grandboss’s favoritism toward a new hire, lunch meeting without masks in a small room, and more

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

1. Should I speak up about my grandboss’s favoritism toward a new hire?

I am an entry-level employee. My boss’s boss, Jane, is a fairly recent hire who has only been with us for a few months. Jane is very senior at our company and has a lot of hiring power. We were recently hiring an entry-level employee, and Jane referred and recommended Mary, someone she’d worked with at her previous job. Mary ended up being hired — we have different bosses, but have the same title and both have Jane as a grand-boss.

Jane and Mary are both very friendly and do good work. They also clearly have inside jokes from their previous workplace and a good personal relationship, which often comes up in our company-wide Slack channels. (Jane will start the day with jokey messages like “Good morning to everyone except Mary” or get into back-and-forths with Mary about how something being discussed is related to something that happened at their old workplace.) Jane is also in at least one group chat with Mary related to their previous job, and both of them occasionally post on social media about occurrences in this group chat.

Some other entry-level employees and I are wondering if this is appropriate. We know that it’s not really our business what Jane and Mary do outside of work as it doesn’t directly impact our work. However, we are worried that Mary could get preferential treatment over us when it comes to things like promotions and layoffs since she has this pre-existing relationship with someone who is so high up in the company, even if Jane does not intend for that to happen. Is this something we should mind our own business about, or is there anything it would be reasonable for us to do about it?

I’d leave it alone. It’s a good illustration of why managers need to be careful about the impressions and anxieties this kind of thing can create, but it’s not so egregious that you should spend your own capital on it, especially since you’re entry-level and Jane is very senior and your boss’s boss.

My answer would be different if you were seeing obvious evidence of preferential treatment and it harmed you (like if work you liked was being taken away from you and given to Mary), although even then you’d need to proceed with caution given the relative levels of power involved.

2. My boss wants to have a lunch meeting without masks in a small room

My company has a policy that requires all employees to wear a mask when they are within six feet of another employee, regardless of vaccination status. The CDC also has similar recommendations. I am a firm follower of such rules and, even though I’m vaccinated, refuse to be maskless near another employee and I always ask them to put their mask on when they’re near me. I like them all fine … I just don’t trust anyone to not spread Covid, especially the newest variant. Furthermore, I have OCD and anxiety about contamination. I’ve worked hard to get comfortable with being at work in-person, and can really only manage with people wearing masks when near me.

Here’s the problem. My boss scheduled a “lunch and learn” meeting tomorrow. Five of us will be in a not-very-big conference room, eating lunch and talking about a new project. Since we will be eating, we will be maskless. There is also not enough room to stay six feet apart while doing so, and we’ll be in a small room without great circulation. In short, there’s no way for us to eat lunch while following company policy and CDC guidelines. I am against even being in the room while everyone is unmasked and eating, but skipping the meeting will very negatively impact me.

I’m not sure what I can do here. If I don’t go, I’ll be reprimanded. If I do go, I will be so wracked with anxiety about contamination that I won’t be able to focus. I also know that I absolutely will not eat, and this meeting takes place during the only time I have available during the day for lunch, due to other meetings. How do I navigate not eating? How do I navigate being in a room with unmasked people?

Wait, the choices aren’t limited to go or don’t go! Why not say to your boss, “Is there a larger space we can hold this meeting in? If we’re eating, the size of the room means we won’t be able to follow company policy about staying six feet apart unless we’re masked. Could we meet in a larger space or even outside if people will be eating?” Emphasizing “company policy” might be enough to get her to change her plans. If she doesn’t, you could say, “Could I plan to call in from my desk rather than attending in person? I’m being really careful right now, and I really want to follow our six-feet rule.”

3. Should I use my dad’s connections in my job search?

I am a recent graduate who has been looking for full-time employment since spring. Most of my friends are older, and seeing their own experiences made me want to make sure I’m at a solid company. Earlier this summer, I had a few interviews and even an offer, but nothing that I am really interested in has worked out. Currently, I have a temp position at the local university, but I’m not interested in that field long-term.

Throughout my job search, my dad reminds me that he knows a lot of people (in different industries than I’m interested in) and that they could be a good ways to get noticed by a company, presumably by referral links. In fact, I was able to get an interview with a company using one of his contact’s referrals, but unfortunately the company ghosted me.

I understand that it’s “not what you know but who you know” and connections and networking matter, but I feel that these random acquaintances would not be the best people to vouch for me. It seems that even if I called them and had a conversation, it wouldn’t really be enough. I also may be stubborn in asking for help because I want to find a job based solely on my merit, and not because my dad randomly knew someone. The search is taking an emotional toll and I want to know if I should be taking advantage of his help?

Yes, take advantage of his help!

People are often surprisingly willing to help out second-degree connections (like the daughter of a friend or colleague). They wouldn’t be vouching for you based on your work, of course, since they’ve never worked with you; it would be more like, “Can you take a look at Jane Mulberry’s application? I talked with her and she seems great/really motivated/passionate about our field/worth looking at.” You might be thinking that’s not much to go on, and it’s not — but it will often get a candidate a closer look. It doesn’t guarantee an interview and it definitely doesn’t guarantee a job, but it can give you a leg up in a sea of similarly qualified candidates. Sometimes, too, those people can tell you about job leads you wouldn’t otherwise have known about (like that Company X has an unadvertised apprenticeship that’s perfect for you, or that Company Y is hiring someone to cover an employee’s year-long maternity leave). It’s definitely worth giving it a try.

4. Can I ask my interviewer about something the previous person in the role told me?

I’m currently working on a job application. I’m a librarian and I applied for a very similar job at this same library at the end of 2019, which I did not end up getting. Fast forward to earlier this year, I was at a work party for a staff member who was leaving (at a different library) and I ran into the person who had gotten the job. They ended up telling me that they had left the job soon after getting it.

They left because after accepting the position, they had been informed that they would not only be working at the library, but also would be the librarian at a local school a few days a week. None of this had been mentioned in either the application info or the interview, which I can personally attest to. And that was not something they were interested in doing, especially since this had all come after accepting the position. 

Now the position is listed again and I am going to apply. There is nothing mentioned in the job description relating to schools, but since there wasn’t last time either, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. If I am offered an interview, what would be the best way to ask about this? If I was offered the position, I would like to be fully in the know.

“I’d heard at one point that this position also works at the school a few days a week. Is that still the case for this role?”

It would be odd for your interviewer to demand to know where you heard that, but if they do and your sense is that they might not love you getting intel from someone who didn’t work out, it’s fine to be vague (“I’m not positive, it was a few months back”).

5. Am I wrong in not attending the funeral for my boss’s father-in-law?

My boss’s father-in-law just passed away. I gave my boss a snack basket as a way of showing support sympathy for his family. Today, I was approached by a coworker from my department. Boss’s father in law’s viewing and funeral is being held near the office. She and another coworker are planning on attending the viewing and asked if I wanted to join. I said no, and she began to pressure me saying that we needed to show a “unified company presence” of support as our boss’s closest coworkers. I think my face must have turned into something scary looking because she then said she didn’t mean to pressure me, and I countered that that was exactly what she was doing. She returned to her desk and began muttering to herself.

I’ve met my boss’s wife briefly, but I don’t know her well, and going to the viewing for her father feels presumptuous and awkward. Plus, the last time I got pressured into attending the funeral of a coworker’s relative, I began crying, even though I’d never met the deceased. I was embarrassed and found a corner to collect myself. It felt like the opposite of being supportive.

Am I being immature here? I asked a couple friends and they think my coworker is way out of line, but I’m an anxious person and this has got me shaken up, and I’d like additional reassurance.

No, you’re fine. The idea of needing a “unified company presence” at the funeral of your boss’s wife’s father is … not usually a thing. (And I’m just one data point but personally I really, really would not want my husband’s employees showing up at my parent’s funeral because they felt professionally obligated; it’s not a work event. But others may feel differently, of course; there’s no one universal standard about this.)

You showed support for your boss in a different way. You’re fine.

Read an update to this letter here

{ 333 comments… read them below }

  1. The Wandering Scout*

    OP 5 – you don’t have to go.

    And, this depends on the work culture etc, it can be really offputting when colleagues/supervisors attend the funerals of other staff-members’ family unless they are explicitly invited. Personally, I hate it.
    When a very close family friend died, her teenage child’s supervisor, and their supervisor, attended the funeral and it was awful. They’d not treated the kid well during their time in that job, and my partner worked there as well and has similar experiences. The supervisor/the company played it as a ‘we support our staff’ move, but when her kid needed additional time to grieve they said how they’d have been back to work and fine now, and declined the request.

    1. Quoth the Raven*

      When my maternal grandmother passed, my mum’s then husband, who was in a band, went to the funeral right after collecting his bandmates to “show support” to my mum. She’d only met these people once or twice, and they’d never met my grandmother; it rubbed my mum all kinds of wrong ways. From what she’s told me, it felt all kinds of fake and rude to her, and she felt obligated to entertain them rather than being able to grieve.

      1. Artemesia*

        When the AA in our department lost her father, 2 or three of us went to the visitation — it clearly absolutely thrilled her. She was proud to introduce us to family and it was clear that she appreciated her family seeing how valued she was in her workplace that the ‘big shots’ showed up to honor her father.

        Not to say you should go, but that these things are regional, subtle, and it is not always easy to know expectations or what is valued. What that taught me in the area where I lived was how important these things were to people and so I went to them when I could — when colleagues lost someone. In one case, my boss and I were among the 6 people who went to the funeral of his secretary’s mother. She was an elderly only child and the mother who had been very old didn’t at that point have a social circle and this woman was grateful to have people who cared enough about her to show up on this hard day.

        1. MK*

          I think attending a funeral for a coworker’s close relative would not be amiss, provided you are discreet about it (quietly sitting at the back in the service, offering condolences and leaving). But I think a father-in-law is a bit removed for that.

          1. Empress Ki*

            Only if you are invited. I get on well with my coworkers but I wouldn’t have wanted any of them at a close relative funeral.

            1. JustSomeone*

              Is it normal to actively invite people to funerals? I grew up in a small town, and although I’m a city dweller now, I haven’t personally known any people here who have died. In my experience, the funeral arrangements were circulated as part of the obituary and people just showed up.

              1. MK*

                I suppose this is cultural and regional, but my experience has been the same as yours. Funerals are generally open to anyone who wants to pay their respects, and if the family wants to keep it private, they don’t circulate the obituary widely and/or note something like “the service will be private” in it.

                1. quill*

                  The smaller the town, the more likely local people will drop in on a funeral… because it’s more likely that they know or knew members of the family. Add in other factors (shared religion, community activity) and you can end up with a lot of people there.

                  I swear every catholic in my grandparents’ hometown over the age of 70 was at my grandfather’s funeral.

                2. Megan*

                  This has been my experience as well. Unless it specifically states that the family is holding a private service limited to family only, funeral info is generally published publically and is an open invite for anyone to come pay respects to the deceased. I’ve never been personally invited to a funeral in the sense that it seemed like an invite only type of thing.

              2. Rez123*

                Where I am you either put a time and place in the obituary and then anybody can attend or you publish the obituary after the funeral and say that x was buried with close friends and family in attendance, in this case the people are invited. It really depends on the family how they want to do it.

              3. Asenath*

                That’s the case in my experience too. Both the funeral and the viewing (if one is held) are normally invitations to anyone – if the family does not want that, there will be a public announcement to the effect that “a private ceremony will be held”. No one gets an invitation to a ceremony, although I suppose people holding a private one might extend a few invitations to close friends, because otherwise the assumption is only family attends. It is quite normal for co-workers to attend a funeral for very close relatives of their co-worker. Whether a father-in-law counts depending on the circumstances – how close the relative was (emotionally, not by blood or marriage) etc.. And no one is ever pressured to go. The usual procedure is for flowers or a donation in lieu to be provided, and then those who want to go and can manage to get there (if it’s held during work hours) go. An immediate manager might feel a stronger obligation to attend.

              4. doreen*

                Some of that is going to differ depending on where you live. I live in NYC and while I wouldn’t say we invite people to funerals , nobody at my job is going to know my relative’s funeral arrangements unless I tell them. I won’t even know funeral arrangements for my own relative unless someone told me – there are too many funeral homes, churches , cemeteries and local newspapers that might run death notices to count on finding out those ways.

                So if I don’t want co-workers at my father-in-law’s funeral, I just don’t give anyone at work the details of the arrangements. I often get announcements that either say the funeral is private or that give no details beyond saying where cards can be sent (typically the co-workers office)

                1. Been there*

                  I wouldn’t say that is the norm in NY
                  I live in the Capital of NY and here co workers ( who are work friendly)would go to the viewing of a close relative (MIL FIL being yes BIL SIL only if they were very close. ) I would say you would go only if it was close by. If it’s far you give your condolences the next time you see them.
                  You go, usually with a coworker, sign the book, give your condolences say a few words to others there and leave. Here the workplace usually sends flowers.
                  But for the letter writer if it is difficult for you to go in any way just send a card you aren’t obligated.

                2. doreen*

                  Sorry, I wasn’t suggesting that it’s the norm to attend- just that if I don’t tell my coworkers where the funeral is, they would have no way of finding out. Which isn’t quite the same as inviting people – but I wouldn’t give them the information if I wasn’t open to them attending.

              5. Lenora Rose*

                For widely scattered family/friends/etc, I’ve seen people be specifically sent the obituary so they know when/where, on the assumption they would want to go if they could arrange it, or because the folks in charge wanted them to go. But that was to people with some obvious connection; family, friends, close coworkers. It’s not so much an invite as a more explicit “You should be/are welcome there.” Whether not showing up at that point is rude very much depends on the family, never mind the culture.

                I did see a high school principal’s obituary circulated among the staff of the division, not just the school, but there was no attached assumption, in that case it was laminated and put on a table, and posted on a general message board (the kind with cork not the online kind), and clearly more of a “Letting everyone know”, especially as it was very sudden.

            2. Liv*

              Yeah, my father died a couple of weeks ago and if any of my work colleagues, who I get on really well with, turn up to the funeral (not that they would), I’d be furious. I absolutely do not need my coworkers seeing me at my most vulnerable thanks.

              People have offered condolences, the team sent flowers, and my boss has told me I can take any time off whenever I need to support my mum. That’s the kind of support that means something to me. Not turning up to the funeral of a man they didn’t know

              1. Blaise*

                This is so interesting to me. (And I’m so sorry for your loss.)

                When my little sister died four years ago, my boss and two of my coworkers came to the funeral (one of whom is a friend outside of work, but the other was just a close work friend). It was a huge surprise to me in a really wonderful way. It meant a lot to me that they cared enough about me to want to show support in person, even though funerals aren’t exactly a fun time. Of course I wouldn’t have been offended if they hadn’t come, but I’ll never forget that thoughtfulness of them showing up.

                1. Long Time Reader*

                  I work in a very small non-profit, so the staff know each other’s spouses. My FIL died very suddenly a few years ago. My admin & her husband came to the service which was surprising and lovely. No one else did, which was totally expected and fine! Funerals aren’t a “United front” kind of thing.

                2. BadWolf*

                  Yes, two of my coworkers came to my father’s funeral and I was really touched. Also, some coworkers of my father’s came as well and that was also lovely. But my coworkers were already nice people and my father’s coworkers were unobtrusive and nice to me when I chatted with them a bit.

                  But I can also see not wanting your coworkers to see you in such a state and/or a bunch of semi-strangers potentially taking up room/chairs/food from closer family/friends.

              2. My Brain Is Exploding*

                I’m so sorry about your dad! But furious seems… extreme? I understand your feelings off bring so vulnerable in front of coworkers, but it is hard for me to imagine that they were trying to do anything but show you that they care about and support you. Whether or not they knew your dad is irrelevant. I have never heard your take on this before. Just goes to show you that people are different!

                1. ceiswyn*

                  Good intentions are not magic, unfortunately. Just because you intend an action to be supportive and helpful doesn’t necessarily mean it actually is.

                2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  I expect it depends on your relationship with your colleagues. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted my boss to turn up but those I might see outside of work, I wouldn’t mind.
                  I remember when the ex of a very close friend died, a good 20 people from his office showed up for the funeral. It was a Friday afternoon and we couldn’t help feeling that they were just skiving off early.
                  So we waited until they had all gone (with the exception of one, who was a friend we all knew already) before extending an invitation back to our place for some food and drink. (it hadn’t been organised in advance, and our place was the only one that was big enough, the ex’s poor mother had been far too distraught to deal with food and drink)

              3. SheLooksFamiliar*

                When my niece died – the daughter I never had and who never met any of my colleagues – several co-workers attended her funeral service. I had to plan it, my sister and BIL were beyond devastated. I was profoundly moved that my colleagues cared enough to ‘be there’ for me and my family on that awful day. My boss and grandboss told me to take the time I needed and sent flowers, which I appreciated. But the warm hugs from my co-workers made a huge difference.

                In reading various responses on this topic, I think it all comes down to the attendees knowing the person they want to support, and also the circumstances of the passing.

              4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                This is where I land – if I’m somewhere that it’s fully expected for me to be bawling my head off, I don’t want to have any interactions with my coworkers in those circumstances.

                And in my own personal situation – I don’t attend funerals as a general rule*, so if any of my coworkers showed up at a funeral for one of my family members, it’d be EXTRA weird, probably for both of us.
                Them: “Why weren’t you at your grandma’s funeral?”
                Me: “Why on earth were YOU there to know I wasn’t?”

                *My family is aware of this. Funerals are for the living and I am a member of the living who prefers not to attend funerals and won’t be having one when I shuffle the mortal coil. No hassle please.

                1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  Please let them do it, as you say it’s for the living. There are two people who I cared about enormously who didn’t have a funeral and I feel like I’ll be mourning them all my life, because the funeral is to say good-bye to them and I didn’t get a chance to do that.

                2. UKDancer*

                  I understand what you mean Rebel. One of my mother’s long time friends died. Her son arranged the funeral and everything and didn’t tell anyone. He didn’t put an obit in and mum only found out when she rang and the line was disconnected. Mum has some health issues so she’d been out of touch for a month or so but she would have gone and was upset that the son didn’t tell friends.

                  My mother feels she didn’t have a chance to grieve or pay proper tribute to a friend of 20 years.

              5. Caroline Bowman*

                I’m so sorry about the loss of your dad, it’s just the most painful thing.

                But yes, just the idea of random people – however well-meaning and kind – that I then have to see regularly, seeing me like that makes me shrivel in anxiety. My mum, bless her, was very stridently anti-funeral, so accordingly I hosted two gatherings a few weeks after she died, just to commemorate her, not a memorial, literally just a ”rounding off” type of event for the people that knew her and loved her (of whom there were so many), but no funeral as such. Just saying a couple of sentences at those broke my heart, so having my work colleagues (who are such nice people) there would have made it unbearable.

            3. JenD*

              As far as I know, being invited to a funeral is not a thing, they are open to anyone that would like to pay their respects.

          2. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

            Agree with MK. My boss lost 2 grandparents who had a large part in his raising within a year. Our entire team went to both services as a show of support. If it was an in-law or a more distant relative I would only consider going if I heard he was having a hard time with the death. Heck I am estranged from some of my blood relatives so there are funerals for “family” that I won’t attend.

        2. Expiring Cat Memes*

          I agree, there’s a lot of subtleties and some of it depends on how close you are with the coworker. I’ve been to one where almost the entire (small) company showed up to support our older coworker who’d lost his wife, but it was mainly because we knew he didn’t have many friends or family. We outnumbered other guests at least 2:1 but were discreet and stayed at the back. It meant a lot to him to have that show of support, and we went because we knew it would.

          On the other hand, when a close friend lost her father (they were like a second family to me), it really irked me that a former boss of hers (who she remained friends with) attended and brought her mother along. It’s not a social plus-one event? Said mother had never met the guy, or my friend. Just showed up to cry and got stuck right into the potluck (that they didn’t contribute to).

          I think you either need to have a good gut feel about whether your presence would be appreciated, or ask.

          1. Caroline Bowman*

            Yes, this. I cannot bear gawkers and looky-loos of this kind, nothing better to do than go and fill their faces and have a nice outing.

            If there’s doubt, I wait till a little while has passed and then invite them for coffee, or ask them genuinely how they are doing / offer to run a specific errand / help in some purposeful way that isn’t creepy and is socially appropriate according to relationship. In one case, it meant driving a person to collect a death certificate (their car was kaput and it was all quite convoluted) and making light chit-chat at their request there and back and then never mentioning it again (again, their request). A meal or takeout voucher is always a good idea too.

        3. SaeniaKite*

          Since it is such a subtle thing I think I would err on the side of not making a hard day a lot worse than maybe making it a bit better

    2. Thistle Whistle*

      I’ve worked where people don’t go to funerals and where people do. I admit as someone who cries I found it hard going, and only went when it was a direct parent of a colleague. In order to consider going to the parent of a spouse I would have to both know and have a longstanding relationship with the spouse as well as the colleague.

      To me it reallydepends on how close you are to the colleague also. When my father died four people from my work came to the funeral. Three were friends/colleagues and I was happy with their presence. The fourth was a departmental team mate who made my life hell, caused lots of tears and was generally a horrible person to work with. If she had been more self-aware she would have picked on the coolness of my mother’s reaction when she introduced herself (my mother had heard the stories of her behaviour). But being her, she didn’t and stood there chatting to my family and friends who all did pick up on my mother’s reaction to her. Luckily the colleague who drove insisted they left after the funeral and didn’t come back for tea. That would have been too much for me.

    3. Snow Globe*

      Just wanted to point out that the letter said the co-workers were attending the viewing, not the funeral. That usually just entails going to the funeral home, signing the guest book, and spending a few minutes offering your sympathies to any family members present-and that last part isn’t really necessary if there are a lot of people around. I’d agree there is no reason for the LW to go, but it’s different from going to the funeral service.

      1. hmmmmmmmmmmmm*

        I’d agree; in various areas where I have lived it was more appropriate for a wider circle of acquaintances to go to the viewing. My mother and my sister went to the viewing for a coworker’s child; neither of them had met the child, it was more about expressing support for an awful situation, and was considered appropriate in that area.

        That said, I was also invited to that viewing and declined, because I am a crier AND I am very uncomfortable around the dead. The coworker pressuring OP to attend is being really un-self-aware, here, because there’s so, so many reasons someone might be uncomfortable going to a viewing. A lot of people are uncomfortable viewing a dead person. Some people laugh when they’re uncomfortable! So many reasons someone might excuse themselves from a viewing that are perfectly valid and don’t need a reason.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          My dad always said wakes are for the living & funerals are for the dead. In my experience, people go to the viewing to show support for the family of the deceased, so they might not know the deceased. But you don’t need to be there long.

          1. PT*

            I can’t remember it now, but I remember my parents saying there’s a whole hierarchy for wakes/shivas and which day you are welcome based on your relationship to the family. (Acquaintances/coworkers come on one day, friends come on another, distant relatives come on another, close family on another, etc.)

      2. Marillenbaum*

        That is an important nuance, though I think LW made the right call in not attending. It can definitely depend on region, office culture, etc., but personally I would think a coworker’s father-in-law, absent any information that they were especially close/would appreciate it, is sufficiently distant that you don’t attend, but instead maybe sign a condolence card if one goes around/toss a couple bucks in the whip-round for a sympathy fruit basket.

      3. Oryx*

        Yes, the viewing v funeral distinction is common where I am. When my mom died, my boss, my grandboss, and my work mentor all came to the viewing which I appreciated, though surprised by. But none of them came to the funeral and it would have been super weird if they had. Same with friends, we’ve been to the viewing for each other when one of our parents has died but the funerals are understood to be family only unless you are a very very close friend.

    4. AY*

      Where I’m located, it would probably be appropriate for OP to go to the visitation/wake (only if she wanted to of course!) but not the funeral. To me, visitations are about supporting the family members and friends, while the funeral is focused on honoring the deceased. It would strike me as somewhat weird for someone to attend the funeral of someone they didn’t know but not at all weird to attend that person’s visitation.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Yes, this is a good distinction to make. When my sister’s ex-husband’s mother passed, I went to the visitation although I’d only known her a short time decades ago. But she was the grandmother of my niece and nephew, and she’d been very kind to me in the short time I knew her. Sister’s ex was surprised to see me but VERY grateful that I came to say goodbye to his mother.
        What’s more difficult to know what to do is when there’s no separate visitation, which happens more frequently now. My Mom had my aunt cremated and had a private funeral with just her, and my sister and I (aunt was a childless widow). What Mom didn’t understand was that Aunt had lived her entire life in a small town and knew generations of nearly every family. Sadly, none of those people got to pay their respects.

    5. EA Extraordinaire*

      I second this – you don’t need to go. My mom passed away unexpectedly last year and my husband’s staff went above & beyond anything I ever dreamed they’d do & none of them came to the funeral (yes, there was the whole pandemic part, but this was during the summer when rules had relaxed). They sent flowers to the service and collected money for a generous food delivery gift card. His company, per standard policy I’m assuming, sent us an Edible Arrangement. Again, they did so much more than I ever could’ve imagined and honestly, them showing up to the funeral would’ve been awkward for everyone. My husband was there to support me and process his own grief. He didn’t need his staff witnessing that.

    6. These Tiny Keyholes*

      Agreed, you don’t have to go. Different people apparently have wildly different ideas about the purpose and function of viewings/funerals, but IMO the important thing should be what the close friends and relatives of the deceased want, not what a relative’s husband’s coworkers want.
      A couple of years ago a friend of mine (and beloved member of our mutual community) died suddenly. I live a few hours away so I carpooled to her funeral with a few other mutual friends from out of state. While waiting in line to get into the funeral hall (it was a small space and my friend was widely loved, so it was crowded) a woman in line ahead of us started peppering me with questions about who we were, why we were there, did we know the deceased, why is it so crowded, why would we drive four hours for a funeral, etc etc. It turned out she was a coworker of one of my friend’s relatives, had never met my friend, and was treating the whole thing as some kind of social outing. It felt rude and tasteless to those of us who had gathered to support each other and mourn our friend, and as soon as I had space I skedaddled away to hug my late friend’s husband and spend time with other folks from our community.

    7. kittymommy*

      This is why I find questions like this fascinating. This blog is the first time that I have ever heard about the idea of people being offended or upset about someone going to their family members (non-private, so announced in an obit) funeral. It’s just never something I have grown up with.

      1. Archaeopteryx*

        I think the obituary announcement is so people the family doesn’t know knew the deceased or had a connection to them can come, like if they always ate at the same sandwich shop and were friendly with the owner, but no one would know to reach out to the owner in particular.

        I think the “wouldn’t mind if random people came” contingent is likely to be a lot smaller than the “would absolutely mind”. Especially if there’s an open casket, but either way, it’s inherently a ceremony/event for those actively grieving or their closest sources of support. To have people there who had never met the deceased and aren’t close to the mourners, or who are from a section of your life that would mean you couldn’t be totally emotionally vulnerable (ugly-crying, looking numb, your reactions can surprise you in this situation) would be to a greater or lesser degree violating and presumptuous.

        The similar “old rule” is that weddings are public events too, so e.g. parishioners of the same church can attend the wedding but not the reception, but I don’t recommend trying that nowadays. People would be righteously confused and upset.

        1. UKDancer*

          Weddings are in the UK public events and you can’t easily exclude people. Part of it is historic because it allowed for anyone to object (as in Jane Eyre) if either party was already married or there was another obstacle.

          Now people can use space constraints to control access to e.g a registry office or stately home but it’s hard to do with a church. Maybe easier since Covid though.

        2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          The last wedding I attended a few years ago was part of the regular Saturday evening Mass, just tacked on to the end. The reception was the private part. I’m in the U.S.

      2. Megan*

        I agree. This is quite a fascinating read for that reason. This is also a first for me to hear that so many people would be upset by certain people attending a funeral for their loved one. It’s been years since I worked close enough to family where it would make sense for coworkers to attend since going to my family funerals would involve traveling out of state many hours away, but I would honored if any of coworkers showed up to any of my family member’s funerals in support of me. When my grandpa died, there were some people who showed up that I didn’t really know, but I was honored so many people came to honor his life.

        1. RussianInTeaxs*

          I wouldn’t be upset, but it would be weird. My family members are nothing to my coworkers, and I can’t imagine going to a funeral of any of theirs family members. I don’t invite them to my wedding, if I had one, I wouldn’t expect for them to go to a funeral.

        2. Gothic Bee*

          I think it depends on the relationship. Personally I don’t know any of my coworkers well enough for them to be able to offer support, so if a coworker had shown up at my grandfather’s funeral, I’d be weirded out because there’s no purpose to them being there and it would feel like it was detracting from the point of the event. And that would be a very different situation from someone showing up who only knew my grandfather and didn’t know me or any of my family, which would be fine and normal.

    8. Cold Fish*

      I have a hard and fast rule… the only funerals I attend are immediate family memebers. I will cook casseroles, send flowers, heck, I will dog sit the bereaved’s pet if that is what is needed but I find funerals mentally unhealthy. Just the thought of going to a funeral of someone I never even met is enough to give me chills and a stomach ache.

      I would think the boss would be more comforted knowing that you are at work, doing your job and he/she doesn’t have to worry about the office and can use all their mental energy being there for their spouse.

      1. Caroline Bowman*

        me too. I cannot.

        I make sure I support friends and loved ones properly and meaningfully, but funerals are a no from me unless absolutely unavoidable and if a loved one absolutely wants me there. Then I’d do it for them and do it graciously, but not if I could avoid it!

      2. RussianInTeaxs*

        Same. Close family members, or really close friends. No coworkers, coworkers family, not close friends family, etc. I will sign a card, pitch in to the flowers. But not going in person.
        Not particularly taxing, I do not see the need to.
        I have a fairly strong dividing line between work and personal (not that I don’t ever talk to coworkers about personal life or anything, they are just non-overlapping spheres), and I can’t imagine any of my coworkers showing up to a funeral or a viewing of my family member. Or me telling them where it would be. Or me ever deciding to go to a funeral of a coworker’s father, for example. We are not in that kind of a relationship.

        1. Splendid Colors*

          People keep inviting me to memorial services for people who had disliked me while they were alive. “But our community is paying their last respects! You need to support your friends who miss them!” I have kept declining the invitation because it just feels wrong and I’m afraid I’ll make some social blunder that will make everyone feel worse. It feels disrespectful to attend when the person being honored would have disinvited me if they had the option.

          Are people really going to decide I’m bad news and not a good person if I decline to attend these services? (The last one that happened was for someone who went around telling people I’m bad news and not a good person, so was I supposed to publicly forgive them for trashing me, or what?)

          Likewise, I’m new at my church and we’ve had a succession of deaths of people who were very active in the community… before I joined. I don’t know them, though I probably would’ve enjoyed knowing them back in the day if I’d been around then. I guess I would be a good audience for stories about them, at least, but it still seems odd to attend a service for someone I’d only known about second-hand when they were alive.

    9. Meep*

      Ick. And I am still livid at the way one of our managers treated an employee who lost her grandmother. It was 1.5 years ago and around her birthday. The manager refused to allow for sick-time/bereavement leave and made her put it in as “vacation time” (her words) as she was traveling out of state and “could do fun things like a vacation” (again her words). I made my coworker a nice soft blanket – that of course, the manager took credit for – and straightened it out by the time she got back, but dang was it insensitive to call going to one’s grandmother’s funeral “a vacation”.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        Jesus, that is ghoulish of the manager. Especially since it sounds like that workplace had a bereavement leave policy. I remember one coworker when I was overseas had a family emergency–thankfully not a death, but when he got the news it wasn’t guaranteed there wouldn’t be one by the time he got home. As dysfunctional as that office was, it was good to see how everyone immediately snapped into action to do the right thing–as soon as he got the news, my boss replaced him on customer interactions, the rest of us covered his workload, and made sure he wasn’t going to be bothered by a single solitary work thing until he came back, whenever that was.

      2. Cold Fish*

        When I first started working at Job (small business), the bereavement leave was for “immediate” family only (parents, siblings, children only) and I had to use “vacation time” when my grandmother died. By the time I got back from “vacation” the policy had been changed (with no prompting on my part) to “close” family (and now includes grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, etc.)

      3. Gothic Bee*

        My workplace gave me a huge hassle over my grandmother’s passing and I ended up not taking any bereavement time because it was supposed to be used for a funeral and they needed “proof” (my grandmother hadn’t wanted a funeral, so there wasn’t a funeral or an obituary). Then just over a year later my grandfather passed and they immediately offered me the full possible bereavement leave and even sent a bouquet to my family (he didn’t have a funeral or obituary either). I assume there was a change in policy or something, but the somewhat abrupt change in how it was handled made me even more annoyed because my grandmother’s passing had been much more sudden and I actually could have used the time off to process it and be with my family whereas my grandfather’s passing was expected and I hadn’t felt as much need to take time off.

        1. Splendid Colors*

          When my mother died, after many years of illness, I was temping (maternity leave cover). My coworkers were supportive and I believe my supervisors actually paid me for the days I had to miss to take care of her affairs, even though it wasn’t required by agency policy. That was a very good workplace and one of the few where I wish I could’ve stayed permanently.

    10. Mayor of Llamatown*

      Some people take the idea that “funerals are for those left behind” to mean that it’s an opportunity for absolutely anyone connected to the grieving to show up and “show support” for those grieving. In fact, it really means “Funerals are an opportunity for those grieving to gather in their grief and support one another.”

      If one feels like one should show up to a funeral, one should show up. But I don’t think it’s a reason to pull together some sort of goodwill tour of everyone a person works with.

      I suspect OP’s coworker is, perhaps even subconsciously, trying to garner brownie points, even if she fully intends to try and be supportive.

  2. Bookartist*

    LW #5: Adding my data point to Alison’s: We held my brother’s memorial service this past weekend. In no way would it have felt appropriate for anyone except family and friends to attend. It’s not a social event and I would not have enjoyed the social pressure of keeping myself together in front of people I have to work with next week. Thank you for showing common sense.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Particularly in a COVID / pandemic situation, it’s pretty rude to show up at a funeral if you’re not close to the deceased.

      1. Janet Pinkerton*

        I wouldn’t say this is universal agreed upon. I was just at a viewing and funeral and the deceased’s granddaughter brought like five people from her/her boyfriend’s biker club. I say “brought” because these folks came from out of state and were at every event. The granddaughter maybe saw her grandmother once a year.

        Was it unexpected? To me and at least some others, yes. Was it rude of them to attend? Wasn’t perceived that way by any of us. In contrast, it was sweet that these folks had come so far to be supportive of their friend.

      2. Sleepless*

        Huh. I guess my experience is different; maybe it’s a small town thing? Most of the funerals I’ve attended had family, friends, former neighbors, coworkers, employees, whomever.

    2. bookartist*

      Well today I learned this situation is far more nuanced than I thought. I will definitely ask before assuming if I should ever be in the coworker position.

    3. Rose*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I think you hit the nail on the head with this wording… it’s not a social event/party where you should swing by for fun, appearances, self promotion, or any other reason that isn’t I am personally sad about this persons passing or I am supporting someone else who is sad (and likely sad on their behalf).

      While a card or basket is a sweet gesture of support many would appreciate, I think the vast majority of people would not want their in law’s direct reports at a family funeral, and having anyone there out of pure obligation to witness my grief would be my personal nightmare. I’m not even a private person.

  3. turquoisecow*

    OP 5: I’d probably honestly be indifferent if you showed up to my in-law’s funeral if it was a fairly large event. Presuming you didn’t make a scene, it’d be fine to have someone else there as support, assuming you and I worked closely enough together or were friendly. (If you were a random coworker I didn’t interact with often or really even know it would be really weird.) But I also wouldn’t think anything of it if you didn’t. I know if my parents passed away the company would probably send a joint sympathy card, but I wouldn’t expect it for my in-laws.

    My experience has been that the community in general turns out for funerals. My future in-laws came to my grandmother’s funeral even though they had never met her and had only briefly met my parents at that point. My mom has stopped in at the wake of relatives of people she knows because she saw the obituary, just to briefly give condolences. If you’re in that sort of community, or a small company, I could see coworkers wanting to show support. But I also can’t see anyone holding it against you if you didn’t.

    1. PolarVortex*

      I agree with what you’re saying here, in a lot of areas it is very much a community shows up thing. I don’t think it’s needed nor should it be required, but I can see why people want to – particularly people of an older generation where that community shows up to funerals thing has been extremely engrained.

      Although myself personally wouldn’t want to have either my partner’s coworkers nor mine (unless we’re also friends) show up to a funeral of my family member, I have seen it happened. When my grandmother died a few years ago, my mom’s coworkers in her dept showed up. I think she found it kind, because it was a few hours drive to the funeral for them, and they had been so supportive during my grandmother’s decline in the past year and her needing to be flexible as the power of attorney. But they all work for a religious college so that might also be a part of that difference too.

      I myself have sent cards to coworkers who have lost parents/siblings at minimum, and plants/gift cards for food delivery to those I am closer to/are a boss to. (That’s my ‘bring a casserole’ roots coming out with the food gift cards but honestly I like the OPs idea of a snack basket. Could’ve used that at my grandma’s funeral when we were all starving after a few hours.)

    2. Trout 'Waver*

      +1 here. There are communities where it would be appropriate.

      But if you don’t know or are on the fence, you should err on the side of not going in this particular case.

  4. learnedthehardway*

    OP#1 – Don’t bring it up at this point. Your manager and Mary’s manager are both well aware that Jane managed Mary at another company. I agree with you that the comradery (?) between Jane and Mary seems a bit much, but it could be they just know each other and don’t have that comradery with the rest of your team, yet.

    It’s not going to help you to point it out, not unless there is a clear pattern of favoritism happening (ie. Jane interfering to get Mary better assignments, special projects, or other perks AT THE EXPENSE OF other good performers in the same roles.) IF that happens, talk to your manager about it, and leave it with them. There’s nothing you’d be able to do yourself, and if your manager can’t (or won’t), then you’ll have to figure out how to navigate the situation. At this point, your best bet is to be excellent in your role and build your reputation for quality work.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      If this ends up being a protegee/empire-building/brown-nosing situation, the only way to fight it is to let it become a business problem – either performance-wise, or in violation of policy.

      I’ve been there, and its infuriating, but trying to address it as a junior employee is just going to result in frustration on your part. I wouldn’t even spend time commiserating with the other junior staff, because it’s just going to get you into a frustration spiral.

      1. Teapot Repair Technician*

        It sounds like Mary is Jane’s protegee. It’s infuriating for everyone else, but I can’t think of a specific reason why it’s necessarily wrong for a senior manager to have a protegee in the junior ranks.

        Janes biggest wrongdoing (that we know of) is being too conspicuous about it.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          I think you and I basically agree; I’m using the negative connotation of protegee – based on the original literal meaning – of someone who is overtly protected or sheltered by their sponsor from negative things.

          If Jane wants to reward somebody capriciously, that’s her call, until and unless company policy says “no, you can’t do that.”

    2. tamarack and fireweed*

      Yes. For me, the key passage is “we are worried that Mary *could get preferential treatment* over us when it comes to things like promotions and layoffs since she has this pre-existing relationship with someone who is so high up in the company”. I’m a big fan of basing my attitudes regarding another person’s misbehavior on realities, not anticipated possibilities. If Mary *does* get preferential treatment, the LW and their co-workers should absolutely band together and go to someone, possibly the one of their direct bosses who looks most likely to be able and willing to take it further. But some in-banter from a previous relationship, however annoying, isn’t preferential treatment as long as the LW’s work and compensation aren’t affected. (If I was Jane’s boss, I’d totally point out to her that she isn’t being a great manager here, of course.)

      There’s a kind of shortcut in thinking that I keep seeing lately and that I want to guard against. It goes like this, in this example:

      Step 1: Preferential treatment is a no-no, and absolutely needs to not happen.
      Step 2: Therefore, even the appearance of preferential treatment should be avoided.
      Step 3/the shortcut: Therefore, we come down on someone who gives the appearance of preferential treatment (or even the hint of the supposition that there could be grounds for future preferential treatment) as hard as on someone who in actual fact treats their reports unequally, regardless of whether there is actual preferential treatment happening.

      I think this shortcut creates a lot of unnecessary anxiety. It’s not realistic for any pre-existing relationship to be entirely invisible to co-workers, and in reality, we all like some co-workers or, if applicable, reports better than others. And fully mature managers need to be expected to ensure that personal sympathies aren’t impacting business processes or the distribution of opportunities.

  5. MamaSarah*

    It strikes me as tacky and kind of odd to attend funeral of a boss’s in-law, particularly if I didn’t know them in any way. Loss and grieving can be a very private experience.

      1. Not Australian*

        Actually, this is not universally the case. These things may vary tremendously based on both religious and social customs and can vary from one town to another. If one didn’t personally know the deceased, a card or a letter expressing sympathy is probably the best option – as well as, perhaps, a donation to a relevant charity. Showing up at *any* family event – unless one is invited *by a member of the family* – is one of the tackiest things anybody can do IMHO, and the sort of faux pas that could taint a person’s career in the immediate future. You really don’t want people saying, years later, “Oh, you remember Jane – she’s the one who randomly showed up at Arthur’s funeral and nobody had a clue who she was!”

        1. The OTHER Other*

          Well, conversely you may not want to be the one person in the office who did NOT go.

          I think OP is fine not going, both because she doesn’t want to and the relationship to the deceased is tenuous, but cultural norms vary tremendously on this.

          1. Humble Schoolmarm*

            Exactly. I would say the OP is fine not to go and if this is a ‘funerals are private’ culture, that may be the wiser option anyway. That being said, if public wakes and funerals are typical in her community and she’s the only one of her group not attending, it might be wisest to at least pop by the wake (where I am, it’s perfectly acceptable to go to a wake, greet your boss and express condolences and leave quickly). Even in that case, she could certainly skip the funeral, though.

        2. Megan*

          Unless it explicitely states the visitation is a private event, it’s generally considered an open invite to anyone to come pay respects to the deceased or to support the loved ones of the deceased. I don’t think it would be rude or tacky to show up to one without a family member inviting you unless it was specifically labeled a family only private evnt. Honestly, I’ve never been “invited” to a funeral before. The details are usually passed word of mouth and in the paper and then who ever wants to show up comes. I honestly think it’s more tacky to get upset about people wanting to pay respects to the deceased by attending a publically announced wake.

          1. Not Australian*

            “Unless it explicitely states the visitation is a private event, it’s generally considered an open invite to anyone to come pay respects to the deceased or to support the loved ones of the deceased.”

            No. It may be in *your* culture, but it certainly isn’t in mine.

      2. Empress Ki*

        A funeral is totally a private event. We didn’t have anyone but relatives and close family friends at my mum’s funeral. It’s nobody’s else business.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Before we derail on this — different cultures, communities, and families have different customs in this regard. Some consider funerals private; others do not. There is no one right answer here, so we won’t get anywhere discussing this as if there is!

      3. Lunch Ghost*

        Depends. I’d consider any arrangements specified in the obituary to not be private. So if the obituary says “Viewing hours are 5PM to 8PM on such and such date at Sydell and Sons Funeral Home”, you’re welcome to show up to the funeral home but for anything else that may be happening (funeral, graveside) you need to be invited.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yep, in my stint at newspapers I ended up editing obits a fair amount, and that’s very much where families can indicate how open services are – it may say private, it may specify a wake/visitation, services, none or all of the above. Similarly I’ve seen death announcements (for coworkers’ family members) come via hr at work and some have had service information, others haven’t.

    1. Esmeralda*

      Makes more sense to attend the visitation — I have done that for coworkers who’ve lost a family member. You go, you sign the book, you express your condolences to your coworker, you may chat with anyone you know there, you go home.

      This is the South, and perhaps it is different elsewhere. And I would not attend anything more personal unless I were particularly close to the coworker (I wouldn’t show up for a coworker who was sitting shiva, for instance, if it were my boss’s in-law, nor would I attend the funeral).

  6. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    “I had a few interviews and even an offer, but nothing that I am really interested in has worked out”
    What happened with this offer?
    I don’t know if you are holding out for a great/dream job but recent graduates often get crummy jobs but once you have some experience under your belt you can apply for and get interesting/challenging jobs. So if you are holding out my advice is take a decent enough job for now to get your toes wet.

    1. Bamcheeks*

      OP is already working in a temp job at a university and getting some experience, though. So whatever she accepts has to be better than that!

      I took the first permanent job I was offered out of university, and it meant moving three hours away and being completely miserable for a year. With hindsight, I think I’d have been better off staying in my temp role for another few months until something I was genuinely interested in (or at least something closer to family and friends) came up. There’s no right or wrong answer, hindsight is 20:20 etc etc, but if OP felt that turning down that offer was the right thing to do right now that’s OK.

      1. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

        The problem with temp jobs is that they are often short term. That said if the OP’s is not thats very good.
        I also don’t say take any job you are offered but you do need to be less choosy when starting out and as you gain experience you can become more choosy.
        So if the OP is being as choosy now as they would with 5-10 years of experience then they are going to languish for a long time.
        That said we know nothing about the offer that was turned down, maybe it was a bad fit realized after going through the interviews which is understandable.
        Which is also why i said decent enough in my post.

  7. Viki*

    Op 5– different data point.

    When my grandmother passed, my father (her son in law) department head and various members of the department came to the visitation as well as sending flowers.

    My father and mother both very much appreciated that. My father specifically liked that his team came to pay respects, was there for him both with the work coverage, but also personally.

    It’s a know your people/know your culture sort of thing.

    1. Pyjamas*

      Yes I wondered if this was a regional thing. I grew up in the south and it’s very important to me to show my respects by going to a funeral. Of course that also means observing proper boundaries, especially not burdening mourners with prolonged conversations. Put on discretely somber clothes (neither all black OR bright colors), go to funeral, tell the bereaved afterwards, “I’m so sorry for your loss” and exit stage right.

      1. LizM*

        I didn’t grow up in the south, but I grew up in a church community that has a lot in common with southern traditions, and this was my experience too. A friend or family member of a family member of the deceased would not be notable, assuming they behaved appropriately. Over 200 people came to my grandmother’s funeral, including a couple of my mom’s coworkers and some of my (local) grad school friends. We appreciated the support.

      2. Paris Geller*

        It’s definitely cultural and regional! My dad is a police officer — when my mom passed, the entire police department except for those that had to be on dispatch/patrol were there, and several other city workers as well. The church was packed with many people I had never met. However, that was a small, southern town. A boss’ father-in-law is a bit of a stretch. I think what people in the comments are mostly coming down to is — these things are cultural & regional, but if others are going, it’s OK if you wanted to go, but since you don’t, that’s fine too.

        1. The Rural Juror*

          Also from a southern state – I’ve seen more people who want to support the family come to a reception following a funeral than attend a viewing or funeral service. That makes more sense to me since, at that point, it’s less formal and people are milling about chatting. I realize not every service will have a reception, so if there wasn’t one I knew about I would opt not to go at all.

          My mother’s employees came to my grandfather’s and my grandmother’s (a few months apart) memorial receptions to show support for my mom. In that case, though, they all knew she had been assisting her parents with their end-of-life care and that it had been a couple of years of stress and needing to be out of the office. It was a lovely gesture for them to show support, but it might have been odd if they were at the actual service (there were no viewings for either, only grave-side services at a national cemetery).

          But, to agree with you, it’s definitely cultural and regional.

        2. OhNo*

          The size of the gathering otherwise should probably be part of the equation, too. In a case like yours, the gathering sounds like one or two additional semi-adjacent people might have gone mostly unnoticed. If it was a smaller gathering, though, it might be more obvious and therefore more of a faux pas.

          I’ve only been to a few funerals in my life, but at every one there has been at least one or two people that made me think, “why are they here?”. Whether or not their presence was a problem had far more to do with their behavior than anything else, though. Even at a small, intimate funeral where one might be the odd duck out, being unobtrusive and respectful, and leaving quickly and quietly after paying respects to the family, would probably just be shrugged off fairly quickly as someone who meant well.

        3. Splendid Colors*

          After the mass shooting and bomb threat at our county transit headquarters, there was a public memorial in front of City Hall for the public (and any drivers, other transit employees, law enforcement, etc. who wished to attend). Then the families had a series of family-and-coworkers memorial services and/or funerals for the victims, staggered so none of the times conflicted. It took about a week, I believe. I think everyone needed at least a week off just to deal with the attack, but IIRC pretty much everyone in the agency showed up at all the memorials.

          The neighboring transit systems (up to 75 miles away) showed their support by sending volunteer drivers in their home agencies’ buses to cover nearly all the scheduled service that week.

    2. Batty Twerp*

      Various members of his department, or his entire department?
      Having a company presence doesn’t require the presence of the entire company.
      If OP5 doesn’t feel comfortable going, they don’t have to go. Maybe their coworkers are closer to the boss and have conversed with about the father in-law. Maybe they too have met the wife and are closer to her than OP5.
      The coworkers need to lay off. OP5 sent a condolence message and should just turn up to work that day as normal (assuming it’s a normal work day)

      1. Viki*

        Well in my father’s case his department was ten people and about 8 of them showed up.

        Like I said it depends on your team, your culture. My family appreciated it, some won’t . It’s about knowing what makes sense to the culture (both work, and socially) and where you fit it, and where your boundaries are.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          If it is a work day, then people will need to be in the office to provide cover.

          A former colleague at a company I used to work for died very suddenly. Many employees wanted to attend the funeral, but some stayed behind to keep the office open.

    3. kittymommy*

      Yeah same. I work for a decently large employer (a little under 2000) and we’ve had a lot of funerals for people lately and it’s quite common to attend funerals for the immediate members of family (and send flowers). In fact there is a funeral tomorrow for my boss’s immediate family and there will be across departments there.

      Picking up from another comment, I do live in the south so maybe it’s a regional thing.

    4. anonymous73*

      I had some work people come to the viewing when my mom died, and while I appreciated it I didn’t expect it. So I think the point is that it’s not something that’s required, but nice if you’re comfortable going. Personally unless I had more than a boss/subordinate relationship with them, I wouldn’t feel comfortable going, but would acknowledge the loss in another way as OP did.

    5. Ann Perkins*

      Very much so. I went to a friend’s father’s funeral Mass once (close friends and I’d been around his dad several times) and he was very active in his church and also chief of his Native American tribe. There were probably 400+ people at the funeral Mass so colleagues coming would not have been odd since so much of the community was there. But that’s not the norm in my experience and if you’re unsure at all, better to skip and send a nice card rather than be seen as overstepping and odd.

    6. JessicaTate*

      Exact same experience here. When my dad’s mom passed away, co-workers/bosses from both of their workplaces came to the viewing. And vice versa when it was my mom’s parents. They very much appreciated it. And my parents absolutely went to viewings for the in-laws of coworkers. OP5 certainly shouldn’t feel pressure to go, but it’s not something to be shocked by if other co-workers are doing it.

      For the regional/community angle: I grew up in a rural part in the Mid-Atlantic region. It was the same for my partner’s family in suburban areas of the Midwest. (And thus, guides how we both respond to our co-workers. I’d go, if it was nearby.) I would say I did not see this pattern when I lived in large cities on either coast – but I’m not sure there were as many occasions for it, and often people’s families weren’t nearby, which would have made it a non-issue.

      1. what am I, a farmer?*

        I’m in a big coastal city (DC) and have been to two funerals connected with coworkers — both spouses who passed away in their 40s or 50s. I think the tragic/early nature of the death made it feel like a situation where we especially wanted to show support. A coworker’s in-law definitely feels tangential enough that I probably would not attend even if I were close to the coworker. Parents tend not to come up because most of my coworkers do not have local family, but I would probably consider attending for someone I was work-close with (ie, I like you and we interact frequently).

        There’s a NPR piece from 2005 (!) called “Always Go to the Funeral” that apparently made a very big impression on me, and is definitely the attitude that I was brought up with; it’s worth googling if you are from a culture that does not believe this.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          That piece is so good. It has definitely shaped my own attitudes as an adult, since during my childhood I didn’t have much experience with death.

    7. An.On.*

      Yes it definitely varies from office to office. Anecdotally, in my (small, midwestern) office we did the whole funeral (including luncheon) collectively for a boss’ parent, but just the visitation (on an individual basis) for a boss’ parent-in-law. This is also an office where almost everyone has worked together at least 10+ years. We also sometimes have clients whose funerals we go to, so it just depends on the relationship, but there’s rarely an expectation that you go, especially in these COVID days.

  8. ArmyOfSkanks*

    OP 5: I have a very good, and actually personal, relationship with both my current and former bosses, and the thought of showing up for either of their husband’s dad’s funerals is just weird and offputting, unless they specifically invited me. So I say, if they ask that you come so they can (for example) have someone outside the family with whom to talk smack about the in-laws in the bathroom, go, otherwise, no. YMMV based on office/local culture, of course, but it seems unnecessary at best from here.

  9. august*

    LW3, no shame in accepting help when it’s available. If I were to refer someone to a suitable position for them, I wouldn’t expect that they be hired just because I knew them and some HR do appreciate a candidate referral when employees can. And If I were the hiring manager and someone from a different department recommended someone, it would be the credentials of that applicant that gets them the spot and not the recommendation, which I assume would apply to most hiring managers’ sentiments as well.

    Heck I was recommended by my brother-in-law but not one of my bosses ever bring it up after I was hired or even by our HR. They just asked how I knew of the position being open during the interview and that was that. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Don’t even know if big boss remembers.

    It won’t be the same for some companies of course but really, go ahead and make use of your father’s connections. If it really bothers you in the future if you get a job through that, you can counter the ‘guilt’ by proving their recommendation worthwhile.

    1. Cheezmouser*

      I think it depends on who LW3’s dad is. How senior and well-known is he in the field? Case in point: I was just forwarded a resume by our division president. The candidate’s parent is a former colleague of the CEO. Parent asked CEO if there were any openings for candidate. CEO forwarded the resume to my division president and asked if there were any openings. It got filtered down to me with the silent understanding that I was going to interview this candidate and find or create a position for them. They start next week. I’m not about to say no to the CEO and my president.

      So in most cases it’s fine to take up a parent’s offer to ask around their network for referrals, but I suspect LW3 is trying to be sensitive to nepotism hiring. If that’s the case, I applaud their desire to get hired on their own merits and not take advantage of their privilege to essentially get a free pass.

      1. august*

        That’s true and as I said, it depends on the company if they’re prone to nepotism or not. LW has had dead leads using their dad’s network so it may not lead to a situation like that or it may, who knows. But there’s privelege in getting free passes and there’s also networking right so maybe LW can figure out how they can balance it without tipping so much in the nepotism side.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Great comment.

        It’s impossible to ignore that this kind of networking is precisely how privilege remains entrenched.

        Should an individual parent refuse to recommend their own child on principle? Probably not. But companies should work hard to make sure they don’t prioritise “who you know” ahead of skills and accomplishments.

        1. Birch*

          I think this is the difference between networking and nepotism. Nepotism is about getting the thing regardless of skills, because of who you are. Good networking is about making contacts–what you then do with those contacts should be business as usual re: evaluating skills and fit. Of course both are driven by privilege, but the difference is that people (ideally) can get access to opportunities and skills that mediate the effect of privilege in networking. Nepotism is all about retaining privilege based on lucky positions to be born into.

          1. Despachito*

            I agree.

            It is not completely fair (all things being equal, you have much more opportunities as a “father’s kid”), and I completely understand (and share) the reservations, especially if it is an entry-level position (I’d think that if a seasoned qualified employee gets recommended there is much greater chance that they won’t just hire them because of their father but if it is a beginner they will be just one of the many and it could play a bigger role).

            I’d possibly ask my father what exactly is his idea and what would he tell his contacts about me, and try to make sure that it is just about the contact and not about any pressure to hire me.

          2. Constance Lloyd*

            When I was looking to move states, a family member connected me with a friend of theirs from high school, who was a director at one of the largest employers in the area. He made the introduction, I forwarded the director my resume, and she recommended a couple of openings she thought I was qualified for. I had previously passed on applying to both because I thought I was under qualified. I applied to one and had that job for 5 years before moving again.

            If OP is worried about nepotism, this could be a way to utilize their father’s network without feeling like a job is simply being handed to them.

          3. Curious*

            I think that networking and nepotism are not different in kind, just different in extent. Both are instances of privilege.

            There are rarely precise objective measures of skills available. So, a beneficiary of networking will be rated ahead of competitors with (if measured objectivly) equal — or even somewhat better skills.

          4. Cheezmouser*

            Another difference between networking and nepotism is that with networking, you build your own network, you put in effort so you get to reap the benefits. Nepotism is your *family member* built a network, you put in no effort but you reap the benefits.

            But I agree with you Birch that both networking and nepotism are largely for the professional class, and both are based on privilege that many low-wage workers don’t have access to.

          5. Saraaa*

            I feel like networking is the contacts you built yourself, thorough your work or being out and about in your community.

            Being introduced to someone because your dad went to college with so-and-so (even if you still go through a hiring process) feels like a much more cut- and- dry position of privilege imo.

    2. Despachito*

      “They just asked how I knew of the position being open during the interview and that was that.”

      Just out of curiosity – what did you tell them?

      (I am asking because I am wondering whether it would be appropriate to say what would sound the most natural to me – that my BIL let me know about the position)

    3. GammaGirl1908*

      Moreover, be aware that others who are your peers are using *every* connection they have. Use your legitimate connections if the alternative is coming in 3rd vs two people who leveraged their networks.

        1. ecnaseener*

          It’s hardly “playing games” to have an acquaintance tell the hiring manager that you seem reasonably intelligent and decent, or whatever impression they have of you. Boring game.

          1. Zephy*

            Yeah. It’s barely a game, it’s how people work. This is primal stuff, just basic and inherent to how we social animals operate. We are social critters but we are also tribal critters, we want there to be an “us” and a “not-us.” Opinions from “us” will always carry more weight than they objectively should, more than opinions from “not-us” (even when “not-us” is a bona fide expert in whatever you’re seeking information about), sometimes even overriding actual hard data – we’ve seen plenty of that in the last 18 months, but even for utterly banal situations like “what kind of phone should I buy” or “should I watch The Wire.”

      1. ferrina*

        I think the question is “Is a parent a legitimate connection?” And that’s a tough question.

        A parent (usually) can’t speak to your work quality in an unbiased way. A parent’s connections are not something you earn, they are something you are born into (yes, I know, parents opt to share their connections with their kid, but that tends to be dependent on the parents beliefs rather than the child’s performance).

        So is using a parent’s connections “cheating”? I’d say yes. And I’d say it’s a cheat worth taking. You can’t undo the political capital you were born in to or gift it to someone else, but you can use it to sway others. The company that hires you based solely on who you are related to is a company that wasn’t going to make a just hiring decision anyways. You can take advantage of that, get in and advocate for hiring changes (blinded resumes, posting openings in a wide array of places, clear performance metrics for promotions)

        One thing- always be honest about where you came from. “I had an extra advantage because of who my father knew.” It makes me so mad that I had to claw my way into an industry where I had no previous connections and had to get everything I earned the hard way for the first 7 years, while my friend got in to his chosen field immediately because his dad made a phone call, and my friend treats it like it’s equal (“well, we both work hard at what we do, and they would have hired me even if my dad hadn’t said anything.”). It’s not equal, it’s not fair, but the world isn’t fair. Be honest about where you came from, how you got there, then do the work to make the world somewhere where that doesn’t happen.
        (sorry for the mini-rant)

    4. Manchmal*

      My impression is that a referral or recommendation can get you in the door, but it doesn’t get you the job (the example of Cheezmouser notwithstanding-wow!). Everyone comes with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Some people are really beautiful, some are born with great intelligence and cunning, and some people are born into great networks. Networking is an important part of one’s career path, not just at the outset but through your working life. That’s why colleges and other groups create networking groups for marginalized/underprivileged folks, because the informal networks of people who know people are so powerful. I would use every advantage you have to get a good job, and then when you have that job–pay it forward and help others! But unless your dad is the Biggest Big Cheez, then they are probably not going to create a position for you to appease him. Once you’re in that interview room, it’s all on you.

    5. Loredena Frisealach*

      My first job I got an interview by my father (banker) calling the VP of Finance at a company he worked with asking if there were any openings in IT. VP called the VP of IT who brought me in for an interview. They liked me and I got an entry level position that I held and did very well at for 2 years. I do not know if there was any pressure to hire me based on that series of calls, but I think it really just got me in the door. Certainly I then had to be able to do the job!

      Mind you, this was a small corporate office for a retail chain – large company, but maybe 2 dozen all told in IT, and most of the other programmers did not have a degree. They dynamics are likely different in very large companies.

      All of which is to say there’s no reason not to take advantage of your father’s connections to get your resume in the door – you still have to interview and do the job after!

      1. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

        This is very similar to how I started my career! I had applied for a college summer internship at my dad’s company (very large international company, totally different departments) but never heard anything. He was friends with the head of talent in HR who asked at one point “isn’t your daughter studying X? I haven’t seen an application from her” (we have an unusual last name so it would stand out). My dad said I had but had never heard anything, so his friend asked that I forward my resume. During my interview with him, it came up that I was actually interested in a different area of the field and was in the process of figuring out classes to take to shift my major that direction, and he said he would ask that department if they would like an intern for 8 weeks. I got that internship because of my connections, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. While that might have been a favor to my dad it was my work that caused them to offer to extend my internship twice (through fall and spring semesters so I was there nearly a year) and then when graduation was approaching and there was a role my bosses felt I was qualified for, they pulled some strings to get temp coverage for that role because the semester still had a month to go (and then I would have to relocate across the country). The bosses that I had during my internship were only collegial with my dad, and even then probably only because their (unrelated) departments were on the same floor of the building, so I felt even more strongly that it was my work putting me out there. I worked for the company another 2.5 years before leaving, mostly due to management (shocker /s) and lack of growth opportunities (and then my dad was pushed out 5 years later so he’s bitter as hell about the company but that’s a whole separate story).

    6. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      I’m thinking back at how many places I was hired because someone there knew me from someplace else. (from a volunteer position or a former job) Literally can think of 2 jobs where someone at a high level just basically said “higher her”. I also once got hired at a retail job (way back in the day) by having a typed resume (in the era of typewriters and globby white out if you made a mistake) when no one else had done more than fill out the pen and ink app. Also once walked into a former job to see if they needed any volunteers (I had worked there about a decade before and wanted to build up a more recent history to eventually reinter that field) and she just happened to be short staff and hired me on the spot. Who you know might get you in the door, but staying there and getting promotions or raises is on you once you are in.

  10. John Smith*

    #5. Unless you knew the person well, or are going in support of someone else you know well and there is an absence of support elsewhere, no you didn’t have to.

    A colleague was asked if he wanted to attend his former (extremely toxic) manager’s funeral. The request was from his former and equally toxic grand-boss. Her response, with great calm and composure will always stay with me as will the look of realisation on grand bosses face of just how much she and the boss was despised:

    “We didn’t want to see him when he was alive and we sure as hell not going to see him when he’s dead. The old team will attend your funeral though just to make sure you’ve actually gone.”. Harsh but true (and deserved for what the boss and grand boss did which is a story for another day).

        1. anonymous73*

          I fail to see where the former grandboss’s death was wished for…you may want to try and read that again.

          1. Curious*

            I did. The “make sure you’ve actually gone” part makes it quite clear.

            Fwiw, that’s not just burning a bridge, that’s burning every piling, and the forest for a mile around.

          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            I’m not sure how you can read the phrase “just to make sure you’ve actually gone” without interpreting it that way. I have no opinion on the matter without knowing any of the people involved but that seems pretty clear to me!

    1. Frankie*

      This is one of those lines that would look good in movies. Irl, it makes you look, let’s say, unprofessional at best. This is how you burn bridges. Feel free doing that but it is in no way a good example for a workplace action.

      1. Simply the best*

        Yeah, it’s unclear from the snippet but if that colleague still worked at the company, I can’t see saying “I’m glad our coworker is dead and I can’t wait for you to die too” and not being immediately fired. And deserving it.

          1. BuildMeUp*

            …this is still not a thing you say out loud to someone, especially in the work world, so we absolutely can judge! I’m judging right now!

  11. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    LW 1, what Jane is doing definitely has the appearance of favoritism. She shouldn’t be doing this with her report’s report. I’d be concerned, too. But you sound too invested in Jane and Mary’s relationship. Why are you following them on several social media accounts and studying their posts? I’m not a big social media person, but that sounds like an odd thing to do for a grandboss and a new co- worker you feel threatened by. How do you know they are in a group chat related to their former workplace and why do you think it is inappropriate?

    1. Andy*

      In many places, people basically send friend social media requests to those they communicate with. Then you see it whenever you check your own linked-in, facebook or twitter. I would not read too much into it, really.

      1. ecnaseener*

        It doesn’t sound like the LW is talking about LinkedIn, which is a totally different case.

        For Facebook etc, if there’s a company culture of Facebook friending your grandboss…that is unusual and probably a bad idea, and it would help explain why the LW is so focused on office friendships if that’s the culture.

    2. OP 1*

      I get where you’re coming from, but it really doesn’t take a lot of effort to see. Like it’s the kind of thing where you’ll be scrolling Twitter and you’ll see Jane “Look at this silly thing @Mary said in our group chat last night” with a screenshot. Or “I said very silly X thing in my group chat last night, everyone” and Mary will reply “No worries, it was funny, we all laughed”. There is no detective work going on

      1. Meep*

        You can mute them on Twitter while still following them. That way you don’t feel like you are ostracizing yourself without letting it bother you and take up rent in your head.

        1. OP 1*

          Yeah, this is not really about our personal mental health, it was legitimately just a logistical question about whether this is a problem. (Answer was helpful and well taken, thank you Alison!)

  12. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    LW 3, as usual, Alison gave you good advice. Your dad’s friends and colleagues might hear about opportunities. While that connection might help you get an interview, if you get the job, that’s because you impressed them. All those people would be saying is something like, “My friend’s daughter just graduated with a degree in X. Can I have her send you a resume?” That will call attention to you so your resume will get a closer look, but the referrers can’t say anything about your qualities: smart, great at X and Y, hard working, etc. You’ll be the one interviewing and selling yourself. Take advantage of your dad’s contacts and good luck. I hope you get a job you enjoy and get to learn from.

      1. ferrina*

        Not entirely- you got the chance to impress them in the interview, which isn’t something you would have gotten without the connection.

        But how you perform in the interview and beyond is on you.

  13. Barbara Eyiuche*

    I am surprised by the extreme variation in the responses to the funeral question. I certainly agree that the letter writer does not have to go to the funeral or visitation, but in my city it would be perfectly normal for coworkers to attend the funeral of a coworker’s family member.

    1. Ferret*

      I love finding out about cultural differences with questions like this and I always find the funeral questions fascinating, because the idea that people who had never met or talked to the deceased but who just happen to have worked with one of their relatives would be attending the funeral is utterly bizarre to me on a level I find hard to articulate

      I’m from London but with family from elsewhere in Europe but I’m trying to imaging what I would do if a relative died and one of my colleagues wanted to attend the funeral and I would probably be pretty freaked out. Unless you are close enough to someone to be directly supporting them during the event anything other than condolences and supporting them at work as appropriate would feel like serious overstepping and piling extra work and worry on someone during a really rough time

      1. London Calling*

        My SIL invited her reiki instructor to my mother’s funeral (in Australia). I have no idea why. It struck me at the time that attending what I assume was a total stranger’s funeral was an odd way of passing the afternoon.

        1. Mannequin*

          I asked a good friend to come with me to my MiLs funeral because it was 2 1/2 months after my own mother died and I was an absolute wreck, and because I knew we were going to have to be around all the creepy fundamentalist christians on my FiLs side of the family. It was a weird & awful time and I was SO glad she was there, surreptitiously texting me under the table about all my poor husbands weirdo relatives (he’s been an atheist since middle school & totally rejects all that weirdness.

          1. quill*

            Rolled up to a good friend’s grandmother’s funeral for similar reasons, with the added excuse that I was the designated driver at an open bar funeral. Of course, I had actually met the grandmother in question before, and I lived nearby.

            TBH You’ve gotta be invited by someone who’s already going. Otherwise, your safest bet is to send flowers.

      2. doreen*

        On the other hand, the mother or one of my indirect reports died a couple of years ago, and people are still mad at me for not attending the funeral. There was only a 30-60 minute visitation immediately before the funeral (nothing in the days before) and I was unable to stay for the entire funeral so I did not attend. I found out later that people were upset and that I should have dropped by and could have left after making an appearance- but I didn’t know that because in my culture, if there is a wake/visitation, it’s a day or two before the funeral. There is usually 30-60 minutes of visitation at the funeral home before leaving for the church/the service starting – but the only people who attend that are those going to and staying for the entire service

      3. EvilQueenRegina*

        UK as well and I would feel much the same as you – it happens that whenever there’s been a funeral for any of my family members there’s been a reason why it wouldn’t have been feasible for my coworkers to have attended (with my grandparents the funerals all took place too far away, and with my dad Covid restrictions wouldn’t have allowed for it as that was during the second week of Lockdown 1), but I’d have been genuinely surprised if anyone at work had brought up going if it had been feasible.

        I guess a lot can be situation specific as well as cultural – the below commenter had good reason for wanting a friend at their MIL’s funeral and it sounds like it helped, I do remember one person at Exjob talking about how she’d been to funerals to support others and would always cry all the way through them because it reminded her of deaths in her own family. Leaving aside the fact that this coworker and I didn’t have a good relationship anyway meaning it would be a moot point really, it would not, personally, have helped me to have this person who had never met any of my deceased relatives in her life sobbing all the way through it.

      4. Boof*

        Well in places where more extended funerals are a thing it’s perhaps based around the idea that funerals are for the living and so coworkers are expressing condolences/support for the bereaved

    2. WS*

      I live in a small town and it would be normal for the entire town to attend, no matter how tenuous their connection! At the minimum, show up and sign the guest book. All the businesses in town shut down for a few hours – even the hospital just has a skeleton staff. But I’m not going to extrapolate that to other places!

      1. TechWorker*

        This must be more like what in the U.K. we’d call a ‘tiny tiny hamlet’ – the whole town shuts down.. for any funeral?? Wow :)

        1. Bamcheeks*

          Not necessarily! I’m English but my partner’s Irish, and there would be a fair number of mid-sized Irish towns which would pretty much shut down for a funeral of any long-standing resident.

    3. ECHM*

      Barbara Eyiuche – My thoughts exactly!

      I live in an area where funeral information is published and anyone can attend. My personal practice, schedule allowing, is that if I know the deceased I go to the funeral, and if I know the relatives I go to the visitation. I figure visitations and funerals aren’t for the deceased as much as to give comfort and closure to the family.

      Of course I just sign the book, go through the receiving line and give my condolences to the people I know, then leave (or visit with others I know who have come).

      1. Bamcheeks*

        What is a visitation? That’s not a term I’m familiar with at all (and tbh it sounds extremely spooky.)

        1. AnnieT*

          A visitation also goes by the name of wake. It usually occurs a day or two before the burial at a funeral home. This is a chance for people to see/pray for the deceased and offer condolences to the family. Most people go to the wake and not the actual burial.

        2. All the words*

          In my experience visitation = viewing where the casket is present and people can pay their last respects to the deceased in person. There’s usually a short prayer at some point, but it’s not a service per se. It’s much more informal than the funeral. People generally mill around, chat and cry.

          That’s my midwestern experience from a Catholic family perspective.

        3. ECHM*

          Sorry, didn’t realize that was an unfamiliar term! I’m using it in the context that the family is available in a stated place at a stated time and people come to give their condolences. Sometimes the body is present, sometimes the cremains are present, sometimes it’s just pictures of the deceased.

          In our area these often happen for a few hours on the day before the service or one to two hours preceding the service.

        4. Mary Connell*

          As AnnieT said, it’s a chance to offer condolences to the family. In some places it’s called a viewing. If the deceased is being buried, the body may be present, either open or closed casket.

          Some people may attend both viewing and funeral or memorial service, but the viewing tends to be lower stakes; you can come and go and not stay, like you would need to for the funeral service. It’s often in the evening so people who can’t attend a daytime service can come.

        5. Bamcheeks*

          Thank you! Not at all a part of my (white British, Anglican, middle-class) culture– but now I’ve got a name for something I’ve seen them on TV.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes also white Britsh (mixed Methodist and Anglican) family and we don’t do visutations or viewings. Decidedly outside my frame of experience. Caskets have been closed at every funeral I’ve been to. You have the funeral then you have funeral tea (sandwiches canapes) and that’s mostly it.

            I don’t think we tend to go to funerals for colleagues families. When a work colleague died unexpectedly last year we sent flowers and a few people close to him went. We wouldn’t go.for anything more distant as a rule.

            1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

              Curious here – does everyone who goes to the funeral usually also go to funeral tea?

              I ask because where I’m from, we usually have a meal following the burial, and unless you are close enough to attend the burial you wouldn’t join the meal either. (The burial sometimes takes place immediately after the funeral, and sometimes days or even months later, depending on weather and lately on pandemic conditions.) Even more distant relatives don’t always attend the burial and meal – we were pleasantly surprised that my dad’s second-cousin joined us when dad’s aunt passed away. (We like second-cousin very much, but there would’ve been no social stigma had he gone home after either the funeral or the burial.)

              1. UKDancer*

                Usually yes. We tend to have the funeral service then the tea although I don’t know how much is specific to my family. The last few have been cremations. For some we’ve had the service at the crem and cremation then gone to a hotel for tea. Others were in church with tea in the hall after and a private cremation the next day.

                It tends to be sandwiches and cake rather than a sit down meal.

                My elderly aunt clearly didn’t want a service at all so she had a private cremation (just mum there) and a group of us had a lunch to remember her and share memories a week later.

                1. Bamcheeks*

                  Yes, definitely a buffet — sandwiches, cakes, tea, alcohol if it’s a licensed premises — and it’s really hard to cater because you are completely guessing how many people will come!

              2. Bamcheeks*

                In my experience, everyone who attends the funeral / remembrance service is invited to tea, and some people will gracefully and tactfully bow out at that point. But the invitation is extended to all.

                My mum died in her mid-sixties, which meant she had a massive funeral of about two hundred people, because she was old enough to have accumulated people from all sorts of different times and places in her life but not old enough that any of her peers were starting to die or become too ill to travel! We had the funeral tea in a building right next to the church, and I think well over a hundred people popped in to say hello and offer condolences and then about sixty-odd stayed an hour or so and ate some food. Then close family and friends came back to her and my dad’s house.

              3. Barbara Eyiuche*

                Where I’m from (Canada, a prairie city), people would usually go to both the funeral and the funeral tea or luncheon. Typically the tea or lunch is held in a hall attached to the funeral home, or in the church where the service was performed. If there is a separate visitation, people can go to just that. Usually only family and close friends go to the burial.

                1. Bluenoser*

                  Canada down east and it’s usually 1-2 visitation stints (usually afternoon and evening, sometimes two evenings); then funeral; then reception with tea, coffee, finger sandwiches and sweets; then grave-side service and last usually a small dinner. Visitation, funeral and reception are open to anyone who knows the deceased or someone close to the immediate family. Grave side and memorial dinner are only for immediate family (and friends that are honorary family). A lot of people will do both the visitation or the funeral, but you can pick one or the other. It would be a little weird to just show up for the reception, though.

          2. RussianInTeaxs*

            Not a part of Russian culture either, nor are the public obituaries in the newspaper.
            You normally have the church ceremony (if you are a church type), funeral, and then wake at home, and usually only for the invited people. I’ve never heard of people just showing up.

        6. ....*

          In my circles that would be where the deceased person is in their casket and you can say your final prayers/goodbyes to them and then say hi or talk to the family a bit.

        7. Bluephone*

          It’s just another term for wake, it’s to literally just pay a visit to the deceased/their grieving loved ones.

          1. UKDancer*

            It’s really interesting to learn what the different cultural post death plans are. I’ve read about wakes in crime novels set in the US but hadn’t realised quite what they were and I had never heard of visitations. We don’t do either in the circles I’m in within the UK.

            It’s fascinating how these things vary so much.

    4. Junior Assistant Peon*

      A lot of it has to do with company culture too, not just region. The AAM commenters are generally horrified by the idea of socializing with coworkers outside of work, but the amount of this that goes on varies considerably from company to company. In my experience, the companies where we did go to funerals were places with many long-tenured employees where the workplace culture hadn’t changed much from the old days, and socialization with coworkers was more common.

      1. Clisby*

        It can vary depending on the size of the town, too. I grew up in a town where if people didn’t socialize with co-workers there would be hardly anyone to socialize with.

      2. JustaTech*

        Another part of that can be the industry. When my 5th grade teacher died (in the middle of my 5th grade year; it was rough) her funeral was *enormous*. She’d taught a the same private K-12 school for decades, and was a beloved member of the community, so basically every student who still lived in town, and possibly their parents and/or kids came, as well as everyone who’d ever taught with her (basically the whole school).

        But that’s teaching. And the fact that she died in the middle of the school year certainly increased attendance.
        (The actual burial was much smaller, a private service for family.)

        So if the OP’s boss’ FIL was in a position in the community that his funeral would be very large, then I think it would be less weird for people like the OP to attend (if they want).

    5. Loulou*

      Agreed. I’m surprised by the number of people who assume their experience is the “right way” to have a funeral, or whose comments boil down to “well, *I* would hate it if you came to *my* parent’s funeral so don’t go!” It’s actually kind of offensive to write “it’s so WEIRD to even THINK about going to a funeral if you’re not family!!!” because basically you’re saying the way many other groups and cultures handle this is weird and wrong, not just different to you.

      Y’all, it’s a big world out there. It is in fact normal in many places to attend funerals for people you weren’t close to. If multiple of OP’s coworkers are planning on attending and told her she should, she may well live in one of those places.

      1. londonedit*

        Yes – when my grandfather died, several people who had worked with him decades before came to the funeral. They weren’t ‘invited’ but the funeral details were given as part of his obituary in the local paper, and they came to pay their respects. I think it’s less usual in my (English, atheist but with vague C of E cultural background) culture for people to be specifically invited to a funeral – it’s generally accepted that anyone who feels they want to pay their respects is free to go along. Obviously if you don’t know the family well you’d keep your distance and you’d probably just go to the service, say a quick ‘I’m so sorry for your loss; I worked with Wakeen when I was a young teapot painter 20 years ago’ and not stay for the wake afterwards, but it would be fine to go to the funeral. We don’t have pre-funeral rituals like viewings or visitations, so the funeral is the only time people can pay their respects. Sometimes if it’s a funeral followed by a burial, the details will specify that it’s a private burial for family only, but often a crematorium service will be open to all.

        1. Bamcheeks*

          One of the big differences I’ve noticed between English and Irish people is that English* people go to a funeral if they knew the deceased — however distantly or far back — and Irish people go to the funerals to support their friends who have lost someone. My English dad will drive a couple of hundred miles to go to the funeral of someone he was good mates with in 1972, and hasn’t spoken to since they briefly met up in 1994, and that’s totally normal. But I’ve had several Irish friends expressing shock when they’ve had to be talked out of going to a funeral of their friend’s mother, uncle, etc, on the grounds it would be seen as a bit odd since they never actually met their friend’s mother.

          *caveats about my experience being white English and Anglican, not universal!

        2. UKDancer*

          Yes. My father’s former boss died a month ago. Dad wasn’t close to him his boss retired 25 years ago and dad about 10 years ago but he saw the obit and went to the crem for the service. He stayed at the back and kept a low profile.

          His boss’s daughter came over and established who dad was and invited him to the tea to ensure he felt welcomed.

          In my experience funeral services are very rarely private. We don’t do viewings and visitations in my circle so the funeral’s it. We had one where a long term acquaintance took his own life. The family had a private, family only service and nothing for friends. They were I think struggling with shock and found it easier not to have others there.

      2. Lady_Lessa*

        I work at a small family owned company. When the mother of owner’s sons (both employed here) died, a number of us went to the first viewing, which was right after work, but not to the funeral. The funeral may have been private, I don’t remember.

        I was glad to sympathize with the men.

      3. Frankie*

        Yes, that’s my observation as well. It’s fine to have opinions on everything but insisting that your way is the only right way is a miserable way of life.

        This is very much a know your office/community culture thing. In old job, I wouldn’t be expected to attend my boss’s father’s funeral. In my present job, I would be, barring cases of death by COVID or local restrictions.

      4. Koala dreams*

        Yes, I’m surprised too. Where I live you only need to look in the obit section of any newspaper to see that funerals are different. Some obits say that the funeral is for close family only (often posted after the funeral), some invite people to the funeral, some ask for flowers or donations to a cause, some don’t. Viewings are uncommon in my culture, but it sounds like a nice tradition, where people can show their support for the family.

        I’m also surprised there are many more comments about funeral attendance than about viewings, given that the co-worker only suggested that the letter writer should go to the viewing. I thought the funeral and the viewing were separated?

    6. Purple Cat*

      It’s interesting, because (to me) this feels one family relation removed. My boss’s father died, my schedule didn’t allow me to go, but I would have to show my support for him. If his FIL died, no way I would have even considered going. He’d be supporting his wife (obviously I’m sure he’d have his own grief, but “support in” philosophy), so it would have felt a bit much to go to support him.

      1. what am I, a farmer?*

        This seems right to me. To me, if you knew the deceased but not the family, you go to show the survivors that their loved one meant something to you and to others. If you know a family member but not the deceased, you go to show the most bereaved loved ones that they are part of a community that cares about them and supports them. Of course many people have warm and loving relationships with their in-laws and are sad when they die, but it doesn’t quite rise to the same level for me.

  14. JM60*

    #2 I don’t get how the boss would think that a mandatory meeting with people sharing poorly circulated air maskless for an extended period of time would be okay. That’s how people can get exposed to a high dose of the virus and become severely ill. I don’t even think it would be okay if it was moved to a large conference room, because from the data I’ve seen, air circulation is more important than distance. I’d rather eat outside less than 6 ft away from others than eat inside with others more than 6 ft away.

    1. The OTHER Other*

      My guess is that boss is a Covid/mask skeptic, or assumes that everyone is vaccinated so there’s no need for precautions.

      1. Catnip*

        He could also just be… not thinking. Especially if he himself is vaccinated, COVID precautions might not be at the top of his mind anymore. Even people who all agree on the seriousness of COVID have different degrees of sensitivity to the “danger” of a given situation, so I wouldn’t necessarily jump to that conclusion, especially if this is the first time he’s done something like this.

        1. LW3*

          My entire team is reportedly vaccinated, as is my boss. I think she’s just not thinking. We used to do lunch-and-learns (which I hate, BTW) before COVID. She’s trying to make us Google and do the “free food and fun” approach to working on this particular project… and it’s just not the right time.

          1. JustaTech*

            I’ve got a Lunch and Learn in 10 minutes, but I’m OK with it because 1) everyone’s vaccinated, but really 2) it’s in our very large lunchroom, and because we have labs in our building we have extra air-handling, so the ventilation is pretty good.

            It also helps that at my work, while most people are off masking (as allowed by company policy, since we’re all vaccinated) people are also totally respectful of your choice to wear a mask and don’t fuss at you about it.

        2. Nicotena*

          I think there’s a logical gap in a lot of policies around eating. The virus doesn’t care how the droplets got there, but a lot of places have an exception for eating; even the airlines do it. They make you wear a mask in the airport and on the plane … but then serve food and drinks, ensuring everyone takes their masks off.

          1. MeepMeep*

            It makes no sense to me, either, and I think that this is one of the (many many) reasons why the US numbers for COVID are as horrifying as they are. The virus doesn’t care why you took your mask off.

            LW3, I’d push back hard on this. No meeting is worth risking your health.

        3. what am I, a farmer?*

          Yeah, risk tolerance varies a lot right now and many vaccinated people (including me, but also including many epidemiologists and public health experts!) are perfectly fine with eating an indoor meal with other vaccinated people. LW’s boss is being a little tone deaf, but I think it’s extreme to jump to the idea that they’re an anti-vaxxer or anti-masker or don’t care about the pandemic. Hopefully someone saying “I’m not comfortable with this yet” will be a reasonable nudge to change the plan — maybe food before that people can eat outside if they want, and a masked meeting afterward?

        4. Sparrow*

          Yeah, a few weeks back, a friend invited me to a small (4 person) birthday dinner, and I’m comfortable eating with vaccinated friends outdoors. I just assumed that the table my friend reserved was on the restaurant’s patio, because who is eating inside restaurants right now? At the last minute, I decided to confirm that with her, and it turns out she had no idea. She knew we were all vaccinated and wasn’t used to worrying about this kind of thing when making reservations (since she hadn’t made one since pre-pandemic times), so it just didn’t occur to her to look into it. To her credit, once I expressed my discomfort, she made sure we’d be seated outside instead – she just hadn’t thought about it until I said something.

    2. triss merigold*

      Agreed. Last I heard, the six foot rule is kind of dead in the water anyway, because we found that the virus spreads in aerosols, not just fomites. Not that six feet isn’t good, but it doesn’t replace ventilation.

      There was a whole fascinating article I read about why we thought the coronavirus was too big for aerosols based on a mistake the CDC appeared to have made decades ago when interpreting a paper, and everyone since has just been citing them instead of the original study.

      1. LW3*

        This isn’t really a call-in type meeting. We’re supposed to get together in a room and “play” with this new software together. It’s supposed to be the collaborative bouncing-ideas-off-each-other kind of meeting. I’m going to push back on the food part of it. I just don’t want my teammates to be ticked at me about the lack of lunch during a lunch-hour meeting.

        1. LW2*

          I’m actually LW2… I just can’t type my name. LW3 here is LW2.

          Will give an update once I muster up the courage to push back.

          1. DivineMissL*

            If I couldn’t get the meeting moved to a bigger room or eliminate the lunch aspect, I’d probably attend but eat lunch beforehand, and then wear my mask the whole time.

    3. All the words*

      My office kept having in person large group meetings and social events, contrary to company policy. Mostly instigated by one very social supervisor. This had mostly stopped after I reminded my manager of company guidelines. It’s been slowly creeping back again (baby shower a couple of weeks ago, etc). The only thing one can do is to try to protect themselves.

    4. Nora*

      Lots of places (cities, businesses, etc.) that have mask mandates have an exception for eating and drinking. Which if course makes no sense because COVID doesn’t care if you are only taking your mask off to put a sandwich in your mouth. But people see the exceptions for eating and drinking and think that means it’s safe to take off your mask to eat and drink.

  15. cncx*

    I’m dealing with a similar situation to OP2 except I work in Europe in a country where no one wears masks in the office and there is no official mandate to; we only have rules about spacing in terms of people per floor and not spacing in between people. I have a job where i have to come in at least a few days a week, and I did NOT handle it well when i found out unvaxxed who could home office were coming in regularly through overhearing a conversation in a language they thought i didn’t understand. This happened on the same day i found out my mother got a breakthrough case because she lives in a low vax state from going to ONE doctor’s appointment where no one was vaxxed or had masks. I pushed back hard, said i would home office from now on (we luckily still have a flex home office policy) since nobody was wearing masks, and was a crying mess to HR and the CEO because i had been in close proxmity to two of them for most of my workday for two weeks straight and had had lunch with one of them.

    I had an over the top anxious reaction even if it was justified (sitting inside for a long period of time with an unvaccinated person is a great way to get breakthrough covid and it would be a lot easier had we had a blanket mask policy) but i really didn’t handle it professionally from an anxiety point of view. If i had a do-over and was in OP2’s position i would do like AAM said, i would push back on the size of the conf room or the eating, or even say that i was gonna call in from my desk. Just because we’re anxious about it doesn’t mean it isn’t a Real Problem, which is what my friend told me when she was talking me down after i sobbed to HR. I would have made other choices about coming in or personally masking but because everyone wanted to make masking and vaccination political they were scared to say something which is a whole other can of worms.

    1. Despachito*

      Sorry you had to go through that, it sounds awful.

      OP2 – another option I see would be to have the meeting without the eating ?

    2. Juniper*

      You could be in my country. No one masks, and pushback on eating lunch together would be seen as odd. Employers can’t even ask about vax status, so it’s anyone’s guess. I think our incredibly low mortality numbers throughout the pandemic help explain this blase attitude, so I can see why it would be frustrating and anxiety-inducing for someone with a different approach. I’m sorry you went through that, but I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself for reacting the way you did.

  16. Despachito*

    LW1 – I agree that it depends very much on the particular culture, and can vary largely.

    From what you said, given that it was the COWORKER pressuring you, I’d think you are totally off the hook.

    I do not know what is usual in your environment, but in mine, I’d go

    – if I knew the deceased person myself
    – if asked by the mourning person to come (assuming they want me there for support)

    Otherwise, I’d express my condolences (which you did) and that would be it.

  17. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #5

    I think it depends on company culture and your relationship to your boss. In my company, and my previous one, when an employee’s family member/in-law passes away, an announcement is made via email broadcast and gives the details for any funeral/memorial arrangements. People are free to go if they want to. I, personally, wouldn’t go to the viewing or funeral for my boss’s in-law, but I’d likely go if it was their own parent and I had a good relationship with my boss. But it’s also not a requirement.

    1. A First Rated Mess*

      tl;dr – Even at my company (which is unusually good about attending funerals and supporting the bereaved) you wouldn’t be expected to attend.

      So, I am Good At Funerals. By this, I mean I am not visibly uncomfortable, able to make polite chitchat with relative strangers, and offer appropriate condolences to the family.*

      My company is also Good At Funerals. By this, I mean they do not make you jump through unreasonable hoops to take bereavement time (tell your manager and log it into the timekeeping system), understand that a grieving person is not going to be working at full capacity, and some other things that would make it a little too easy to identify my company.

      And even with all that, I’ve been to two funerals through work. The first was a co-worker’s father. She and I are reasonably close, and from the same faith/culture (Midwestern Catholic). The visitation was held at the church immediately before the funeral Mass. A few coworkers went early in the visitation then left, while I came near the end and stayed for the Mass. (This was culturally appropriate since I’m of the same faith, but by the same token, I also sat near the back, well away from family and close friends.) I did not attend the burial (technically allowed, but in practice usually only attended by those particularly close to the decedent**).

      The second was for a much-beloved coworker. In that case, pretty much everyone in our office, plus a number of former co-workers attended either the visitation (held Friday evening) or the funeral service (held Saturday morning). Most of us attended both. But this was an unusual circumstance, in that we had all worked with him.

      There have been other funerals for relatives of coworkers, and while a few people usually attend, it’s never the entire office. And this is in an office that is Good At Funerals, with an unusually high proportion of people who are Good At Funerals.

      *For condolences, I usually stick with a variant of “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Sometimes (but not always) I will add a second sentence, depending on my relationship with the bereaved and/or the decedent.** Stock phrases exist for a reason – no one is expecting you to demonstrate your creativity in this situation.

      **Decedent – the deceased person. This is the term usually used in the funeral services profession.

  18. Bamcheeks*

    I work with a lot of first-generation and minoritised students and graduates who definitely do not have parents with tons of connections in professional industries, and “it will often get a candidate a closer look” is exactly how my clients get frozen out. It’s such incredibly poor hiring practice if that works! That’s not on you to fix at this stage of your career, OP– but if you do use that advantage, I hope you use any power and seniority you accrue in your career to work against it.

    1. Xavier Desmond*

      Completely agree. Although the OP hasn’t got the power to fix it, this sort of thing really perpetuates inequalities so I completely understand with OP would feel uncomfortable using a parents connections.

    2. cncx*

      I agree that people need to cast a wider net for entry level jobs to make sure first gen and minorities get through.

      that said, anecdotally, i was a first gen college student at a state university, and my mother happened to remarry someone whose sister was high up at a european company and she got me my first internship which was of course unpaid but highly sought. everyone else in my cohort was ivy league or adjacent.

      my family connection and my step aunt’s money was the only way i got and was able to afford a prestigious internship in a european city so…sometimes nepotism helps those of us who are blue collar too.

      I work in IT purchasing now and one of the ways i give back is i always give our interns, especially since corona, fancier home office kit than employees :)

      1. Bamcheeks*

        I try and get my students to use it as much as possible too. Very few of them have access to the “parents / parents’ friends can get me an second look at a professional job” levels of privilege, but they often discount the access they do have– friend from school’s older sister works in this industry, and she’s not senior enough to make a referral, but she can certainly give you some insight into how hiring works; mum works as a receptionist in a lawyer’s office and can ask about work experience; my manager at my retail job says he’ll ask the area manager about doing some work-shadowing with the marketing team. Part of the difference in privilege is that middle-class and professional people actively *offer* these kind of opportunities to the young people they know, whereas students with less privilege have to go out and ask for them.

        But it’s the people with power to make hiring decisions (and all the gatekeeping/access decisions that happen long before the hiring stage) who need to make the change.

      2. Boba Feta*

        [Raises hand]: First-Gen 1) American, 2) College Student, 3) Graduate Student, 4) Professional Degree, 5) “Professional” (white-collar) Career person right here.

        While pursuing my (multiple) degrees I always felt out of sync with my peers who mostly came from white-collar families or otherwise had learned (or just somehow absorbed) the unwritten rules of such “soft” skills as how to network, etc. I operated under a constant feeling of alienation and difficulty, never quite sure that I was doing the “right things” at each step. I nearly gave up on the PhD and just barely made it into my current career, in which I am now flourishing and finally feel like I’ve found “my place” where I can make a legitimate positive impact.

        I have since made it my professional mission to coach my undergrads on How to Student(TM), How to Network, and what it actually MEANS to engage in academia beyond the BA and pursue a higher degree (if they think they want that) OR to shift from being a student to being a competent adult in the workforce, etc. No one coached me, so I feel a calling to offer the kind of mentorship I wished I had had.

        All this to say: Personal connections come in all shapes and sizes, but an incredibly important ingredient will always be the job-seeker’s self-awareness and ability to not only 1) recognize the connections they have but also 2) know what to **do** with them, how to use them **properly** and **professionally** (and how those definitions can vary, in subtle and inexplicable ways, across fields)

    3. Mannequin*

      I hate the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” SO much that it puts my shoulders around my ears and I want to hiss & spit like a cat, and your explanation is exactly why. It’s pure nepotism and excludes SO many people.

      1. Bamcheeks*

        One of the reasons it’s so insidious is that it feels like such a nice thing to do from the inside. Sure, I’ll help Chris’s daughter! Yeah, I’ll give up my time to have a chat with Charlene’s niece! Alice’s daughter who I’ve seen on Facebook since she was yay-high is now a big high-school senior and wants to get some experience shadowing a doctor? From the inside, it’s not cynical or corrupt: it’s a nice warm feeling of being able to help a young person who is probably very well-mannered and promising and grateful. It’s only when everyone on the inside is doing it and you’re on the outside that you can see what the cumulative effect is.

      2. Nanani*

        AGREED. It’s like a case by case reset of any social equity progress in the past generation – because the parents/aunts and uncles/parent friends got ahead in a less equal time.

      3. JustaTech*

        But it is something that can be used to be an agent of change, if you’re really deliberate and thoughtful about it. It means that you-the-person-with-a-network have to choose to reach out and meet and get to know younger people who don’t have the same connection advantages, and then offer them your connections.

        It’s just that, as Bamcheeks says, it’s really easy and organic to do it for family friends, and it’s harder when you have to find the people to give a hand up to.

    4. Ashley*

      100% this. It’s actually the first time that I’ve been wary of Allison’s advice. Sure, this will get the OP closer to a job, but at what collective cost?

      1. raintree*

        If you don’t know the cost surely the OP needn’t disadvantage themselves as a way of… what? Making a political stand that no one sees or learns from?

    5. anonie*

      For all we know the OP is a minority herself and using the connections she has will help even the playing field for her.

      1. Bamcakes*

        Sure and that doesn’t change my advice to OP! But from the organisational point of view it’s still bad hiring practice even if ~sometimes~ people from first-gen or minoritised backgrounds get through. Because you still don’t see the people you’re not seeing.

  19. SarahKay*

    OP#5, it sounds like you attending the funeral or not varies hugely by culture and area so I have no advice there.
    I just wanted to say a huge ‘Congratulations’ for sticking to your guns and pointing out to your colleague that she was indeed pressuring you. A number of AAM questions seem to come from people who don’t like to say this, and thus are now stuck doing something they’re comfortable with, so go you, for bucking that trend.

  20. wondering*

    Could the lunch meeting be re-scheduled for some other time of day, when people won’t need to eat and can stay masked?

    Even pre-pandemic, I hated “working lunches”. For me, the “break” is more vital than the “lunch”, and I resented being forced to work non-stop all-day (even if I got a free meal during the lunch meeting, I’d rather have had my free time instead). I need time away from people, away from thinking, etc.

    Lunch breaks are mandated, aren’t they? I don’t even see how it’s legal to hold meetings during that time.

    1. ecnaseener*

      This might depend on the state, but afaik for salaried workers it’s not legally required that you take a lunch break. It’s possible OP is an hourly worker, but I would guess not.

      1. LW2*

        My entire team except my boss is hourly. We don’t have required lunch breaks in my location, though. But I hate working lunches. Normally I take a half-hour, unpaid lunch. If I’m not getting that, I’m leaving a half-hour early. If I worked my 8 hours, I’m leaving after it.

        But we’ll see how it works once I push back. Maybe it’ll be rescheduled.

  21. Jude*

    #5 when my mum passed away several of my current and former colleagues came to her funeral, but only those who I was personally close to (even if they’d never met her), and I really appreciated their support.

    More recently, several of us attended the funeral for another colleague’s mother, again only because we were close to that colleague on a personal basis.

    I think that is the key point, if you don’t have a personal relationship to either the person who passed or their family, then the funeral and any services should probably be skipped unless you’re specifically invited. You’ve already made a lovely gesture with the gift basket, I know I was hugely touched by things like that when my mum passed.

    1. J.B.*

      Yes. I have gone to a visitation for one and funeral for another of my colleagues when their parents died. It was because I cared for those colleagues and I genuinely wanted to support them. An in law of a colleague wouldn’t have triggered my concern.

      1. Anononon*

        Yes, this. I’ve gone to the funerals for the parent of a coworker twice, and it was because I was close with the coworker and wanted to show support. In both of the cases, there were about half a dozen of us from work, and it wasn’t seen as odd at all.

        This past year, we had a coworker who passed away (not from COVID), and I ultimately didn’t go to the funeral due to COVID concerns and the distance. I actually felt less bad about that then potentially missing the prior funerals because I didn’t know any of the coworker’s family, and they wouldn’t know me from Adam.

  22. Greydog*

    My default (in small team within a large corporation) has been to send a thoughtful, old fashioned, hand-written note to colleagues who lose someone close to them. It shows I’m thinking of them, but doesn’t invade their space at a vulnerable time … and also doesn’t necessitate an immediate response as an email might.

  23. Lynca*

    OP 5- Sort of different data point. Going to the viewing would be fine. Culturally where I live the viewing is for people outside of immediate family/friends to come show support. When my dad passed we had a lot of his former co-workers, people he went to high school with, co-workers of my mom, etc. come to the viewing. But people that didn’t go to the viewing sent food, flowers, and cards which is completely normal where I live. People have prior commitments and I know several people that do not feel comfortable at funerals which is okay too.

    Funerals are generally close friends/immediate family affairs and that’s where I would draw the line about whether to attend.

    Also: Don’t beat yourself up about needing to pull yourself together in a corner. That was exactly the right way to handle it.

    1. anonymous73*

      I agree that it would be fine to attend, but not required which is the point. OP’s co-worker had no business trying to pressure them to attend.

      1. JustaTech*

        This is a good point: whether or not it would be *weird* for the OP to attend, it’s not OK to pressure someone to attend a funeral. Funerals can the the focus of a lot of intense feelings and where some people will be fine, for others it might bring up a lot of stuff, which might well not have anything to do with the decedent.

  24. English Teacher*

    To the OP of #5:
    I completely agree with your decision, but for what it’s worth, it sounds like you might have been unintentionally short with your co-worker. It might just be the case that in her family or friend group, going to coworker’s families’ funerals is just the standard thing, so she didn’t expect that kind of push-back. If she’s a friend, you might consider giving her a bit of an explanation / apology. Of course, if she is always coming to you with unreasonable requests, don’t worry about it.

    1. anonymous73*

      I disagree with your assessment of OP’s reaction. She was asked a question and said no. That should have been the end of it. Too many people have boundary issues and I applaud the OP for actually standing up for herself and letting their colleague know that yes, indeed she was pressuring her to do something they’d already said no to.

  25. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP2: Hoo boy, it’s really impressive how easily some people have forgotten that the pandemic is. Not. Over.

    Assuming your boss is reasonable and just a bit clueless/forgot suggest holding the meeting in a larger room/outside or rearranging from a food/drink meeting to a general meeting so masks can be worn.

    If, however, your boss pushes back, tries to claim nobody’s in danger or comes out with any antivaxx/covid denial stuff it’s perfectly okay to politely decline with a ‘I can’t attend this’.

    Overall though, I’m getting the impression that option 1 is more likely.

  26. No Tribble At All*

    OP#2, stick to your guns. If there’s no other option, attend the meeting but keep your mask on (and maybe bring a second mask so you can switch out after the meeting). The good news is, masks work. The bad news is, you might have to scarf down lunch in between all your other meetings.

    1. ecnaseener*

      They said they wouldn’t attend in a room full of unmasked people – and they’re quite right, wearing a mask doesn’t sufficiently protect you against unmasked people. The mask mainly prevents you from spreading it, not as much from catching it.

  27. I Contact Traced Your Dad Last Night*

    OP#2, you’re right that this lunch is a bad idea. (break rooms were connected to a lot of workplace transmission in the contact tracing work I’ve done.) If you can get them to switch it to outdoors and you have some distance, that will help, but I highly recommend you wear a KN95 mask if it’s indoors, no matter the size of the room. I know this is for today, so I hope you are able to work something out before lunch (if you are in the Americas and haven’t had lunch yet).

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      AAM (well, crowd sourced information in general) is a great resource for stuff like this because now I think you can reasonably say “I know someone who works in contact tracing and close lunches like this are a huge cause of outbreaks”.

  28. drinking Mello Yello*

    Ah yes, the unified company presence. Everybody showing up in matching company polo shirts and doing a 21 staple gun salute as the casket is lowered into the ground. /sarcasm

    It’s okay to skip the funeral.

  29. MissDisplaced*

    #4. I would ask about working at the school in addition to the library.

    It’s possible that was a limited time situation, but my Spidey Sense is telling me they play a bait and switch and don’t tell applicants that is a requirement because most librarians don’t want to work at the school.

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      And #4, I also wouldn’t be too worried about the interviewer demanding to know where you got your information. Most people who work in libraries know that this is a relatively small profession, and that a lot of librarians in any given geographical region will have worked together at previous jobs or on regional committees at some point. Gossip happens. If they do ask, a quick “someone I met at a state library training mentioned it” or something along those lines could work as an answer.

      1. Kaisa (The Librarian)*

        Came here to say this. The library world is small and the people in it are good at finding out information by nature. I would be 100% unsurprised if someone who worked at a different library knew something about a position or policy at my library.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          Right. Definitely be vague about where you heard this.
          And I do seem to recall there was some of this in early 2020 when the Pandemic first happened, but I’d still want to know if that kind of thing is ‘always on the table’ and library resources are expected to be pulled to work at other sites. Maybe it only happens once every few years, but still you should know that upfront.

  30. so sleepy*

    LW2, I just want to point out that AAM’s advice may not work so well if you get the sense that your boss did this intentionally to skirt the rules/because he doesn’t agree with current public health recommendations (sure, he could be clueless, but I find most people that do things like this, regardless of vaccination status, tend to take the whole pandemic less seriously (which also means this likely isn’t the only risky behaviour they are participating in). It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take all the steps AAM has recommended, but it does mean you may want to have a backup plan (if this is a corporate policy, presumably you have HR – it would suck, for sure, and I’d be inclined to flag that you have concerns about retaliation to them, but this falls under the category of “it’s in the business’ interest to make sure this policy is being followed so HR will likely do something about it unless they are really incompetent”).

  31. Jay*

    On favoritism, can I pose the same question from #1 but without the fraternization between Jane and Mary? Where is the line between favoritism or just appreciating employees who do a better job? I feel like I often have closer relationships with my supervisors (and their supervisors) because I do really good work and am responsive to their priorities. I feel like this is sometimes viewed at unfair favoritism but I think it is because I am reliable and effective at my work. I know there is a (fuzzy) line here, but where is it?

    1. Sleet Feet*

      For me personally it’s – can anyone join that club? Or is it inherently exclusionary?

      If anyone who does a stellar job gets the same warm comraderie then awesome! If it’s based solely off of inside jokes and references to an external event no one else can have then it’s a problem. I’ve even seen this dynamic with new team members before too. A team who becomes cliquey and spends a lot of time talking about the big spring party 5 years ago and makes no overtures to get to know colleagues is equally problematic.

    2. anonymous73*

      I know people talk about “optics” on here all the time, but I feel like that’s just code for people who can’t mind their own business. I personally find nothing wrong with what you describe but the Nosey Rosey in your office might. As long as the work you’re doing justifies the way you’re treated, I don’t see a problem. You can’t control unreasonable people, so I just ignore them.

      1. Sleet Feet*

        Optics matter. Sometimes perception is reality and sometimes it’s not.

        Dismissing bad optics as just rumour mongering is a great way to be blindsided when you find out that Chadington actually is sleeping with all the interns.

        1. QCAnalystofDoom*

          So exactly what is the difference between ‘optics’ and ‘rumor-mongering’? Switch the order in which they appear in your second paragraph and the sentence reads with exactly the same meaning.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            “Optics” is “most reasonable people would look at X, Y and Z and conclude Q.”
            “Rumor-mongering” is “some small subset of people saw X, Y and Z, concluded Q, and proceeded to tell a bunch of others that Q was the case without anything conclusive”.

    3. Generic Name*

      I think it’s the fraternization that’s the problem here. If someone gets bonuses or better projects because they do good work, that’s a performance-based award and not favoritism.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        Exactly. Doing good work is not enough on it’s own to make your relationship with your boss a closer one than your boss has with others; you can easily find people who are appreciated and relied on by their bosses for being star employees but would not describe their relationship with their boss as close. But it can easily happen that because your boss appreciates you and can trust you, they start delegating to you more, talking to you more about work, and spending more time around you, which can lead to a closer working relationship. That’s fine. It’s when you start getting favoritism only because you two get along well personally that’s it can become a problem.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      The most egregious bit to me is the “Hello everyone except Mary.” If you want your subordinates to feel everyone but Mary are not in the cool kids’ club, this is a good way to send that message.

      It’s also relevant whether everyone has worked together for a couple of months vs several years, in terms of whether your behavior suggests that you like working with Ann more than Sue.

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

        What does ‘hello everyone except Mary’ mean? I assumed it was a sort of in-joke that she is jokingly “sassing” the big boss by greeting everyone else but ‘deliberately’ not saying hi to Mary because she ‘hates’ (not really) her.

        1. I was also mis-reported as being fired*

          FYI Jane is the big boss, and she’s the one teasing Mary by “not” saying good morning to her.

  32. Essess*

    OP #2 – contact HR immediately because you are being forced into a situation that threatens your health and safety and violates the company policy of staying 6 feet apart when unmasked.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      …. Or talk to your boss first?

      HR is not the mediator of all disagreements you have with anyone at work. This should usually be your last resort after trying to work things out directly.

      “Sent a meeting invite for 1:00 Thursday” is pretty pale as an example of “forced into a situation.”

      1. Andy*

        It is meeting invite into close room with unmasked people and it is not optional. So it is forcing OP into situation. And that situation in fact “threatens health and safety and violates the company policy”.

        It is not just random disagreement, it is boss asking you to do something he/she should not. It is boss pressuring you do stuff bosses are supposed to pressure us not to do.

        1. BuildMeUp*

          But the first response should still be to talk to the boss. If the LW goes to HR immediately, they will probably just ask what the boss said when the LW talked to them, and it will look weird if LW hasn’t even brought it up to the boss.

  33. Bookworm*

    #5: That’s just weird. Unless you had a personal relationship or it was a really small company (even then that would be weird unless again there’s a closer relationship) that feels very strange.

    Nothing to add other than I agree with Alison’s answer and your instincts are right. Hope nothing weird comes out of it. Good luck!

    1. Broadway Duchess*

      To you. That is weird to you.

      There isn’t a universal way to do these things and this idea that anyone who would attend a viewing/visitation/wake/funeral/burial outside of a prescribed set of circumstances I’d tacky or uncouth is just not okay. The OP’s choice is fine. Going would also be fine if she wanted to. What’s not fine is the coworker pressuring her for this, again not at all universal, unified front.

  34. anonymous73*

    #5 – I agree with Alison. It would have been fine for your co-worker to ask if you wanted to join, but after you said no, it was completely inappropriate for them to pressure you to go. When my mom died, I had only been at my job for about 6 months. One of my team members, my manager and the CIO ended up coming to one of the viewings. While I was very appreciative of them coming, I didn’t expect it at all.

  35. learnedthehardway*

    OP#3 – it would be odd if your dad’s connections were writing LinkedIn recommendations for you (after all, they haven’t managed or worked with you), but it would be perfectly fine if you networked with them on LinkedIn or better yet, by email or phone, to see if their companies are hiring and to be referred to their recruitment team. This happens all the time. Sometimes it goes somewhere, sometimes it doesn’t, but it is a good idea to build your network and leverage what network you have. Remember to write thank you notes (emails) to anyone with whom you speak – not only is that a polite thing to do, but it also keeps you top of mind.

  36. Medusa*

    @ OP #5: I assume you’re in the “West” (ugh), and I think your response was fine. However, if you lived in Ghana, that would never fly (you’re expected to go to any and all funerals, especially those of colleagues’ relatives)

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      And when I was there, to wear matching outfits.

      I think OP’s coworker was sincere–that you want support from your peeps in a difficult time and she feels like you all are his peeps. I agree with Alison’s take, but a different microculture of funeral attendance is entirely possible.

      1. anonymous73*

        Whether the OP’s co-worker was sincere or not is irrelevant. OP said no. It should have ended there.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Okay. But then it didn’t end there.

          OP isn’t even asking “How can I possibly push back on a boundary violator by saying no twice?” It’s much more “This was weird; am I right that this is weird?”

          I’m all for holding boundaries, but sometimes that means saying something twice. And sometimes when people push past your first no, they are coming from a place where the ‘ask’ isn’t a thing that is optional in their view of cultural norms, so they are thrown by that refusal. (And depending on the context, they might sometimes be right.)

  37. Eldritch Office Worker*

    #2, if all else fails I would take the professional consequences over being in an unsafe situation. I agree with looping in HR, especially if pushing back doesn’t work, but I think in situations like this you need to know what outcomes you’re willing to live with. It’s contingency planning – I will try to handle this like a reasonable person, and if that doesn’t work I guess I’ll have to take the L. I find it’s easier to stick to your guns if you can have your head wrapped around that going in.

  38. Falling Diphthong*

    #3, I think the best way to think about that phrase is “It’s not what you know, it’s who knows that you know it.” If you had worked in this field for a while, this would be your professional reputation–who knows from experience that you are an excellent llama groomer who goes above and beyond. This could be a formal reference, but a lot of the time it’s that Brad knows Jen who knows Carrie.

    1. Nicotena*

      To number three I’d add, if this works out for you, try to pay it forward, particularly to those who don’t have so-called “loose ties” in professional circles; this is one of those invisible privilege things that give some of us a continual elevator to the top. Some great candidates don’t have the ability to access a parent’s network of coworkers but in future you could make a point of being this kind of contact – maybe you can connect with the local high school or do a volunteer mentoring program or similar to try and tip the scales. (Not trying to make you feel guilty, I’ve certainly benefited from this kind of thing in my own life).

  39. Loredena Frisealach*

    Very early in my career a coworker died unexpectedly, and a group of us attended his funeral as a show of respect. When my father died, many of his former coworkers (he was retired) came to the funeral and we were very touched that they remembered and thought well of him. But my employer, and that of my siblings, sent flowers and our managers sent notes. I would have thought it odd if a coworker I wasn’t especially close with had come to the funeral.

    On the other hand, visitations tend to be pretty open so it would not be unusual for someone with a tenuous connection to the deceased to come to give their respects and condolences to the bereaved. That would be (in my family/culture) more common for a coworker to attend then the funeral itself.

    So, all that to say I think your not attending was fine, but it would also have been fine to go to the visitation!

  40. Laney Boggs*

    OP #2, my bosses had a morning breakfast meeting the morning after I informed them I tested positive for Covid after being in the office the last 2 days.

    Don’t go to this meeting.

    1. Laney Boggs*

      Just learned several people in an adjacent department are getting tested this week, a week after I exposed everyone. Incredible

  41. Kitts*

    I am so frustrated – like everyone else – with the blase atttitude to covid. We were under the impression we could work from home as needed. Then, suddenly, we need coverage! So everyone has to be in the office! Right when school is starting! And not two weeks go by and there is a covid exposure and we are all back at home again. Dumb, dumb, shortsighted and dumb.

    Also funerals are so culture specific. I’ve known people who want EVERYONE at their family funeral and get competitive about it “I had 200 people at grandma’s funeral!” and then there’s people like me that want like, five.

  42. Daisy-dog*

    #5 – When my father died, many people who were on the fringes (or people who only knew me, my brother, my mom, or my aunt) came to the funeral. I never questioned why anyone would come. I was personally touched by everyone who was there. However, I also did not question why anyone was not there. I don’t think I even noticed and I certainly don’t remember now.

    I do recognize that some workplaces have politics that may be different, but it is such a personal event.

  43. Squigglehead*

    I’m in a similar situation re COVID and meetings. I’m a remote field manager on the west coast while our HQ is on the east coast. We had a management training last month that was onsite-one small conference room and 20 people. Including: co workers I know are anti vax, two who had held/attended very large weddings recently, coworkers with limited precautions from Florida and Texas, a hired trainer from Florida. Office rules are no masks on hybrid workdays, unvaccinated to show negative test and wear mask, but there is no enforcement of this. My boss (stir crazy single parent) wants everyone to travel and meet w clients (who so far don’t want to meet w us). Colleagues organized evening social events that included eating at one of those seafood places where they put paper on the table and dump shellfish to share as well as shared pizzas.

    I declined to attend meeting in person: told them I was notified of exposure and had symptoms. Attended from home and truly couldn’t get a negative test result until 3 days into a 5 day meeting. Clearly used up a lot of capital doing that.

    Now there is a company wide meeting in mid October. I really have to go. I’m ok with flights. The hotel is one with kitchenettes so I plan to do a secret grocery run and eat meals (for 4 days) in my room. The meeting venue will be bigger than a conference room- think folding chairs and tables in a ballroom- and I plan to remain masked, even when presenting.

    The meals are considered a perk and social event. I’m planning on attending w mask but not eating.

    Any suggestions on how to respond when I get inevitable questions or pressure to join in? I’m 20 yrs older than most co workers and the only super fat woman.

    We don’t have HR in the US so going to them is moot. I guess I could tell my boss I have a health concern that I’m taking care of, so not to worry too much if I bow out of things?
    I’m open to any ideas to navigate this…

    1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      You might try something like “I live with someone who’s high risk” or “my mother has to be super-careful, and if I go unmasked here I won’t be able to see her for two weeks.”

      That might be useful if you’re worried that less cautious people will pressure you to tell them what your medical issue is, and then try to convince you that your specific medical condition doesn’t count.

    2. cncx*

      I have a situation i touched on upthread where i forced myself into home office due to some questionable masking/vax status situations. my employer knows i am in a risk group because of a kidney issue i took time off for, and i am also significantly overweight, so it doesn’t waste capital or jeopardize my employment to say i personally am in a risk group when i decline meals or wear a mask when no one else does because even those who don’t know about my kidneys can see my shape. I have been coming in masked the days i have to come in.

      I also have brought up, when i really wanted to drive the point home, that my bestie lives with an elderly cancer patient and my other bestie has a small child and that if i engage in risky behavior i am not able to see them.

  44. blackcatlady*

    #3 Networking: When my kid was several years out of college but looking for a new job there was an ideal posting at a local company. I called a colleague and asked if he knew anyone at that company. He didn’t but a staff member did who forwarded the CV straight to the scientist looking to fill the position. In science the HR filters for job applications are awful, many good candidates get screened out for lack of buzz words that HR put in with no understanding of what is actually needed. I made it very clear to my kid that getting the CV to the scientist was the end of the favor. They would have to interview well to get the job. Kid did end up with job.
    You should network not just with family connections but anyone you know in your field. That includes classmates from college, people from internship positions etc. Hell, even talk to your vendors that do business with other places.
    Also make sure you have a very strong LinkedIn page. Have an older colleague help edit it. Same kid got a cold call from a headhunter that saw their page and they landed an even better job. And in this day and age edit any social media postings that can be searched.

  45. Cringing 24/7*

    I’m 100% on your side, OP5. If any of my spouse’s coworkers showed up to the funeral of one of my parents, I’d be fairly visibly irked and want to… not confront them, but… at the very least question their judgment. This may be appropriate in other cultures, but in the one I was raised in – it would be… extremely odd and bordering on insensitive.

    1. Thursdaysgeek*

      And I would be touched, in a good way. So it is not universal – we are all different, probably even in the same culture.

  46. Red*

    OP5: You’ll be the one to know best whether or not going to the in-laws funeral is appropriate. But also you’re probably fine either way.
    We had a coworker pass away earlier this year and everyone in my office attended the funeral except me. I couldn’t do it. I knew I would break down. But I wore black that day like everyone else and when I next saw his wife (she also worked at the company) I gave my condolences.
    But the takeaway is there was no penalty for not going.

  47. Blue Eagle*

    One of the “you may also like” topics was a letter about the LW’s employee setting up a false fraud investigation because she was a domestic violence victim. Fascinating (but tragic) situation – I’m wondering if the LW ever sent an update of what happened to the employee who was framed.

    1. Loulou*

      That letter always seemed completely implausible to me. How many people are savvy enough to frame someone else for fraud, but not savvy enough to think of a single other way to contact the police? Anyway, I hope it’s fake, how horrible if not.

  48. Red*

    OP2 Push back. Literally almost my entire office (the majority of whom are anti mask and a small portion are anti vax even) are out with covid. I’m the only masker in my office. Ive been telling them all for months to wear masks, social distance etc but they didn’t believe me. The 3 others left are now masking religiously and I took this as an opportunity to tell our safety manager he needs to be firmer and enforce the mask rule in our office (he does mask, he’s in another building, and he was hesitant to enforce masking in our office because management is the source of antimasking over here).
    Push back and tell them you can’t risk getting sick because someone has to be fine when they all inevitably contract it.

    1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      I WFH but go in roughly once a month. There is a mask mandate for all employees, vaccinated or not, in common areas and anytime within 6 foot and a thermometer check in at the entry point. I’ve had to report coworkers who were in the elevator with no masks who told someone (with legit at risk medical issues) to not get in the elevator if they didn’t like it. Every trip I mask up the entire time I am in building. Coworker on my team has multiple “Do not come into my cubby with out a mask” signs up. She is done with kicking people out of her area. Every time I am there I will notice at least 2 coworkers standing around another desk within 6 feet of each other maskless. Building has had to send our multiple notices about staff having covid and building getting deep cleaned. My supervisor knows this is reason #1 I will never return to office.

  49. Nanani*

    #4 – definitely ask!
    Surprise extra job duties are never fun, and something on the level of working in a completely different location X times a week (week!) would be a reasonable dealbreaker for a lot of people.
    For one thing, unless the school is literally next door it’s going to greatly affect your commute. Which is a normal thing to factor in.
    If the employer really does spring a surprise second location on people, concealing it is a giant red flag about what else they might be concealing.
    “Surprise! Your pay is actually in skittles instead of dollars”

  50. Lily*

    At my work, a horrible higher up planned to show up uninvited at their subordinate’s wedding and pressured the whole team to come (none of them invited) to “show support”. During the pandemic, posing also additional legal risks for the bride because of local laws limiting the number of guests.
    Gladly, enough coworkers spoke up that crashing a wedding might not be seen as exactly “supportive”.
    There might be laws limiting how many people can be at a funeral right now, and even if it’s legal in your place you can argue that you wouldn’t want to expose their relatives so they’d have a second funeral closely after.

  51. Robin Ellacott*

    I doubt there is any expectation that anyone from work go – it sounds like the colleagues are just being a bit strange and officious about it, and I’m glad the LW told them they were pressuring. A card and/or supportive gift is more than enough. Maybe his wife’s work friends might go.

    I have gone to a few such things to support a colleague after the loss of a parent, but only if they told us at the office that we were welcome, passed on the date and time deliberately, and so on. I’m pretty close to my boss but wouldn’t think to go to his mother in law’s funeral unless he seemed to want me and other colleagues to. I would plan to go if (heaven forbid) he lost his wife because I know her, but I’d try to sound him out on whether he would prefer I went or whether it was more oriented towards close friends and family.

  52. Thursdaysgeek*

    Related to #5 – my company sends out notices when former employees die, so if Mildred retired from the company in 1997 after working for the company for 33 years, and just died at 85, we will get notified, sometimes with an attached obituary. When a current co-worker died in early 2020, I sent a card to her mother, even though I had never met the mother, and worked remotely from the co-worker. I received a very nice card in return. I think it never hurts to send a card, even if going to the service seems inappropriate.

  53. Alexis Rosay*

    Re #3 — I don’t think there’s anything wrong with OP trying to work these connections, but I’m curious how others would see these referrals. To me, they would not be worth anything.

    When I first started as a hiring manager, I received a number of such referrals, often from board members or big donors–folks with clout. I hired two such people and both were huge mistakes. Now, that’s on me for doing a bad job vetting these folks and relying too heavily on the referral. But it caused me to adopt a blanket policy on referrals: I will only listen to referrals if the person doing the referring has *worked* with the job seeker and can personally vouch for their work, not if they just happen to know them some other way.

  54. Ele4phant*

    On LW5 – I already come from a background where a big formal funeral isn’t a big part of our grieving process (usually it’s a small gathering of close family where ashes our scattered. For my paternal grandparents I wasn’t even invited – it was just my dad and his siblings and they waited until both parents had passed so they could scatter their ashes together). If I lost someone and my company wanted to send people to the funeral as a united show of support, I mean it literally won’t be possible.

    So the idea of going to a funeral of someone I don’t know is so foreign to me it absolutely would not have entered my mind. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a big public funeral or going to show support, but no means is it a universal expectation.

  55. ObservantServant*

    OP3 – I got an interview for my first post-college/non-retail job because of someone my parents knew. I got the job (and did very well at it) on my own merits. If they are willing to push for you to get your foot in the door, let them!
    OP5 – I’ve well into my career and have gone to 3 funerals in an effort to show a “unified work presence” over the years. They were for the spouse of a dear coworker, the father-in-law my manager (I was also friends with her husband socially and still am even though we haven’t worked together for 10+ years), and for the the mother of another co-worker who was also the MIL of another co-worker. A personal card or a collection for flowers if the company isn’t already providing them is enough “unified company presence” otherwise.

  56. Ollie*

    I do art festivals. There is no lunch break if you want to sell well. I am a big fan of those small bags of nuts with candy in them. They are a little calorie laden but if I snack on them throughout the day I am good until dinner. I suggest snacking on something during the day and going to the meeting masked and not eating if no other arrangements can be made.

  57. QCAnalystofDoom*

    #1 – I’m wondering if this is a work culture divide because even now, I can’t work out what the LW is worried about and why given the interactions in question. For me, this would be baseline behavior if my manager hired a new employee for our team that had been their report before.

    For context, I’m a state employee with an agency with over 30,000 employees statewide (this number does not include our sister agencies or those under our umbrella and the vendors and contractors we hire directly). Despite that, everyone seems to be within at least three degrees of each other in professional relationships and this super applies to medium and large cities. Cultivating and maintaining good professional relationships, ideally state-wide if including contractors and vendors; internationally), is almost necessary, and not necessarily for personal advancement/projects/jobs opportunities (or even mostly) but to keep as big a pool of people as possible that you can consult for information on something in their wheelhouse, find out who to contact for certain information, look something up/verify some data, or at minimum answer your email in under two weeks. Also ,state wide gossip.

    State employment can also be multigenerational, so it’s not unlikely before you retire you could directly work with three generations during the course of your career and on two simultaneous projects with a mom on one and her daughter on the other, even if they’re in different departments. I can guarantee that has happened for over half of IT staff currently with the agency because me and my mom were both in IT–in different but adjacent units–for roughly ten years (some dev would literally have my mom arguing the scope of business rules with them for a future release and return to their computers to find out I’d just filed defects on all their code for the current release, with each business rule they didn’t follow explicitly cited, screenshots, and when feeling cranky, video). Grandma, Mom, and Daughter all have the potential to one day be your report, college, or supervisor/manger, and while very unlikely, two of them in one or two of those positions at the same time.

    With that context, if a former subordinate of a manager while they were in another position were to join the manager’s current team, or even an adjacent team that works closely with them, it’d be a very vivid yellow flag if they weren’t overtly friendly and familiar and would give me reservations about the manager. Sure, they might be the reserved type but they could also be the type that see their reports as forgettable, interchangeable cogs and will be indifferent or even difficult and obstructive when it comes to taking a vacation, doctor’s appointments, workload issues, professional development and training, going back to school and getting educational leave, actively interested in helping you in your career, or understanding and helping you if your personal life or family suffer some misfortune. And if you’re unlucky enough to be a competent cog, they’ll make every effort to keep you except anything that might make you marginally less miserable.

    If you have ten years tenure, you have enough options if you’re thinking about switching jobs to decide not to take the risk and look at managers who have multiple reports on his team that were also his subordinates in one or more previous positions, his unit’s turnover is almost entirely due to promotion, and can remember and tell specific, funny stories about working with each of his team members whether they became his reports a year ago or ten. One of the advantages???? of state employment is the mediocre pay and strict salary groups assure there is almost no motivation to take a job you don’t like with a manager you hate solely for the money and on the very off-chance you do, negative motivation to stick around until you have a nervous breakdown. The state just doesn’t pay that well.

    I get that professional norms are different and vary between private and public sector and even between different parts of the both, but the behavior as described seems like the bare minimum that you’d expect when two people who worked together before in one place work together again after a gap.

  58. Budgie Buddy*

    I relate to OP #5 as a fellow owner of the scary face. It just reacts that way to BS on its own even when I’m trying to keep an expression of vaguely polite interest :P

  59. Observer*

    #5 – Just a few of thoughts:

    You do NOT need to attend the funeral or viewing.

    Crying at a funeral is not something you need to be worried or embarrassed about. It happens all the time. It’s not a reason to be worried about attending a funeral. I’m not saying that this means you need to attend the funeral- you absolutely do NOT. I’m just saying that if you WANTED to, these would not be reasons to not go.

    In some cases, going to the funeral of someone’s Mother-In-Law makes sense. It depends on that person’s relationship to their MIL, and your relationship to them. If you don’t know enough about the relationship of that person to know if it makes sense, then you are not close enough that there would be any sort of reasonable expectation that you might make the effort to go.

    Lastly, it’s never up to random co-workers to tell you whose funeral to go to, nor to decide when the the office needs to make a “unified showing”.

  60. GooglyMooglies*

    LW3 – I just started a job this week that I got in no small part because the CEO is friends with my dad, but the caveat is this – I had several interviews, and was encouraged entirely to only move forward with each step if I was feeling positive about the experience. I’ve been a little cautious about advertising it, but after my previous job that was absolutely draining my soul, I’ve discovered that having that connection has made me want to prove I deserve the job on my own merits as well, and that has motivated me to do better work!

  61. bopper*

    When my father died, a couple of coworkers who happened to live near the funeral home (which was not near work at all) stopped by the wake and I thought that was very thoughtful. If people had showed up to a wake of my FIL I might think that a bit strange as I don’t need support…I am providing the support.

  62. patient zero*

    I felt this way when I was told (very last minute) that I needed to be at a meeting. I had no idea how many people would be at this meeting, but I show up and it was 15-20 people. It was somewhat socially distanced but honestly… barely. I remember thinking “what if someone had Covid?”

    Well it turned out that person was me, and I didn’t even know it yet. We wore masks. But when I had to answer questions with the director of HR…. Believe me, I could tell she was less than thrilled. I could hear the rage building as she went over each question. And it wasnt at me directly, because I’m not the one who called the meeting but the fact that this meeting even took place. And – had I not gone to this meeting, it would have reflected poorly on me.

    Worse is that, due to the fact that I was sick, I couldn’t clearly remember who was within 6 feet of me. The only reason why they know for certain is because whoever was supposed to reset the security tape of that meeting room, forgot to do so.

    We didn’t have meetings for a long time after that

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