I used to drink on the job with my new boss, quitting with no notice, and more

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

1. My new boss is someone I used to drink on the job with

At a previous job, when I was young and dumb, I joined in with two other “rebel” coworkers, Rachel and Monica, to drink on the job. Daily. Usually meeting at one of our cars in the parking lot as we laughed and disparaged the company. Completely unprofessional and stupid. I left that job and eventually so did the other two.

So now, 10 years later, I have a great job at a great company that just hired a new manager for my team and it is … Monica! *cringe*

Do I say anything to her? Part of me wants to get out in front of this and say I don’t do stupid things like that anymore! Is she going to assume I’m a bad employee? Is she going to be awkward around me? Is she going to get rid of me fearing I may tell stories that undermine her? Or do I pretend it never happened unless she brings it up? Just hope she has forgotten? We are not and have never been friends.

It was 10 years ago — she’s probably (hopefully!) changed a lot in that time and will realize you might have too. And after all, she was part of it along with you! So at least as an initial approach, I’d leave the topic alone, don’t mention it, and focus on demonstrating through your conduct now that you’re not the person you were then.

If you get the sense that it’s going to be A Problem, you might need to address it more directly — and either way, if you want to say something, you could say in private at some point, “I’m a little embarrassed of what you know of me from 10 years ago and want to assure you I have a very different approach to work now” — but start by acting as if of course neither of you are those people anymore and see how things go.

Read an update to this letter here

2. I’m afraid people at work will think I’m being abused

I’m naturally clumsy, significantly more so than most people. I’ve always been like this and have injured myself in all kinds of weird ways (for example, a few years ago I gave myself a concussion on my own desk at work). I also bruise very easily, so even if I only take a minor fall I can come out of it looking like I fought a bear.

I recently started working a retail position that’s much more physically demanding than any job I’ve ever done. This, plus moving in with my girlfriend and her very active dog, has led to a higher than normal number of scrapes and bruises. Earlier today I was clotheslined at the neck by a leash and now I have rope burn on my throat. I wish I was kidding.

My job involves regular interaction with both coworkers and customers, and I understand that seeing a young woman with very visible injuries like mine might be alarming to some people. I’m genuinely okay, just a klutz!

Is there a way for me to proactively convey this? It’s worth noting that my uniform doesn’t have a whole lot of room for me to dress in a way that hides the injuries, and makeup won’t last through an entire shift.

“Clotheslined at the neck” pushed me over the edge into laughing, I’m sorry.

With coworkers you can say something proactively like, “I should warn you I’m a huge klutz and bruise easily so I will often look like I got into a fight with a bear. Don’t be alarmed!” (This is a little tricky because a lot of people know that domestic violence victims will often blame their injuries on their own clumsiness … but in your case it’s the truth and you don’t really have better options.)

With customers, you can’t be as proactive about it, but have a response ready to go if someone expresses concern. (It could be a version of the language above.) If you make a point of sounding upbeat or even cheerful about it, people will usually take their cues from that.

Read updates to this letter herehere, and here.

3. Quitting with no notice

My son was hired in the spring with a very small company. It was his first career-type job after college. The company is doing a lot of things wrong, and there are some personality and basic communications problems. But fundamentally, the job was advertised with health benefits included after probation period, and the manager/owner changed his mind. Also, the job was expected to be within a reasonable commute, but it turns out my son frequently has work hours away from home, with no payment. One day last week, he had eight hours of work and roughly five hours of driving off the clock. Also, the pay for this type of work in this area is at least 25% below market rate, even for entry-level workers.

He has an offer in hand for a much better job, and he wants to quit without giving notice. I have advised him against this, and I just sent him your column, and I had basically said all of those things. These guys at this company really do suck, I just think the lesson would resonate more by formally quitting with two weeks notice.

His top consideration should be what’s best for him, not what’s most likely to teach his employer a lesson  (and I’m skeptical that a lesson will be taught here regardless).

Normally I recommend giving notice if at all possible so that you don’t mess up the reference, which you might need down the road … but in this case it sounds like he was only at the job for about six months and it was his first out of school. That’s short enough that he could leave it off his resume entirely if he wanted, making the reference question moot. (The one caveat there is that he’ll need to make sure this next job goes well if he burns the bridge with the current job.)

4. My overly critical coworker has ruined my new job

I’m a recent graduate who took what I expected would be a great job as I finished my degree. I had volunteered there previously and loved the people, so chose to pursue this offer over a better paying one.

A coworker has made the experience extremely stressful. I thought we had a good rapport years ago, but while training me to take her role she has made it clear she would never do things the way I do, rolled her eyes, and said she has already explained things to me when I ask questions about things she explained once months ago when I started the job. She also introduced me in a meeting with colleagues saying she was there because I didn’t know anything. Some days are fine, but for the most part I can’t tell when she is going to be harsh or not so I am on edge every day. It’s hard to voice any ideas for change and everything I do is critiqued.

I have worked in several companies in our field despite being young, and I have trained people so I know that asking questions is normal. I’m trying to be patient and acknowledge this could be just adjusting to a different communication style, but I hate going in to work every day and have ended up really anxious and stressed.

It’s only been four months, but I am debating looking for new jobs. I’m afraid to leave as I don’t want a bad reputation in our industry, but my mental health is suffering. The pandemic has really shortened my capacity for dealing with unnecessary unhappiness or stress. Is it reasonable to leave after such a short time? Can I leave it off my resumé?

Before you decide anything, can you fill in your boss about what’s going on? Tell her you’re having a difficult time with Jane’s training and that Jane often seems frustrated when you ask questions and is highly critical of your work. See what she says.

You absolutely can leave the job if you decide you want to, and you can leave it off your resume since it’s so short. But if your boss doesn’t realize what’s been happening, it’s possible that looping her in could lead to a change. If it doesn’t, well, there’s your answer. But it’s worth a try first, unless you’re just fed up and ready to go.

5. Working for my team as a contractor after resigning

I’ll be leaving a long-term job at the end of the year to pursue something on my own. The transition has been worked on for a few months. I know I don’t owe anyone anything, but I feel good doing it the right way.

My team has asked me if I can stay on as a contractor for 2-3 more months into the new year. From others’ experience, it seems that my hourly rate would be exactly as the current one, I’d just work fewer hours and have flexibility of when to work.

Is that set-up weird? I keep reading about contractors being paid a much higher rate than employees. Any other advice or what to keep in mind as we work on this? One thing that I have been asking is to let me use my vacation instead of the payout as it gets taxed differently, but not sure how that would work with contracting.

If they hire you as a contractor but pay you at your employee rate, in the end you’ll be earning less than you are right now. That’s because when you’re an employee, your employer pays half of your Social Security and Medicare taxes. As a contractor, they’ll no longer do that; instead, you’ll be responsible for paying both halves yourself — a big deduction from your after-tax earnings. You also won’t be getting employee benefits like paid time off or health insurance. Because of that, a common guideline for contractors is to take your hourly employee rate and double it.

Also, vacation payouts don’t get taxed differently! When you file your taxes, all your income will be taxed at whatever your tax rate is. (What you might be thinking of is that if you get one large lump check for your vacation payout, that one check might be taxed at a higher rate — as if your salary were always that level. But when you file your taxes, it’ll be recalculated so it’s your normal, correct tax rate.)

{ 403 comments… read them below }

  1. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    These guys at this company really do suck, I just think the lesson would resonate more by formally quitting with two weeks notice.

    You seem to think that all employers are reasonable if you meet them half way. These ones appear not to be so don’t expect standard norms to apply to them.

    1. MBK*

      The only lesson that ever resonates with this kind of employer – and it doesn’t even always happen then – is being forced to pay triple damages for wage theft when they force people to work off the clock.

      1. Sharon*

        Yeah, since the employee isn’t being compensated as agreed/required (no health insurance, being required to drive for work without being paid), he shouldn’t feel bad about quitting with no notice. The employer broke the agreement first.

    2. Asenath*

      Don’t waste time giving people lessons unless that’s what you’re paid to do so, or the lesson recipient is a friend or relative you are teaching for free (raising small children included here). If an employer needs a lesson, the employer is free to hire someone to provide said lesson.

      1. Tupac Coachella*

        Big agree. Teaching lessons is skilled labor, be careful about donating that labor. Look out for you, which might mean preserving the reference for OP’s son, or it might mean getting out of dodge. He’s the best one to make that call, but he shouldn’t make that choice based on the idea that they’ll learn from it. They will not.

        1. Denver Gutierrez*

          Yup, I have worked for people like this and workers quitting with no notice never taught them a thing. They just shrugged and hired someone else.

          However, they did learn a big fat lesson when they were investigated by the Dept of Labor and forced to pay all the overtime they owed their employees.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*


      These guys know they are jerks. They don’t care. You can’t teach them to not be jerks.

      1. pancakes*

        Yes. It’s not as if they’re behaving this way simply because they don’t have examples of how to be better. Being exploitative is a choice they’ve made, not something they’ve stumbled into out of lack of awareness of alternatives.

      2. Heffalump*

        A friend of mine says, “Some people don’t know that they’re jerks. Some people are jerks and proud of it.”

    4. Not playing your game anymore*

      When interviewing, one of our standard questions is “When would you be available to start?” The answer varies of course, if the candidate is a new grad, or relocating we expect it to. But. If it’s someone who is currently employed we want, we expect something like “I’ll need to give my current employer two weeks notice. So depending on when you make me an offer, maybe the 15th?” Then at that point we’d make a note and say something like “our pay periods run the 22nd – the 21st of the next month so…”

      Offering to quit your current employer with no notice is a big red flag for us. It MIGHT not completely end your candidacy, but if you were neck and neck with someone else? Yeah we’ll go with the one we think is less likely to leave us in a lurch.

      1. pancakes*

        And? That’s fine and to be expected, and not necessarily relevant here. If the son in letter 3 quits his terrible job with no notice and starts interviewing for new positions, he wouldn’t have occasion to say he’d need to give 2 weeks notice. It doesn’t raise red flags if someone who is unemployed can start a new job right away. He doesn’t have to confess to having had a terrible job for a short period of time and leaving it off his resume if he doesn’t want to, and I don’t see why he would.

        1. Yea okay*

          The letter says he already has an offer, so I think he’s not in the position you’re describing.

          Still, I don’t see why he’d quit with no notice and then tell his new employer he can start right away. He could just take those two weeks off and stay mum about it, if that’s something he can afford.

          However, if he can’t afford a two week gap in income, he should stick it out with his current company for the two weeks rather than try to start immediately with a company he’s presumably already told about his current employment. Because I think ‘Not Playing your game anymore’ is right in that if they already know you’re employed it’ll look bad that you’re able to start without the two week window.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I think this is one good point–son shouldn’t be making a big thing to the new employer about quitting with no notice. Know one’s audience.

        But it might not have come up. And some employers would think “Consolidated Gummy Worms sucks, most of the people we hire from there rage quit with no notice.”

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Seconding they point of if Son does leave without notice to not make a big deal out of it.

          Honestly I would give the two weeks notice, but be clear with them that I’m not doing any more unpaid commutes for them during this time. As in – they tell me to do it I’m instantly done even if there is another week left in my notice.

          1. Unixorn*

            Agreed, give current job two weeks, but stop doing any of the commute nonsense. “That won’t work for me.”

            If they fire him for not doing the unpaid work, they fire him, but he’s already got a start date at the next place.

            And he should report this to the Department of Labor – he might see some back pay, and even if he doesn’t, it’ll be a far more compelling lesson that someone in a starting position rage-quitting will be.

        2. Denver Gutierrez*

          Good point. I work at an animal shelter. Where I live there are several shelters in the region. One is notorious for being crappy towards their employees and the turnover is huge. We often get candidates that worked at the other shelter and quit right away or left with no notice. That wouldn’t be a red flag to us, given the reputation this other shelter has, unless the particular candidate has a similar pattern with other past jobs.

      3. Chilipepper attitude*

        Just give a date 2 weeks out. No need to tell the current employer anything about anything to do with your current job.

    5. NotRealAnonForThis*

      It isn’t on any employee to “teach a lesson” to a sh!tty employer. Ever. Employees are not required to tolerate lousy employers.

    6. #4*

      Hi everyone,

      Thanks for your comments, they’ve been very helpful. I have taken notes when my coworker has trained me, and I have spoken to my supervisor. I voiced my discomfort and named a few of the responses and situations I got. She was very nice but neutral about it. She and Jane are friends after working together for a decade. Everyone at my small company is friends.

      She spoke to Jane and said it sounded like a difference in learning styles, nothing personal. After that Jane has been good some days and bad others. I have developed physical symptoms from the stress over the past few weeks and have begun looking for new jobs. I’m feeling very guilty about leaving so soon, but I feel I tried hard to make it work.

      1. Lacey*

        Oh that sucks! I’m so sorry that it’s turned out that way.

        It’s hard when someone is friends or has a lot of sway with the boss, but they’re behaving badly. I had a coworker who was really overly critical of specific people and would take it way too far – but the boss usually couldn’t see it because he felt so indebted to her for going above and beyond on some tricky projects. And, of course, she would never treat him that way.

      2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        In what world is announcing, “I’m here because OP doesn’t know anything” a training style?
        Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change.
        I’d start documenting everything and look for a new job. If there’s any opportunity to share in an exit interview, I would.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I would have been unable to resist saying, “Of course I know nothing! Jane trained me” and then grin

      3. WellRed*

        Since you are leaving anyway, how do you feel about addressing it directly in the moment with Jane? “Please don’t roll your eyes at me.” Good luck finding something new and think about this: when Jane has to train another replacement, maybe the next one will complain too.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          It sounds like this might be a possibility. Some people just are not good at training people, and Jane may be one of them. We had one of those “bad trainers” at my company – but when every single person on our shift started making the exact same comments – goes really fast, doesn’t give time for questions, says she’ll email step-by-steps and never does, gets upset if you ask questions before question time – she was moved to a new position.

          1. ManagerInTraining*

            I generally agree with you, but some people just aren’t good at learning. I am currently training one of those. I have to remind someone twice my age that writing down the steps to the task I’m showing her is a good idea. Then I have to remind her a few weeks later that she has the steps written down and ask her to try to follow them before I show her again. I get the same questions emailed to me every week, and when I forward my previous reply – there’s no recognition that she could have just searched her own email. I’m not sure there’s enough information in the letter to decide that the trainer is the problem.

            It sounds like it’s not a good fit between the two and maybe not worth salvaging.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Agree with some people do not take to training well. I have a coworker like that right now, the almost constant answer to his questions is: what resources have you tried first.

              From some above comments though it doesn’t sound like OP4 is ignoring training but that training isn’t going well because she’s not being trained.

            2. Denver Gutierrez*

              We recently had one of those. The manager kept having to talk to her about the same mistakes repeatedly and nothing ever changed. The coworker’s defense was she “wasn’t good at remembering “. Manager told her to write it down then, but that never happened. This coworker also had a tendency to rush through things without paying attention to detail and to take it upon herself to do things, often things above her experience level. Well it was that last part that did her in and she is no longer working at the organization.

              She still hasn’t learned though, because last I heard she blames everyone but herself for the incident.

              1. Denver Gutierrez*

                Edit to add the things coworker claimed she could never remember were also clearly explained in the employee manual, which everyone receives a copy of upon being hired, and there are extra copies available at all times in our reference manuals.

      4. Sparkles McFadden*

        I get that you might feel guilty, but please know that it really isn’t you. You’ve done everything right. Some situations are not fixable. I know it feels as if you should be able to prove yourself to these people or just let the nonsense roll off of your back, but it’s not worth the personal effort.

        I hope you find something new soon!

      5. Observer*

        I have developed physical symptoms from the stress over the past few weeks and have begun looking for new jobs. I’m feeling very guilty about leaving so soon, but I feel I tried hard to make it work.

        You have nothing to feel guilty about.

        Is there some sort of end date for the training? Also, how did your boss react to things like her saying “I’m here because OP doesn’t know anything”? That’s NOT a “difference in learning styles”. The reaction to that is going to tell you whether the end of training is likely to be helpful.

        But in any case, you have not done anything wrong. Looking for a new job when someone at your place of work is making you miserable is not wrong, childish or anything negative. It’s a reasonable and mature response to a genuine problem.

      6. Coder von Frankenstein*

        You have no reason at all to feel guilty. (Jane, on the other hand… AND your boss… yeah.) You tried to resolve the issue in a mature and sensible way and got blown off. You have no obligation to stay at an employer where people treat you like crap.

        (In fact, you have no obligation to stay at an employer, period. But there is a certain amount of consideration that a better employer might reasonably ask from you, and this employer has now forfeited.)

      7. Sometimes supervisor*

        Sorry this happened, #4. Before I saw this, I was going to encourage you to speak to your manager because their reaction would be the key. But it sounds like you have already and have got your answer (which seems to be ‘Sorry to hear you feel that way – I’m not going to do anything to change it’)

        I say this because I’ve been in Jane’s position and trying to train somebody when it isn’t working out but you have little power to do anything about it is a frustrating and demoralising position to be in. This isn’t to say Jane’s behaviour is acceptable. I’m not proud of the way I behaved when I was training ‘Betty’ but I think, at its worst, I was a few ‘Well, Betty, as I explained last week’ passive aggressive remarks when I was explaining something yet again (and it was literally last week and not for the first time, not once four months ago during her first week on the job) and some ‘I can’t STAND working with Betty’ style rants to other people that I would be mortified and issuing a hundred apologies if I ever found out they got back to her! Rolling eyes isn’t really acceptable, announcing to meetings that you’re only here because OP doesn’t know anything is a whole level of “what the actual….”.

        In my situation, it turned out Betty needed a lot more training than we had anticipated for. Spoke to manager about it. Manager’s answer was basically to just tell me to figure it out, so no let up on any other duties or anything like that that may actually have offered me some time to train Betty properly. I got frustrated. Betty got upset and started blaming me for not training her properly (I had to stop myself from screaming the day she told I was being unfair on her because I hadn’t given her a fair chance to get to grips with the job – I was on 10 hours of unpaid overtime a week trying to fit everything in by that point so I felt I had really been more than fair!!). Took this all as the final sign my boss did not value me and wasn’t going to change. Found new job. Quit. Lay out exactly why I was quitting in closing interview. Learned through the gossip network that after I quit manager just ‘suddenly’ found an external training course for Betty and a bigger budget for temporary workers to help free up my successor’s time….

        That long rant is really all to say that, yes, Jane is being a jerk but, work-wise, she may have been landed with a situation which is not within her gift to fix. Speaking to your manager has given you your answer, though, and I’m sorry it was a sucky one.

    7. Steph the Editor*

      I once quit a non-profit that had been evicted from its location, we had to physically pack and move somewhere to an intolerable commute involving the 405 in Los Angeles (clearly insane), and had stopped paying people (or at least would issue paychecks that would not all clear so you would need to run to the bank in person to make sure it cleared before they ran out of money for payroll). I quit on Friday with no notice, and my boss acted like it was the most outrageous thing in the world. OP needs to walk away and do a great job in the next job, but no lessons will be learned by the employer.

      1. Cold Fish*

        I once got a side job to help pay for a vacation to Italy. The vacation was set and planned 8 months before I took the job. I mentioned the vacation during the interview, reminded manager when I accepted the job, mentioned the trip multiple times while working there (I was excited), reminded manager again one month out and a final time two weeks out. Wasn’t put on the schedule the week before I left or I would have reminded her again. Got back and wasn’t put on the schedule for the following two weeks after I got back. Called to talk to manager. She was miffed because I didn’t show up for my hours and couldn’t depend on me. When did she schedule me? The one week I was in Italy! I was pissed and still don’t regret quitting on the spot.

      2. Curious*

        Umm, when an employer doesn’t meet payroll, that seems like constructive dismissal to me (I’m talking about “doesn’t have the cash,” not “error by the payroll department” like the letter from a couple of days ago). And issuing checks, knowing that some of them won’t clear, sounds like “uttering a false check,” which is, well, a crime.
        So, Steph, I don’t think that what you did constitutes “quit with no notice” — you were constructively let go!

        1. Steph the Editor*

          That is a good way to look at it. People kept working there for a year after I left. Sometimes they got paid; sometimes they didn’t. It was odd. But the point is really that under absurd circumstances, some people still think that rules have to be followed.

      3. Denver Gutierrez*

        I once quit without notice a toxic job. Like “management are abusive bullies” level of toxic. That job was so bad I was getting sick physically. Things came to a head and I just clocked out at the end of my shift and never returned. I doubt the managers learned a thing, but I don’t regret what I did. It was the best thing for me, physically and mentally.

        I ended up finding a really enjoyable job, they didn’t ask about previous job, and I busted my butt to build up a good reputation. This was over 10 years ago and leaving that one job with no notice had no effect on me professionally. I wouldn’t recommend doing it frequently, but sometimes it really is the best way to go. I couldn’t even imagine two more weeks at that awful place.

    8. Junior Assistant Peon*

      People only negatively remember / badmouth employees who quit in a blaze of glory (cursing out the boss, leaving a nasty note, knocking things over on the way out, etc). If someone quits without notice but doesn’t make a scene, no one will remember in a couple of years.

      1. quill*

        It sounds like the place is so much of a problem that they’ll forget their ex employee within a couple months regardless. There’s only so much drama a person can retain.

      2. Denver Gutierrez*

        Or unbuttoning their top in the boss’s office and asking if they are being unprofessional like that one letter a few weeks ago!

  2. learnedthehardway*

    OP#3 – your son doesn’t owe this company anything – they’re blatantly cheating him and failing to live up to their agreed-upon contract. That said, his new company may think it odd if he’s able to join immediately (most people do need to give 2 weeks notice if they’re currently employed, and he no doubt told them he was when he interviewed, so they may wonder whether he really is working or not, if he doesn’t need the 2 weeks), and they probably will need some time to onboard him, so there’s no reason to burn this (rickety) bridge with his current employer, not if he doesn’t have to.

    If the new employer is really in a bind and needs him immediately, then that would be a good reason to leave with less than 2 weeks notice from his current role. However, I would personally want to be sure that the new company’s request for an early start is because of a real need (eg. new business, the role being open for a long time), and not an indication that the company is overly demanding of its workers. No point in jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

    1. FJohnIV*

      LW here: Well… The new employer is running background checks, so there is wiggle room on the start date. Professional behavior dictates giving notice, as I advised him. But there is some bad blood over the issues specifically mentioned in the letter.

      1. Aitch Arr*

        Any offer is going to be contingent upon a successful background check. He should wait to give notice at least until that is back.

        1. RabidChild*

          Good god, yes–there are too many letters on this site where people have been burned by the background check/reference check given post-offer. Urge him to wait until that is done!

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        Don’t quit – with or without notice – until other job has completed pricess and there is final, unconditional offer whish is accepted, start date set, stc.

      3. hbc*

        I have no problem when people leave sooner because circumstances dictate. But if it’s just a matter of sticking it to them, it’s not worth it. I mean, are they really going to think, “He quit without notice, this must be our fault”?

        Personally, I find the best revenge is in leaving with head held high, giving nothing objectively wrong that I did for them (or anyone else) to take as some sort of sign that I was a bad employee. I’ve had colleagues and direct reports who had perfectly legitimate gripes with the company leave both ways, and I only pass along opportunities or give referrals and references to the ones where I won’t have to say, “Sorry he bailed on you without warning, I had no way of knowing he would do that except for the time he did it before.”

        1. Smithy*

          I agree with this. Because while this larger company may be entirely trash, it’s not to say that everyone there is entirely without merit and may not circle back into the son’s life at some point.

          My own “lesson learned” on this one was at a job where while I did give notice, I didn’t tell the vast majority of my coworkers – especially my boss – where I was going. This employer was toxic with numerous really problematic practices. However, while there were some squirrely departures – I never saw anyone give their two weeks notice, announce they were going to a similar employer, and have their notice not honored. At the time I told myself I was scared of that happening, and that’s why I didn’t share – but I think it was more about being angry and the desire to be petty.

          Certainly not telling people where you’re going is not the same breach of professionalism, but it created a drama around my departure. And then inevitably when I updated my LinkedIn, it made my former boss furious. I have zero reason to believe he would have been upset had I told him before, but rather it was a case where someone higher in leadership saw before him and then caught him off guard which pissed him off. He’s never talked to me since and while I know he never would have been my champion – I also didn’t need or want to depart that level of scorched earth.

          I could have given my two weeks, told him where I was going, and the same result might have followed. Because we did work in a toxic place where people were wildly unprofessional or were just so stressed that minor slights could really push them over. But I now wish that had he still chosen to ice me out, I could say it was all on him and I had no idea why rather than knowing I ever gave him an excuse.

          1. Observer*

            I could have given my two weeks, told him where I was going, and the same result might have followed.

            That’s almost certainly the case. Because the reaction of you former boss to finding out on Linked In was just NOT reasonable. At All. Is *IS* on him. Completely. You did NOT hand him an excuse because nothing you did actually explains, much less excuses his reaction.

          2. Orora*

            You are under no obligation to tell your employer why you’re quitting or where you are going to work next. You could be quitting because you have 2 weeks to live but don’t want to tell anyone. It’s the upside of at-will employment: You can quit whenever you want, no reasons required.

            To ignore a former colleague just because they didn’t tell you where they were going to work is childish and toxic. In other words, it IS all on him.

        2. Bee Eye Ill*

          I agree. 2 years ago, I left a truly terrible job and boss, and as much as I wanted to just run out of there flipping everybody off, I didn’t. Instead, I gave my two weeks notice, showed up on time every day for the next two weeks, and on my last day shook everyone’s hands and said “bye” and walked out with a big smile on my face. Look at it this way – if you they think you left mad, some people will take delight in that. Don’t give them that satisfaction.

      4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I would add another vote for don’t make any decisions until the new company gives him the full and final offer with the completed background check.

        Someone else below mentioned keeping a good reputation with your fellow employees – the company can just be written off, they sound like the sort of place people run screaming away from.

      5. TootsNYC*

        Personally, I think I’d suggest giving one week of notice.
        Split the difference.
        Then, should it ever come up, you can’t be said to have quit “without notice.” If I heard someone had quit with short notice, I wouldn’t think particularly ill of them.

        Say nothing until the offer from the new place is solid, all contingencies met.

        Then resign with one week of notice, and say, “I’m giving a week of notice instead of two because you’ve changed the conditions of my job, in terms of health insurance and pay and hours, and I simply can’t afford to stay any longer than necessary. Let me know what things you want me to wrap up in that one week.”

      6. David*

        Not sure if others have suggested this:
        I would document the dollar value of shortfall in pay/benefits (unpaid hours, health etc) in a polite letter requesting this is corrected.
        If they acknowledge the fault and pay, give notice once the cheque clears.
        If they refuse, have a written resignation prepared that references some appropriate legal reason for immediate resignation, possibly with a lawyer’s letter. It may specifically reference consequences should the employer say anything defamatory about employee. Hand it over and walk.
        If it ends up being the latter, the employer will be very circumspect about giving a negative reference, and if it should ever come up, you can simply say ‘they refused to fulfil the terms on which I was engaged and that wasn’t acceptable to me’.
        Good luck!

    2. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      Yep…These guys whispered sweet words in your sons ear, then gave him 5 across the eyes. Now, this isnt sage advice, just my musings, but if it were me, I’d give them at least 2 weeks notice at minimum…then just not show up. They fed someone a line of bull, let them eat some it for a change. Driving 5 hours one way without pay, and Im guessing it wasnt in a company car. This company needs a scathing Glassdoor review to warn other folks away. They’re crapping in their own bed…let them sleep in it.

      1. anone*

        This is bad advice, please don’t take it. It’s needlessly antagonistic and ultimately has more risk to your son than to his employers.

        1. AnotherLibrarian*

          Yeah, I agree. There’s no reason to sully your own reputation by promising something you have no intention of doing. I assume the son would want their word to be worth something even if their employer’s is not. The son should assess if he needs the reference and then decide how to proceed, as Alison said.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Agree, bad advice. You shouldn’t be scheming about how to leave your last job with the most possible drama.

          What the company would take from this is “Ex-Employee sucks” not “I see it now, what terrible working conditions we imposed.”

          Some companies learn a lesson by losing enough employees, but it’s not like “the whole team quit, but with two weeks notice” and “the whole team quit, with two hours notice” are different lessons.

          1. Speaks to Dragonflies*

            And I said in my original post, “this isnt sage advice”…meaning this isnt what you should do.

      2. KateM*

        “… he had eight hours of work and roughly five hours of driving off the clock” reads to me as five hours round trip, not five hours one way.

      3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I can see a Glassdoor review saying be wary of broken promises.
        But the rest of it is akin to suggesting that you “mud wrestle a pig. You’re bother going to get dirty but only the pig is going to enjoy it.”

        1. Mizzle*

          I love that saying! I like the phrasing “Don’t wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it.”

          (Somehow, shorter phrasings seem to have more of an impact.)

      4. TootsNYC*

        remember that you are managing your reputation with your colleagues and any clients or outside vendors as well.

    3. Tala*

      As you’ve said, my thought was – is two weeks really that long? I wouldn’t have thought someone starting two weeks earlier or later would be materially different for the new company, provided the role isn’t really time critical. I would just confirm start date with the company and give notice.

      1. Your local password resetter*

        Depending on how much you hate it or suffer there, two weeks can be quite long. And a six month job isn’t the most important reference.
        But I agree that they should consider just sitting it out.

      2. Stephen!*

        I once quit a job with no notice, partially because my new pay was 50% higher. It made a difference!

    4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I disagree. First job out of school, sounds like he’s in the background check stage of the new job, I’d split the difference. I would quit at the end of whatever week I gave notice. 2 weeks is a professional courtesy, but not set in stone. If his offer gets yanked, then he starts applying again as if he hasn’t had a job out of school. A 6 month gap after school in 2020-2021 will not look weird

      1. Kiko*

        This is the route I’m a fan of. Giving a couple days notice is much better than none. And your son has an amazing fall back if the company (the current or any future one) questions his decision to leave without a proper two week notice: he can just say that he needed the health benefits that were advertised, and since those feel through, he needed to switch jobs ASAP.

    5. Michelle*

      I don’t understand why anyone would give another 2 weeks to an employer that has already stolen at least 8 hours of wages from you. If you can’t be certain that you will actually be PAID for all of those 2 weeks, you don’t owe them that work, period.

  3. Can Can Cannot*

    #5, for contract work a good rule is to double, or even triple the rate you were getting paid as an employee. The increase will cover self-employment taxes (as Alison says), the fact that you don’t get paid vacation, the cost of benefits such as health insurance, as well as the general unstable nature of a contract role, where you can be out of a job on a whim.

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      Agree — double is minimum, triple is better but still might not cover the difference. In addition to needing to make up for the employer tax contributions and benefits such as insurance and paid PTO, don’t forget that as a contractor you will be responsible for state and federal quarterly tax filings and deposits, calculating the Social Security and Medicare deposits (both your portion and the “employer” portion). The increased rate is intended to not only make up for the extra money you will be out, but also the administrative hassle of taking care of these accounting matters.

    2. Documenter*

      It depends on the industry but it may also benefit you to incorporate yourself for this opportunity; very cheap to create an LLC on legalzoom dot com. This also protects your employer who could be forced to reclassify you as an employee. Interacting with them as an incorporated entity definitely allows you to more easily have the 2x or 3x hourly multiplier. I think if you float this idea first you will figure out if they are just trying to cheap out on you vs make it worth the while. Good luck on this and if it goes that way then it also decreases your tax liability and you can write off more of your related activities.

      1. Just Another Consultant*

        I did this with my previous employer. They were a bit of dysfunctional workplace with a number of people leaving. Because I was a highly technical specialist with many years of experience, I could not be easily replaced. I offered to become a consultant which my previous employer gladly accepted. Due to moving out of the state for my new full time employer, it was easier to setup an LLC and provide consultant services. It is now similar to being a vendor to my previous employer than a contractor. My previous employer does not have to do the effort of a 1099 as if I was contractor. I submit them invoices just like any of their other vendors. I am on the same terms as their other vendors which means I am paid 45 days after submitting. I have to handle my own taxes being a sole proprietor LLC. Now, I am able to put expenses such as computer and office supplies towards the LLC. It does require keeping a separate commercial bank account and proper book keeping. (Make sure you get a receipt on any expense.) I also setup a separate business address at a “UPS/FedEx” type of mail service again to keep everything separate. It was a bit of work in the beginning but now with this LLC setup, I can also add other clients or other business services if needed. It is not enough to leave my “day job” but it does bring in nice secondary “gig” money.

    3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      OP. They want you to work part time. They just don’t want the hassle of having a part time employee. Or they never thought of it that way. You can bring it up. Treat it like they are misunderstanding because o think they are. Explain that 1) you have no interest in the headache of contract work but if they want to re hire you as part time, you will work for your same rate but they handle payroll 2) point out they clearly don’t want contractors. They want to pay X. They want the employee to do the same work as employees, have the same oversight as employees and be treated as employees.

      1. TechGirlSupervisor*

        Exactly, I would suggest part-time hourly is the best solution, especially since it’s just 2 -3 months. I actually just did this with my former company. We looked at contractor vs. part-time hourly and for the extra couple hundred dollars I could have made as a contractor it was worth it for the company to handle all the payroll and tax issues. I negotiated a 5% increase to my hourly rate to account for the fact I wasn’t going to get pension matching as I was no longer full-time and they were fine with that.

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

      I have never worked as a contractor (other than temp-to-hire) but wow, triple? I was under the impression that you just ask for 20% or 33% more or so to cover the taxes and missing benefits. (Some benefits e.g. health insurance it would depend on how big your salary is in comparison.)

      That said, I’ve heard the rule of thumb is that contracting agencies charge the employer double what they pay the employee. I even knew a contractor (who I became friends with) who the agency gave him some of “their” share to entice him to take the job.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Double is usually a good starting point but it can go higher. When I’ve had long-term, full-time contracts they’ve been more like what you describe — enough to cover taxes and insurance + maybe a little extra for the lack of security or a special skill. When it’s temp to hire, they can even keep the difference quite low to keep you from being disappointed with conversion salary later.

        But for anyone trying to support themselves long term as a consultant, you also have to factor in a lot of non-work time: finding work, scoping, communicating, invoicing, downtime when you don’t have work, vacation and sick days etc. There’s a lot of risk plus a lot of time where you’re running a business not actually producing work. I freelanced for 20 years and it was a good 25% of my time. My fees have to pay for that on top of the extra taxes and insurance.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Oh, #2! I’m not nearly that bad but I do bruise easily and often don’t know where bruises come from. One summer I was working retail and there was a very kind young man in another department who noticed my bruises and would check in on me. He was so attuned to it, I’m sure he had a loved one in his life who’d been abused. What made it worse is I did have a secret: I was dating his boss. So it was fishy — a young woman with mysterious bruises who’s vague about her plans and hiding something. He was never pushy but I could see the concern in his eyes. He was a lovely person. I hope he’s out there somewhere, doing well!

    5. JustaTech*

      Exactly this. We had a coworker who left to become a consultant and when we needed his expertise on a specific project we paid his consulting rates, which are much, much higher than his salary was.

      But here’s the thing about consulting – you’re only paid for the time you’re working with the client, not all the prep time. So of course you need to charge more, in addition to all the stuff about taxes and insurance and so on.

  4. learnedthehardway*

    OP#4 – Jane is being unreasonable and borderline abusive. You really should talk to your manager about the situation and detail what is happening to that person. I think that your manager (if they are a good one) will be concerned that Jane is treating you like this. You’re a new grad, on a huge learning curve, and the person training you should expect that you will have questions and may need to have things explained more than once. (Obviously, take notes and try to figure things out for yourself where you can, but you’re effectively drinking from a fire hose when you start your first real job out of school, and some patience from the person training you is to be expected).

        1. too many too soon*

          I’m tasked with training someone for minimal back-up duties for my job. This person seems incapable of taking direction from anyone she deems her social inferior, including our actual manager, and ‘misinterprets’ my attempts to schedule training sessions as me asking for help with something unrelated to training or anything to do with her duties. She works hard to manage up, including offering directives to grandbosses in reply all emails.
          Maybe she just has an odd communication style, but the general observation is that she has no interest in learning certain parts of her job and will mischaracterize efforts to bring her up to speed so that it’s always someone else’s fault or the duties just don’t even register as assigned to her.
          It’s really frustrating, but a great illustration of how different people can see the same issue.

          1. anonymous73*

            We’re supposed to take a LW at their word. And you’re making a lot of assumptions based on your personal experiences. Many people are very bad at training. And many others are bad at taking direction. But the issues described in the letter are borderline abusive. I worked in support for several years and had to train an outsourced help desk. While I did get frustrated because they wanted me to answer questions that were clearly documented and easily found, I didn’t berate them or treat them like crap. I forced them to follow the correct path and eventually they stopped coming to me unless it was truly necessary.

          2. Kella*

            There’s no evidence that any of that is happening here and we *do* know several concrete ways that Jane is being inappropriate in the way she is handling training.

      1. anonymous73*

        She calls her my co-worker and is being trained to take over Jane’s duties. Jane is not her manager.

    1. Calanthea*

      The instances OP4 describes would count as bullying, if they were to make a complaint to our HR. Like Alison says, the first thing to do is to have a word with their manager, but also START DOCUMENTING WHAT’S HAPPENING. The “I’m here because LW doesn’t know anything” is pretty egregious and will have been witnessed by others. If you have two or three witnessed incidences like that, you have quite a strong case for action on your bosses part; this goes beyond “he said, she said, possibly a misunderstanding or different communication styles.”

      1. Ginger*

        Completely agree. That’s not a different communication style, that’s malicious. Jane is either doing this on purpose, which needs stopping, or so oblivious to appropriate behaviour that she’s a liability and needs stopping. Either way, OP4 shouldn’t have to feel forced out of a job and that’s for the manager to deal with.

      2. OhNoYouDidn't*

        This. That line, “I’m here because LW doesn’t know anything,” is beyond the pale. It’s not just a difference in communication styles, it’s insulting and abusive. If someone said that to me about a new employee, especially in front of the new employee, I’d have ripped them a new one. Please document everything and go to HR since it sounds like your boss isn’t going to do anything (from your comment above). Even if you’re leaving, it should be reported to HR.

        1. I'm just here for the cats!*

          I agree. If everything else was ok with Jane and she just made the comment “Im here because LW doesn’t know anything” in a flipant way I could see it being a joke that landed bad being that LW is new and might not know how certain aspects of the company operate.

          But with everything else, Jane seems mailicous. I wonder, does she not want someone taking over her old position? Is she being forced out or is she being moved to a new job that she doesn’t like? There is something going on here.

          LW talk to your manager ASAP!

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

            I think there is more going on but this was my read on what the other side of the letter might be:

            Dear AAM, I’d been doing what was effectively 2 roles for a long time, and after conversations with managers we eventually got approval to split off part of the role and recruit someone to take it on, so that I could finally move over to work on Team X exclusively. So 4 months ago we recruited ‘Sarah’ and I’m finding the training process stressful and not very effective especially as I’ve never really been taught how to train people. I’m getting quite frustrated that after 4 months she still seems to be lacking basic elements and isn’t really getting it. On occasion I’ve had to go to meetings that really should be her job. I try to hide the frustration but some days it slips out especially as I’m stressed and busy doing my job as well as hers. She seems to keep trying to suggest ‘improvements’ without having grasped the basics first which doesn’t seem to help. I feel like I can’t fully embrace the Team X work as I’m still having to keep one foot in Sarah’s job.

            1. Kella*

              We are supposed to take letter writers at their word and this interpretation makes a lot of assumptions about things we don’t know anything about. But even if this is the situation the trainer was in, the advice would be pretty straightforward. Your employee has a performance problem. Address the performance problem directly or have your manager address it. A manager/trainer who rolls their eyes or gets frustrated with you for asking questions but doesn’t directly give you feedback about where your performance needs to be for the job is not doing *their* job well. And a manager/trainer that tells other people “I’m here because she doesn’t know anything” is also not doing their job well. No amount of frustration with performance excuses that kind of treatment.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          If there is an HR dept. OP4 gave the impression this is a very small company, so there may not be an HR department.

          But I would definitely let them know as I was leaving in a polite and professional way that I’m leaving at least in part because of how my training was being handled. Training isn’t see it once and done – questions are going to come up as you more fully settle into the task and potentially see exceptions to the rule.

    2. LKW*

      Absolutely talk to your manager. People need to hear things and do things several times before it sinks in. Especially when you’re getting inundated with new information all at once. Especially if it’s not written down.

      As for how to do things – the next time Jane says she wouldn’t do it the way you’re doing it – ask “Is there a regulation or rule that I’m breaking? Am I doing anything that will compromise the results?” Make her defend her position – is it just methodology or is there something truly behind the comment of which you need to be aware? If I use a keyboard command versus mouse – no difference. If I set to approved without signatures… big difference.

      Jane is a poor trainer.

    3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Oh. It’s abusive. I don’t think it’s slanderous or dramatic not to qualify it.
      She’s abusing her power over OP at the least.
      “I’m here because she doesn’t know anything.”
      OP is afraid to function in the workplace because of how this woman treats her. OP is being abused

      1. Mimi*

        I can imagine a coworker relationship in which “I’m here because X doesn’t know anything” was all in good fun, but it absolutely requires a camaraderie that there is no evidence of here, and for everyone to be on the same page.

        (To be clear, I’m not suggesting that Jane means it that way, and it’s a phrase I would certainly side-eye in many contexts, especially with a new hire. But I wouldn’t say that it’s automatically abusive. Just… most of the time.)

        1. PT*

          Yeah or you were saying it to highlight that the person is new and shouldn’t be expected to be up and fully functioning yet. Like, OF COURSE I am here because X is new and OF COURSE we are not going to be expecting her to be functioning fully yet because she hardly knows anything yet BECAUSE THAT IS TOTALLY NORMAL FOR A NEW PERSON!

          I’ve heard people say stuff like that as a way of managing expectations while transitioning/orienting new employees, as a kindness to take the heat off the new person as they learn the ropes.

    4. Gipsy Danger*

      “The pandemic has really shortened my capacity for dealing with unnecessary unhappiness or stress.”

      Man, LW#4, you are singing my song. You’ve managed to articulate what I think a lot of us are feeling – a much lower tolerance for people’s BS. I think this is, frankly, a really healthy attitude. I know I’ve been much better at curating my life, cutting out the sources of unhappiness and stress whenever I can.

    5. Sara without an H*

      Yes, by all means, schedule some time with your manager. In the meantime, document everything you and Jane are doing. Alison’s suggested language — that you’re having trouble with Jane’s approach to training — is good. I would add that she gives you a lot of feedback, but that while it’s very critical, it’s also not actionable, and you want advice on how to respond to it. (Have some examples in hand.)

      But by all means, don’t quit until you’ve discussed it with your manager. If I had someone onboarding newbies who was that bad at training, I’d definitely want to know about it. Jane may be a great individual contributor, but she’s not good at training, and your manager needs to know that.

  5. LobsterPhone*

    Re No. 3… ‘these guys at this company really do suck, I just think the lesson would resonate more by formally quitting with two weeks notice.’
    I understood this to mean the lesson is intended for the son (in professional behaviour), not for the employer…?

    1. Bilateralrope*

      I hope the lesson isn’t intended for the employer. I expect they will find some way to ignore it, no matter how clear the lesson is. And quitting without notice or saying why is not clear at all.

      My advice is to avoid burning bridges unless you have a good reason. The new job asking for a start date that doesn’t allow two weeks notice or continuing to work there being dangerous to the sons health are good reasons. The son being unhappy about his net income after subtracting fuel costs from his pay could count. Anything about teaching a lesson is not.

    2. FJohnIV*

      Both, I suppose. LW here, the point I was trying to make was that if the young man gives formal notice and explanation for his departure, it will sting the employer, at least a bit. For this type work, the unemployment rate in our area is effectively less than zero, there are more jobs than workers, and he is, I believe, a good employee. Whereas if he just quits without giving notice, they can easily dismiss him as a malcontent.

      1. Aitch Arr*

        Who cares what they think? They aren’t suddenly going to become ethical because he’s leaving.

      2. Beth*

        I don’t think your son’s method of giving notice is likely to impact his employer’s treatment of their other employees. If they cared about things like retention or employee satisfaction, they wouldn’t be acting like this.

      3. A Wall*

        They’re gonna dismiss him as a malcontent either way, they clearly aren’t in the habit of being reasonable and don’t think they have any need to behave ethically.

      4. EPlawyer*

        Your son’s employer will not get the lesson. They do not care. Telling them why he is leaving will not be a wake up call. Professional norms go right over their heads.

        He should give 2 weeks because HE is professiional regardless of how his company acts.

      5. hamsterpants*

        Do you think he’s really the first employee to quit over awful treatment? The answer must be no. So you see that this employer doesn’t want to learn from their mistakes.

      6. Purple Cat*

        Why would following the “expected” practice for leaving a job “sting a little”? If anything, quitting on the spot would sting more because I assume there’s some sort of coverage need. Bottom line though, you should be advocating and supporting your son, not looking out for what’s best for his crappy company.
        But he should NOT quit until his background check clears, plenty of horror stories on this site of offers falling apart.

        1. Llama face!*

          Seconding this: “Bottom line though, you should be advocating and supporting your son, not looking out for what’s best for his crappy company.”

          And wanted to add that- although it doesn’t seem like his current situation is this extreme- if the bad job is taking a significant toll on your son’s health or wellbeing (including mental) and if he has supports that it wouldn’t put him in a serious bind for basic needs, then sometimes it is more important to prioritize his health over a courtesy to a bad employer. So quitting first can sometimes be wiser.

          1. SpaceySteph*

            Yeah I agree some jobs are so bad you just need to get out. Working an 8 hour day plus a 5 hour commute is not quite at the sleep deprivation level but if this is happening back to back with not enough time to sleep and turn around for the next day, plus as we’re getting into winter and daylight is getting shorter he’s doing long drives in the dark and possibly even inclement weather, it may be starting to become a dangerous/unhealthy environment and that should be factored in.

            As to the other point, yeah I see an immediate quit as more likely to sting the employer than giving a nice notice. Not that he needs to try to sting them, I just don’t see how “crap we have nobody to work this 8 hour shift, 5 hours away, right now” is not the worst case for the company.

      7. Falling Diphthong*

        I think it will be very, very easy for the employer to take your son’s most carefully worded explanation of their poor labor practices and conclude “Really, this is all son’s fault for not appreciating how great he had it with us.”

      8. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        The employer, since they sound like an unreasonable bucket of bees, will definitely not take the lesson you are thinking whether your son gives them 2 minutes or 2 weeks. These folks lied about benefits in a hot job market! Their heads are so far up their sphincters there is no hope of them learning anything and I would put $$$ on them blaming your son no matter what he says

      9. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Okay – if the unemployment in this industry is what you say – that makes me lean even more towards being completely professional- so that he keeps a good reputation with his coworkers. It may not make any difference now, but later in the course of his career being really professional in the face of an unprofessional company may make a difference between getting a job/promotion or not.

        1. twocents*

          I agree. Sounds like an industry where you’re going to have companies competing heavily, so lots of employee movement is likely. Son could easily come across his current coworkers even just a few months later, and “ah, yes Son left us all hanging in a dramatic huff” could bite him.

          I wouldn’t gaf about the company, just about his ability to at least not set up a situation where they can truthfully say he behaved badly.

      10. Lenora Rose*

        Don’t have him do it for the employer’s sake. Have him do it for his own sake, and let them know that his staying for two weeks is conditional on fair compensation for his work, including travel time. And let him stick to that; if they screw him over again, he can say conscience clear, “I tried to be professional about leaving and you abused it.”

        And as someone else noted, if he has any coworkers he’s been working closely with, and likes better than the management, it might help give him a chance to make his departure easier on them, and in the long run they might be better contacts than this abusive management.

  6. WoodswomanWrites*

    #2, I also bang myself up with frequent bruises. For people that I see regularly, I have said something along the lines of Alison’s suggestion and also directly said that it’s not the result of any violence. Because they see me in an ongoing way, it’s fine for me to use that overt language so they know I’m okay and not deflecting as people enduring actual domestic violence sometimes do.

    1. BeenThere*

      Without fail I will do something clumsy and awkward in front of my coworkers within my first week. Some of my go to phrases to defuse my own shame with humor
      – the walls like to jump out at me
      – the carpet secretly depsises the way my shoes feel

      Once upon a time I was a bank teller and one day when I was very busy coming back from the other room I managed to open a very heavy bank security door into my top lip. The lip which grew and discolored as you’d expect when you smack it with bullet proof steel and stayed that way for the rest of the week. I had very lovely and very concerned regular customers all very politely inquiring in soft voices. The temp teller that came in that week she took me aside to make sure I wasn’t in trouble. The temp teller also happened to be a brothel owner* she was one of my preferred temps. I do take it as a good sign when coworkers have your back.

      * perfectly legal in the location I was, though I suspected she took this day job to recruit.

      1. Old Admin*

        I know it’s off topic, but please tell us more about your temp teller/brothel owner! There’s a story lurking there!
        (And yes, it’s legal in my area, too. Just have never consciously encountered people from the industry in a bank. :-) )

        1. BeenThere*

          Only a short story, I can’t remember how I found out about her main gig but she was always open about it and a great temp because she was super social with the customers and I decidedly was not. (There’s a good reason I chose engineering over medicine).

          She would gently mention where she worked and never crossed any lines however she always had an opening along the lines of “If it ever interested you, here’s my business card”. I was 20, thin with long red hair and desperately trying to save money for university. Many of the bank tellers were young women at the time and it’s not a high paying job. I’m sure she chose who she asked carefully. I do always wonder what my life would have been like if I took her up on the offer.

        1. BeenThere*

          In my experience, staff though it wouldn’t surprise me if some of our customers were clients. It was a relatively wealthy suburb.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        “Gravity’s especially strong today.” I also bruise easily & often bang into things. Sometimes I can’t account for bruises, because they don’t show up right away, & by then I’ve forgotten about that particular injury…

      3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        My go to phrase when I was younger (and way more awkward than I am now) was “I’m auditioning for a career as Buster from Mythbusters.”

        Worked like a charm and generally made people realize I would tell them if I really was hurt.

      4. thisgirlhere*

        You can also absolutely blame the dog and follow up with cute puppy pics. That’ll help diffuse any tension and doesn’t come off awkwardly if you mention it pre-emptively.

    2. Tim Tam Girl*

      I have the same problem, and I have found that thanking people for asking (while also explaining my total lack of physical coordination) seems to work extremely well and help defuse the situation if it feels awkward. It’s not for everyone, but I’ve had good luck with it.

      1. HQB*

        Thanking people for asking may be very effective for OP. Typically victims of DV want to avoid any notice or mention of evidence of abuse; taking the opposite tack will cast everything in a very different light.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Agreed – I would thank people for asking/checking on me and then go to either “I’m unfortunately clumsy” or “I’m auditioning to be a crash test dummy” based on the formality of the situation I was in.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          I have the same issue… an unfortunate combination of pale skin, bruising easily, and enjoying a lot of rough-and-tumble activities.

          I’ve found the best way to alleviate people’s concerns is to lead by example: treat the bruises as a totally normal thing, just like you would a sunburn or a pulled muscle. Don’t get nervous or try to overexplain when people ask you about them, but also don’t act secretive or shy about it. Something like “Thanks for checking on me but no need to worry – I’m just accident-prone” is great.

          Another thing that helps normalize it is if you don’t make any attempt to hide them. Don’t try to cover them with makeup, clothes, etc. (unless it happens naturally because of your personal style). And if you feel like it, even bring them up in conversation on your own. Telling your coworkers a funny story about how the dog tried to murder you or complaining about how much your arm hurts after you dropped a toaster on it conveys that this isn’t A Big Secret (TM) and makes you seem less defensive when they do ask.

          Above all… don’t stress too much! It’s a little embarrassing when people ask about it, but try to focus on it as a sign of their compassion and desire to help others.

      2. A Little Birdie Told Me*

        Same. I’m a massive klutz (once quite literally walked eye-first into a door) and am quite fair. That and in my first office job, I hadn’t quite figured out eyeliner, so it would smudge and look like a black eye/like I’d been crying.

        My go-to was (and continues to be), “Oh, thanks—I just bruise like a peach.”

    3. WS*

      Yes, I have the same problem, and once people have worked with me for a few days they see how it happens!

    4. SuperAdmin*

      I am someone with hypermobility issues, which comes with a side portion of a total lack of spatial and bodily awareness. Walking my shoulder into a doorframe is a daily event. It also means I bruise easily, like OP, so every ding shows up for weeks. Luckily I’m also a cold soul, so I can cover up most things pretty easily.

      I have been known to blame it on the cats, and OP could do the same with the dog (“Oh yeah, I bruise easily and we have a boisterous dog, so this is going to be a common sight!”) but OP, do consider seeing a doctor about hypermobility disorders if you have other issues such as being prone to dislocations, painful joints, back or neck pain, headaches, fatigue, etc. And if you feel comfortable saying so at work, you can just own up to having issues with spatial and body awareness (I personally hate clumsiness as it implies you just aren’t paying attention!) that means you’re prone to bumps and bruises, and coworkers will no doubt see examples of this from time to time.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Also here with hypermobility issues! I might walk into a doorframe or my knees might just bend the wrong way and I appear to trip over nothing as aI faceplant. Luckily I do this in front of people a lot so I have a reputation as a klutz and no one pays it much mind.

        1. quill*

          Once people have seen a coffee mug throw itself out of my hands or the floor buck me off into the air they usually figure out how clumsy I am…

      2. straws*

        I’m also hypermobile and slamming my shoulder into a doorframe is a daily event. It made me laugh to see it here as your example. I agree with all of this though – I don’t like saying I’m clumsy, but I will quickly point out that I bruise easily, my bruising always looks worse than it is, and that I lack spatial awareness. I also have an eye condition that messes with my peripheral vision, so that’s an easy one to throw out there as well. Technically I’m sharing medical info, but I keep it broad/vague and it’s never felt awkward to me. And (as far as I know) no one has been concerned about my situation at home!

      3. OP 2*

        Don’t worry, I’ve talked to doctors! There are some underlying anemia issues, but for the most part I’ve just been genetically blessed with very fair, delicate skin.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I’d still at least take a look at hypermobility issues- hEDS probably runs in my family (cardiovascular abnormalities, hyperflexible joints, easy bruising, autonomic dysfunction, early osteoarthritis/osteoporosis), but I’m the only one who actually got the diagnosis because no one else gets dislocations/subluxations (my cartilage is screwed up from another source, so my joints slip out easily now).

        2. Retired Prof*

          Agree with KoiFeeder. I was you when I was young, but the injuries got worse as I got older and went into overdrive after menopause. Just keep it in mind for the future

        3. Kit*

          Yeah, some of us just get the lucky draw, genetically – my mother and I have actually sat down and compared mystery bruises! And now that dad’s on blood thinners, he bruises too, so it’s a whole family affair.

          I’ve also had to explain intriguing injuries, and usually once you’ve established that it’s just normal for you, coworkers will back off asking as much, or at least transition from worrying that you’re being abused to wondering what the heck you did *this* time… I’d second the suggestion to disarm worries by thanking them for asking, and maybe come up with some stock jokes, like being in an off-again, on-again relationship with gravity. If you don’t treat it as a big deal, your coworkers will almost certainly follow your lead.

    5. Cygda*

      As another professional klutz I’ve found that the best defense is usually the truth.

      Nobody is going to admit that the bruising scrapes on their shoulder close to the neck is from running into a tree branch unless it’s true. Likewise for a rope burn from a leash.

      For a very bland explanation, one you may find useful is telling people that you have inner ear issues which throws off your balance.

    6. SeattleSue*

      I feel for the clumsy OP because I am the same way. I once clothesline myself with a chair at work after tripping on a power cord. My manager witnessed it so she knew I wasn’t being abused, but it did look like someone had choked me. In the past two years alone I broke my arm tripping on the flip-flop I was wearing and severely sprained my ankle falling down the stairs. It’s kinda funny at this point.

      1. Plant Lady*

        In the past year I have: sprained my wrist after tripping over a toddler while holding another toddler (nanny to twins), tore a ligament in my ankle stepping off a curb, ER visit after getting stung on the tongue by a yellow jacket, and tons of bruises from running into furniture.

        My life is embarrassing. The doctors have gotten a kick out of it though.

        1. The Rural Juror*

          I recently had a bad week with a lot of silly injuries (but still painful, even if silly!). I adopted a dog about 2 months ago and she’s finally opened up and become playful and unafraid to explore the house. She has managed to get under my feet countless times, tripping me several times that week. She also decided that the rope toy is her favorite toy, and she managed to swing it around and hit my eyebrow with the knotted end, leaving a slight bruise. I was on the couch watching TV and she got the zoomies, ran full speed at me, jumped up on the couch, then head-butted me, splitting my lip. The cheery on top was when she got under my feet in the kitchen while I was reaching on my tip toes for a bowl on a top shelf. Ifell forward and sprained my achilles tendon!

          I had been laughing with my coworkers and boss about my “dangerous” new dog, so no one was surprised when I called in the day after spraining the tendon. I spent the whole day on the couch with an ice pack, which helped significantly! I hid all the rowdy toys and the 20lb little heathen cuddled with me most of the day. Man…that was a rough week…and a rough-ish week after as I hobbled around in an ankle brace. Here’s to hoping I make it to the end of the read without another split lip…

      2. quill*

        ooooh a couple years ago I tripped over uh, my own toes? Dislocated some of my foot.

        Fell down the stairs, relocated it again…

    7. MusicWithRocksIn*

      I am super clumsy, but sturdy, so I manage to be constantly destroying everything in the world around me instead of myself. I am constantly knocking things to the ground and have an astonishing ability to break things around me by touching them gently. I just tell myself it must be adorable and enduring since every female protagonist in every rom com seems to be insanely clumsy as well.

      1. OP 2*

        My girlfriend says I’m “manic pixie dream girl” clumsy since im always falling in objectively ridiculous ways lol

    8. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      My coworkers would 100% believe it because I do stuff like walk into my cubicle wall and get a bruise on my chin. Alas, my clumsy comes with me to work

      1. OP 2*

        My girlfriend says I’m “manic pixie dream girl” clumsy since im always falling in objectively ridiculous ways lol

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Oh, been there mate! I’m disabled but also very tall and quite often make the joke about my feet being so far away from my eyes that I can’t watch where they are going. I’ve got bruises all over my legs/arms from piling into things.

    9. Koalafied*

      As a young koala I once opened my own car door directly into my face, catching the upper corner right in my eye.

      It was on the same trip where just days later I got one of the most severe sunburns of my life swimming at an outdoor hotel pool. As a super pale person who bruises easily I’m pretty skilled with covering reds and blues on my skin, but boy was it challenging to handle lobster-cheeks and black-eye together.

    10. Environmental Compliance*

      I am also a clumsy sort, and I have an equally clumsy horse. I have come to work with black eyes, bruised lips, random arm/leg bruises…if someone asks, I tell them the truth – I’m a klutz and my horse’s head is much sturdier than mine. I have also had coworkers 100% not believe me and start leaving domestic violence awareness brochures on my desk.

    11. S*

      I used to practice a particularly hands-on martial art, so not only was I frequently bruised, you could sometimes make out the finger marks. (But you should have seen the other guy!) I was pretty matter-of-fact about it and my coworkers had no concerns, but I did get a lot of worry from people who didn’t know me. Ultimately, all you can do is tell the truth and thank people for their misplaced concern.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Junior Orchestra is in Karate – she loves to talk about her latest belt test.

        She had a few bruises once – and literally told the teacher “if you think this is bad you should see my sparing partner.”
        (I was dropping her off at school, the look on that teacher’s face was priceless.)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Same here. I used to get tons of bruises and scrapes from skating—ice scored by numerous blades during practice sessions can be rough as well as hard. Plus I have mild dyspraxia and often drop and fumble objects, which coworkers often got to see firsthand. These explanations usually sufficed.

    12. Trombones Gigantes*

      I do obstacle course races and other activities that are physical. I often times look like I was in a fight. I’ve had coworkers ask me if I am sure I’m OK. I just pull up pictures of my latest race and ask if they want to join me in the next one!

    13. GrumpyGnome*

      I’m in the same boat – very pale, bruise easily, clumsy, and marks show up extremely well on my skin. The tops of my forearms especially are covered in scars because I hike, have cats, and I make soap. When you’re clumsy and around hot pots and steam, well….it’s actually surprising I don’t have more scars. They get noticed a LOT and strangers make comments.

      I’ll usually say “Yep, I’m clumsy and I make soap”, or “Oh yeah, a cat used me as a launchpad last night”. I’m matter-of-fact, which helps, and if they have more questions, I can totally nerd out about soap or show off pictures of whichever idiot cat scratched me. I think the more upfront you are about it, the less likely others are to be concerned about domestic violence as the cause. Also, last night I managed to bruise myself doing laundry; I hit (rounded) edge of the door. You have my sympathies, OP.

    14. DrRat*

      I come from a family that bruises easily, and am also a bit clumsy at times, and I have recently learned about 2 things that I wish I had known about years ago. 1) Pineapple juice. There is a debate about whether it really contains enough bromelain to help bruises heal, but I see a noticeable difference when drinking it. 2) Dermaka. I had a skin procedure done a while back and the doctor’s office insisted I bring a tube of Dermaka in with me to help prevent bruising. I put some on a bruise my elderly mother had recently and she was amazed at how much more quickly the bruise faded. Best of luck from another of the Klutz Club.

    15. President of the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club*

      I have a bad combination of a bleeding disorder, depth perception issues, and spatial reasoning issues, so I often have bruises in random places. I’ve worked at my current job long enough now that people know it’s not from domestic violence (plus I live alone and don’t have a partner). With people who don’t know me and are concerned, depending on how the conversation has evolved, I’ll either just say oh I’m fine, I have a bleeding disorder and I sometimes wake up looking like I’ve been in a fight, or if joking seems like it will go over well, I’ll say, “Yeah, you should see the other guy.”

    16. Lego Leia*

      If it is people that you see regularly, then they should *see* that you are clumsy, and it should give them a good reason to believe you. It’s the people that are only clumsy away from work that worry me. Graceful as a cat at work, able to navigate uneven floors without spilling a single drop of overfilled coffee but “fall down the stairs” at home twice a month? I am concerned. Claims to be clumsy and bruises easily, and I saw you open a cupboard door into your own face? Yeah, I am believing you.

  7. Janeric*

    #2, it might be helpful to mention that you’ve just started living with a large, enthusiastic dog and you’re still figuring it out — it would give people context. Also then you can deflect to showing cute dog photos!

    1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

      My housemate’s adorable cat is nicknamed Murderface the Toothless Wonder Cat. She is loving and snuggly and does not permit her (current) human to be in pain — and has a Tragic Past involving both the death of Her (former) Human and some time on the street, and that left some behavioral issues. Mostly biting when she feels annoyance. Since she lost her teeth she realized that she can bite as hard as she wants and it won’t break skin. She leaves these fantastic little bruises. So on weeks where I’ve had to restrain her from going murderface on the other household cat, I wind up looking like someone’s left fingerprints on an arm.

      I keep an album devoted to her yawning and nipping to illustrate both the Murderface and Toothless parts of her name.

      1. IndyDem*

        My parent’s Siamese cat lost her teeth at one point too. She would still bite us if annoyed, but it didn’t hurt (she never bit hard). Whenever she bit one of us, we would say “Ow, ow, ow!” so she wouldn’t feel bad, even though her bites tickled a little then.

    2. MistOrMister*

      I think OP would just mention the dog. No need to say its a new setup. My dog from 15ish years ago,would bruise the heck out of my arms sometimes. He liked to play rough, so I would wrap towels around my arms and tussle with him and he would go to town with the playful mauling. Even with towels there was lots of bruising. If someone doesn’ want to seem like they’re hiding abuse by pretending its their own clumsiness, an excited dog is a great place to put the blame. We’ve had all sorts of bruising, dislocated shoulder, nosebleeds, etc from the dogs. If they didn’t love us, sometimes it would look like they’re trying to kill us!!

    3. Out & About*

      Yes, I bruise easily too. I have a herding breed puppy who likes to nip/pinch. So I have pinch bruises all over my legs. I call her a monster and show her pictures in explanation.

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        This makes me think of one of those facebook posts I keep seeing. One of the stories is that the mother was out with her husband and todler and everyone was giving the dad bad looks because she had a black eye. She got it from their toddler accidently kicking her in the face. but of course people automatically assume domestic abuse (which sucks on so many levels)

    4. Anonomatopoeia*

      I have a large parrot that bites when he’s in a mood – never enough to break the skin, but hard enough to leave a bruise. When there are a couple of those next to each other, beak bruises look a lot like finger bruises. Thankfully, nobody’s inquired with concern so far.

  8. Might Be Spam*

    #2, I’m a klutz too and my skin is so thin that any small scratches end up looking like a much worse injury. Once, in the middle of the night I got an emergency call from work and half fell out of bed and into the closet doorknob. For the next week I had a black eye and some people didn’t believe that I really ran into a door.

    I just acted like it was not a big deal and eventually the concern died down. If you’re feeling self conscious, can you wear a scarf in front of the customers?

    1. dogmom*

      OMG that happened to me too! I walked into a door and gave myself a black eye. I am a pale woman who bruises easily and is clumsy, so I warned my BF when we got together that he would constantly be suspected of abuse. Fortunately nobody has ever really commented on my variety of bruises, though. I feel you, LW2!

      1. Who the eff is Hank?*

        I once got a gnarly black eye from being kicked in the face during a Taekwondo tournament. It took two weeks to fully heal. My poor boyfriend (now husband) got so many dirty looks every time we were out in public together.

        1. Jackalope*

          A few weeks after I started dating my now husband, I got myself banged up somehow (don’t remember how anymore but it had nothing to do with him). One of my coworkers noticed and asked me some very pointed questions about my new relationship. Thankfully he’s not abusive, but I appreciated her concern. If I’d needed it I was glad to know someone had my back.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I had extensive dental surgery that left my whole face swollen and bruised, including two black eyes – my husband and male housemates at the time all refused to be seen in public with me until it healed, and I didn’t blame them one bit :-P

          1. You get a pen and you get a pen*

            SAME!!! I went through extensive dental work repeatedly for a year so had black eyes consistently every few months for a whole year. My poor husband got so many ugly stares that year.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              I also just went in for a gluteal injection a few weeks ago, dropped trou and the MA was like “Wow, that looks painful, what happened?” Craned my head around to find a deep black bruise the size of my hand across the top of my butt. I hadn’t even noticed it, because while it LOOKED painful, it wasn’t even remotely, but she made side-eyes.

              It was another three days of “WTF did I do to myself?” before I remembered that about three days before the injection, I had greyed out from vasovagal syncope during a mammogram, my knees buckled, and I had dropped straight down and landed my butt square on my heels when I hit the ground with most of my body weight behind it. Mystery solved! (And once I knew it was there, THEN it started hurting :P Naturally.)

              1. A Little Birdie Told Me*

                Oof. You just reminded me of something. I’d spectacularly wiped out slipping down the hardwood steps into our living room and landed HARD on my back/butt. I ended up with one of those massive truly black bruises. And had a yearly well-woman checkup. The first thing I said when it was time for my doctor to dive in was, “I swear I’m safe at home!”

                1. dogmom*

                  Hahaha I have wiped out twice on stairs and once on ice that left black bruises literally the size of my face on my upper thigh. Fortunately it was always winter so long pants covered the bruises, which looked truly awful. I also have a coffee table with sharp edges that I’m always running into, so my knees are frequently bruised. But yeah, a lot of the time I have no idea where I got a bruise. So brutal!

    2. Kris88*

      OP 2 I feel your pain! I just moved into a new house and managed to give myself a black eye because I tripped and fell face first into a dresser. My boyfriend did not want to even be seen with me right after because I looked like someone beat me. I am not used to the layout of this house and I tend to walk very fast, so that just increases the bumps and bruises because I am always banging into things. Have you tried making a conscious effort to slow down and move more deliberately? Mental awareness might help on the prevention side. Color correcting makeup might help hide some injuries that might be alarming to customers. I carry makeup in my purse to freshen up throughout the day.

      1. Mannequin*

        I’ve lived in this house for decades and still regularly bang into furniture & doorframes. Some of us are just blessed that way , lol

        1. Dwight Schrute*

          Same! I’ve got bad depth perception so I always bang into coffee tables, door frames, etc

      2. OP 2*

        That too! I’m still getting used to the layout and there are boxes everywhere, lots of stuff to trip on.

      3. scarlet magnolias*

        I was reading to my younger son and he swung his head up and smacked me just above the left eye. The next morning I was scheduled to go to his school and do read-a-loud day for multiple classes. I literally looked like I had Liz Taylor’s Cleopatra makeup on

    3. Well...*

      Yes, I think treating it like it’s not a big deal is better to assuage concern. Also maybe minimizing your own clumsiness and just acting like these things happen might counteract the domestic abuse armchair psychologists (she’s blaming herself!) Like “I’m so clumsy that I fell into a door nob” might be better phrased as “I tripped on my way out of bed and the door nob was in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time” + shrug. Acting apologetic and self deprecating might raise people’s concern, so being breezy and practical could help comfort them/keep the interaction more normal.

    4. allathian*

      Oh my. Near the tail end of my puberty growth spurt I fainted a few times after getting up too quickly. Once I hit the edge of our kitchen table, and got a black eye. Some of my teachers were really concerned, and this was in the mid-80s. I just felt awkward when everyone stared at me. I bruise easily, but thankfully I also heal quickly, the black eye was completely gone in about a week.

      I constantly have a bruise or two somewhere on my body, just from walking into things. Thankfully I also run fairly cold, so I wear long pants year round and long sleeves unless there’s a heatwave.

    5. Mac*

      I’m a very klutzy high school teacher and a couple years ago I had a very bad run with self-induced injuries. Think a split lip and bruises on my arms that looked like finger prints. A ninth grade student pulled me aside one day to give me her mother’s phone number and to let me know that her mom said I could stay with them if I needed a safe space. Although I didn’t need it, it remains one of the nicest things anyone has ever offered me. I hope I’m never in a position where I need to rely on others for my physical safety but I’m so glad there are people who care deeply about me.

  9. Phil*

    LW5: I once left a staff job on Friday and came back on Monday as a freelancer. Very common in my business at the time, music recording.

  10. Wendy*

    OP2, I assume you’re female? If you’re comfortable outing yourself, you’ll probably have the best luck with something like “Oh, my girlfriend has a huge dog who really, really gets excited when I come home.” People have this image in their head of domestic abuse always being a man abusing a woman and if you make it clear there’s not a man in the picture it may throw them off their assumptions. (It’s ridiculous, because people of any gender can abuse partners of any gender and their respective size/physicality doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with it, but since it’s none of their business anyway you might as well make their blind spot work for you.)

    1. Purple Cat*

      I totally had the same thought. Distract them with the fact you’re gay and they’ll just assume you’re fine. (Stereotypes are dumb).

      I also liked other people’s suggestions of not “blaming yourself” and calling yourself “clumsy” as I agree that victim-blaming might raise more red flags.

    2. OP 2*

      Excellent point! I’m out to everyone so my coworkers all know, and fortunately I’m in an area where I feel safe dropping it into conversation.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yeah – I’d have some pictures of the large, happy dog on hand ready to show if you lean into the boisterous dog who doesn’t know their size.

  11. AstralDebris*

    LW2, my best advice is to avoid the impulse to deflect or seem uncomfortable/apologetic about it. If you can, when someone asks you about an injury, try to give a genuine laugh and stay relaxed, and say something like “Oh man, this is nothing – last month I ended up clotheslined at the neck by my partner and their hyperactive dog!” Or reference another over-the-top, funny (sorry!) injury from your history. That way you’re making it clear that 1. crazy injuries are a normal occurrence for you, 2. it’s something you’re comfortable enough to laugh about, and 3. you’re not trying to hide it. Telling the story about a silly previous injury instead of the current one also isn’t going to set off as many alarm bells, because it doesn’t invite the inquirer to analyze the data and draw conclusions about whether the story fits the visible injury.

    1. Pennyworth*

      I’m a bruiser, and if I do anything at work that is likely to result in a bruise I tend to exclaim and make the incident noticed, so when I come into work with the bruise I can just refer back to the incident. It also accustoms coworkers to my bruisability, so they are unlikely to comment unless I am sporting an unusually large bruise.

      1. Bagpuss*

        I think this is a good idea .

        I also have issues with poor co ordination and bruise very easily.

        I’ve rarely had comments (except for the time I had to provide training to the massed ranks of my local police force, about domestic abuse, with a magnificent purple and yellow bruise covering the whole of one arm and hand ….)

    2. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      Yes, I was thinking that if she does not make an obvious effort to hide the bruises it may communicate that there is nothing suspicious about them. But since she’s customer facing, she may not be allowed to wear her scars with pride, so that’s a “know your workplace” situation.

      1. LolaBugg*

        I’m also kind of clumsy (I once gave myself a concussion in a HOSPITAL WAITING ROOM while waiting to be seen about another issue so…) and I have found that when I have an obvious bruise that I can’t hide, telling people the story before they even get a chance to notice the marks on my skin helps. Proactively getting ahead of the situation (“You’re not going to believe what I did THIS time!”) takes away some of the sting of embarrassment, I’ve noticed in my situation.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          I’m sorry, but I laughed at the idea of giving yourself a concussion in a hospital waiting room. Which given that I am a pretty clumsy person myself probably guarantees I will now do the same sometime in my life.

        2. London Lass*

          My mum once tripped and fell while taking my brother to the doctor, and had to ask them to patch her up before they saw him. On another occasion she slipped on some wet grass on a gentle slope and broke her ankle, while I was in hospital. It rather confused people when she was visiting me because I was in a totally unrelated department.

          But injuring yourself in the actual waiting room is next level! Convenient though :-)

          1. Bagpuss*

            Not in the actual waiting room, but very close – my sister would up with a scalp laceration in the car-park to the doctor’s surgery when she was small. (My mum was taking my infant brother for a checkup, and sister , who would have been a toddle, ran forward at just the wrong moment to get bashed in the head by the corner of the car boot (trunk) as it closed. She said that the speed and efficiency with which they reacted, including checking she was OK herself, was impressive!)

      2. Agnes A*

        Once I had some skin infection on my cheek below the eye. I didn’t try to hide it because to me it didn’t look like a bruise. 10 minutes after I’d arrived at work, a colleague came to me and started asking how I got the bruise… He still looked concerned even after I explained everything. So people actually might think you’re not hiding it because you want to be helped, I guess.

    3. London Lass*

      This is pretty much what I was coming here to suggest. If you take the initiative with funny stories about your injuries and just generally seem chilled and like you don’t have anything to hide, people should take their cues from that. That’s what I would be doing, although appreciate it will depend on your personality how much you want to dive into the story-telling.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I once tripped over the cat, fell backward and shattered my wrist. I love my kitty but my word does he try to get rid of me often!

        (Got several bite marks from him after he went ‘mad cat’ at 2am and decided my leg needed chewing)

  12. Amaranth*

    With LW1, I feel like saying ‘please don’t hold it against me’ ignores the fact that Monica was right there with LW1 when they should be underlining the fact that obviously they are BOTH beyond that kind of behavior. I think its more beneficial to OP to take the attitude of ‘oh wow can you believe how stupid we were? Obviously we’ve matured and I won’t tell people about it.’

    1. I need cheesecake*

      Yes this! I imagine she doesn’t want you to bring it up any more than you want her to.

    2. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      Yes, I prefer this one to Alison’s script, because it proactively reassures Monica that the OP isn’t going to blab – which could be Monica’s main concern.

      1. KateM*

        Would it be worth to jokingly offer “let’s have a deal – you won’t tell about me and I won’t tell about you”?

        1. Threeve*

          I like that. Or “what happens in your early twenties stays in your early twenties.” I’ve run into people I knew when we were both young and stupid, and the mutual instinct has always been to brush it off in a joking sort of way without ever getting into specifics.

        2. RJ*

          I’d go with humour but I would approach it more like, “So good to see you! I haven’t worked with you since XYZ….man that was a weird place, amirite? Terrible company and we were really stupid ha ha ha…anyway, I think you’ll like it here, we do great work and are treated well.”

    3. Bagpuss*

      Yes that struck me, too – assuming that Monica has matured as well, she’s likely to be more worried that OP would say something and that her own reputation might be damaged.
      I agree with Alison’s advice not to say anything unless it appears that there is an issue, but at that joint I’d keep it something like
      “I have some great memories of our friendship, from when we worked at [OldJob] but looking back I cringe about how unprofessional we were – I suppose the only excuse is we were both young and inexperienced – so glad I learned better pretty quickly after leaving that job”
      Depending on what your feel for why it’s a thing is (i.e. whether she is apparently more worried about whether that’s still the person you are, or that you might gossip about her) you could add something to say you don’t believe in digging up the past so of course won’t be regaling your current colleagues with tales of Monica’s youthful mistakes and assume that she sees it the same way and won’t be spreading any tales about you either. (perhaps not in quite those words, but something to indicate you’re not planning to gossip and assume she won’t either)

    4. RabbitRabbit*

      I was thinking something like, “Wow, great to see we’ve both ended up at a solid company and with so much growth in our professional lives – really looking forward to doing some good work with you” or similar, at least as a way to feel out how Monica is feeling about seeing part of her uncomfortable past come back too. Then if Monica wants to mention the “yeah, ugh, that was not our best time was it?” part, she can, or at least will know you’ve got a more solid work ethic these days.

      1. IndustriousLabRat*

        I really like how nonchalant and professional this script is. It doesn’t go into detail, and really isn’t all that different from a script one might use with any long-lost former colleague, regardless of whether there were previous shenanigans!

    5. Purple Cat*

      The thing OP#1 has going for them is that they were BOTH young and dumb together, and BOTH are doing better now.
      Since she’s their manager, obviously they will be working together and I’d expect some 1:1 time, so I would bring it up directly. “It’s so good to see you again, I’m glad we’re not young idiots anymore. Let’s keep those stories in the past where they belong.”


      Thank you yes, I was also wondering if I should take a jokey approach – Ho ho! Weren’t we stupid! But I am so conflicted.
      Part of me just wants to quit instead lol

      1. I edit everything*

        I expect that after that initial moment of awkwardness, both of you will move on without the past hanging over you. Not worth quitting over!

      2. Purple Cat*

        I dread any type of even *perceived* conflict so I feel you on wanting to quit ;)
        But you seem like you’re now a mature reasonable person, and odds are Monica is the same. You guys will most likely be just fine!

      3. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        LW1, don’t quit. This is a much bigger problem for your new boss than for you. I doubt she said in her interview that “I used to drink during working hours.” I’m sure she doesn’t want that to become known. I’m fact, the only way to out you is to out herself.

        Best advice? Welcome her and say, as others have, how great it is that both of you have grown professionally. Then just do great work.

      4. Miss Chanadler Bong*

        Nope not worth quitting over. I’m sure she’s just as frazzled over seeing you as you are seeing her.

      5. Amaranth*

        Just keep in mind, Monica was right there joining in, and while you are embarrassed about being ‘young and stupid’ keep in mind, you were…young. And it sounds like there were some really unprofessional norms at that company if three of you could wander off to drink and not get canned. Give yourself permission to put it in the past as lessons learned and behavior that you’ve moved well beyond. If you’re worried it will come up out of the blue, then have a ready response in mind such as ‘that was the most unprofessional company wasn’t it? I’m so glad to have had great mentors since then.’ or whatever closes that chapter without getting hugely defensive. If you get the vibe Monica is skittish around you, then you might clear the air and say something like ‘hey, when I look back, we were not incredibly professional then and I want to reassure you I’m not going to bring that up as a joke. Lets just agree that all stays in the past.’

    7. Mimi23*

      Agreed! Some version of “Oh, gosh, I’m so glad we’ve had the chance to reconnect professionally, now that we’re no longer young and stupid!” And perhaps make an overture to catch up on what’s Monica’s been doing professionally, etc. It’s always possible Monica may be embarrassed that you know something about her past, so I’d make a proactive effort to communicate that as far as you’re concerned, it’s ancient history.

  13. Speaks to Dragonflies*

    OP5, it sounds like your company is trying to put the screws to you. They want to pay you W-2 wages as a contractor and you get to pay the employer side of taxes they would have to pay if you were on payroll. It seems like companies don’t quite understand that folks aren’t as ignorant as they would like them to be. Folks are tired of bending over backwards for a company, going above and beyond, pulling in that big, fat lucrative account, working at the boss’ beckoned call 24/7/365 with no regard for the employees life, or lack thereof. I knew a guy that was told to drive back 400+ miles on Christmas Eve to work on a job because they boss “promised” it would be done. If he didnt, he would be canned. Companies, take heed. Folks aint gonna take your crap anymore. Folks arent idiots or slaves so stop treating them as such…Ok, rant over.

  14. Anon for this*

    OP2, I often have bruises and other minor signs of injury for, uh, sex life reasons that are definitely not appropriate appropriate for me to talk about in the workplace but that are fully consensual and enthusiastic. My advice would be:

    – Where possible, cover them up. Can you wear tights with your uniform? Can you wear jewelry (like, say, a choker necklace that happens to cover your rope burn)?

    – Where they look like minor everyday injuries (shin bruises, scraped elbows, etc), be super casual about them. These are common, and if you act like it’s no big deal, people will follow your lead. I would skip explaining them by calling yourself ‘clumsy’ or ‘klutzy’–some people are aware that victims of abuse will use that kind of term to deflect. You don’t need to note the trend or pre-explain; just give a casual answer to questions as they come up.

    – Where they look like a big deal or really unusual injury (like, say, a rope burn around the neck), have a good story ready. “I’m just really clumsy, it’s no big deal, I swear” sounds concerning. “Omg, this is a good one, guess what my dog did this morning,” followed up by a funny dramatic retelling of the clotheslining incident, explains what happened and also makes it clear that you really aren’t worried or upset about this. You have the added advantage of being able to tell the actual true story for this!

    – If a specific person seems very concerned or starts asking questions, it can work to take them aside, acknowledge that their concerns make sense, tell them you really appreciate them checking up, and assure them that you truly are fine. A sincere one-on-one conversation can go a long way in defusing this kind of concern.

    1. Threeve*

      I’m going to second this. I’ll add–definitely make a point of displaying the bruises you’ve acquired at work–“Remember when I knocked my elbow on the cabinet an hour ago? Look what it turned into! That is how easily I bruise.”

      1. saby*

        Yes to all of this. You could even say it at the time, like after you bump into something or accidentally close your thumb in a cupboard door or something say humorously “now THAT is definitely going to bruise!” If you’re accident prone your coworkers will get used to that quickly enough. Had a coworker once who had super pale (almost vampire-like) skin and she bruised super easily and it became an inside joke. She’d come in like “Look! Look at this! It’s turned green and yellow! I don’t even remember how I got this one!”

    2. Baska*

      +1 to all of this. I used to do martial arts, including a self-defense component, so I’d often arrive at the office with very obvious grab-marks on my wrists, neck, etc., along with a variety of random bruises. (I too bruise very easily.) For colleagues, you can usually head it off at the pass by letting them know that you bruise easily / have a new and enthusiastic big dog / etc. But for members of the public where it would be inconvenient or awkward to preemptively discuss this sort of thing, I found it easier to just cover up where possible. Long sleeve shirts, pants or leggings, turtlenecks, whatever. So long as the marks weren’t on my face or hands (which, in fairness, they sometimes were), I could usually figure out a way to prevent people from seeing them. It was just easier than constantly trying to explain, “No, really, I asked the guy twice my mass to grab me REALLY HARD to make sure that I could do this wrist release properly, and it took me a while to get it right.”

      1. Anon for this*

        I definitely have found that when I have a somewhat rough hobby (martial arts, roller derby, etc) that people know about, they’re far less likely to be concerned about weird marks! Fingerprint bruises on your coworker’s arm? Concerning. Fingerprint bruises on your coworker who routinely talks about their martial arts practice? A lot of people will put that in the category of “Oh, that makes sense” and move on.

        Unfortunately this only works with people who are around you often enough to know your hobbies, which means OP (in their customer-facing role) probably can’t solve their issue by picking up a new activity. Otherwise I might genuinely suggest it!

  15. Beth*

    LW3: I see what you’re saying about professionalism and not burning bridges, but I’m not sure that matters here. The social contract of professionalism says that employees should give 2 weeks’ notice when leaving, and that employers should let them go gracefully and give a good reference (assuming the employee’s work while they were there was good; they shouldn’t let the departure spoil an otherwise good reference). Like many interpersonal things, it’s a two-way street.

    Your son’s current employer doesn’t seem big on holding up their side of bargains. They underpay him, they’ve denied benefits that he was promised, they’re pushing really undesirable work (like working at far-away remote locations, it sounds like) on him without discussion, and it sounds like they aren’t even nice people to work with! They don’t sound like a reasonable or professional employer.

    My gut feel is that his method of resignation won’t matter. They’re either going to not care he’s leaving (so, no negative impact even if he doesn’t give notice), or be really affronted that he’s leaving even if he does give two weeks notice (how dare he leave when they gave him a job? where’s the loyalty these days?). It’s good that he’s informed about standard professional norms around giving notice, but if his heart is set on dropping the mic and walking out of this particular situation, I don’t think you need to put a ton of effort into convincing him to do otherwise.

    1. Tali*

      Agreed. Honestly I don’t see how a company that “changes its mind” about offering health benefits (!!) would offer a good reference that can speak to his strengths and skills. They might say they will give a good reference and “change their mind” again later! I don’t think the company will learn anything from the amount of notice he gives.

      I would also consider the stress and difficulty for your son to work another two weeks there. If it is a truly toxic environment, your son comes home and all he can do is stare at the ceiling, he cries in the bathroom and Sunday nights, etc. signs of real trouble, it might be better for HIM to give less notice. He can also give one week of notice, or a few days/finish out the week.

      I feel like I should add a disclaimer that I think it is fundamentally awful that a company can choose not to offer health benefits and yet its exploited workforce must demonstrate respect lest the company damage their reputation and future job prospects. So that may be coloring my opinion here.

    2. hamsterpants*

      Regarding the professionalism angle — agreed with all that the employer clearly won’t learn a thing and probably will be generally terrible about it regardless of notice period.

      There is something to be said, though, for any colleagues or clients. The son taking the high road might make a positive impression on them. This is what I told myself when I put in two week’s notice at a toxic job. I held my tongue when people asked me why I was leaving because, while I would NEVER EVER EVER work for my old boss again, I knew I might cross paths again with soon-to-be-former colleagues.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        That honestly is my take – the only effort I would put out is in maintaining my good reputation with my coworkers – the employer is a lost cause.

      2. Observer*


        Don’t bother about the employer, but also don’t give coworkers any negative stories to tell.

      3. Beth*

        The upside to an employer being THIS bad is, I’m betting most of OP’s son’s coworkers aren’t going to judge him either way. They know what he’s reacting to. (They may not even realize that he didn’t give notice; they may well assume, given all the problems here, that they just weren’t informed he was leaving, or that he gave notice but was told to pack up his desk right away.)

        And honestly…he’s a recent graduate a few months into this position. Yes, the polished and professional thing to do would be to give notice, and if he was the one writing in here, I’d be on team “stick it out for two more weeks unless it’s seriously impacting your health.” But I don’t think him leaving without notice is going to be such a big deal that his dad needs to harangue him into it. His dad has told him what the professional norm is; now, he should back off and accept his son’s decision.

  16. Kittea0088*

    LW#4: if you are able to, take it up with hr or others who were involved in the hiring process. We had a situation similar to this one. We hired a person and unfortunately his manager was mistreating him. He came to me (office manager at the time) and laid out what was going on and stated that if it continued we would have to part ways. We were mortified and fixed the situation. This was within his first three days of being on the job. New hire or tenured, you need to receive the tools that will allow you to succeed. You need to be treated professionally and respectfully. They hired you for a reason and should want to retain you.

    1. anonymous73*

      This hasn’t reached the level of HR yet if she hasn’t spoken to her manager about it. If the manager doesn’t help fix things, then yes she should go to HR and report the behavior.

  17. April*

    oh my GOD, I had #4 happen to me at a small medical office I was temping at, which theoretically was a temp-to-hire. The person who was supposedly training me in medical records (which I’d done before, but as part of a big team at a much larger clinic–this is all in the late 00’s so we’re talking paper records) didn’t normally do records and was a medical assistant, and their previous records person was gone so she couldn’t train me.

    Anyway, this woman was awful to me. Belittling, refusing to explain things, rolling her eyes at questions, aggressively put things away that I was still using (like the pink waxy finger stuff you use ALL DAY when working with that much paper), and she wasn’t even good at explaining things and just expected me to figure stuff out.

    I finally talked to the office manager, who was in charge of everyone who wasn’t a doctor–this was an OB/GYN practice of like, three doctors and a nurse practitioner. She was the closest thing we had to HR. And she was like, “Oh, ahahaha, well, that’s just how Ann is!”

    Seriously??? She was also mean to one of the other MA’s because she was larger, and bragged about leaving her dalmation alone in his crate for over a day, and bragged about snooping through her boyfriend’s phone and texting his exes as him (?!)…and y’all are just. Laughing because “That’s how Ann is”???

    Oh, and they kept getting after me for not learning the job fast enough. Despite only getting half-assed training from someone who was terrible at it and an asshole.

    I walked off a few days later. Went on my lunch break and realized I couldn’t tolerate it anymore, so I called my temp agency and said I wasn’t going back because they were jerks. (In retrospect I should’ve called the temp agency earlier; I think I stayed on that job for nearly four weeks.)

    The temp agency dropped me, of course; but I got a much better job less than a month later, and worked there for two years. (Also doing medical records.)

      1. Denver Gutierrez*

        I know! I don’t know this woman but hate her! The dalmatian part really put me over the edge. What a garbage pile of a person.

  18. münchner kindl*

    LW 4, this

    “but while training me to take her role she has made it clear she would never do things the way I do”

    makes me wonder if LW is doing things differently than she is trying to train them? If teapots must be painted a certain way, but LW wants to do it their style, that could explain frustration from the trainer. (Not acceptable, but understandable).

    1. Your local password resetter*

      She’s so far over the line that I wouldn’t assume the benefit of the doubt without other evidence.
      It sounds more like those people who want everything done their way, regardless of circumstance.

    2. anonymous73*

      Just because it’s the way Jane does something, doesn’t mean that’s the only way to do things. Unless you’re in an industry where something needs to be done a specific way, there are always different ways to accomplish the same task. I started a job a few months ago, and when the person who took over for the guy that left trained me to put together a weekly report, I saw that things were being done in a much more complicated way than was necessary. And now it takes me about a third of the time to put together the report than it did when the last guy left. People with an “that’s the way we’ve always done it” attitude are doomed to fail.

      1. quill*

        This could honestly be anything from not using the “right” keyboard shortcuts to what order you like to process the teapot reports in.

        1. anonymous73*

          Exactly. I have a hard time letting go sometimes, but I was also raised by a mother who didn’t care HOW something got done, as long as it got done (so that helps). If it truly doesn’t affect the outcome, people need need to stop getting hung up on doing things “their” way.

    3. LKW*

      I raised this above but I’ll chime in here too – there is a difference in doing something differently or doing something incorrectly. If it’s just different – backspace versus delete – then it’s a preference and Jane is being picky for no good reason. If it’s incorrect – say calculating a sum instead of an average – then the results will be incorrect. Or doing things out of order may compromise compliance. But it sounds like Jane is just saying “I wouldn’t do it that way.” And if she’s not pointing out a potential compliance issue – then Jane is the problem, not the LW.

      1. LilyP*

        There can also be differences in approach that are less clear-cut between correct and incorrect though. Like if it’s a fundraising job and Jane always approached it by running donation drives for individual contributions but now OP wants to focus on going after big grants or something. Or if Jane prefers a very formal, polished tone in branding and communication but OP wants to make it friendlier and more conversational. I think if OP wants to take things in a new direction, that could be good, but you’ll probably need to learn to do things Jane’s Way until you’re officially trained and then make sure your boss is on board with your new strategies, or with giving you the authority to change how things are done.

        1. too many too soon*

          This. It is so hard to train someone to the point where they can do tasks in their own style if they refuse to learn the tasks in the current mode first. Learn the job as is, then alter the workflow to suit your own style after that.

      2. Lenora Rose*

        Ironically, some of the cases I have seen where the person got entrenched and wanted things done their way, their way WAS the wrong way for compliance or auditing or the like.

    4. Meatballsforme*

      Honestly, reading between the lines of the letter – this where my thoughts started to go as well. Which is not say that the LW is doing things incorrectly or that this is all the LWs fault or anything like that. However, based on this line and the one about the trainer not being open to new ideas, it seems very apparent that the LW is (or plans to be) doing things very differently than the trainer. Which is fine! Between the two, maybe the LWs way is the objectively better way to do things (or maybe it’s equally effective – who knows). However when you’re new somewhere there is a right way and a wrong way to go about putting those changes into place (trust me, I know from experience – been there, done that, pissed off a lot of people and ended it very poorly for me) and perhaps the LW has come on a bit strongly and rubbed the trainer the wrong way right out of the gate.

      Which is not an excuse for the trainer’s behavior. The trainer is the one who is in the wrong here. However, if the LW understands the root of the problem then maybe they can come up with a better solution or way to interact with the trainer going forward. Just some food for thought if the LW happens to read this.

  19. Kate, short for Bob*

    LW2 not wanting to medicalise everything but have you been checked for hypermobility? It sits hand in hand with bruising easily and varying proprioception (sometimes I *don’t* know where I end and you begin because I just subluxed my hip so my toes are pointing in a different direction than usual sorry I kicked you etc etc)

    It’s worth knowing, especially when you’re young and can start protective strength exercises against future joint problems.

  20. Chris D*

    #1 — Is it not probable that Monica will be equally embarrassed? After all, she will be in a managerial position, so this history is arguably more undermining to her.

    I think I’d find some oblique way to signal that you have both moved on. Maybe mention in passing how long it’s been since you saw her and that things have changed a lot since then.

    1. English Rose*

      I have this lovely thought of Alison receiving a separate letter from Monica saying OMG I just joined this team and will be managing LW. I’m so embarrassed about my past, what do I do, how do I make sure LW knows I’ve changed?


      I am afraid she may feel embarrassed enough to want me gone! I don’t know her very well, and I don’t know how she might react.

      1. dresscode*

        honestly, I’d be pretty mortified if the person I used to drink with was one of my new employees. I’d want them to say something like, ‘remember when we used to do that?! how unprofessional. I’m so glad that time of my life behind me.’

      2. pancakes*

        If you don’t know her well, it doesn’t make much sense to think she’ll have such an extreme reaction. It’s likely that she’ll be embarrassed like you are; it’s not likely that she’s so unfocused in her emotions and/or so vindictive as to try to force you out of the job as a result.

      3. Texas*

        I completely understand being worried about how she would react (tbh that anxiety takes a up a chunk of brain power for me most days)! The most reasonable reaction from her would be to assume you have both moved past this and to base any judgements on your current performance, so I think it makes sense to act like those are/will be her feelings. (Even if that’s easier said than done, I know!) Wishing you the best in this!

      4. All Het Up About It*

        It sounds you are doing a great job catastrophizing this situation. You admit you don’t know this person well, but your first reaction is that they are going to be so embarrassed by actions you BOTH partook in that she’s immediately going to fire you. You have no basis for that fear other than it’s technically possible.

        I have 100% utilized this horrible skill before, so don’t feel bad. But use all the comments here as evidence that the absolute worst outcome is not the most likely outcome. And hopefully in the future you can be a quick update post about how much you enjoy working with Monica now and you’ve both never mentioned it or you sometimes snicker about it during your 1:1s.

  21. Jeanne*

    #2: I ride horses and work with untrained, wild horses who have never seen a human being. I also spent most of my professional career working in health services, often dealing with victims of DV. I regularly went to work with bruises and injuries – two black eyes from a head butt to my forehead, broken feet, broken ribs, bruises everywhere. Currently I’m sporting a pretty impressive bruise on my upper arm from a bite. The people who knew me, knew they are horse related injuries. The people who didn’t know me never asked, or commented!! It still astounds me that in a health care setting, surrounded by doctors, nurses, social workers, etc etc, no one ever asked me how I got that bruise on my arm, or that black eye or……. So, feel free to explain your injuries ahead of time, or feel free to say nothing. If you do get asked, you’ve got a valid explanation.

    1. CreepyPaper*

      Recreational mountain biker and former horse owner here! I regularly had bruises and nips from the equines and now I have bruises and ‘pedal kisses’ on my legs from my bikes.

      One time my horse decided to nope out of a log jump on a cross country course and I ended up face first into the log. That bruise was fun explaining away, my boss didn’t believe that I had got it from riding and my husband (who at the time was working at the same company as me) was getting massive side-eye from people.

      The issue comes when people think you’re lying about how you got your bruises. I was actually spoken to by HR and asked if everything was ‘okay’. Now people just ask me if I had an argument with my bike or a tree and the tree/bike won. Yep. That’s all it is, folks!

  22. Non-techy tech editor*

    #1 i’d bet Monica is just as embarrassed by her past behavior as you are. I’d let it go to save you both from embarrassment


      She probably is. I just can’t stand the awkwardness. Maybe it won’t even be awkward, but I can’t see how. Wish I could fast forward a few months into this.

      1. cookie monster*

        I think you’ll both just completely ignore this because as you said, it is too awkward to bring up. I’ve worked with people I knew in college who were absolute idiots then but are good at their job now. The past is the past.

  23. EE*

    Solidarity, OP#2! When the weather gets warm and I switch to shorts, people look curiously at my legs because most of the year the bruises aren’t on view. Misjudging a pedal’s position when wheeling my bike into position gives me a bruise that lasts a week, so there’s always more to take the place of the old. For my upper body, there’s the reliable scrapes from when I miss corners. The perils of walking indoors. I remember well my mum would get worried when she saw tiny me in a bath and would ask me if I pinched myself.

    The only suggestion I have is: never, ever lie, even when the truth is outlandish. Once it’s noticed that you’ve lied about the source of an injury, suspicion will be hard to quell forever after.

  24. Autumn*

    LW3, I’m on team 2weeks, even with all the issues, being professional about leaving will provide a prayer of a good reference, because he’s not leaving a bad taste in their mouth. In addition to all their other faults they may be forgetful and several years down the line might give a reference like “Oh yeah, Fergus was a hard worker, busted butt for us at a tough time and I was unhappy when he left, most other people wouldn’t have been willing to do what he did for us.” Especially if Fergus did bust butt until he left. There is also the possibility he’ll be let go the moment he quits.

    1. Lily of the Field*

      These are employers who jerked away health benefits AFTER promising them. There is no, “he worked hard and busted butt, and we were sad he left” coming from these people. They do not care one iota about their employees. The ONLY argument to be made for this young man to give a two week notice is the benefit to himself, to not quit until the background check returns, and if HE would feel better about himself to work a two week notice. That’s it.

    2. Texas*

      I think that assumes the company is reasonable and acting within accepted professional norms, which they aren’t. Certainly taking the high road and giving two weeks notice reflects better on the employee to others who learn about the situation, but the current company has shown their true colors and they’re not pretty. It’s more likely that the employer will be angry/upset/etc at him for quitting at all, whether with two weeks or two months notice.

  25. HelloFromNY*

    LW 2: I’m also a bit of a klutz, so I totally understand! If you are clumsy at home, you will also probably be clumsy at work. People will start to take notice of that. Casualty mention some mishaps and they will probably put two and two together. They may end up thinking something like “Jane mentioned she’s really clumsy and caught her hand in her apartment door last week. Today she tripped over a rug and yesterday she nearly ran into a cabinet. Gosh… she really is a bit clumsy. Poor Jane!”

    1. stornry*

      Yep, this. In addition to the “tell people about the big boisterous dog and show pictures”, next time you bang into something at work, talk about it — “just walked into a table again; looks like it’s gonna bruise” and when it does, point it out, “yep, look at that, dang!” This will help them to see that, for you, clumsy is a real thing.

  26. Hopeful*

    LW4 – I’m so sorry this is happening. I’m currently dealing with a similar situation at work and it’s absolutely exhausting to deal with. It’s an awful feeling to constantly be on edge. I would recommend documenting what she says to you, the context, how you responded, how it’s affecting you, etc. Even if you can’t remember all of the details, write down what has happened in the past as well. Then, I would talk to your manager. I didn’t want to talk to my manager initially, thinking it was something that needed to be worked out between coworkers or it was just something I needed to deal with, but it became untenable. (The situation between my problem coworker and I has been going on for months now but it recently came to a head when I asked a question that would have helped her out and she responded with something along the lines of “It doesn’t matter, just do your job.” Turns out a VP from another department overheard that, went to our VP, who then met with our team about how it has to stop.)

  27. Red Sweedish Fish*

    #4 Hard agree with looping your manager in and documenting what Jane is doing. It seems odd though that a job for a not quite grad has 4 months of 1×1 training, are you at a place in the job where you can IM or email Jane your questions so they are not in person. A couple of other things stood out are you doing things the way Jane does them or are you changing things? and are you taking notes on what you are learning?

    1. Retail Not Retail*

      LW2 – I just want to say from experience that most customers won’t notice the bruises. Some will, some may say odd things, but usually they don’t notice.

      2 examples – once I was crying for truly no reason and nobody said anything, even when I was darting around customers’ carts. Another time at my current job, I was working directly behind something guests find cool and that didn’t stop them from taking pictures of said cool thing. We can be kind of invisible!

    2. Hopeful*

      I would be careful about emailing your questions to Jane. I tried emailing my problem coworker about something and it turned out to be the wrong move. She used that as the reason that she was mad at me for the week and tried to say that I was choosing whether or not to talk to her and that she was extremely hurt by it. (Naturally, she contradicted herself, as she has a) emailed me about something similar in the past and b) constantly doesn’t talk to me because of something I’ve done that she’s hurt by – but doesn’t try to address it, just ignores me unless absolutely necessary.)

  28. agnes*

    Even bad employers have good connections with other employers. You’d be surprised–business people know each other and they talk. The only reason to quit without notice is if the situation is so intolerable for the employee that they truly cannot stay any longer. It will not “teach” the employer anything except to badmouth the employee in the future if given the opportunity. The ‘why’ of quitting without notice is the important factor to consider here.

    1. Dizzy Belle*

      This is true! I was relaxing at my business man’s club just the other day when another club member was complaining about the behavior of a low-level hourly employee who quit without notice on him recently. Normally I wouldn’t give this fellow the time of day, as he has a rather poor reputation around the club, but I could hardly pass up the chance to get another name for my secret Do Not Hire blacklist! If he ever applies to my firm, this “John Anderson” is going to find I’ve got him clocked already!

  29. I should really pick a name*

    Weirdly, having gotten a concussion at work might be useful. They’ve seen firsthand that you ARE that accident prone.

  30. Poster Child*

    OP4, please ask for help from a manager or HR! As a team leader, I am so sorry when people leave because of problems I never knew about that I could have fixed. Give your employer a chance and if they are good, if they value you, they will want to address the situation. If they don’t help, then you know you’ve tried and it may be better to leave. But anywhere you work there could be something that is frustrating or stressful so it’s wise to start with asking for help or a change, especially if you like other aspects of the job.

  31. Shiba Dad*

    OP3 – Bad employers rarely learn. That’s part of the reason that they are bad employers. Leaving without notice has the potential for nothing but negative consequences for your son.

    1. All the words*

      Health insurance was part of the job offer. Employer reneged on that point. That’s huge. I’d want to start a new job with benefits a.s.a.p.. Any prospective employer who didn’t agree would be a company I’d want to avoid.

    2. Mental Lentil*

      Nope. He’s only six months in. The company reneged on its offer of health benefits. He should leave and they will just have to pick up the pieces.

  32. PrairieEffingDawn*

    I’m confused about #1—if Monica is the manager, wouldn’t she have been involved in the hiring decision? If so, I would think the fact that she agreed to hire LW would be provide some assurance that whatever went on 10 years ago is not a concern to her.

    1. allathian*

      The LW had been there a while. Presumably their former manager left or was promoted in the organization, and the new hire is Monica.

    2. Broadway Duchess*

      It sounds to me like OP #1 is a current employee whose team Monica will be joining as the new (outside-hire) manager.


      Yes, I am at the company, she is coming from outside. They gave us an announcement of her being hired. I don’t think anyone on the hiring committee would know there was a connection either, since that job is not on my resume.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Of course, given it was 10 years ago, another possibility is she will genuinely not remember / recognise you, particularly if you weren’t close. ..

        I admit that as I have face blindness I am a lot worse than more people at recognizing people, but I’m not sure I’d remember the names of someone I worked with for a short period 10 years ago, even if we used to hang out or gossip a work.

        1. UKDancer*

          Goodness yes. I am hopeless at remembering people. I went to a meeting with a group of our supplier and one of them remembered me from a job I did 15 years ago. I had absolutely no recollection of him even though we apparently worked together at that point on a particular project. I don’t have a brilliant memory for people and what they look like so I’m not surprised I didn’t recall him.

        2. Rosie*

          Hah that’s true! I have a coworker I used to slack off with all the time on the job and I’m sure if she ended up here could tell some stories about what we did but heck if I remember her name or what she looks like.

  33. Amethystmoon*

    #4: Is there any documentation on your job? If not, I have to wonder why? Did you take notes while you were being trained? If you take good notes, you should be able to look up many of the answers to your questions. The boss should at least encourage employees to keep detailed notes of their jobs in order to help out future new hires.

    Granted, Jane should at least try to be nice and polite about it. She should not be mean. Some questions are normal! But there’s a difference between “I paid attention and here’s a question you didn’t cover, and it isn’t in my notes” vs. something that was previously covered and explained in detail. But she should at least show you where in the documentation it is written.

    I’m saying this as someone who had a coworker who asked newbie questions for 3 years, and there was detailed documentation on the job. As an example, “Why is our shared email box called xyz@company.com?” when that was discussed in week 1. He asked that in year 3! My coworker clearly did not pay attention in training and did not clearly understand a lot of what he was doing. I don’t know if that is the case here since I am not there. But I was at least still polite to him.

    1. Esmeralda*

      It doesn’t sound like every question is one that was previously covered.

      And really, even if OP is asking about something they were trained on 6 months ago, Jane shouldn’t be an asshole about it. She can very easily give the answer, and then say, nicely, we did cover this 6 months ago, the info is on the dept intranet.

      I have this issue with a couple of coworkers who NEVER look at our training and procedures materials. (Because “Oh I never think of that!” Dude, I trained you and the first commandment is Thou shalt refer to the Llama Grooming Procedures doc and obey it before all others). If I’m not super busy, I’ll answer and then put a link to the section of the online materials. If I’m super busy I’ll respond: super busy! check the grooming doc, let me know if you have more questions.

    2. Denver Gutierrez*

      I can definitely relate to being annoyed by questions sometimes. I don’t mind answering questions, but some coworkers do grate more than others. For example, I have a coworker who takes *forever* to ask a single question. Then when I answer, she will say, “That isn’t what I meant. What I actually meant was…” and proceed to ask something that is totally different from the original question. Well, that isn’t what you asked. Why didn’t you just ask what you actually meant in the first place? She will also ask a question, I will say I don’t know, but you can ask Other Coworker. Then not even five minutes later, she asks me the same question again. I still don’t know! I try hard to be nice and patient, but there are a couple times I have gotten a little snappy with her. Not proud of that, but it has happened.

  34. Lurking Tom*

    LW #2, I very much sympathize with the clumsiness. Back in college, I worked at a fast food place and managed to get knocked out cold by the cash register drawer, during the lunch rush no less (PRO TIP: never hit the “cash tender” button then immediately bend over to grab the loyalty card stamp – those cash drawers eject faster than you’d think!)

    I’ve always found that just straight up joking about it puts people at ease. For a neck burn like yours, I’d probably go with something about how you got a new sweater but had to return it because it was extra scratchy, or how reenacting light saber fights with a curling iron wasn’t your best idea.

      1. Lurking Tom*

        I do not know, but I’m happy for today’s workers that most people use cards & apps instead of cash & physical stamp cards!

  35. Spicy Tuna*

    #5 – I resigned to “do my own thing” and was asked to return as a contractor on a short term basis to train my replacement as she couldn’t start until after I had left and my boss had also left around the same time I did.

    I was paid an hourly rate equivalent to my previous salary for the training portion of my return, which was fair as it was a short-term arrangement just to transition my work.

    My replacement didn’t work out and the company asked me to continue on as a contractor for specific projects instead of trying to hire someone new again. I negotiated a higher hourly rate for that as I wasn’t getting benefits, etc, etc.

  36. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    I think LW2 needs to take on an air of either obliviousness or stoicism.

    “Bruise? What? Oh, huh. Look at that. Didn’t even notice that.”

  37. Mel*

    #2 I sympathize! I was super clumsy in my teens & 20s and even though it takes a lot to make me bruise I was always covered in cuts & scrapes and I fell down the stairs enough that I usually did have a bruise or two that looked nasty.

    I didn’t think much of it until a nurse was questioning me really closely at a visit for something else – and I realized she was trying to figure out if she needed to report abuse or not (I was still a minor at that point).

    I did find that making jokes about it helped a lot and also just the fact that people could clearly see that I was a clumsy person. One college classmate told me the first time he saw me I was running into a doorway! The first impression everyone hopes to make.

  38. MicroManagered*

    OP1 I think Monica is going to shit her pants and think the exact same thing when she realizes YOU work there! If anything, she is new and in a leadership role, while you are established at this company and (I assume) have a solid reputation. This is worse for her than it is for you, in a way.

    If it ever even comes up, your approach should be “Golly that was a long time ago and we were really immature. Of course I’ll never mention it to anyone.” and that’s it.


      Thinking that its worse for her than it is for me, makes me feel better actually lol. But, she will still have power over me so…

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        But to use that power, she risks a disaster for herself.

        LW1, please don’t catastrophize over this. I doubt Monica wants to ruin her own career. I also doubt she wants it to be awkward. If you don’t send the awkward, I bet she won’t either.

      2. ThatGirl*

        It’s kind of mutually assured destruction – and since she’ll be in a manager position, she probably has more to lose. I do not think this will end up being a big problem.

        1. MK*

          Agreed, and I think mutually-assured destruction is a good way to think of it. LW #1, since you do seem to be feeling a lot of anxiousness about this, I wonder if it might help you to do a little contingency planning? For me, both the act of writing down the worst-case-scenario and then also what I would do if that happened was extremely calming in past moments of professional stress. (One time when doing it I actually laughed out loud because the worst case started with “x will be mad and hate me and will want to fire me” and…she would not have done any of those things. Seeing it in writing made a huge difference.)

          Good luck!

      3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I’d lean into being super professional and hard working. Show her through actions that you aren’t the same person you were a decade ago.
        And honestly, people change and grow – Monica is probably not the same person anymore either.

  39. Camellia*

    OP2, there is some great advice in the comments on how to handle inquiries. I just want to say kudos to all those who ask OP2 about her injuries and situation. It’s better than everyone ignoring and pretending and enabling. We have to haul these things out into the open in order to make them go away.

  40. Maltypass*

    I say this caringly but in retail fewer customers care or notice than you think – I’ve had an ankle cast on and still had customers ask me to get stuff for them that they could reach themselves. Some people will notice and be kind! But the public for the most part are in a bubble and the appearance of service workers doesn’t always register

  41. anonymous73*

    #1 – I really believe you’re overthinking it. Treat Monica as you would any colleague that you worked with previously as in “how have you been?”, “good to see you”, etc. I don’t think you need to bring up your previous questionable behavior.
    #4 – I would definitely document the way you’re being treated and take it to your manager. Jane is setting you up for failure. Just make sure (if you’re not already) that you’re taking good notes, and trying to find answers on your own before going to Jane. You shouldn’t be expected to know everything immediately, but as someone who worked in support in my past, it is frustrating when someone comes to you for answers constantly when procedures are documented. It doesn’t excuse her attitude and treatment of you though. I always treated people with respect when training them.

    1. Tomato Frog*

      Yeah, I don’t know Monica so I might be missing some the reason the OP expects a bad reaction, but overthinking is my take, too. They were both doing the exact same thing, why on earth would Monica judge the OP? Or want to bring it up in any way? In this situation I would absolutely expect (and prefer!) everyone involved to maintain the polite fiction it never happened and never bring it up.

  42. aebhel*

    LW 4: I’ve noticed that some people get really weirdly protective of their roles when they’re training someone to take over for them, especially if they’ve been in the role for a long time. I had a similar issue when I started my current job 8 years ago; the prior person in the role had been there for 30+ years and while she was getting ready to retire, she was very protective of the Way She Did Things and dismissive of anything I could have brought to the role.

    In my case, management was not supportive and it didn’t really improve until she actually did leave completely, but if you have a good manager I think it’s probably worth looping them in.

  43. Elm*

    I work as a contractor for my old job. I get paid less, but I loved working there and the work is fulfilling in a way my current 9-5 is not. I thought it would be strange working directly for the new me, but she’s cool so it isn’t. It’s not an unusual setup, either, at least in my field. I had one of my former coworkers freelance for me when I was there.

    Unless you have a binding contract and aren’t functioning as an as-needed worker, you can always leave if it gets weird. You can also always stop after your contract ends.

  44. Eldritch Office Worker*

    Oh #2 I am so in your shoes. I once got my lanyard hooked on the counter and gave myself honest to god whiplash.

    It’s good that your clumsiness carries over to work, because that takes some of the mystique out of it. I once had a coworker tell me directly that he’d be worried about my home life if he didn’t *see* me hurt myself so often. Once you build up a reputation people will dismiss it.

    With customers – hell tell the true story in a sentence. “I just moved in with a large, active dog and we play a little rough!” or “It’s hard to explain exactly how this happened but I kind of clotheslined myself with my dog’s leash” (doing this with a laugh and and a slightly pantomimed recreation will keep it lighthearted).

    Just lean into it and show you’re not bothered, other people will follow your cues.

    (Also seconding what a couple of others have said about hypermobility, it’s worth looking into. But either way there’s nothing wrong with being a klutz. Just try not to knock anyone else over!)

    1. Kyrielle*

      Hooked my pocket on a doorknob (the lever kind, not round), dragging the door into my backside thereby. Also, lever doorknobs hurt when they slam hard into that area. *sigh* At least that didn’t create a bruise that others would see….

  45. Elm*

    Oh! And we for #3, look at #1. You never know when one of your coworkers from the current job could end up as your new coworker or manager. I recommend giving notice for that reason, if nothing else. And, if future employers call, they might bring up that you left without notice, which may give them pause.

    I used to work in a field where managers were explicitly barred from saying anything other than “yes, they worked here from dates X to Y” unless you listed them as a reference in addition to a former employer. If your industry is like that…don’t trust it will happen. I lost a sure thing because of my manager breaking that rule, and the job I did get actually said “we have to confirm your employment, but we know these people and will not listen to anything else they say. They always badmouth people who leave.” Yikes.

    You can handle anything for two weeks or so.

  46. Trek*

    OP4 When I started a job there were two coworkers working together on the same account. Betty was very frustrated by Veronica and how she tried to divide up the work, was difficult to work with, helpful to others but not her even thought they were on the same account the list goes on. The problem was the few times Betty spoke to the supervisor about it and then they had a meeting with all three of them Betty didn’t state what she wanted or that she was thinking of leaving. She just nodded and accepted whatever was said as to how it would be better going forward but it never was better. She finally reached her breaking point and told everyone she was leaving and walked out in the middle of the day. She didn’t even slow down and speak to the supervisor, just packed up her stuff and left.

    Whatever you choose to do give your supervisor a chance to fix it. Let them know that you waited too long to speak up but that you can’t come to work and be treated this way. Give them specifics. Do you need to work Jane or is there someone else you can work with instead? If you end up leaving they can’t say they weren’t warned and if it doesn’t help you maybe it will help your replacement.

  47. Dork_in_training*

    I am a klutz too and after a broken arm, ankle and leg all over a 5 year period as well as too many bruises to count, my doctor figured out that I’m hyperflexible which at a 10K foot view means my joints are looser than most people. Hence the instability I have sometimes. I now have exercises I do that help strengthen my joints and balance. I am not in any way trying to diagnosis you. Only to encourage you to have an honest talk with your doctor because sometimes there really is something there. Good luck. I’m going back to nursing my thigh that has a nasty bruise from accidently clipping it while walking by it.

    1. anonymous73*

      I’m clumsy too but thankfully don’t bruise easily or I’d look like I took on Rocky Balboa 24/7. Off subject and not to be all up in your business but is it EDS? I have a friend who has that and when she was a teenager she had to go to so many doctors before she was diagnosed and a lot of them thought she was lying for attention. I marvel at how she has such a positive attitude with what she deals with on a daily basis.

      1. Dork_in_training*

        Not to the level of EDS but fascinating. Mine is minor but causes balance issues and with some depth perception issues, I really don’t always see where the table is. Makes for some fun times when I was teaching school. My thighs looked like I was whipped regularly. No short skirts for me. And yes, I walked into a door that was standing perfectly open with the lock facing me. The cartoon they show really is true in how your head bounces back.

  48. RagingADHD*

    LW4, it appears from your description that Jane is not your supervisor, she’s your peer (though has a longer tenure.)

    One of the important and difficult things to learn as you get into the work world is that age and time on the job do not necessarily equal authority. It is more than okay for you to push back on Jane’s behavior, and there are polite and professional ways to do so, even if she is somewhat senior to you on the org chart.

    For example:
    Jane: rolls eyes.
    You: Jane, you seem frustrated about training me. Is there a different approach you’d like to try, or should we loop Manager in so they can help us be more effective at this?

    (This is an offer to work things out, but also putting her on notice that you will escalate if need be).

    Jane: I’m here because LW doesn’t know anything.

    You: (to others) I appreciate Jane helping me liaise with you. Jane, if you have something else you need to do, I’m sure we can work this out between us. You go ahead, we’ll be fine.

    (This demonstrates your competence, and highlights Jane’s nastiness in front of the group.)

    The core here is to understand that critical, passive-aggressive people are bluffing. They are expressing contempt with a veneer of plausible deniability and betting that you will not call them out.

    The strategy is to always call their bluff. Always respond calmly and assertively. Sometimes that means taking their words literally (like if they say “Fine! Go ahead!” then you say, “Great, thanks.”)

    Other times that means responding to the covert message (I’m impatient, I don’t have time for this) as if they said it out loud.

    It can be uncomfortable to assert yourself with unpleasant people, and certainly you should feel free to ask your manager for advice, support, and help with Jane’s nasty behavior.

    But as you move forward in your career, it will be very empowering for you, and reduce your stress levels, to know that you can address this. You don’t have to just sit there and take it.

    Jane is wrong. People aren’t supposed to act like that. And you have, by virtue of being a human and a peer, the right to shut that crap down.

    As a bonus, the more you practice assertiveness, the less often you will have to put up with this kind of petty undermining. People like Jane tend to try it once or twice, but if they always get the opposite of what they wanted, they change tactics and usually become more neutral.

    Good luck!

  49. alynn*

    “but while training me to take her role she has made it clear she would never do things the way I do”

    This makes me wonder if Jane might be retiring? A number of people have retired in my dept. in the last five years. Some people ‘phoned it in’ the last few months but one person got weirdly territorial about her role and work.

    This is no way excuses this bullying (and bad training). Just makes me wonder.

    If the manager doesn’t help maybe HR can, as others have suggested. But if you are this stressed out, start looking for something new. Maybe it will help you feel better until the current situation improves or you leave

  50. Chilipepper attitude*

    For #3 – can he wait till the background check is completed and then tell the current employer, I am giving my notice, does it make sense for me to work 2 weeks more for transition or should I make today my last day? That is assuming he can go 2 weeks without pay.

    Then let the employer decide. And if they are anything other than professional at any moment, he can say, I’m happy to work the 2 weeks (or whatever they asked for) but not if you are going to talk to or treat me that way.

  51. Penelope Pitstop*

    LW#1: I think you are underestimating how many people cringe at the way they behaved when they first entered the workforce. Monica is probably just as keen to keep those memories between the two of you as you are. If, for whatever reason, she decided to tell everyone she would be telling everyone about how *both of you* used to behave – not a great strategy. And again, I think a lot of people would roll their eyes and remember their own cringe-worthy behavior that they are grateful previous coworkers are not blabbering about decades later.

  52. Mobius1*

    LW3 Hello everyone, it’s me the son in question! Thanks for posting my plight and all of the varied comments from everyone, it’s helping with this decision a lot.
    I agree with many of you that my departure won’t teach these guys any lesson regardless of how much notice is given. I like to maintain the air of professionalism in whatever environment I’m in despite the circumstances. However, the no notice quit was never about teaching a lesson, it was getting out of a toxic environment and enacting a little vengeance while I do so. But after reading all of your writing I’m most likely going to give some form of notice just to be safe.
    For those who are saying to wait for those background checks, absolutely yes! I need to pay bills regardless of who’s payroll I’m on and I’m not in the business of shooting myself in the foot. You all are totally right about getting burned and I’m totally not about it!
    Finally, I’d like to state for the record that these guys have lied to me about where I’d be working, how long I’d be working in a day, benefits I’d be recieving, how much travel I’d be doing, etc, etc. On top of that, I’ve heard both in person and through second hand hearsay that one of the bosses frequently talks about wanting to fire me for whatever reason but won’t talk to me about what I could do to improve my performance. I won’t miss it when I finally leave. I’ve learned some good stuff from working for them but I have a much better opportunity waiting for me and I’m excited to start that.
    Once again thank you everyone, I really appreciate all your feedback!

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Good luck! I’m glad you’re getting out. Soon they’ll just be a horrific job story you have in your back pocket for parties.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Sounds like you’ve gay a good head on your shoulders. You’re right that leaving won’t teach them a lesson, and it sounds like you’re never going to get a good reference in the future from them.

      Stay classy, network in your field, and leave the toxic folks behind. Do your best to not let them live rent free in your head when you are gone.

    3. Observer*

      You sound like you have your head screwed on right.

      I totally sympathize with wanting to get back at them, but you really are better off doing the professional thing. It may not be fair, but ultimately, unless it gets so bad that you really cannot deal any more, you will be better off in the long run.

      Lots of luck!

    4. Lenora Rose*

      Thanks for stopping by, it’s good to see you’ve got your plan and thought.

      Oh, and that place is definitely beyond toxic; in many places, lying about terms of employment would be the sort of thing they could get in legal trouble over if there was a written agreement. (I’m guessing there wasn’t.)

  53. Essess*

    OP #3, I think your son should absolutely speak to an employment lawyer. If the job was advertised to offer health benefits and they refused after employing your son, that falls under fraudulent inducement of employment. I am not a lawyer but according to what I’ve read, employers aren’t allowed to make false promises in order to get someone to accept an employment agreement. They can change benefits during normal employment, but if they did it just as an inducement, they committed fraud. An employment lawyer would be able to look at whether this situation falls under the fraud guidelines.
    This is described in https:www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/fraudulent-inducement-of-employment.html

  54. RagingADHD*

    Re #3, I really don’t understand the emphasis on “preserving references” from lying scumbags who exploit their workers so blatantly.

    I guarantee anyone who runs their business that way is known to be shady by anyone who has encountered them before. Leave the job off, and if it comes up in a background check at some point in the future, just tell the truth about why you left. THEY LIED ABOUT BENEFITS AND WEREN’T PAYING YOU PROPERLY.

    Listing a known scumbag as a reference can work against you more than for you.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      100%, if OP wants to stay for other reasons I get it, but I would just get out of there asap once you can

    2. Observer*

      Yeah. The issue is not so much the employer, but coworkers. You don’t know who you are going to meet up with again some time down the road. Better to not leave them with anything negative if you can help it.

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      The issues isn’t a reference from an employer that probably won’t give a good one – if they bait and switch/lie about stuff during onboarding then the odds are low – but more about maintaining a good reputation with the others in the trenches with you and the clients. You never know when you will run into them again later at a different job (for an example please see letter number one from today).

  55. Mojo021*

    As a clutzy person myself (fell down one step and broke both feet, and 4 months later walked into a street sign and ended up with 11 stitches in my forehead), I completely laughed out loud at my desk at “clotheslined by a leash”!!!! No advise, but thank you so much for the laugh and good luck!

  56. Kevin Sours*

    #3 Just as an aside this: “One day last week, he had eight hours of work and roughly five hours of driving off the clock”, depending on your area, may be unlawful. California requires pay for travel when an employee is required to report to a job site other than their normal workplace when that requires an extended commute. I don’t know how unusual that is. There are details, and it’s ask a lawyer time, and it may not be worth pursuing. But its something worth knowing.

  57. JR*

    #3: If this is the USA, please encourage your son to look into whether he can deduct all of that unpaid and unreimbursed mileage from his taxes. I believe you can deduct mileage beyond what you would normally use to commute to your usual office and back. (Normally it doesn’t make sense for recent grads to itemize their deductions, but in this case maybe it’s worth it!) Of course a good company would’ve reimbursed the expenses, and this sounds like a really bad company, but maybe there’s a few dollars of redemption to be had.

  58. CommanderBanana*

    Hah, I got completely taken out, like Charlie Brown-kicking-the-football-style, by a very happy and very strong pittie at the dog park who took off after a ball and took me out at the knees. I was fine, other than a scraped hand, I think because I didn’t see it coming and was completely relaxed, just suddenly horizontal.

    1. Trek*

      I had a group of dogs smash into me on their pack run but like you I didn’t see it coming so I wasn’t hurt. Fun times!

  59. Lady_Lessa*

    I’m another klutz. I managed to chip a bone in my ankle by missing a step outside. (the steps were distanced from each other and I didn’t know the area) Hypermobility does explain why the med students were eager to feel the differences between my ankles while I was getting it fixed. (I was going to a clinic connected with a med school at the time).

    I have a history of the dirtiest lab coats around

  60. Brett*

    Vacation payouts are taxed differently if they are issued as a lump sum after termination of employment. Then it becomes unearned income instead of earned income. Most employers will role that vacation payout into the last paycheck, but if they don’t, then it is taxed as unearned income.
    This means that you cannot use it to make IRA/401k contributions, no social security or medicare is withheld but you also don’t get any credits for them. (Sounds like the LW’s employer is trying to avoid paying their share of payroll taxes on the vacation payout.) But the income tax rate should be the same, or even lower because it is exempt from payroll taxes (but the lump sum likely means you will pay a higher marginal rate, especially since you cannot roll the income into an IRA, although you can roll other earned income into an IRA instead).

    1. Anon222*

      The payout should be taxed at the supplemental tax rate since it is issued as a lump sum vs time taken. In the end you will be taxed based on total earnings on YOUR taxes but it will be higher initially

    1. Tanil*

      Upvote! I also bruise very easily and it gets much better when I take a daily iron supplement. It won’t solve rope burns though…

  61. Other thoughts*

    As someone working in sexual violence prevention and response, I think talking with your coworkers ahead of time is great advice, but I have different advice for talking with customers who ask if you are okay/safe.

    I think is is more helpful to respond with a serious (but still warm) tone: “Thank you for asking, domestic violence/abuse is very serious and I appreciate your concern. I am currently happy and safe at home, but I really am just clumsy and bruise easily.”

    I think people will believe you more if you start by taking their concern seriously…I think a bright overly dismissive response will just sound defensive and also discourages people from checking in. Although it probably feels uncomfortable for you that people are checking in, I think its actually a really good thing that strangers and acquaintances are using intervention strategies to try to help another person who might be in need!

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      “Thank you for asking, domestic violence/abuse is very serious and I appreciate your concern. I am currently happy and safe at home, but I really am just clumsy and bruise easily.”

      I really like that wording.

    2. American Job Venter*

      Thank you for saying this and sharing your experience with us. I was thinking something along these lines, but you have the experience needed to offer concrete, well-phrased advice.

  62. Kobayash*

    OP 2, I’m sorry to say, I laughed, too, at clotheslined at the neck–mostly because I foster a lot of dogs, and I’ve been clotheslined a couple of times, but always at the legs (and one time in front of the neighbors in the front yard where I ended up flat on my back). So, I was trying to figure out how that happened. Like, were you sitting down? Did the dog decide to leap for a bird or frisbee? Also, I will join your “bruise easily” club. I know exactly where you’re coming from.

  63. CG*

    LW#2, I feel you so bad on this one. I am a massive, massive clutz, and my partner often marvels at how I’ve managed to stay as healthy as I have while also constantly smacking into things and otherwise acquiring lots of mysterious scrapes and bruises.

    I think Alison’s script is perfect, but for your coworkers, I think I would even add, “in fact, a few years ago I gave myself a concussion on my own desk at work! Don’t worry if you witness one of my episodes of epic clutziness.”

    To me, something like that would help lend a bit more “no, seriously, this happens everywhere – not just at home where my definitely-not-abusive-partner lives!” credence.

  64. Essess*

    I think my comment got stuck in moderation since I had a link, so I’ll retry.

    For OP #3, you should have your son speak to an employment lawyer. There is a law against making deliberate false promises in order to get someone to accept a job. It would be up to a lawyer to decide if it could be proven that the employer deliberately lied, versus deciding to change company benefits across the board.

    “Fraudulent inducement of employment refers to a situation wherein an employer makes an intentionally false statement to trick a current employee or prospective hire into accepting an offer. A person who is a victim of fraudulent inducement of employment may be able to sue an employer for false promises and recover damages.”

  65. conservationist*

    LW 5 – In 2019, I left a full-time job to go to grad school, but continued to work for them for ~5 months as a part-time contractor, and I charged about twice what my hourly rate had been as a full-time employee, just as Alison suggested. It was a great situation – nice for me to still have a few hours a week of paid time at a great rate, and nice for them to have me there doing some specific work on one project while they looked for a replacement.

  66. Sasha Blause*

    I’m clumsy [i]and[/i] I used to do martial arts, so during short-sleeve season I often got asked by female coworkers if everything was OK at home.

    The secret formula was to (a) not feel embarrassed, people can feel that vibe and it looks bad; (b) sincerely thank them for noticing; (c) very briefly explain that it happened during martial arts training; and (d) pin a 4×6 photo of myself at a competition on my cubicle wall, although that only helps with coworkers of course.

    I think you could make that same formula work by substituting “huge clumsy dog” for martial arts. If you and girlfriend and doggo do general active-lifestyle things, I’d briefly mention that too; it seems like many people consider an active lifestyle to be risky so it’d probably be an acceptable answer. Worked for me with the martial arts thing anyway.

  67. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    The only times I’d advise quitting WITHOUT a notice —

    – if you were asked to do something egregiously immoral or illegal
    – if you have been unjustly accused of some illegal or improper action
    – if your personal safety is being endangered
    – if an employer is trying to “get to you” by harassing members of your family

    Other than that, give the two weeks. Hold your nose, work through it.

  68. Boof*

    Op3; i think the only “lesson” your son should try for is to start refusing to do unreasonable things until he’s ready to quit. Refuse to work off the clock, refuse to drive more than (half hr?) commute, just say no until on to better things.

    1. Mobius1*

      It’s the son again! Unfortunately the closet job site that I’m regularly sent to is about 40 minutes away from the my “office”, which means it’s about an hour from my actual house. They’d probably just fire me if I started to refuse to drive to client sites but I don’t do any extra work off the clock after they salaried me so they could stop paying overtime.

      1. Boof*

        That sucks!
        Not sure if you’ve read this site much but while certainly it’s encouraged to have a job lined up, and I see a lot of people saying don’t quit until the background check/next job is secure, if your current job is toxic enough and you have the resources sometimes quitting is actually better than trying to stick it out until the next job is in hand.
        Similarly, depending on exactly how things go down and what your local laws are, if your employer fires you NOT for “serious misconduct” you can collect unemployment as well, which may help tide you over (but not if you quit?). I’m not sure if refusing to work over 40hrs a week / refusing to drive 2 hrs a day after being told originally this would not happen would rise to serious misconduct or not, it certainly doesn’t seem like it should; but basically can start politely pushing back on egregious stuff. “ok you want X Y and Z done, I ahve enough time to do two, which ones should I prioritize?” etc. What’s the worst they can do, fire you? :P

  69. SentientAmoeba*

    The tax information in that last question is so important. I’ve seen so many people refuse to work overtime or something similar because “I’ll be in a higher tax bracket”. No, each check is paid as though you are in whatever bracket that pay would be if you were receiving it all year, but it will be averaged out when you file.
    I’ve never seen someone panic because they overpaid and were due a refund, but I’ve seen some bad reactions from people who try to game the system to get a few extra dollars in their regular paycheck, then end up owing.
    I also want to plug the ads for people who haven’t filed taxes in years and are upset the evil IRS is now after them but for a not so small fee, they can pay a company to do what they should have been doing in the first place.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      And even if you are in a “higher tax bracket”… it’s still more money in YOUR pocket. Devious (or stupid) managers try to say “you’ll get burned if you get a raise. You’ll be in a higher tax bracket!”

      Don’t fall for it.

  70. green beans*

    OP#2 – I don’t know if anyone else has suggested this, but I’d really suggest doing martial arts or ballet or another sport/physical activity where you really have to pay attention to your body positioning and movement. It’ll help a lot with general spatial awareness, which will reduce the clumsiness.

    The goal wouldn’t necessarily be to get good at the activity, but to practice paying attention to where different parts of your body are when you’re moving, and essentially train your brain and nervous system to be better at knowing where you are in relation to other things.

  71. Observer*

    OP 2, I do think that if you haven’t done so, it’s worth discussing this with your doctor. Both the extra easy bruising and the high level of klutziness could be a sign of something. (You’d be surprised at how many people, for instance, never had their vision checked even though they keep on walking into walls etc.)

    As a side effect, if all turns out to be ok, and you’re just a bit of an outlier, it gives you another reaction to pull out of your pocket if you want ~~shrug~~”Yeah my doctor thinks it’s weird too, but he couldn’t find anything, so I’ll have to keep defending myself against the floor” or something like that.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        OP mentions anemia elsewhere. To observer’s point I really thought glasses were going to keep me from walking into things. Sigh. Nope.

        1. Observer*

          It’s not a magic bullet. But the kind of thing I mentioned happens often enough that it’s worth checking.

  72. KoiFeeder*

    #2 if it makes you feel in any way better, I once tried to take care of my brother’s dog when he was sick, and ended up with road rash on me face after she dragged me down a quarter mile of gravel driveways. She’s the sweetest dog I’ve ever met, and not even particularly large (golden retriever), but dogs can just get you if they’re not thinking.

    1. quill*

      Even if you are double a retriever’s weight, it doesn’t matter. They have three times the momentum. :)

      1. KoiFeeder*

        My brother’s dog is a sweet, lovely thing, and she can jump at least twice her height and apparently pull 110lbs for a quarter mile at full tilt. I let go of the leash before she got tired!

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Well, she’s eleven years old now, but yes, at the time she was three. She can still jump twice her height, but I’m not testing her ability to pull over 100lbs of weight any time soon.

  73. Fleezy*

    #2: As a fellow klutz, I can sympathize! I once had to come into work with a small scab right next to my eye that accented my glorious shiner. My supervisor pulled me aside and I told her the truth: I was not standing a safe distance away when my young daughter took a VERY enthusiastic swing while mini-golfing, and she whomped me right in the face with her backswing. It looked bad, but when it happened the only reason I had to sit down was because I was laughing so hard because OF COURSE that would happen to me!! My daughter confirmed my story the next time she came in for an appointment (I worked at a dental office), and whenever we went back to that mini-golf course, I used to run and hide behind a bush when it was my daughter’s turn at that hole. XD

  74. FionasHuman*

    Chiming in with empathy for LW#2. I started working in journalism while also pursuing martial arts as a hobby, and while not quite as accident-prone as the LW, I bruise if you look at me hard. Since the school was full-contact, let’s just say I regularly looked like the losing end of a bar fight, particularly in the beginning.

    I was up-front about both the hobby and my bruising tendency, and my office treated it as something of an in-joke. (“She may look like a wilting flower, but really she could end all of us.” kind of thing. It didn’t hurt, so to speak, that people would see how quickly an ugly bruise also formed in the office if, say, I bumped into the conference table.) I also had responses ready for anyone visiting the office (or interview subjects) who may have been triggered by the sight of an abused-looking woman, and made sure to wear long sleeves and high-necked tops on particularly unsightly weeks.

    All of which is to say, from experience, Alison is right: be comfortable in your self-knowledge that this is just the way your body works, give your co-workers the appropriate heads up, and while I don’t believe retail workers are paid well enough to owe customers much of anything, a ready response if someone is looking triggered is just the polite thing to do.

    1. FionasHuman*

      Oops — I forgot to mention that, while it’s not scientifically proven, Arnica cream did work to help the bruising heal more quickly. I’ve no idea if it was the Arnica or the act of massaging the area and thus increasing blood flow, but just in case this might help.

  75. Ms. Glass*

    LW2: I totally sympathize. I once tripped on a gardening tool, faceplanted onto a concrete step, and broke my nose/gave myself a concussion and a black eye. Another time (and this was the second Monday at a new job, oh my god) I tripped on a crack in the sidewalk, fell, and broke my hip (I was 34 years old. I HAVE AMAZING LUCK). It didn’t even hurt as bad as you’d think, I just couldn’t stand up, so I was just lying there on the ground with no idea what to do because I felt like a total moron. It was something else. At this point I just tell people the story in a kind of joking way like “can you believe this shit? how does this keep happening to me?” because people will generally follow your tone.


    Hi everyone, just wanted to thank everyone for their comments and thoughts and helpful words.

    Monica starts on Monday, November 1st….so I have all weekend to either talk myself down, or rile myself up. I know myself and tendency to anxiety though so it will be rough. I do tend to always think in worst-case scenarios! But I will read over your sane words of advice.

    I am going to be stressed but I am sure it will work out fine. I will admit to being curious how she is, and if she will say anything.

    But yeah, I will just meet it with professionalism whichever way it goes.

    Thank you!

  77. Denver Gutierrez*

    It wasn’t drinking on the job, but I have always struggled with anxiety. It is much better now, but back when I was in my 20s, it was overwhelming to the point it led me to some not-so-great behaviors on the job (ie, meltdowns). I am so embarrassed by the way I was and hate to think about it.

    Fast forward about 20 years. I work a different job but in the same field. It is a small enough field to where I have occasionally found myself with a coworker or manager that knew me back then. It is definitely awkward to be around them but I am a different person now. When I am in that situation I choose not to bring up the past, not even jokingly. And so far none of the people I run into who knew me then have mentioned it either. And I don’t bring up any of their embarrassing situations I witnessed/ heard about them either. I think actions speak louder than words, so just keep working hard and show them you have indeed changed. Plus, you never know. There is a possibility they forgot all about it, so why give them the opportunity to remember?

  78. Freya*

    Quick note re L5:

    In Australia, payments of accrued leave on cessation of employment *can* be taxed differently, depending on what type of leave it is and why employment has ceased.

    Also they’re excluded from superannuation calculations, so there’s potential consequences there to consider.

  79. Edwina*

    Clumsy LW–I was always incredibly clumsy (and I bruise very easily too). But a few years ago I started weight training with a trainer, and it has actually made a HUGE difference–to my balance, to my agility, to my core strength, and to my reflexes. I’m much less “clumsy” now–and I really recommend this to you. It also makes you feel much stronger and is great for your health (and your bones!)

  80. Woah*

    I have Ehlers Danlos syndrome and am in general, super clumsy and can be injured from you know, walking down the street. I just usually wear long sleeves or a cardigan because it gets old explaining that no, I don’t have problems like what they’re thinking, the problem is weak collagen due a genetic condition…

  81. Clumsy Dog-Mom*

    OP #2 – oh my gosh, are you me? Allison’s script is great. When people ask me “um, are you ok? What happened?” I often take the attitude (though not the literal script) of “omg thanks for asking – it’s a funny story that I’ve been waiting to tell someone!” which works well with coworkers I’m friendly with. Telling wacky dog stories is a good tension-defuser and I’ve found folks replying with “ah my puppy once did a similarly goofy thing -“. Perhaps even/especially if that’s not entirely true. I have a medical condition that makes me bruise like a peach, and have blamed the dog for literally all injuries ever, and he doesn’t seem to mind :)

    Clients probably won’t ask – and honestly, it would be weird if they did, unless they know you well. I would never ask anyone about injuries if I didn’t know them well enough to help if they really needed help. If a close friend looked hurt I might say something, but your body is not your clients’ business – your job is!

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