year apart. In fact, it’s practical for most couples that are fairly young, in good health and with no fertility problems to aim for a certain time of year *IF* they are not picky about what year they are looking at having the baby. But change ANY one of these factors and it gets MUCH less likely.

      Beyond that it’s almost impossible to plan for having two babies within less than 16 months or so. The reason is that it is a LOT easier to prevent conception that to make sure that you ovulate, especially that you ovulate at a particular point. You simply cannot PLAN on restarting to ovulate within 3 – 4 months of having a baby, which is what has to happen in order to have a baby within the year. Sure, it happens. But there is really no way to FORCE the issue.

      I think Alison is being unusually optimistic about thinking the employee didn’t actually time the pregnancy.

      Actually, I think that the “optimism” and frankly naivete is on the part of people who think it’s just SOOO easy to plan childbirth with laser precision.

    25. Elle by the sea*

      I wish falling pregnant worked that way! I have been planning to get pregnant for a long time and I haven’t succeeded, despite not having any reproductive health issues. The idea that there are tons of women out there who are able to time their pregnancies so precisely is absolutely preposterous and that’s not how biology works. It’s like lottery. It would be cool, though. :)

    26. Le Sigh*

      “I wanted to grab them both & shake them because women pulling that crap is exactly why some companies still hesitate to hire women in that life stage.”

      If in the year 2021 you sincerely think the reason companies decline to hire women is because they haven’t yet contorted their behavior and lives enough to suit the needs of employers — who especially in the U.S., hold the power — well, I dunno what to tell you.

      You can twist yourself in knots until you’re blue in the face, but that won’t change the reality of systemic, gender-based discrimination, which is deeply ingrained in all our thinking, our systems, and our structures. The system is designed to work against them, and blaming individuals for a systemic-level problem only serves to point the finger in the wrong place.

    27. Non-prophet*

      Even if it’s true that these women “100% intentionally & openly timed their multiples pregnancies” successfully in the way that you describe…so what if they did? It still doesn’t give employers a right to opine on their employee’s reproductive decisions.

      Most people spend 40+ years in the workforce. If employees want to prioritize their preferred timing/convenience for major life events like pregnancy, I have no issue with that. Businesses act in their own best interests every day. Employees can and should act in their own best interests, as well. And at the end of the day, planning around maternity leave is actually one of the easier leaves for an employer to cover, because there is typically plenty of notice.

      I’d also argue that most people are not that open about their fertility journeys (nor should they be in most professional contexts!). So perhaps these women really DID time their pregnancies as described here. Or there could be a more complicated backstory. In my case, I tried to plan my first pregnancy in a way that would be convenient for my employer. That pregnancy sadly ended in a miscarriage. After losses and complications, I realized that I needed to stop caring whether my pregnancy would be “convenient” or “inconvenient” for my employer. We now have a delightful toddler who happened to be born at a really busy time in my work cycle. No one knows this backstory except my husband, my doctors, and a few close family members.

      Thankfully, my employer recognizes that this doesn’t diminish my value and potential as an employee. I’m being groomed for leadership roles, and no one has accused me of “pulling some crap.”

    1. Delta Delta*

      Related: since this season of I Think You Should Leave came out I can’t see a folding table without yelling, “faaaa—, they’re so dirty!”

  6. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP2: I can kinda see where the boss is coming from at this. You lost your temper in a really big way over something minor and shouted at your boss rudely.

    Even outside of work if one of my staff acted so hostile I’d be inclined to give them some time a) for you to cool off b) for you to work on realising your mistake and making an apology c) for me to cool off and d) to look back through your employment and see if this has ever been an issue at any other time. The wording of the text might, might, imply that the boss is trying to do damage control against other people complaining about your actions then or at other times.

    In other words, they might actually be trying to *save* your job, and really need you to not dig yourself in deeper.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Oh and, definitely, drop any kind of ‘trying to reason your side’ stuff like with giving dictionary definitions or stating it wasn’t at work. When you’re in a 20 foot pit of your own making it’s better to ask for help to get out, be nice to your rescuers and resolve never to dig directly beneath yourself again – not try to see if you can get it to a 40 foot pit.

      Lest I be accused of being sanctimonious: I’ve done major screwups at work. I’ve been known for having a really bad temper in the past. Even to this day I, outside of work, will tend to swear like Malcolm Tucker dancing barefoot across Legos. The trick to having a successful career with all that behind me is that I apologised, resolved never to let my home persona mix with my work persona in any way and really did an excellent job afterwards.

      1. A Library Person*

        I once told a coworker sarcastically “I hate you” in the same way I would say it to any of my beloved friends.

        She said something to me about it, kindly although it was obvious she had been hurt, and I ended up erasing it from my vocabulary entirely (well, when aimed at people I like, anyway…). That was a very difficult lesson to learn, but I’m glad she was relatively gracious about it because she certainly had standing to be quite upset with me. I apologized, obviously, and was way more careful going forward, especially with her.

        That was about 5-6 years ago now and I still cringe thinking about it, but it made me rethink how I talk to people in and outside of work contexts and I am grateful that I learned that lesson as early as I did in my career.

  7. Speaks to Dragonflies*

    For #4, I can’t help but imagine a bunch of folks in business attire in a mosh pit and being the wildest ones there.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Trying real hard to stay anonymous here but….I’ve seen a version of that and it’s exactly as funny as you think :)

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Ha! A long time ago, I worked for a prim&proper executive who was a secret Grateful Dead fan. He had followed the tour in his van during college and still took vacation days for local shows. I now am imagining him wearing his tailored button up shirt, crisply press pants, and brightly polished shoes…while waving a potted begonia over his head and getting a bit potted himself.

    3. voluptuousfire*

      Hah. That would likely be the case. I knew of one metalhead in our local scene who worked in finance and he came to a gig on a Friday night after work in his button-down and suit pants and he took off his button-down and there was his Iron Maiden shirt! LOL. It was kinda like Superman in that way.

      1. IndustriousLabRat*

        My delightful attorney is a well-disguised and impeccably tailored Deadhead, which I found out on a hot day in a stuffy office when he took off his jacket and I could quite clearly see all the details of his tie dye undershirt through the fabric of his Oxford. Thus it was less of a surprise when I went to a festival a few weeks later and recognized the bassist in some jazz-funk-jam band like… ok this is out of context… um, hi Doug (not real name)?

        Turns out he can shred more than documents!

        Really, doing fun cultural stuff with friends outside of work should be a source of pride, and Injured Colleague just sounds a bit hung up on maybe a bit of culture shock, from that particular form of culture, beyond the busted nose. I’m a professional woman in my 40s, and I’d be sporting it like a trophy! Yeah, kiddos; the Lab Rat still JAMS!!!!

    4. Galadriel's Garden*

      LOL I have actually bore witness and slightly been a part of this! In the Before Times we had a team meeting at one of our offices, near which was a hotel and casino that occasionally had concerts. A band from our collective youths was playing the night we happened to be there, of the industrial metal variety, so we all decided to check it out after dinner. So here’s a bunch of dudes in khakis and polos, myself and my one female colleague in slacks and blouses, going hogwild in business attire at this show. One coworker attempted to start a mosh pit, which was…not well-received by the rest of the concert-goers, so he just moshed alone until one of my other colleagues took pity on him and moshed alongside him…these are the sorts of things I look forward to in a post-pandemic world ;)

  8. Felis alwayshungryis*

    I bet the P.S thing comes from direct mail marketing, where it’s a really common tactic (if not standard practice, at least it used to be) to add a last little sweetener/bit of urgency in the postscript. The idea is that people skim the letter but for some reason read the postscript, maybe because it comes right after their name.

    I have a level of side-eye at the idea of direct mail tactics being used in cover letters, but no doubt there’s an online article somewhere championing it. *shrugs*

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      p.s. at the end of a formal letter or CV etc. would just indicate to me that the person sending it didn’t proof read. If it’s an important fact you put it in with the rest.

      I mean, how many works of fiction have ‘p.s.’ at the end?

      1. BethDH*

        Now I’m imagining someone reading your comment and having thinking, “okay, model my cover letter on fiction, not on direct mail, I can do that!”
        Hijinks ensue.

        1. Lab Boss*

          “In a hole in a dorm there lived a chemistry major. Not a nasty, dirty, frat hole, filled with the ends of joints and a boozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, history major hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a chemistry-major-hole, and that means comfort.”

          1. American Job Venter*

            “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a company in possession of a job opening, must be in want of hiring me.”

      2. Lab Boss*

        100% agree with your point- but “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Lord of the Rings” both ~sort of~ have a P.S. in the way they hide major plot elements in their appendices. And I’m going to shame the end of “Game of Thrones” for being the screen-fiction equivalent of a P.S., because it certainly appears to indicate nobody was proof reading :D

        1. JustaTech*

          The first time I read the Handmaid’s tale (summer reading before 9th grade) I totally skipped the appendix and completely missed so much important stuff. (Also, that’s not a book to just hand to an 8th grader and expect them to get.)

          1. Lab Boss*

            Without risking spoilers, I enjoyed the book but had a couple of HUGE questions/problems that made it hard to suspend my disbelief, only to have them neatly wrapped up in that stealthy appendix.

    2. Generic Name*

      I’m having a hard time envisioning what an “effective “ ps would look like. PS: hire me, you’ll never regret it! PS: what I lack in actual skills and qualifications I make up for in enthusiasm!! PS: I don’t actually know how to use word-processing software to edit a paragraph….

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Mr. Hiring Manger,

        Thank you for your offer. I enthusiastically accept and will be ready to start at 8:00 AM on 2022-02-30.

        Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est

        P.S. I enjoy using conversational Latin, Latin abbreviations, and Latin acronyms.

        P.P.S. I couldn’t help myself.

  9. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    I’m unclear on wat LW1’s friend expects to achieve? The employee to be told they can’t have their maternity leave because they did it deliberately to avoid working over Christmas? Yeah, that’ll work.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      ‘Please find enclosed in this letter your company issued plug that will prevent you from giving birth until an acceptable time can be found to minimise impact to the business’

      1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        LOL! My company has been sending company branded goodies in sturdy grocery bags, and now I can’t remove the mental image of company branded condoms!

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          LOL! My company has been sending company branded goodies in sturdy grocery bags, and now I can’t remove the mental image of company branded condoms!

          With the slogan “Even more effective than our firewall!”

        2. Sunny*

          The company my dad works for actually has those. Giant bowls of them in the bathrooms, apparently. They hire a lot of young people (mostly male) and want to encourage safe sex, because they pay for any resulting babies and/or diseases. I think it’s just the company colors, and maybe a slogan on the packaging.

    2. BRR*

      Yes, I would like the script your friend would use. “It’s very unprofessional to plan your pregnancy without regard to scheduling needs. I’m going to have to put you on a PIP and if you have X number of children on holidays were going to have to terminate your employment .”

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Well, I know what my nightmare tonight is going to be about…

        (Given how up in people’s reproductive choices some people and businesses et al can get I’m…actually afraid of something like that happening in the future)

    3. OhNo*

      If they were addressing the “boss screwed me over” comment ONLY, then maybe there might be a conversation to be had.

      But from the employees perspective, it would be difficult to separate the discussion on that comment from its context, and not view it as “the boss has Opinions on her reproductive choices but legally can’t comment on them, so they’re looking for excuses to give her a talking-to”.

    4. Lolo9090*

      This is kinda unimportant to the question, but something about this letter that makes me think LW1’s Friend miiiiight just be an unreasonable boss, considering she believes that because they provided a meal and double pay that people should be grateful to have to work over the holidays.

      I worked in hotels all through college and almost always worked on holidays because I was too far away from home to celebrate; and a free meal plus holiday pay is literally the bare minimum. Maybe providing some better incentives will keep your employees from conducting their family planning around a work break.

      1. IEanon*

        Nah, not if you work in an industry where it’s understood that you will need to work holidays. My field has one of its biggest events during a holiday weekend, right when just about everyone takes off for vacation in other departments.

        I’ve worked this holiday every year since I got into the field (across multiple orgs), without additional pay and usually with required travel. It’s just an expectation. I actually changed my original wedding date to 6 months after this event, both so I would be available that weekend and so I could be sure I’d actually be able to celebrate my anniversary in future years!

        I think a supervisor offering double pay for volunteers to work and assigning people if there aren’t enough who want to work that day is very fair, as long as the assigned employees aren’t the same year after year.

        1. Gothic Bee*

          The unreasonableness is because of the boss’s expectation that employees should be grateful to get double pay and a meal. Whether it’s fair or not doesn’t really matter because even if it is fair, the employee doesn’t need to be appreciative of it. Either way, expecting your employee to plan their pregnancy around your business needs is incredibly unreasonable on it’s own.

          1. IEanon*

            It doesn’t say anywhere that the OP’s friend expects employees to be grateful, only that she had taken a few steps (double pay, providing food) to make working on a holiday suck less. Someone had to work that shift and it happened to be this employee. That’s not “screwing her over,” that’s drawing the short straw.

            I agree that asking the employee to plan a pregnancy around the work schedule is ridiculous and unenforceable, but I also understand why the OP’s friend would feel annoyed that she’s saying she was screwed over when really the employee was just asked to work during a time that she knew needed to be staffed.

            My point was also that double pay + meals is not the bare minimum everywhere. I certainly don’t get double pay and, when my partner worked in the service industry, some of his restaurants did not provide meals during holiday shifts. Should it be the bare minimum? Yes, most definitely. But not everyone does provide that.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Dystopian future business: ‘if it’s less than two years since your last baby it’s a dismissible offence to not be on birth control. Actually you have to be on it all the time because pregnancy is stealing from the company’

      (Maybe I should stop playing Outer Worlds)

      1. KateM*

        You will have inbuilt birth control installed and a special clerk will deactivate it only with your employer’s written permission.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*


      This is what I want to know – what exactly was the friend planning to say to her employee? I just cannot envision saying what she appears to be thinking in any way that isn’t a huge liability to her employer.

    3. Sleepless*

      I had a coworker whose due date was during a busy season. The bosses kept making jokes during her last few weeks about “haha, no, we’re not actually mad at you because you’re about to be out, but haha actually we are.” I couldn’t tell if she was annoyed, but I was annoyed as hell on her behalf. The busy season was entirely due to a service we provided that I didn’t think we needed to and hated dealing with, so maybe I’m a bit biased.

  10. OnWednesdaysWeGetPregnant*

    Re #1: I… did this. Timed a pregnancy around the Christmas period because I knew in advance my boss would punish me in all ways he could for being pregnant (he had told me multiple times in the past I was not allowed to get pregnant), and I didn’t want him to mess with the holidays. If you get three months maternity leave, you actually have three cycles “room” to try and time this, and that worked out just fine. A second one I also timed around work, but this was a team that treated me well, so I timed it in such a way that I would avoid the periods where lots of people wanted to take leave. Again, two months leeway made this plan quite realistic.

    I have no bad or good feelings about having done that – it wasn’t spite or guilt or anything. This is what worked for me. Call it karma for the respective bosses/teams, I guess.

    1. Anon-mama*

      I did, too! Because my work schedule could mean working until 9 pm Dec. 23 and 8 am Dec. 26 (except the rare year it’s on a Sunday) with no seniority for years to come, there was no real way to spend a full Christmas Day with my elderly, out of state parents. So when time for #2 came, I said, let’s try to have me on leave in December. And it was joyous and right before the pandemic (and seniority booking) has robbed me of that going on two years now.

      But even more importantly, had I been on FMLA in January, as soon as the annual leave dropped, it would have all been taken concurrently. So absolutely 0 sick days heading into flu season with an infant in daycare and 0 vacation days for 11 months. You better believe I tried (and was successful) to avoid that. And I wouldn’t just support a co-worker if they thought about 4th quarter babies, if we were close enough to talk such matters, I’d encourage it.

  11. Seeking Second Childhood*

    So mosh pit boss… by any chance is she short and self-conscious about it? I knew a very handsome very athletic very short man who took an elbow to the face during a soccer game. While running, not in a pileup. He said something like “It’s a good thing I’m not self-conscious about my height, because this wouldn’t have happened to a taller guy.”

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Good point. We short people get run into, knocked about, etc., way more than average-height or tall people do!

      On the plus side, we’re more likely to notice money lying on the ground.

      1. FridayFriyay*

        This is one thing I don’t miss about my public transit commute! So many tall businessey guys walking hurriedly straight into me because who has time to make sure a short woman isn’t directly in your path before barging through?

    2. voluptuousfire*

      I could see that. Also, the pit probably started up and she wasn’t expecting it and she got nailed in the face. It happens! Those who aren’t regular metal show pit goers, I can see this happening. I’ve definitely gotten nailed in the face at gigs when some dingus decided to start up a mosh pit. They usually got kicked as soon as I was able to do that. I should mention these were gigs where mosh pits weren’t a fit for the music but were metal shows.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yeah this can totally happen even if you aren’t “the old person” or you’re used to these shows. Pits can be rough!

    3. Web of Pies*

      I think the #4 employees REALLY biffed this one, it sounds like they were vague about what the show would be like, like just expecting the boss to know the bands and what that would mean for the show environment.

      I absolutely detest moshing, and I’m positive the people who do enjoy it know it’s not something a lot of people enjoy. They should have been really, really clear that physicality was going to be a part of the show, and that if boss wasn’t used to navigating that sort of thing she could get hurt, because it’s clear they knew beforehand this wasn’t going to be her cup of tea.

    4. Student*

      Oh my gosh, I feel like an idiot. I am a shorty; I have been elbowed in the face. I somehow never put 2+2 together here, and just… didn’t realize that The Tall People never get to have this particular experience. It makes total sense now that I see it written down.

      I’ll add it to my list of things to be angry at The Tall People about. Shelves remain the the top item, though – pun intended.

      1. Lab Boss*

        If it makes you feel any better I bet you’ve never been climbing a flight of stairs and hit your head on the ceiling as you stepped up, or left blood streaks on a popcorn ceiling because your hand hit it while you were changing your shirt :D

  12. TimeTravlR*

    Oddly enough, telling my boss “F you!” did NOT get me fired but I did get fired for discouraging someone from doing something I thought at the time was unethical (but realize now it was illegal).
    It was a long time ago and Older Me definitely recognizes it now for the toxic environment it was.

  13. Roscoe*

    I vaguely remember #3, and I don’t think my opinion has changed. At some point I feel like, unless the guy was going around flaunting the fact that he dressed down without paying, its not really everyone else’s concern. Like are they asking for a checklist of everyone who did or didn’t donate? If it doesn’t affect you, mind your business. His not paying didn’t affect them being able to dress down.

    Also, the whole idea of paying money to dress down seems a bit ridiculous to me. Either let everyone do it or don’t, but it seems kind of dumb to me. Most of my jobs in the past have been business casual, so maybe if they were formal I’d have a different thought about it.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      It’s rather common here in the UK. ‘Dress down days’ are almost always accompanied by some kind of charity donation. Like ‘Jeans for Genes’ day etc.

      People who stroll in in jeans/t-shirt and don’t give a donation are kinda looked at a bit askance for a minute and then everyone gets over it in my experience.

      (For the record I tend to rock up in the most flamboyant gothic dress I own on those days. Because I don’t own any jeans, leggings etc :p )

    2. Xavier Desmond*

      In principle I agree with you but if I was to work in an office where a guy refused to give such a small amount of money to charity I would think he was a bit of a nob. I generally hate forced charity but there is a difference when it just £1 every once in a while.

      1. JohannaCabal*

        Maybe his budget is so tight that he can’t spend even that small amount of money (it does happen) and his “flaunting” is to cover his financial situation because he is embarrassed or shamed by it?

        Honestly, why not just collect the money and not tie it to dressing down?

        1. The OTHER other*

          Because being able to dress down is popular and will result in raising far more money. It’s also an easy group activity that can enhance the feeling of camaraderie.

          In a perfectly rational world the clothes we wear at work would make no difference and everyone would donate to charity for the good that it does, regardless of any beneficial outcome to themselves. But until we reach this utopia, $5 for a casual Friday is a thing.

          If you can’t afford $5, or don’t approve of the selected charity, then don’t participate. It’s kind of sleazy to take the perk without making the donation.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        Agreed. I worked in an office where it was $10 to dress down on Fridays and I couldn’t afford it. But then my co-workers started giving me trouble about dressing up on dress down days. They all paid once to get their pass/button and kept dressing down without paying. There was the advertized rule, and then the actual rule.
        But I can’t imagine monitoring all the £1 donations. Every employee coming around every dress down day to hand over £1? Even if you weren’t keeping track of who did and didn’t pay, just collecting all the money would disrupt a full day of work.

        1. ecnaseener*

          There was a letter awhile ago about a workplace that changed the dress code from casual to more formal and immediately implemented a charity dress-down program, without considering that some people (like the LW) didn’t own business clothes and couldn’t afford to buy them! So LW was getting charged to wear the clothes that had always been fine until that point. That one really sucked.

          In this case, when business attire is the existing standard, I don’t really see an issue if no one’s pressured to participate in the charity dress-down.

    3. ecnaseener*

      I guess it just feels disrespectful to the charity. Everyone else who wanted to dress down was happy to chip in and this guy seems to have been deliberately, visibly flouting that charitable intent. (I’m also unclear on how it’s so visible unless there’s like a publicly posted list? But if multiple people noticed, there must be something.)

    4. Colette*

      I think it’s like someone coming to a potluck and filling a plate without bringing anything. Even if there’s a lot of food, you’re participating in something that has a price of entry, and you’re not paying it.

      1. Cringing 24/7*

        I really like this comparison, because with both, it’s like – are the stakes high? No. Is anyone being irreparably harmed? No. But does the person come off as a bit of a bellend? Yeah.

    5. bamcheeks*

      It’s so ridiculous and petty on every count I can’t make it work! I mean, if it’s somewhere where it’s OK to dress down for charity, it’s probably not a strict businesswear or a uniformed workplace anyway, so the difference between “Tuesday” and “dress-down day” is minimal. And yet people care about it enough to a) not pay the £1 donation or b) care that someone else has not paid the donation? OP, this is causing way more trouble than it can possibly be worth.

    6. The OTHER other*

      I’ve worked at places where this was done and it was pretty popular. It was a business casual office would occasionally go more formal when hosting client visits. The big incentive was not so much the ability to wear jeans as the ability to wear more comfortable shoes. There was no pressure to participate but there was some policing to make sure those dressing down made the donation.

      It sounds as though the person in the letter has been a blowhard about not donating (because there is no company match? Bog logic) so it would be apparent to the coworkers and bad for morale for him to take the perk but not make the donation. His manager is spineless.

      I want to take issue with the LW Alison linked to, who complained “I’m basically giving part of my salary back to the company” in exchange for a perk. No, you aren’t, you are being given a perk in exchange for making a charitable donation. You company isn’t getting the money. This is rather like complaining that you “give back part of my salary to the company” in order to pay rent or buy food.

  14. Bluephone*

    I know it’s an old letter but I’m definitely assuming the tech was joking so in the very unlikely event that someone else finds themselves in a similar situation: learn to take a joke and also, keep your mouth shut.

    Back in the dark ages of “if you get pregnant we will just officially fire you, neener neener neeener,” my mom was working at a job she really enjoyed until a new manager came in and killed the vibe. Then my mom was expecting my oldest sibling and was like, “oh no now I have to quit my job, oh this is so terrible (/s)”

    So yeah, sometimes people are like, “if I get knocked up, I don’t have to deal with this BS job/boss/whatever anymore, whoooot!!”

    1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

      The nearly unanimous response when I finally told my colleagues I was pregnant with my 2nd kid was “when’s your due date? Oh! You’ll be out just in time to miss busy season! Great timing!” And then I’d get a high-five. There was the occasional joking accusation that I did it on purpose, at which point I’d joke back that obviously it was on purpose, I’d do anything to get out of the long hours!

      It certainly was a nice perk! I also got to extend my leave because I structured my FMLA around our winter shutdown. I have exactly zero regrets about the timing.

      1. PhyllisB*

        When I had my second I had an extended leave because I had to have surgery. During that time it was contract renewal time (phone company) and that year we struck. All my co-workers teased me that I planned that just so I wouldn’t have to walk the picket line. I didn’t of course, but if I had thought to do it I would have because contract renewal was in August and as I said in an earlier comment, summer in our area (especially in August) is Hell’s Front Porch. And there was NO SHADE around the building.

  15. Delta Delta*

    #3 – Oh, the times, they are a-changing! The idea of having to chip in for the right to dress down at the office for a day feels quaint after a year and a half of plague-induced WFH. I’m “dressed up” today in unwashed jeans and a free shirt I got in a 10k road race in 2012.

  16. I should really pick a name*

    If someone is willing to go through 9 months of pregnancy and a lifetime of being a parent to get Christmas off, they’re welcome to it in my book.

    This one just fascinates me.
    “My feelings were very hurt because it took a long time to get to know this woman. I don’t want to start over.”
    They seem more concerned with the fact that they need to win someone over again as opposed that hearing their past words had hurt their co-worker.

    “Can we talk, I’m home. We weren’t at a work function…I’m sorry I got mad. Whoever told (the woman) what I said was wrong.”
    This sounds like a blatant lie since earlier they said “I had said that she was a tough nut to crack in the beginning”

    ” I have no idea what or why she is angry about (I mean I do, but she never actually told me or texted me).”
    No one needs to tell you that they’re upset because you told them to fuck off.

    It very much feels like the LW is so focused on not getting in trouble, that they’re ignoring the fact that the best way to fix the situation is acknowledge their fault and work to correct it.

  17. Jam Today*

    LW#2 — if this was Reddit I’d say ESH. The boss should not have been spreading gossip and telling one of their reports that a colleague had previously said something unkind about them — What kind of outcome were they expecting for that? Are they helping things or just sh*t-stirring because they enjoy it? Whatever it was was bad enough that the woman *left a party* because it made her feel so bad — and the person who said it should not have told their boss to eff off because of it, since they were the one who said it in the first place.

    1. pancakes*

      It’s not clear that the boss was spreading gossip – have another look at the letter. All that’s clear is that they were sitting at that end of the table.

    2. Heffalump*

      Ca. 1981 I yelled, “Fuck you!” at my manager in front of some other employees. We’d been working together for 2 years and had a good relationship. Once the dust settled, she acknowledged that she hadn’t been blameless either, and we were OK. I’m aware that I wouldn’t have gotten off so easily in many workplaces!

  18. Quickbeam*

    I worked at a children’s hospital as a nurse and we had a no exceptions policy for time off 12/1 to 1/10. They only way to get off was medical leave. One year 1/3 of the unit staff was off on maternity leave for Christmas. That meant ongoing double shifts and double workload for the rest of us. It was an open secret that these nurses semi-planned this.

    The real problem was that the management was committed to not hiring any help for covering the leaves. So it screwed the rest of us who were working massive OT and large # of patients.

  19. MissDisplaced*

    #2. If you’re in the US you can be fired for anything at anytime…. So arguing who’s right or wrong in this matter is moot.

    Perhaps you felt you had reason to be angry enough to say what you did (we’ve all been there). But if the manager decides she no longer wants to employ you because of what you said, legally yes, she can fire you. There really isn’t “freedom of speech” in the workplace.

  20. anonymous73*

    #2 – am I the only one who thinks everyone in this story is overly sensitive? No, I’m not advocating that people start telling their bosses and colleagues to F off, but everything seems blown out of proportion here. If this had happened in the office, manager should have pulled OP in and had a conversation about what happened, and how to not have it happen again. Since this happened outside of the office, manager should have waited until the next business day (when alcohol wasn’t involved) and had the same conversation. But a 3 day suspension? Unless OP’s past behavior warranted it because they have a history of being belligerent then it seems completely unnecessary.
    #3 – in the grand scheme of things it’s not a big deal. But this is why we can’t have nice things. There’s always somebody that’s going to take advantage or push the envelope and ruin it for everyone else, and make the dress code part of your employee handbook 5 pages long because they have to describe every connotation of a piece of clothing that is or isn’t allowed because somebody decided to wear their daisy dukes and spaghetti strap tank top to work one day.

    1. WellRed*

      Don’t forget the original coworker who got so upset that she (presumably) left over an innocuous comment. Though I’m side eyeing OP for being “hurt” that the coworker was hurt because OP didn’t want to “start over.” Way to keep thinking bout yourself. I hope they all got help for drinking.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Yeah, sounded like a lot of this drama was alcohol fueled. I’d be kinda honored if someone called me “a tough nut to crack,” or even if I wasn’t thrilled, this hardly seems like something to be so offended by you storm out over. But… alcohol!

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Also alcohol and the game of telephone. Maybe it was delivered unkindly or with a different tone than OP said originally. Seems like a silly drama though!

        2. Artemesia*

          I’m guessing the phrase was not ‘tough nut to crack’ and that there is a lot at this drunken dinner that we don’t know. Also the boss was paying for dinner and it was all work colleagues — so the ‘not a work event’ is a pretty thin defense even if it were a defense.

          1. Despachito*

            I was wondering about several aspects:

            1. The wording “tough nut to crack” does not seem offensive at all to me. Yet OP says that the coworker was offended by it to the point of leaving. Why was that? Is the coworker such a drama llama and overreacting (in which case I’d assume OP would be rather puzzled of the effect of a relatively innocent remark than blaming the others). However, OP seems to recognize that whatever was said was worthy of such a reaction (because they lashed out to the boss.) So whatever was said was either innocent and perceived by most people less the coworker as such (and there would be no reason of accusing anyone of ruining a relationship with the coworker) , or it was actually pretty mean.

            If it WAS indeed mean to the point of coworker leaving, it would be much more understandable that LW lashed out. Gossip is by no means a good thing but telling the target of it several months or even years later “oh, when you joined us, Despachito said that your feet are smelly and that she cannot stand you” would be downright cruel for no reason, and I’d understand both the coworker being hurt and me being angry (because although I definitely shouldn’t have said this, I might have built a much better relationship with that person, and may sincerely regret that I had misjudged her and was stupid enough to tell someone) .

            If my boss was mean enough to say something along those lines, and moreover, if they have a history to drop the F-bombs amount them, I would not consider it to be so atrocious to tell them to F-off, and actually, in this situation, I think the boss hugely overreacted and that the fault was most on them. And the environment overall has pretty toxic vibes.

    2. Ray Gillette*

      Not just you – this place sounds exhausting to work at. Though the letter also does seem light on some key details.

    3. Sylvan*

      Honestly, the story doesn’t make a ton of sense and everyone’s having a lot of feelings, so I just kind of assumed they were drunk.

      1. Chickaletta*

        “Everyone’s having a lot of feelings” – couldn’t have summarized this story better. Looking for the level-headed professional person in this story to bring everyone back to earth and I can’t find one

  21. NewYork*

    LW1 — even if we accept that the person did not time her pregnancies, it is incredibly insensitive to say stuff like this. I think the manager should pull her aside and say this is terrible teamwork and should stop it. Other issues should be addressed too.

  22. JelloStapler*

    I once joked that I managed to plan two pregnancies right around a busy time for our office… key word JOKED. it just happened to end up that way.

  23. sullen*

    Uff, it’s one quid per month. If it wasn’t an old letter, I’d ask for the company address and just send them $15 for the year. Some people have to search for things to be annoyed about.

  24. Esmeralda*

    Planned pregnancy. Oh come on. That sounds like the sort of thing someone *says* but can’t actually *do*. It’s not that easy to get pregnant at exactly the time one wants to, and babies come late or early. Unless there’s a scheduled c-section, you just can’t know.

    “I planned my pregnancy so I’m giving birth during the holiday rush haha take that boss” is what my dad calls “jerking their chain”.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Even with a scheduled c-section, you can’t get pregnant instantly on demand. No doctor is going to schedule a c-section for a preterm baby just to give you the holidays off work.

    2. Alexis Rosay*

      One of my friends was very open about timing her pregnancies so she would have summers off. I definitely think it’s a thing certain people apparently can do. But who cares? For the vast majority of people it’s only going to be something they do once or twice in a lifetime, not something they do every year.

      1. Dahlia*

        There’s a difference in aiming from May-August and “getting pregnant within these specific two weeks”.

        The person in this letter had both her babies in the end of November. Add 6 weeks before she’s cleared to have sex and that’s mid-january at the earliest that she can even start having sex. That gives her MAYBE two ovulations to get pregnant, assuming she’s started ovulating again immediately after giving birth.

        The odds are MUCH higher it was an accident.

  25. Esmeralda*

    #3. The real problem is that other people are asking if the guy paid or not. Unless he’s going around saying, Hahaha, I didn’t pay but I’m wearing jeans! — which is reasonable to address. Otherwise, OP needs to respond to the busybodies “Why do you need to know?” and a pointed “I’m comfortable with everyone’s behavior”. If the fundraiser is one of those obnoxious sign up publicly and get shamed if you don’t fork over your money right now in front of everyone kind of abominations, then good on the scofflaw.

    Don’t people have better things to do than to pry into whether Bob ponied up a couple of bucks to wear a t-shirt?

    1. limotruck*

      It sounds a bit like he is doing that, though. He wants to ‘make a point’ and I sort of got the impression that he was flaunting the fact that he hadn’t paid in order to somehow put pressure on the company to match the donations.

      If not the case, however, then yes, people need to butt out.

  26. A Library Person*

    I’m kind of a geek for this stuff anyway, but the importance of the specific wording in #2 is fascinating to me.

    I’m very interested in what was actually said to the boss. In my mind, there’s a world of difference between “F off” (upsetting to hear, maybe, but not terribly offensive *to me* in this context) and “Go F yourself” (way more direct and thus more offensive *to me*). The former is a stronger version of “leave me alone”, perhaps aided in its vehemence by the drunkenness. The latter is more of a targeted insult and hints at deeper feelings of animosity toward the boss.

    I think it also matters what the original comment was. Unless the coworker happened to be particularly sensitive to the specific issue (which of course would be a valid reason for being hurt by it; feelings are valid!), “a tough nut to crack” doesn’t strike me as especially offensive. In fact, it almost carries an implied sense of “worth the effort” to it, in my mind. However, if that was not the verbatim wording I can see a similar sentiment expressed in ways that are far more (universally) hurtful and imply that the person is just…difficult or something. I’m guessing that maybe the actual insult, or whatever ended up getting back to the coworker, was likely a little more pointed than the idiom.

    I bring all this up not just for reasons of semantics. The answers would actually affect how I would react as the boss in the situation, especially the distinction in what the OP said to the boss in the bathroom.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      In the original post this issue came up over how offensive “tough nut to crack” really is – a lot of people felt it was relatively benign, but someone did comment at the time that where they were from (I don’t think they specified where that was) it was a really vile insult. (I’m from the UK and it’s pretty benign to me).

      That did have me wondering at the time whether OP is from somewhere that it isn’t that bad and the coworker is from somewhere it’s considered offensive.

      1. The OTHER other*

        I was wondering whether LW is paraphrasing or glossing over things that were actually said. “Tough nut to crack” doesn’t sound like the sort of thing that would makes someone cry and destroy a relationship. We take letter writer’s at their word here, but LW is kind of unclear about what exactly they said to the manager. Given the manager’s reaction, it might have been a single F bomb or a spittle-flecked screaming tirade.

  27. Elle*

    I am so incredibly happy that the fad of “pay$1 to wear jean Friday!” seems to be almost totally dead now.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Hopefully that’s one thing that is never coming back after last year. Jeans feel like dress-up to me now. Let’s talk leggings, athletic T-shirts, and sports bras.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Sadly, I’m large-boobed to the point where it’s physically painful and uncomfortable for me not to wear one. But, after last year, I only wear a wired bra that isn’t a sport one if I’m going out. Kinda hard to believe that I used to wear one every day to work!

    2. JohannaCabal*

      Agreed. To be honest, I personally find skirts and dresses more comfortable than jeans at this point. Although I literally have bought the 12 pairs of the same brand of yoga pants just because they are the only ones I like at this point.

      Sometimes I think charity drives need to be conducted better. If it’s not done right and offputting, it can look bad for the charity sadly. Growing up, there was a notorious charity for fallen police officers’ families in my state that was bad about coldcalling people during dinner and laying guilt trips on whoever answered. My parents were so put off they refused to donate to the charity on principle.

      Then, it turned out there was some issues with donations being diverted from their original purpose and I think the charity quietly folded (turned out very little was given to the families that needed it).

      1. Artemesia*

        All of those charities for police and fire fighters are basically scams; they make money for the marketing company and relatively little for fallen officers or fire fighters. We never give to any group we haven’t researched a bit and then give largeish donations to a few we are confident of and ignore the rest. (and yeah I might make a tiny donation at work rather than make a fuss about it — but it is really unfair to those making low wages who are bullied about it)

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          +100 to this – we don’t know if Dress-Down Dave is not already giving way more than $1/week to a charity that he researched and supports the causes of, vs a random one that his employer picked.

          When we had dress-down for a dollar Fridays, our employer gave to United Way. I did put a dollar in the jar each time, but wouldn’t donate to UW myself, as there are many many charities I feel more strong about.

          I drive past the “put a bill in the boot” charity collections that police/firefighters sometimes put up where I live, with my windows up and my doors locked, and refuse to feel bad about it. Nowadays when a lot of people don’t carry cash anymore, I imagine many do the same.

  28. A Library Person*

    RE: #3: I cannot for the life of me understand why workplaces care so much about how people look when they aren’t customer facing (and sometimes even when they are, depending on the business). If this workplace can suffer through a day when people dress normally for a good cause, they can do it every day. As someone who has immense difficulty finding affordable “professional clothing” that doesn’t trigger a whole lot of emotional stuff, I find the whole concept of paying to be comfortable almost insulting.

  29. Marcey Marketer*

    For #1, I was dead set on an April baby so I could enjoy the summer on my maternity leave! Alas, I had a December baby. But I do think it’s a thing some people do, where they try to control what season they have a baby in to maximize their three months off of work. I personally don’t see anything wrong with that! Might as well enjoy the time off in your favorite season if you can. I would be slightly concerned that this person was holding a grudge that they needed to work a holiday but it is what it is, I probably wouldn’t say anything as their manager.

    1. Observer*

      I don’t have anything against someone trying to time their pregnancies for THEIR convenience, rather than their employer’s. So the manager is flat out wrong on that count.

      But, as your case shows, it’s also just not all that likely to have been the case.

  30. Jam Today*

    I 100% guarantee that the woman in letter #1 didn’t produce a whole entire human that she will have to take care of for the next 18+ years just so she could get a few days off the desk in December.

    1. Artemesia*

      Not of course the point. They were planning on having a child and so timed it for maximum convenience for themselves which in this case meant maximum inconvenience for co-workers. Thus probably shouldn’t brag about the timing, while enjoying it. And of course people do this; it doesn’t always work but often it does.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        If it’s that inconvenient for workers that’s a sign that management needs to do a better job in having enough staff to cover if someone has to be out for an extended period of time (regardless of the reason). And she wasn’t “bragging” about it; she was speaking to a friend about it (most likely jokingly) and someone happened to overhear, unbeknownst to her.

  31. RagingADHD*

    I am appalled that people with enough science education to be pharmacists actually believe that a woman has the ability to control her fertility precisely enough to ensure when her maternity leave will fall. You can control when you start trying to conceive, but there is no way of knowing how long it’s going to take for a pregnancy to “stick,” even with medical assistance.

    Maybe the employee intended this and lucked out. Maybe (and I hope this is true) she was joking because she knew the idea is preposterous.

    I only wish the boss was educated enough to realize how preposterous it is.

    1. The OTHER other*

      I thought the same, given how I know people that tried for many months or even years to conceive. But I also know someone who’s just incredibly fertile, it was the same for other women in her family. Both her mom and sister got pregnant while using various forms of protection, and when she missed a period (which was not uncommon since she was an athlete) it would lead to a scare. When she finally decided to try to conceive she was pregnant basically as soon as it was detectable. But yeah, timing birth (let alone pregnancy) for the holidays seems absurd. Not all women have Bene Gesserit training.

      1. RagingADHD*

        The human mind has a tendency toward magical thinking.

        When you want something to happen that is actually outside your control, and it does happen, you believe that you “made” it happen. And all the things you wanted that didn’t happen, or other people who didn’t get what they want, just have “bad luck.”

        If women could choose with certainty when and if they got pregnant, there would be no controversy over reproductive rights, because terminations wouldn’t exist. And there would be no such thing as fertility treatments or surrogacy.

    2. Artemesia*

      I am surprised that a pharmacist is not aware of how easy this can be. If you know when you ovulate and recognize the signs leading up to ovulation you can do this relatively easily. Guarantee? Of course not. Probably? Sure. There is a reason so many teachers have May/June babies. We could not afford for me to lose several months pay and I had zero maternity benefits; if we had not conceived when we planned, we would have waited till the next year.

      1. Sleet Feet*

        There’s only about if 30% chance to conceive even if you time the ovulation. So no, it’s not even probablr for most women. And that doesn’t even get into how easy it is to miscalculate ovulation. If you are measuring for ovulation that maximizes your chance but even then you may not get pregnant, you may have a chemical, etc. etc. So yeah timing it down to a month like that, for the vast majority of women, is not easy at all.

      2. Observer*

        If you know when you ovulate and recognize the signs leading up to ovulation you can do this relatively easily. Guarantee? Of course not. Probably? Sure

        Nope. Best case – couple is young, in good health, no other impediments, you still have only a ~25% of succeeding on any given try. And that’s assuming that she actually has some solid signs or she’s been mapping ovulation with temperatures. Which is a pain.

        In the case of ovulation immediately after pregnancy, you have the added complication of not knowing IF you are going to ovulate – and not knowing what the signs are going to be because the signs of ovulation are one of the things that change for many women after a baby -especially after the first one.

        As you seem to overlook in your own case – it’s a LOT easier to aim for a couple of month window if you don’t have to worry about the year.

    3. IEanon*

      It’s really not all that preposterous, if the woman has little to no problem conceiving. I once took over a position from a woman who had had 3 children (over the course of 6 years) just before or during the winter holidays. We had a few paid weeks off at that time, so it made sense for her to go out for the break and begin her maternity leave in January.

      No one begrudged her this, of course, but she was very clear that making the most of the holiday + maternity leave factored into the timing of her pregnancies.

      I think whether the employee is joking or did actually time her pregnancies this way is none of her supervisor’s business. If it makes sense to be out during the holidays, then she has every right to try and take her leave then. But if she’s telling other employees she was screwed over by having to work a holiday (when it’s an expectation of the job) AND the supervisor hears it directly, not secondhand, then supervisor has every right to say that kind of talk needs to stop.

    4. Observer*

      I am appalled that people with enough science education to be pharmacists actually believe that a woman has the ability to control her fertility precisely enough to ensure when her maternity leave will fall.

      Seriously this! ESPECIALLY in this case, because planning on when your reproductive system is going to start up again is actually not possible. A woman MAY start ovulating at 3 month, or she may NOT. And there is nothing she can to to make it happen. How complicated is that to understand?!

  32. Carol*

    I guess there are still a lot of people who think it’s a big work sin to “time a pregnancy,” whatever in heck that means. People who are lucky enough to be able to time a pregnancy when basically everything else about a pregnancy is completely outside anyone’s control (and often timing is, too)–more power to them.

    From the outside, the work impact is when they “timed” their leave, but from the inside, pregnancy and recovery take at least a year and basically nothing after conception is under the control of the pregnant person. You can suddenly be high risk and have tons of doctors appointments, you can get put on bed rest, you can deliver early, you can have a complicated birth that literally ruins your lower organs, the fetus can die, the baby can die, you can die, the baby can have high medical needs and demolish the ability to work…the list goes on and on and on.

    Pregnant people will joke about “timing” or obsess about minor nutritional details because it’s a time of profound loss of control over very high-stakes outcomes. Be grateful if the only impact to you as an employee or a boss is that your coworker/subordinate is out for a planned and anticipated leave.

  33. Essess*

    I hope someone pointed out to OP that harassing an employee about their reproductive choices will fall under official ‘hostile work environment’

    1. Essess*

      Sorry about the duplicate comment. My first comment wasn’t showing up after a long time so I assumed it was stuck in moderation due to the link, and I know Alison is on vacation so figured it wouldn’t get out of limbo for days so reposted without a link. :-D

  34. Web of Pies*

    #1 I wish we didn’t have such a fixation of celebrating ON THE DAAAAAYYY! It would solve a lot of issues, particularly work scheduling ones because people could stagger their celebrations. Due to travel issues (especially now) my family often celebrates the big holidays a few days before or after the actual holiday, and it’s sooooooo much less stressful. You’d be amazed how much chiller a Dec 21 Christmas is, or a weekend Thanksgiving. It’s not the date that matters, it’s the celebration itself.

    1. AY*

      We were waiting for negative COVID results to come in to visit my parents last Thanksgiving, and due to a screw up, didn’t get them until the day after Thanksgiving. So we “celebrated” by setting up folding chairs on opposite ends of the driveway from my parents (luckily it was unseasonably warm) and had the Thanksgiving meal after the negative results came in. Stuffing still tastes good on Friday!

    2. quill*

      Used to be that that actual day was the time that the majority of the family could actually be off and have travel time, now it’s less and less the case.

    3. Massive Dynamic*

      Oh YES, this. We broke our families of the ON THE DAAAAAAAY expectation with kid #1 since nobody lives close and we didn’t want to spend our holidays driving all over the damn place. Worked out extremely well when kid #2 showed up ON THE DAY (which also got me out of a big work project – ha!).

  35. Darsynia*

    To reassure LW#1: I’ve had three babies, 2 in spring, and one three weeks before Thanksgiving. Tiny babies are a lot of work, yes, but if you live in an area with cold winters, they’re also a huge pain to deal with at that time! Babies can’t regulate their own temperature very well, and so it can be stressful to keep them happy and warm but not overheated, especially during the weeks where there are family gatherings to take them out during! This is to say nothing of the physical challenges of recovering from pregnancy and the hormonal changes that result.

    Simply put: even if the coworker IS trying to avoid working during the holiday, they’ve just swapped a bit of an inconvenience with a whole lot of ‘home work.’ Maybe it doesn’t feel like ‘work’ when they’re essentially ‘starting a new character’ that they’re caring for, but it’s definitely not worth a talking to! It’s very, very likely that this worker has a running joke about this timing coincidence, but even if they don’t, I’d say it’s still a joke, because of all the times of the year to have a baby, November/December is one of the most stressful, in my opinion! (Also, not for nothing, but if you can plan to have babies around the same time of year, you can save money on their clothing, as you can’t hand down summer/spring clothes to a winter baby!)

  36. Nanani*

    Is #1s pharmacy run by that “no humour allowed” company?

    I can’t fathom a world where people who know anything at all about reproduction can think this is sincere, but I do live in a world where pregnant people make jokes about it. A Lot.

  37. marvin the paranoid android*

    There is a certain poetry in “she prescribed me to attempt it.” I hope whoever wrote that piece of thesaurus salad is proud of themselves.

  38. zebra*

    LW1’s friend should have taken this as a sign that her holiday vacation policies were NOT fair. As an unmarried person with no kids, it’s been very frustrating every time I’ve been asked to work overtime or holidays more than people with spouses and children because their family time is seen as more valuable. I think it’s pretty clear this employee was exaggerating for effect, but the end result shouldn’t be punishing an employee, it should be creating more equitable vacation time policies, paying more on holidays, and/or hiring more staff as needed.

    1. SimplytheBest*

      There’s no indication that’s the case. Plenty of people, both parents and not, find anytime they need to work on a holiday to be unfair. OP says their policy is fair and takes multiple things into account, they already do pay more on the holiday, and hiring more staff won’t change the fact that someone will have to work on the holiday. The woman in question was given a month’s notice she would need to work the holiday, her pay was doubled, and food was provided.

      1. Essess*

        Only 1 month notice about working Christmas isn’t really enough. Usually family gatherings for Thanksgiving and Christmas are planned months ahead of time, especially for the person that is hosting so finding out only a month ahead ruins a lot of plans.

    2. lcsa99*

      I agree that policies like that are unfair but I don’t think that was the case here. It seems like she intended to be on maternity leave at the time. Not that she was able to get off just because she had kids.

  39. American Job Venter*

    #1 is interesting (and horrifying) not just because “Anna” wants to control her subordinates’ reproductive choices but because she feels entitled to scold her employees for complaining, even months and months after the fact. It is not smart to complain about anything and everything the boss/manager/supervisor/chief does where they can hear you, but I don’t think creating an environment where everyone knows they can never let anything but positivity show ever is good for morale either. I think someone with the responsibility of a manager should be able to overhear a one-off gripe, grumble to themselves a moment, and let it go. But I’ve only ever managed interns, so maybe one is supposed to be that draconian with adults. Seems counterproductive, though.

  40. El l*

    LW 1 is a Hall of Fame example of, “Shoot yourself in the foot to cure your headache.”

    You (woman in question) really, truly went through everything having a kid entails…just to avoid working Christmas? Or even just somehow “timed a pregnancy we were going to have anyway”…just to avoid working Christmas? (Wouldn’t it be easier to just quit your job if you felt that strongly?)

    This is hilarious – and should be treated as such!

  41. Raquel*

    Ugh. OP2 gives me hardcore “my ex” vibes. Overly reactionary, emotionally stunted, with a complete lack of self-awareness. Either he was drunk and he needed to apologize, or he wasn’t drunk and needed to apologize. (And the “not wanting to start over” about getting to know a woman reads as incredibly creepy to me.)

  42. Bethany*

    My first comment on here ever to say I worked with a woman in the hospitality industry who scheduled two pregnancies to be over the holidays so she could be home. It 100% happens. I was mostly just impressed at her level of planning.

    1. Rachael*

      LOL. That’s what I did for my second pregnancy. We planned to get pregnant at a certain time so that I would give birth in November or December so I would be on maternity leave during the holidays.

  43. CommanderBanana*

    I mean, if she did schedule her pregnancies to coincide with the holiday, what are you going to do? She’s already pregnant. Asking her to schedule any future pregnancies so she can work the holidays is not going to go over well.

  44. SaffyTaffy*

    Ohhhh I remember OP2! They replied in the original thread under the name Bob* but the asterisk was somehow invisible and I always thought that was a sneaky way to keep people from engaging with them. And I remember how, even when they tried to give more information, their ability to express themselves was just… not there. Like they were a mostly blank sheet of paper. At the time, it was a huge turning point for me in seeing how some people genuinely can’t say what they think or feel in a way that other people can digest. Maybe because there’s nothing deeper happening, and for these people that’s really all there is- like someone who “loves” pop music or whatever but can’t say why. I dunno, it was a big revelation to me.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      What? No that’s how usernames are for everyone. If someone was to search SaffyTaffy* it would show the comments that you post, but if I just said SaffyTaffy here it wouldn’t come up in the ctrl F search. It’s set up like that so that if the OP posts under a name like OP you can search OP* and find their direct comments instead of just everytime a commenter uses the phrase OP.

      1. SaffyTaffy*

        but wait then how come sometimes when I ctrl+F some usernames, they come up fine, but for others they won’t unless I add the asterisk?
        Oh, wait, does the asterisk serve a function, like how in some databases you can use a hashtag or asterisk to represent unknown characters in a search?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          All user names have a hidden asterisk after them so that you can add the asterisk to your search and only get user names rather than every other incidence of those letters on the page. Try it on a post where someone is commenting as OP and you’ll see how it helps.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I have a more detailed comment in moderation but the asterisk wasn’t sneaky – that’s how the site is formatted.

Comments are closed.