my new coworkers keep saying I’m going to hate my job, parents posting their kids’ resumes on LinkedIn, and more

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

1. My new coworkers keep saying I’m going to hate my job

Two months ago, I started working at a new company. I’m about two years into my career, and this new job is in a different field from my previous work and is on a 24-month contract working on client-facing projects. I knew there would be long days and tight deadlines sometimes, but having worked in a highly stressful and toxic role previously I was confident in my ability to manage it. Plus, the work seemed interesting. This has largely borne out: lots of work, sometimes long days, but I’m managing it well and find it interesting and challenging in a positive way. The money is pretty good and I have a lot of flexibility. In many ways, this is a good place to be.

The trouble is, I keep getting comments from colleagues along the lines of “wait until you’ve been here a bit longer,” “you’re lucky you’re on a two-year contract and then you can get out of here,” and even “you have the worst job ever” whenever I express that I’m enjoying the role! I could put this down to one or even a few people being negative, poorly trying to make jokes, or projecting their own experiences, but these kinds of comments have come from multiple sources across various business areas, including the senior manager I report to, someone more senior but in a different function to me, and one of my peers in the same role.

These comments are freaking me out a bit! I’m a pretty positive person and I tend to just laugh them off, albeit slightly awkwardly, but their frequency has me starting to wonder if they’re right and I should get out of dodge before my probation is up. I wouldn’t say my professional instincts are fully honed yet, and I wonder if I missed any red flags in the interview process. I’m scared I’ll find myself stuck in a toxic work environment again. What’s the best thing to do here?

There are a few possibilities: (1) The stuff that has bothered your colleagues might not bother you that much, and so your experience will be different from theirs. (2) Or you’re all grading on a curve. Your previous job was toxic and stressful and this one is a lot better, so to you this might be a relative cakewalk. Your coworkers might be judging by a different set of standards. That doesn’t necessarily mean any of you are wrong; you’d just be bringing different frames of reference to it. (3) Or the job really is a terrible one, and that’s going to become clear to you as time goes on.

I can see why you’re unsettled — what are they all seeing that you’re not seeing? But why not start asking? Your colleagues sound pretty open about their dislikes, so there’s a lot of room to ask for more information.

Go back to any or all of the people who have made the comments and say, “You and others have commented that I’m in the worst job ever or will want to leave as soon as my contract is up, and I’m wondering what’s behind that! I’m pretty happy here so far, but hearing so many comments has me wondering if there’s something I haven’t picked up on yet or if something awful is lurking down the road.”

2. Parents posting their kids’ resumes on LinkedIn

I recently came across a post from a parent in my professional network who was advertising her kid’s resume on LinkedIn. Her kid was about to graduate college and was looking for internships that could lead to jobs; she tagged about 20 people in the post, including her kid.

I felt really divided about this. While I know it comes from a good place, actions like this seem to privilege the kids of well-connected parents over those of us (I recognize my bias here!) who are breaking fresh into an industry or who do not have any prior connections to speak of. It seems to only reinforce the divide between the have’s and have-not’s. Not only that, but I feel like a recommendation from a parent is generally worthless; the parent hasn’t worked with the kid and cannot provide a true assessment of their kid’s worth.

What do you think about this? Lots of people in the comments of the original post seemed to think it was a laudable move, but I just really feel like it’s not. And is there any way to gently push back (either as a comment to the post or as a DM to the parent) so that bystanders like me can nudge for more inclusive postures? Or is that inappropriate too?

Not a fan. In theory, it’s not that different from parents reaching out to specific contacts on their kids’ behalf, but there’s something about doing it as a mass post that feels different than one-on-one contact. And of course, the parent isn’t really recommending the kid (as you point out, they can’t). Instead, what they’re doing is using the good will of their network — people who might be interested in helping a contact’s kid because they like the parent/want to do the parent a favor/etc. That’s part of why a mass post feels ickier; without that individual connection piece, it’s just laying bare, publicly, that the parent is asking for a leg up for their kid that other people might not get. It’s a little embarrassing for the kid.

I don’t know that it’s worth saying anything to the parent. In theory you could leave a comment encouraging people to use their networks for kids without connections too, but unless you hit on exactly the right wording there’s a high risk that it’ll come across as hijacking the post to virtue-signal.

3. My boss thinks I should drive my new employee home

I supervise a new employee who normally rides the bus home. With it getting dark earlier, my boss implied that I could give her a ride for safety. She lives 20 minutes in the opposite direction of my house (and my commute is already 30 minutes). What do I do?

You’re not obligated to drive employees home, buses are not unusually dangerous, and your employee is presumably an adult who’s comfortable managing her own transportation.

If your boss brings it up again, you could say, “I’ve usually got commitments after work and am not going straight home.”

4. Another team is cc’ing their manager on complaints about my team

I manage a team of five direct reports, and my team works with nearly every other department in the organization. Sometimes managers from one department that works with my team (but does not supervise them) will send a complaint to me about an error. I am very quick to address the errors with my team (within a day if not immediately). Lately I have noticed that the managers from the other department are cc’ing their supervisor on complaint emails to me. This just started within the past couple of weeks, and the emails seem to be more frequent than before. I’m thinking perhaps this group of managers is complaining to their supervisor about the errors and/or me and my team, and he’s asked to be looped in. I’ve never been given any feedback from anyone that the way I handle the complaints isn’t appropriate or doesn’t solve the problem. I always follow up with the managers to see if the problem has been resolved and if not, I will address it again, sometimes with a PIP or discipline depending on the situation.

I would like to know why the number of emails is increasing and why this other supervisor is being cc’d on them. Should I just ask him directly what’s up?

Yes. “I’ve noticed your staff recently started cc’ing you on emails to me about errors from my team, so I wanted to check in with you. If your team has concerns about the work they’re getting from us, I’d want to make sure I know about it and can address it.”

That said … it sounds like your team might be generating a lot of errors and complaints! If that’s the case, the other team might rightly be frustrated that you’re not addressing that pattern. Addressing each complaint individually is fine when they’re occasional, but when they’re frequent, there’s something bigger going on that you need to figure out.

Read an update to this letter here.  

5. My husband’s company has no paternity leave

My husband and I just found out that I’m expecting our second baby! After the first wave of enthusiasm, we’ve started talking logistics and I realized that my husband doesn’t have paternity leave! He didn’t for our first kid, but he’d only been employed for a few months at the time, and we both thought it was because he hadn’t been there long enough. But now it seems like I was just being hopeful.

The way his vacation and sick time works is that it’s five weeks yearly but all unpaid (he works with clients and his company pays him for however many clients he sees). Financially we’re doing fine and he could take those weeks unpaid, but doesn’t it seem a bit archaic, not to mention sexist, that his company doesn’t have a leave policy for non-birthing parents?

“Stodgy” is how I’d describe his company. The leadership is a collection of old white men, and throughout all the turmoil of the past year, they remained noticabley silent. I don’t have high hopes that anything will change, especially because my husband avoids conflict at all costs.

I know I don’t work there, and they don’t want to hear from me, and my husband would hate it if I reached out to them. But is there anything I can do? Or is there something my husband can do that won’t be anxiety inducing?

You definitely can’t contact them yourself! This is your husband’s job and his to manage; you don’t have any standing to contact his company, and you’d undermine your husband terribly if you did. But you can support him in speaking up if he decides he wants to push for better parental leave at his company.

However, at a company that doesn’t even provide paid sick or vacation time (which is pretty unusual for professional jobs), I’m skeptical that they’re going to be open to paid parental leave. In fact, I wonder if they even provide it for women — company-paid parental leave is a far less common offering in the U.S. than paid sick or vacation time is, so if they’re not providing regular PTO, I’m doubtful that they’re providing paid maternity leave.

If the company has at least 50 employees and your husband has worked there for at least a year, he’s eligible for FMLA — which gives him up to 12 weeks a year of leave for family and medical reasons, including the birth of a child. It doesn’t require them to pay him for that time and they can have him use up his sick and vacation leave as part of those 12 weeks, but it might be your most realistic option.

{ 493 comments… read them below }

  1. AJoftheInternet*

    Boo on the people who don’t give paternity leave! Even the military gives paternity leave! And having the father be able to be present for this change to the family unit is important!

    1. BethanyH*

      I work for a global company making medical devices. Paid parental leave was just added three years ago! 6 weeks for fathers, and mothers can take up to 12 with a combo of short-term disability and parental leave. Seemed strange that even being part of the medical field, we still didn’t recognize the need for this sooner.

      1. Boof*

        yeah as a medical resident in the USA the only maternity leave I had was basically disability, and it was 6 weeks (8 for C sections)
        Only in the last year or so has my (university hospital) employer added paid parental leave for 3 months. I’m a huge advocate for paternity / partner leave and was thrilled some of my team were able to take advantage of it pretty quickly!

        1. DJ Abbott*

          I worked at a hospital from 2011 to 2019 and they did not have maternity leave. Mothers used short term disability and some added FMLA to take their leave.
          They didn’t have paternity leave, either.

      2. Polly Gone*

        I work for a midsize public school system, and we just added paid parental leave last year. It is by no means a universally provided benefit in the US.

      3. Mona-Lisa Saperstein*

        I am a lawyer for the federal government, and parental leave was just added LAST YEAR. My kids are 2.5 and 4.5. I used accrued sick and vacation time for both of them.

    2. AnonFed*

      Fun fact – I’m a federal government employee and we didn’t actually get paid parental leave until last year. I had a kid 2 years ago and had to save my sick and annual leave and work comp time. At least we have paid leave though. People who hadn’t been here long enough to accrue leave had to take leave without paynor FMLA.

      1. MBK*

        @AnonFed: Unfortunately, the most surprising part of your comment to jaded old me is that Congress didn’t exempt the Federal Government from the FMLA when it was written.

      2. Ann Perkins*

        I’m currently pregnant and my spouse is a fed – as grateful as I am that he gets 12 weeks paid on top of his already generous annual and sick leave, what’s sad is that I don’t get paid parental leave. So I’m the one facing my third c-section but he’ll get the paid parental leave. I at least get short term disability though.

      3. Mona-Lisa Saperstein*

        Same here. I had to use accrued vacation and sick time for both of my kids. I didn’t take any time off otherwise for nearly four years in order to take as long a leave as possible, even though I often work 100-hour weeks.

        My secretary had no accrued leave, and she was only permitted to work from home for a month following her C-SECTION even though she was a single mom.

      4. Emi*

        I’m also a fed and I literally cried with joy when they passed that, even in the stripped-down version.

    3. anonymous73*

      I’ve worked for 6 companies in my 25 year career and none of them have even had maternity leave. Yes there was sick time and vacation (sometimes separate, sometime together, always paid), short and/or long term disability and FMLA of course, but no specific policy on maternity leave. I always thought paternity leave was a rarity.

    4. Lacey*

      Yup! A friend works for the government and he got 3 months. Not only did he get 3 months, but he can break it up however he pleases. So he’s taking a partial week off every week for around 6 months.

    5. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I know!!!! My brother took every damned second of his parental leave with both kids and it was such a benefit to the family. He had 3 months and SIL had 3 months paid so they took the first month off together, then she finished her last 2 months solo, then he took off his last 2 months solo. Her transition to work was sooooooooo much easier with him being home.

      tl;dr: Paid parental leave is so damned important and every employer should be required to offer it

    6. feath*

      The company that acquired the one I work for (that I’m leaving) didn’t have a parental leave policy…but liked my workplace’s one so much that they decided to fold it into their leave policies. Probably the only positive thing I’ve seen come from an acquisition :P

    7. Momma Bear*

      When my kid was born, her father took 2 weeks of leave using his PTO. FMLA held his job but the company did not provide paid leave. Even as a mother, I only had short term disability for 6 weeks and, had to use 2 weeks of my own PTO upfront to qualify, and took the rest of my FMLA time unpaid. It’s a terrible situation, really. That’s why there are babies as young as 6 weeks in daycare – that’s all you get on disability.

      Also remember that FMLA does not need to be all at once. You can split it up.

    8. 2 Cents*

      My teacher husband got 0 days and went back just 3 days after the birth because he thought he’d be in trouble for taking more time. The school district is notorious for this. The school board thinks teachers are slaves because “we pay your salaries” and not humans with lives. (Forget about him ever attending a school event for our child!)

    9. James*

      The company I work for used to give maternity leave but not paternity leave. Someone sued, saying it’s discriminatory–which it is, by any reasonable definition. So they switched it–mothers and fathers got 3 days of disability.

      To be fair, the PTO accrual is extremely generous and we all looked at this as an amusing bit of bureaucratic silliness. Don’t get me wrong, I’d have loved to have been able to take time off without using my PTO when my kids were born! But the company is doing right by its employees, they’re just trying to comply with complex, often contradictory laws.

    10. Bluecollarspouse*

      My husband’s job (construction/union) doesn’t provide any parental leave for men or women – they’re just expected to go on unemployment until they come back. The union insurance also doesn’t cover birth control or breast pumps, despite the ACA, so that’s super *eye roll*.

      In our case, it’s union controlled, so an individual doesn’t have much control, but OP’s husband should at least raise the issue. I don’t think it needs to be called paternity leave, but something like medical or disability or family leave might make it sound more palatable. And if it helps motivate him, he’d be asking not just on his own behalf, but for other people at that job who are coming behind him, too.

  2. Baby Fish Mouth*

    So many women’s job offer ZERO paid maternity leave, including mine. I am not saying this husband doesn’t deserve paternity leave (HE DOES!), but man I find it really hard to get up in arms about the men before we, as a country, can even all get on the same page/up in arms about the women. Sigh.

    1. Double A*

      It seems like if we’re going to do leave we should just make it parental leave. When only moms get leave, it further entrenches the caregiver role of women. The mom becomes the expert in the baby because she’s with it 24/7, and the dad doesn’t have as much an opportunity to build that expertise. This sets up a dynamic for the family life where the mom takes the lead with the kids that can impact the family dynamic for years to come and can be tough to rebalance no matter how conscious you are of it (and a lot of people aren’t they conscious of it since it’s the default anyway).

      Leave for all parents would benefit the whole family, and also likely the position of women in society more broadly as caretaking work was more distributed (assuming men actually take paternity leave).

      (Also I know this comment is very hetero-centric; there are many other family configurations that would benefit from parental leave).

      (I ALSO know people will say, “What about leave for other types of family needs,” which I also think is great and we should do, but I actually think it should be on top of parental leave because caring for a new child is a really unique transition, and also parents have need of additional caregiver leave as well, so being able to have access to that even if they took parental leave seems important. I mean, I am grateful I get maternity leave but it uses up all my PTO, and this is standard. But like…there’s a lot of reasons you may need to take a day off here and there sometime in the next year after you come back from having a baby).

      1. Tali*

        Exactly. In many countries it is standard to offer parental leave and care-giving leave. That way any employee can care for a new baby, or for an aging/ill family member. I’m sure US companies with good benefits offer something similar.

        That said, if OP’s husband’s company doesn’t offer any kind of paid leave, this seems like an uphill battle. Does the company even offer maternity leave?
        I think realistically the best OP can hope for is supporting husband in speaking up, and encouraging him to look for a job with better benefits so he can better support his family.

        1. WulfInTheForest*

          It’s actually almost non-existent here unfortunately. Our laws don’t mandate it, and a typical benefits package only offers sick and vacation leave, if that. I’ve actually never heard of a company voluntarily offering parental leave here in the US, and I’ve worked at 4 companies and applied for many more.

          1. Cascadia*

            They are few and far between to be sure, but there are plenty of companies in the US that voluntarily offer paid parental leave. My company offers 6 weeks paid leave for all parents. I read that 10-15% of US companies have paid parental leave. Which is abysmal, but doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

          2. Elizabeth Proctor*

            19% of US workers have access to paid family leave through their employers (not including short-term disability insurance), according to the national partnership for women and families.

          3. A*

            In general yes, but I do need to point out that this varies by state. There are qualifying factors on the employers end, same as with FMLA, but in MA parental leave is now required to be offered if those factors are met – both maternity & paternity. I had several friends work their family planning around the timing of implementation to ensure both partners could take advantage.

        2. too many too soon*

          This would be wonderful. It’s nice that people who make the choice to have children are offered so much paid leave, but there should be an equitable way for people who do not choose to have children to also receive paid leave for self and/or other care.

          1. generic_username*

            Tali specifically mentioned care-giving leave for caring for an aging or ill family member, which would cover people who do not have children for any reason. Self-care is covered by sick time (which the US also doesn’t guarantee, but should!)

        3. Archaeopteryx*

          My (medium-large, healthcare) company offers only the minimum required by law – 12 weeks’ FMLA unpaid, except that any PTO you’ve accrued will be used while you’re gone until it’s drained. So you might actually get paid for the first couple weeks of leave, but you’ll come back to zero PTO and have to painstakingly accrue it again, or risk firing if you have to take time off with no leave in your bank more than once or twice.

          I’ve savaged them on every employee satisfaction survey for this, and I don’t even have kids yet. Higher-level staff get more PTO and more leeway, but I’ve seen multiple MAs, etc get fired for attendance issues in the months following a return from leave. Lower-level staff get 17 days of PTO per year to start with, so even if they’d never taken a day off before they had a baby, they’ll always have zero when they come back. And the odds that the parent of a three-month-old will at some point need to call in are about 100%.

      2. Semi-Anon*

        In places with government legislated parental leave, it’s often split into two parts, a strictly medical maternity leave, for childbirth and recovery (which could be claimed by surrogates, or mothers giving their children up for adoption), and parental leave, which can be split by the parents as they want, and would also apply to adoptive parents. So, basically, leave intended for the process of pushing a human being out of your body, and leave intended for the care of the resultant child.

        An interesting twist in FMLA is that if the parents work for the same employer, they get 12 weeks FMLA total for parental leave, but if they work for separate employers, they get twelve weeks each.

        1. KateM*

          Yep, in my country it is divided even into three parts – pregnancy leave, after-birth leave, and parental leave. Two of the first are for those who are pregnant/recovering from childbirth.

          1. KateM*

            Oh and the two count as medical leave, you are not allowed to work at all during those leaves because their purpose is to cover the time when you were unable to work because of medical reasons. You are allowed to work during parental leave.

      3. Violet Rose*

        I agree with this wholeheartedly! Making it “parental leave” is a lot more flexible, is less heteronormative, and covers a lot more edge cases than just “maternal/paternal leave.” Though, other commenters raise a good point about having separate leave buckets/allowances for the physical recovery of the person who just pushed out a baby, and for caring for said new baby, which also covers surrogacy and adoption on both ends.

      4. kicking-k*

        Replying to Double A: I so agree in principle that it should be shared leave. The rock it founders on for me is breastfeeding. It seems like there’s no true replacement for the parent with milk. Yes, I know you can pump, and I have pumped, but it’s in no way the same amount of effort. That said, I live in a country where you have a right to leave for up to a year (not all paid) so although pumping never worked very well for me, I wasn’t forced to it as my only option; I know people with less leave who have made it work. I take my hat off to them but wish they’d had more options. Even six months exclusive BFing would have been better than 12 weeks by far.

        If I had been working from home I might have planned it differently; not to minimise the difficulties of trying to work from home with a baby on the premises (even if you are not the primary caregiver).

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yes I agree entirely. Pumping is brilliant for bf mothers who have to go back to work, but it’s so much better for the baby to feed directly at the breast, for many reasons including jaw formation, eye coordination, and better nutrition and immune system in that some vitamins and antibodies can get destroyed while manipulating the pumped milk.

          1. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

            True, but part of the reason for pumping is to keep the milk flowing. When I was breastfeeding, I also had to deal with some health issues my daughter had in her first year. So I simply stayed home for that year. I know that’s a luxury and many women cannot do that.

        2. Cat Tree*

          Honestly, I’d much rather pump and work than stay home with my baby for a year. Some mothers actually want to work and aren’t suited to staying home. And sure, it’s nice to say that mothers should have the choice. But if women are expected to take the full year, it really removes that choice because workplaces won’t be set up for pumping and daycares won’t be set up to care for babies.

          Also, baby formula is perfectly fine.

        3. BabyElephantWalk*

          I think a lot of the “parental leave” conversation leaves out the fact that, when speaking about many but not all situations there is one parent who has physical demands on their body (pregnancy, birth, recovery, nursing) and one who does not. And pumping – especially at work – is an awful solution for many (but not all) nursing parents.

          It kind of feels like we are so worried about equally that we are forgetting that both parents are not equal contributors when looking at the bodily demands on early parenting, and are forgetting to be equitable and are diminishing the contributions of and demands on a birthing/nursing parent.

      5. RabbitRabbit*

        For instance, Pete Buttigieg (the US Sec. of Transportation) and his husband are currently caring for their two newborns, with Sec. Buttigieg taking off some time for parental leave, and various ‘pundits’ have been making awful sexist and homophobic jokes demeaning his masculinity, asking what you even do on parental leave if you aren’t breastfeeding, and so on.

        So normalizing parental leave not only helps non-hetero couples, it also helps normalize the acceptability for straight men and for couples who adopt (straight or not).

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Even though I’m never going to use it, I’m very pleased our firm offers the same paid leave for mothers, fathers whether adoptive or not.

          That, to me, is the true state of fairness and equality. If society wishes to claim that having children is the most important thing ever the least they can do is *show* that belief by not penalising people for doing it.

          (For the record? I’m childfree. I’m not interested in kids!)

          1. Alex*

            My husband was asked this by his own mother when he let her know he’s taking 5 months for our impending second child. She was absolutely aghast. She just cannot get herself to a place where she’s ok with this and I think that’s really sad. (I mean add on to that the fact that she argues that I am “not employed by anyone” and so he shouldn’t be taking any leave at all – dude, I am self employed, I quite literally work for myself hence why he needs to be off. His leave is paid, mine isn’t so I’m working)

            Pretty sure nobody asked me what I was going to do with myself for the seven months I took off with our first (he had two weeks that time, as he was new to his company and the benefits hadn’t kicked in)

            1. TechWriter*

              Oh yeah, my mother-in-law was low-key horrified that my spouse took 9 months off with me.

              Not that she didn’t think he would be useful (OH MY GOD he was, and everyone was very sexistly impressed that he changed most of the diapers) but she was very concerned about the effect it would have on his career and whether they would realise that they didn’t need him after all and lay him off or something. Nevermind that it was a government job where taking the fullest extent of your paid/topped-up parental leave is applauded and expected.

              No such concern was accorded to my career, even though my leave was mostly unpaid (collected short-term disability and then my government-mandated EI, of course.)

          2. EPLawyer*

            Silly, he’s going to lay on the couch and eat bon-bons. Just like the mother is. Geez.

            As for OP, your company is stuck in the dark ages. No paid vacations because, of course your work is your life. WHY would you take vacation. So no paternity leave either. Because I can bet the owners were the type who were in the waiting room during the birth. Saw the kid for 2 minutes in the nurses arms. Kissed their wife. Then went off to work to hand out cigars.

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              Waiting room? Pshaw. They are in the bar with the guys passing out cigars waiting for their mom or MIL to call with the birth sex so they know whether to start on the Scotch in the blue or pink box (both bottles will die by end of night)

              1. wittyrepartee*

                Admittedly, I bet a lot of them really needed a drink while waiting to see if everything in Labor and Delivery turned out ok. Think about how stressful it is to get kicked out and have to wait and see if two family members make it out of their major medical moment okay or not.

          3. turquoisecow*

            I feel like anyone who asks that question has not cared for a newborn who needs to be feed and changed every two hours. One parent sleeps, one tends to baby. One tends to baby, one gets other stuff done like cooking or procuring food.

            My husband ended up not taking a whole lot of his parental leave but thanks to pandemic he was working from home anyway. I don’t know how I would have made it through the first two months without him.

        2. Ree*

          “So normalizing parental leave not only helps non-hetero couples, it also helps normalize the acceptability for straight men and for couples who adopt (straight or not).”

          GREAT post, RabbitRabbit.

      6. PT*

        The person healing from giving birth typically is most in need of leave, because they are healing from giving birth. That’s often why leave is structured the way it is. A lot of the “caring for and bonding with the baby!!” is just icing on the cake, really. Whoever gave birth, needs leave to rest and heal.

        1. Vveat*

          Wouldn’t it be nice if your partner got some parental leave at that time to help with the baby so that you can rest and heal? Otherwise, believe me, not much of the resting will be happening.

        2. Momma Bear*

          You can use FMLA to care for a family member who had a major health event. You wouldn’t leave someone recovering from a car accident without a caregiver so why act like someone who gave birth doesn’t need help? There were days early on where I could barely walk. Did I need my spouse home to take care of me and the baby? YES. You can’t rest and heal as well if you don’t have support. Some people have serious post-birth complications like infections or post-partum depression. I wish my spouse had been home longer for all our sakes. It is not just “icing on the cake” to help care for the baby.

        3. Cat Tree*

          At my company, all parents get 12 weeks paid leave, and birth mothers get an additional 6 or 8 weeks. I’m OK with this because of the physical recovery aspect of it and because my company is already on the high end for our industry.

        4. Emily*

          At my employer, we are eligible for the standard 12 weeks of FMLA, with 6 of them paid for vaginal birth and 8 paid for cesarean through company-provided short-term disability. So yeah, it’s only paid because it’s a medical event.

        5. A*

          I’m grateful to work for an employer (in the US) that does not make this distinction and instead offers full 12 weeks to any new parent of any gender. Their reasoning is that unless additional medical leave is required, it’s none of their business how a family was formed and employees shouldn’t be in a position of having to clarify if they adopted vs birthed (or type of birth) etc.

          That being said, I’m in a state where maternity & paternity leave is required to be offered so I’m sure that helped in framing their policy.

      7. Observer*

        When only moms get leave, it further entrenches the caregiver role of women.

        I hear that. But what this ignores is that childbirth is not just a change in family status, but a major medical event. Treating it the same as becoming a parent in any other way (that includes adoption) just obscures that in a way that’s really damaging.

        1. Anonymous for this*

          Thank you. I recently gave birth via c-section and had a dream recovery, but even a dream recovery meant that I was not able to stand up without a lot of bracing/minimizing twisting/go upstairs/etc. And standing up while holding a baby was impossible on my stitches.

          So I agree with you completely that recovery from physical childbirth is a *medical issue*. I adore adoptions and think that absolutely, parents should get time off for adopting (if that’s a baby or a teenager, I don’t care, bonding time with a new addition of the family is important). Too many times maternity leave is couched as “bonding” (I mean, yes, that’s nice and all, but I also had major abdominal surgery!) or only for breastfeeding moms (I formula fed, but still needed the time off).

          I had a coworker complain that child-free people don’t get leave off for their own self-care*, which… I wholly support a person’s decision to be child-free, but also it really annoyed me, because I had a hellacious pregnancy where I was hospitalized five times, had major surgery, and then was not allowed to rest because I had a small wrinkly red thing screaming at me every 2 hours for a bottle and all the while my body is shifting and changing from pregnant to non-pregnant. To equate self-care with recovery from a medical event seemed disingenuous. Like all recovery might be self-care, but not all self-care is recovery.

          There needs to be a shift from thinking of maternity leave as a vacation to recovery.

          *What made this even more annoying was we don’t even have maternity leave! I took FMLA and used up ALL my PTO in order to recover.

      8. Cat Tree*

        Yes! Even though I’m a single mother by choice, parental leave for fathers benefits me. My company tries very hard to minimize bias in hiring, but subconscious bias still exists. This leave removes that issue where a woman might take leave but a man wouldn’t. I just came back from maternity leave, and found out my male peer will be going out on parental leave in December. This reduces the differences others might have in perception of our performance.

        1. Cat Tree*

          Oh also, I wanted to add something else. If I had a husband, I would much rather him get some leave than for me to get more leave (since I’m already starting with a good amount). I *wanted* to go back to work and didn’t want further time off, but it would have helped me to have a partner at home during my transition to work while I’m ironing out the logistics. Paid leave for fathers benefits mothers (in addition to the rest of the family).

          1. The Rural Juror*

            This! Not my own experience, but a friend of mine was able to take his parental leave (6 weeks) in 2 increments. He stayed home for 3 weeks right after the birth, then took the other 3 a little later when she was transitioning back to her job. I remember them having trouble lining up childcare because of waitlists in the area, so it was a huge help to have that flexibility. Otherwise, it may have been difficult for her to be able to go back to her job that she loved.

      9. Foxgloves*

        In the UK, the person who has given birth is required to take off some time (like, actually required) for post-birth recovery, but outside of that, you’re able to do “shared parental leave”- i.e. share your entitlement to leave after a baby between the parents. It’s mostly still referred to as “maternity” and “paternity” leave, but it’s a step in the right direction in most ways!

      10. Miss Muffet*

        Parental leave that is not tied to short-term disability (which is typically what “maternity leave” is) benefits not just dads, but adoptive parents as well. I have both an adopted and a biological child, and I can assure you that the bonding and caregiving needs were the same for both (and in many cases, is more intense with non-bio kids) that an equivalent paid leave for the adoption would have been most welcome (I had 6 weeks paid STD for the bio, 1 week paid “adoption leave” and the rest unpaid FMLA for the adopted child – husband had no leave for either beyond PTO). Also, it just says a lot in terms of how adoption is seen as second-best when it comes to family formation. Just make parental leave x number of weeks for any parent with a new child in the home. Period. All families, and all parents, should be treated equally!

        1. Nelliebelle1197*

          To an extent. Many of us have difficuly pregnancies – it is a major medical event and leave for “bonding” with any child is not the same thing.

      11. Golden Bootstraps*

        I think we can do that while recognizing that regardless of who is at home caring for a newborn, the birthing parent needs their own leave time to recover from pregnancy and childbirth. I think California’s & Washington’s public short term disability/parental leave programs both allow for a period of leave for a birthing parent as opposed to the child care part of the leave.

      12. Koalafied*

        Agreed 100%. It’ll help more people in less common family situations if it’s a broader benefit, and the great thing is that typically the broader a benefit is, the more politically feasible (from national politics to company politics) it is to implement. So there’s no reason to limit the goal to just women, or prioritize women first and men later. Women, men, non-binary, trans men, bio parents, foster parents, adoptive parents – it’s good for society if all primary caregivers have access to parental leave when a new dependent arrives.

      1. Dust Bunny*


        However, the fact that stuff like this doesn’t seem to get adequate attention until men “bravely” start asking for it is endlessly obnoxious.

    2. Artemesia*

      When my last child was born, my university offered zero maternity leave and childbirth was not covered in my company provided medical insurance. We had to pay out of pocket and if I had needed someone to cover classes, either colleagues volunteered their time or I had to pay out of pocket for the sub. I timed the birth fairly well so I was lucky that colleagues could take my last few classes and exam for undergrads and I taught my last grad seminar the Weds after giving birth on Sunday — then of course did all the reading, correcting and grading. I think it is better now.

      I am shocked that the OP’s husband’s company doesn’t even have paid sick leave/vacation. Unless the compensation otherwise is amazing that would have me looking further. Surely a better company serves similar clients.

      1. Artemesia*

        ps at the same time I got no maternity benefits at all, my husband got the day of the birth off — not even an extra day or two.

        1. Perfectly Particular*

          I can’t believe it was legal for maternity/delivery benefits to be excluded from your health plan! That combined with the non-existent leave policy just goes to show that some employers only hire women because they have to, not because they value what we bring to the workplace.

      2. Kim*

        You would have have to PAY for someone else to do your work?
        I just can’t even. Sorry that happened to you.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I agree parental leave is a good thing but the reason maternity leave is centered is because physical recovery from the birth is necessary, not just baby care. I had a c-section (which about 1/3rd of all births so) which is major open abdominal surgery. I couldn’t lift things, climb stairs or drive for weeks. Walking to the bathroom was really painful for about 2 weeks. I’m sure non-c-section deliveries aren’t a cakewalk either. Fathers just don’t have those physical recovery issues. Plus breast/chest feeding is not equally shared.

      1. Perfectly Particular*

        Both things are necessary, physical recovery for mom, and baby care. Moms should not have to juggle all that by themselves while Dad goes back to work the next day.

        For both of my leaves, I had my mom and MIL come from 500 miles away to help out for the first few weeks – if they hadn’t been available, I think I would have really struggled, both physically and mentally. Especially that 2nd time, when I had a busy 3 year old and an early baby! I actually went back to work 2 weeks early that time, as I was so done hanging out by myself with the kiddos. If my husband had more leave, he could have taken over for a few weeks and kept them out of daycare for a bit longer.

      2. JB*

        Yes, but who is taking care of you and the baby during that physical recovery time? Surely it’s better for everyone if the father is present? The same way he might get FMLA leave if you were to get a non-birth-related injury or medical condition…?

    4. Boof*

      I disagree. I do not like being stuck alone with the baby, and if men took the same leave as women it’d be one less thing people can site as a “reason” for pay inequity. Having leave for two parents that can be divided is best, though accounting wise (since these are usually company benefits not government benefits in the USA, unlike many places with extended paid leave) it may be easiest just to dedicate X amount per employee

    5. Rock Prof*

      This should definitely be a reason to push for universal parental leave. The state university I teach at had and still has no parental leave; FMLA with a combo of my leave and unpaid was all that was available.

    6. SlimeKnight*

      I work in the public sector (not Federal, though) and there is no parental leave here. The vacation/sick leave is generous enough that I was able to cobble together 5-7 weeks of paternity leave for each of our kids. Not great, but better than many people, including my wife, who had to take unpaid maternity leave.

    7. TimesChange*

      If men start to expect parental leave, it will push leave forward for everyone. “Getting leave for women first” hasn’t been working. Getting leave for everyone is better on multiple levels — both for the parents actually doing care and equity for all women in the workplace.

      1. Sandman*

        I agree. The physical demands of childbirth and nursing present real physical needs, but strategically focusing on the needs of women is always a harder sell.

      2. kt*

        Agree. Companies that decide to institute “paternity leave” will feel pretty stupid just giving fathers time off, so then they’ll give mothers time off. In my male-dominated company, paternity leave is just going to be more personal for more directors and execs. Of course they care in theory about people giving birth, but it really hits them when it’s their own leave on the line — and that’s what they’ll advocate for. I’m fine getting more mat leave as a side effect.

    8. Rose*

      Taking care of babies is not more a woman’s job than a man’s job, and employers should absolutely not be making that choice for couples. If one person births the baby they should get some physical recovery time, but continuing to give women significantly more time off forces many women to step back in their careers and take on the primary caregiver role while the man is the breadwinner, regardless of what actually makes sense for the couple.

    9. wittyrepartee*

      Actually, I think it’s easier on both sexes if we start pushing for parental leave rather than gender specific leave. Men want to see their children, and women want to not be seen as a special liability when it comes to hiring and time off for life events.

  3. Viki*


    I do this. I fully admit I do this. This is usually step 4, when I’ve already mentioned it directly to the report, did the FYI message to the supervising manager, and then the formal manager with dates, times, examples and nothing has changed. There are still mistakes and at this point I don’t trust the manager to get it fixed.

    You say you address it promptly, but does it show, does it repeat? And do the teams that you work with, see the corrections/actions?

    Because when I get to cc-ing the senior manager, it’s because I am screaming into a black hole of no response/results and mistakes keep happening

    1. Amaranth*

      True, I’ve started copying another manager – or MY manager – when I can’t get a problem resolved and its starting to reflect back on me. The other team might have a need to demonstrate to their own managers that they aren’t the source of the errors.

      LW4 needs to find out if their team is saying ‘sure, its fine now’ and yet still sends off defective product, or if there is a wider miscommunication of what the other team needs.

      1. LW4*

        I have found someone who is doing this! They’re on a PIP but some of those errors were things I wasn’t aware of because the complaints went straight to that employee at first. Now that I’m aware I can address it. I also want to make sure people know I’m addressing it without sharing that the employee is on a PIP.

        1. Lab Boss*

          That might require an additional level of oversight- having either yourself or a more senior member of your team review that person’s output before it’s actually released to the wider company. I understand why you wouldn’t want to reveal the PIP. From the outside looking in, though, if an employee is making consistent mistakes and their manager just says “no it’s fine, I’m handling it” and the mistakes are STILL HAPPENING, I’m going to be really annoyed and question that manager’s judgement.

        2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

          Maybe you and this other manager need to have regular meetings to go over expectations and performance? It sounds like improving communication will be better all around, and you’re not asking for anything weird, you just want to know what’s happening so you can address anything that needs attention.

    2. The OTHER other*

      I wondered the same. I have done everything the LW a complains about, though only as a last resort when I have encountered repeated problems. It might be that the other managers etc are being jerks by CC’ing a grandboss, but it’s worth asking whether the problems are really being addressed in ways so that the other departments see improvement.

      That you are putting people on PIP’s if necessary etc sounds good, but is the frequency of reported errors actually decreasing, or not? If not, maybe the issue is training and supervision/quality control. I think you need to objectively reevaluate your department’s performance.

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Yes, this.

      This just started within the past couple of weeks, and the emails seem to be more frequent than before.

      This line makes it sound like there are a lot of complaints. Given the situation LW describes, I’d be concerned that the complaints are becoming less about the team and more about LW’s ability to manage – or at least to me it sounds awfully like an orchestrated campaign to illustrate that.

      So I’d also proactively go to my own supervisor for advice, make sure they have the relevant context and confirm if I’m handling it to their satisfaction. I would not want to be blindsided, or have my supervisor blindsided by a complaint coming from higher up. That’s so much harder to recover from.

      1. LW4*

        We work with schedules assigning staff to work directly with patients in a medical field. Each direct report handles 90-115 people’s schedules. Working with someone’s schedule gets people pretty riled up and it’s pretty visible to a lot of people if a mistake has been made.

        I’ll try to get more information to see why the Supervisor is being cc’d. I’m pretty transparent with everyone on how I’m handling things without losing privacy for my team.

        1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

          They likely noted to the supervisor that there was an issue, and regardless of whether you are fixing the issues they are still happening. Likely the supervisor has asked to be cc’ed so they can see what complaints are being sent, the frequency, and if there is a pattern (same type of mistake, same person, etc.). I expect that after a pattern is seen the supervisor will approach you to discuss additional actions. Thus if you have employees on PIPs that you don’t want to share with the other managers, I think you should loop your supervisor in.

          I’ve been on the ‘cc me on all interactions with team X’ side before, so I expect that the supervisor will be reaching out to you soon once they get an understanding of what the issues are, and how you and your team are responding.

    4. LW4*

      I do this too! I guess I just felt a little blindsided because some of these things I wasn’t aware of some of it or the frequency of it.

      1. Lab Boss*

        That’s why if I’m struggling with employees from another department, one of my first moves is to start CC’ing their boss (not my own). That ensures the boss has visibility of the problem and a chance to correct it within their own team. From your letter it sounded like you were aware of at least some of the problems- I think you may have erred by treating each mistake as an individual mistake instead of digging deeper when multiple individual mistakes happened. That could have helped you catch the pattern before the other team reached the point of looping in additional management.

        In your shoes I’d be going straight to the other manager(s) to apologize for the errors and let them know I was adjusting my team’s processes to make sure they get caught. That should get you a little grace because the pattern has been acknowledged and is being corrected- you then have to actually dig into your team and figure out how things are slipping through the cracks, and fix it.

      2. JB*

        Frankly (and unfortunately) that sounds like an issue with your team, not the team sending the complaints.

      3. Cold Fish*

        That is so frustrating! A few years ago another department had a manager, who it turned out was constantly complaining about errors coming out of my dept (I’m not the manager by the way). It all came to a head when Big Boss had a management meeting and brought up the topic. My manager was blindsided because the error issue was never mentioned to her at all so it was the first she was hearing about it! Turned out other department had changed how they were doing something but never bothered to tell us. We were just plugging along as normal since we were never told otherwise.

        Other manager wasn’t happy looking like an idiot in front of Big Boss. After this, every error coming out of this department to other department became a we “ALWAYS” make this error. (ex. internal email to other manager with “thakns” instead of “thanks” would become, “well, we have to double check everything going to customer because they ALWAYS have typos”). Yes, we would make an occasional error or typo but no more than anyone else might. We are human after all.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I agree. I reserve CCing my own manager for the times when it seems like nothing else has worked and the errors continue from the other person/department.

    6. TeaWrecks*

      Exactly. I try to resolve things first with the person I’m working with. It actually takes a lot before I’ll CC their manager. Most people do this, I think, then walk away frustrated. But then employees like me talk and complain to their own managers about how many mistakes Team X is making but it’s not documented anywhere, so we’re actually asked to CC our managers. And then my manager and all the others can escalate a host of documented issues to their own boss, most of which LW wouldn’t even have seen or heard about.

      It feels personal, but it’s not. Because the point is if LW is only hearing about even a fraction of the issues then there are MANY more LW isn’t hearing about, and it means there’s a breakdown somewhere that needs to be fixed. By escalating and consolidating the issues it allows a bigger picture view of where issues exist.

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        Yes. This. I always had to give status updates and, after reading the updates, my boss would often tell me to cc him on emails so he could handle things at his level.

    7. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, and I think OP’s instinct is likely correct that a bunch of people suddenly starting to CC him means the pattern has been discussed and the boss has asked to be in the loop.

      They don’t seem concerned enough IMO that an increase in complaints either means an increase in errors or that the errors have been worse than you previously realized and they have decided now they need to escalate every one to try to get the pattern addressed. Neither scenario looks good.

    1. Magenta Sky*

      And even if they do say something, I’d be inclined to ask if it’s that important, why can’t *they* drive her home?

      1. Artemesia*

        This. ‘I have obligations after work and can’t do this and she lives the opposite way I do — but if you think it is important, you could drive her.’

        This would be a firm ‘no’ especially since she is not even near you.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        ha ha ha this was my first thought: Let the boss drive her if he thinks it’s so important.

        What, it’s out of his way? Yeah. Yeah, I thought so.

      3. Van Wilder*

        The request is insulting and undermining to the employee, as an adult professional. People take the bus. I know it’s less common in some areas than others but it shouldn’t be shocking (classism much?) And would he be suggesting this if she were a man taking the bus? Let this adult live her life.

        I would personally rather have some peace on the bus with my headphones at the end of a long day, rather than make awkward chit chat with my boss for 20 minutes.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      Coming to say this. You could certainly check in with the employee and make sure she feels safe, and maybe if she says that she doesn’t love taking the bus, make a couple of suggestions about how she can adjust the situation (offer to adjust her schedule so she can leave earlier, or see if there’s some way you can start offering employees a stipend for rideshares (plenty of offices have transportation subsidies that you could use for an Uber if you wanted to)). But your employee is presumably a grown woman who can manage her transportation just fine. Her transportation is not your problem, and literally millions of people take buses every day and it’s fine. If I were your employee, I might even be weirded out by having to decline a ride with my boss every day.

      Boss can imply all they want; you don’t have to do it. Leave that hint right where they dropped it.

      1. Relativity is relative*

        “… make a couple of suggestions about how she can adjust the situation (offer to adjust her schedule so she can leave earlier, or see if there’s some way you can start offering employees a stipend for rideshares…”

        No. There’s infantilizing with the boss’s suggestion, but this takes it to another level.

        And what about someone who cycles to work? It will be dark when they go home. Cycling can be dangerous!

        The boss should go around the office, check the commutes of everyone and set up a minibus/bus to get all home safely rather than select a solo young female to ‘protect’.

        But really, no. I would have been appalled had any of this been said to me as a younger female. I’d be mortified to have a colleague drive 40 minutes out of their way because boss thought I wasn’t capable.

        1. TimesChange*

          GammaGirl did couch it, only if the coworker might want/need suggestions, “and maybe if she says that she doesn’t love taking the bus,”

        2. Lynn Whitehat*

          Same. I take the bus to work, and I would just die if I found out my boss was trying to “solve the problem” for my “safety”.

        3. Hil*

          Seeing if someone needs a flex schedule is not infantilizing in the same way that deciding grown a woman is not safe on the bus is, at all. Public transportation is notoriously annoying to time; if a flex schedule can be offered to anyone who relies on it, it would be a kindness to let them know.

      2. Semi-Anon*

        As a lifelong transit user, I’d have been pretty taken aback if a coworker or boss had come to me all aflutter with concern because I was taking the bus home. After work. When it gets dark. And wanted to solve a non-existent problem they had decided I had.

        If the office is going to offer things like rides home, stipends for Ubers, or flexible schedules so you people don’t have to be outside after dark, then those should be offered to the employees as a whole, rather than specifically targeted towards individual people.

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          Agree, which is why I said see whether the office can offer employeeS, plural, a subsidy. If this lady’s commute is of concern, then so is everybody’s.

          I also mentioned adjusting her schedule because the letter writer said the employee is new. She may not feel comfortable asking for that sort of thing yet. But if she says she’s fine, then I fully agree that LW and her boss should leave it alone.

          But I don’t think it’s infantilizing at all to check in with a new employee and make sure everything is going okay. LW can check in with this lady about several things about her new job, including her commute, without acting like she’s 10 and doesn’t know what she’s doing.

        2. AY*

          I walked a couple miles to my first job out of law school. One of my coworkers absolutely insisted that the walk wasn’t safe and some days would bother me until I relented and let her drive me home. It was a very well-trafficked and well-lit street, so I didn’t share her concerns, but it was sometimes easier to just give in and take the ride. I appreciated the concern, but as you say, it was solving a non-existent problem!

        3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

          As a transit user I HAVE had coworkers and bosses get all aflutter about me taking the bus. Such a nuisance.

          The thing a boss can do that’s helpful is to look up the bus schedule themselves, see how it aligns with the start/end times of work, and make it a policy (as a part of encouraging folks to use greener transportation options) to allow a bit of flex if that allows the worker to get out to the stop more efficiently and not leave them standing around unnecessarily for a later bus.

          1. Nightengale*

            Me too.

            The “best” was when I was in medical school and was taking a subway and a bus to a different part of the city for a month elective. It was a snowy February and everyone was very very worried about my ability to get there in poor weather. The joke was on them the day I had no difficulty getting in but they were all snowed into their driveways in the suburbs.

            I find in general that professionals who drive and live in locations where most people drive, tend to think of buses and bus stops as inherently dangerous.

            I have very very rarely accepted rides from coworkers to travel to a remote, not public transit accessible work activity.

            Right now with COVID I feel safer on the bus.

          2. Archaeopteryx*

            Which is extra silly when driving is demonstrably more unsafe than taking transit. But people are more risk-averse to “scarier” but less likely threats (some kind of bus stop abduction?) than much more likely but mundane ones (car crash).

        4. Kiki*

          Yes! It really frustrates me when people try to insist on giving me a ride somewhere. I don’t have a car because I don’t want one! I take the bus because it’s a perfectly reasonable and cost-effective way to commute. Having transportation subsidies available to everyone is good and could help a lot of people in a pinch, but singling out bus-riders as folks who need assistance is wrong.

          1. Loulou*

            And on the other hand, I once lived in a small city where the bus was the only public transit option, and was thrilled when people would offer me a ride! It’s rude to insist if someone has already declined, sure, but in this small city it was absolutely quicker and more pleasant to accept a ride than to wait for a bus that only came every 30 minutes.

        5. another Hero*

          also a non-driver and this is my feeling too! the boss has invented a problem with the employee’s commute without any say from the employee, who probably, if they’ve been a transit user for any length of time, has run into people trying to force them into cars before and would find it exhausting, not generous.

          additionally, the idea that the employee would want to be driven home supposes the employee is willing to be bound to the OP’s schedule in much the way the OP doesn’t want to be bound to the employee’s. they might have other places to go after work some days like anyone else, and it’s a lot easier to do that using the transit system than someone else’s car.

          but again: non-drivers in environments full of drivers get this boss’s kind of reaction a lot, it’s patronizing nonsense, and op (but more importantly, op’s boss) should know that it’s perfectly likely the employee would be annoyed to be asked, even if they wouldn’t show it.

          1. Meep*

            As someone who has been expected to drive new employees home because they take the bus, that is 100% what happened. Boss created a problem in her head and wants to show what a “great” company it is at LW’s expense.

          2. Archaeopteryx*

            Yes assuming it would be a treat for the coworker to be driven home by someone she doesn’t know well (and would have to make conversation with) vs. a major emotional drain in lieu of relaxing on the bus with audiobook or music is a big mistake. Besides, the coworker may not want someone she doesn’t know well to know exactly where she lives!

        6. Dust Bunny*

          Ugh, my boyfriend hates that I take the bus to work sometimes (or did before COVID). He’s convinced I’m going to get kidnapped.

          If I ever get kidnapped, it’s not going to be on days I ride the bus, when I’m downtown with lights everywhere, two million witnesses, and perpetually bogged-down traffic. I mean, somebody *might* be able to stuff me in his car but he couldn’t go anywhere once he did.

          1. Mannequin*

            You should show him the statistics that 85-90+% of violent sexual attacks on women are perpetrated by people they already know, not strangers.

        7. EmmaPoet*

          Same. And I agree, as long as they offer this option to everyone, it’s fine. I would be very uncomfortable if they only did it for me (also concerned that my coworkers would start resenting my special treatment.)

        8. metadata minion*

          Ditto! I walk to work because I’m lucky enough to live a mile from my workplace, and people get *so nervous* about me walking at night.

          I live in Massachusetts. The sun sets at 4:30 in the winter. “Walking alone at night” is basically Tuesday for me. And we live in an incredibly low-crime area; I have almost never felt unsafe walking at night, and those few times I have gotten a weird vibe nothing has actually happened.

          1. PT*

            Ugh yes. I’ve lived in Massachusetts- where the sun sets at 4:30 in winter- and now I live in Georgia where the sun rises at 8:00 am in the spring and fall right when you adjust the clocks.

            Nobody’s rearranging the world so the workday begins when the sun rises and ends in everyone’s respective locations.

          2. EmmaPoet*

            I used to live in Anchorage, AK, within walking distance of my job. I really liked the walk, even in winter and at night. The only issue I ever had was with the odd moose that had wandered into town, and I had alternate routes just in case that happened.

      3. Artemesia*

        No — this is taking on her transport as your problem. Her transport is her problem to solve. Once you are advising her, the next step is driving her when none of those suggestions works. Public transport is not usually dangerous. One of the benefits of having a car and driving is not being tied to someone else’s schedule and it is outrageous to expect a -co-worker to go 20 minutes in the opposite direction to provide uber service to another employee apparently for free.

      4. Observer*

        You could certainly check in with the employee and make sure she feels safe

        That won’t give the OP any actionable information.

        maybe if she says that she doesn’t love taking the bus, make a couple of suggestions about how she can adjust the situation

        Bad idea. The employee is not a child and the OP should not be volunteering that kind of advice.

        or see if there’s some way you can start offering employees a stipend for rideshares

        That’s an interesting idea that the OP could look at – INDEPENDENTLY of this particular employee’s (dis)comfort with public transport. Or they could bring it up if their boss actually explicitly asks them to drive this employee.

      5. Formerly Ella Vader*

        I’d be super uncomfortable if a boss thought I wasn’t safe taking the bus, and if it was a more-senior co-worker I’d still feel pretty awkward. Because I’d want to say “that’s sexist (you look at me and think I’m at risk) and it’s classist (you’re drawing inappropriate conclusions about the other people who take buses) ” but I wouldn’t want people at my new job to think I’m weird or rude. Also, I wouldn’t necessarily want to say to them “No, I prefer to spend my commute in privacy with strangers; socializing with co-workers for work time and lunch time is enough thank you.”

        Mind you, I don’t mind if someone close in the hierarchy, or a new work friend, offers a ride to the bus stop once on a rainy day. I wouldn’t necessarily accept the offer, but it wouldn’t feel like overstepping. Or if someone said “When I took the bus, I didn’t like walking on that side street without a sidewalk in the winter – I used to cut through the parking lots to get to the next bus stop.”

        I’ve been the newbie commuting by bus to an industrial-park site where everyone else drove. Some people acted weird about it, and I bit my tongue while leaving home early enough that they wouldn’t be judging me unreliable. I’ve also been the small young woman who was really tired of getting unsolicited patronizing safety tips from older men.

      6. BabyElephantWalk*

        Even that feels gross and overstepping. If the employee has concerns about the bus that is her issue, not a work issue. If my boss came and started asking how I feel about my transportation to work I’d start to wonder what was up – am I perceived to be often late/leaving early because of transportation? Inflexible because of it?

        And even if an employee doesn’t feel great about their bussing situation, it’s on them to come up with a request for help not her supervisor to start treating her like a baby.

    3. Bilateralrope*

      Even if the boss says something directly, refuse. If asked to do it, say no.

      If ordered to do it, that means transporting the coworker should count as being on the clock. Which can have pay and insurance implications. Pay is obvious. Insurance because some insurance only covers personal use of the vehicle. If you get into an accident while driving on the clock, you won’t be covered. So ask the boss about pay and insurance for this work outside normal hours.

      1. Observer*

        Even if the boss says something directly, refuse. If asked to do it, say no.

        Sure. But at the moment the boss is “implying”. Don’t take that bait.

        Make the boss make it explicit. Either boss won’t do that, or you get a chance to point out the things that the boss now has to work out since they are making it an official part of your job.

    4. Sue*

      I think it’s absurd that the boss is pressuring OP to drive another employee home. Is the company going to pay for the time and gas? It sounds like with drop off it would be an additional 45 minutes every day. That is completely unreasonable. I would ignore and if that doesn’t work, directly say you’re not able to do that. I wouldn’t even get into why, just NO.

    5. Not Australian*

      My take on this is that it’s the *boss* who is expressing discomfort with the idea of the employee taking the bus; the employee may be perfectly fine with it.

      Having been – years ago, admittedly – the ’employee’ in this situation, I can’t begin to express how utterly patronising it felt to know that my boss considered me incapable of taking a bus safely and had put measures in place to have me ‘escorted’ despite my vociferous protests.

      Attempting to voluntell another member of staff to act as chauffeur is just another reiteration of the same old sexist attitude IMHO. Yes, employee safety is certainly something the boss should be concerned about; however at the same time if you are employing adults you need to trust them to make their own transport arrangements and only intervene if there is a clear and urgent need to do so, which doesn’t sound as if it is the case here.

      Transport arrangements and the safety of them are among the things people consider when accepting or rejecting a job, and unless something drastic has happened to change either the conditions of the journey or the employee’s personal situation there should be no further need for the employer to intervene after the fact.

      1. Bamcheeks*

        It’s not just patronising, it’s ignorant. It’s entirely based on the “sexual violence is perpetrated by strange men in the dark, not men you know or work with”.

        This changes slightly if OP is female, but if OP is male and the male boss is trying to push a younger female employee into getting a ride home with her male boss every night? He just has no idea about what actual safety and autonomy looks like.

        This isn’t to suggest that you’re going to harm her, OP, but just as a principle, “pressure female employer to get a ride home with male employee because it’s safer” is the kind of paternalistic, prejudiced and ignorant action that forces women into situations where we are vulnerable and dependent on someone else.

        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely. I usually prefer public transport to getting a lift because the public transport is covered by CCTV whereas a colleague’s car is a private setting where anything can happen. I’ve had occasional bad experiences on public transport but the worst harassment in my working life I had was from a colleague in a previous company during work time.

          I think you’re right it’s a false assumption by the boss about what is safe and what is dangerous. I used to live in a fairly working class area near a football ground whose supporters were renowned for being unpleasantly rowdy. Even on match days I never had a problem from them when I was getting the train from the local station (by the ground) because their main interest was the game. Some of my male colleagues were quite surprised I felt safe there.

          Public transport isn’t by definition a shocking danger zone that women shouldn’t enter. Unless there is a particular danger in the place where OP is living and working then the boss should leave well enough alone. If there is a particular risk or danger then the colleague should be asked what would help and if there is an intervention they’d like.

          1. SarahKay*

            I’ve mentioned below that I pointed out to a male colleague that statistically I was safer walking home alone (in the dark, no less!) than I was getting into a car, unaccompanied, with him or any other man. He was gobsmacked; he clearly had never looked beyond the all-too-common assumption that lone female out after dark = most dangerous thing she can do.
            And in the interests of fairness I should point out that many of my female co-workers clearly assumed the same thing; it wasn’t just men doing the ‘but you’re not safe!’ bit when I walk home alone in the dark.

        2. Lyudie*

          I was the young female employee riding the bus home and I’d have felt much more awkward and vulnerable riding home with a male coworker or boss (alone with them in an environment they had full control over) than I ever did on the bus (with a driver who is probably trained in identifying problems as well as other witnesses).

        3. Smithy*

          This this this.

          In addition to the immediate dynamics of being alone in a car with a more senior coworker, it can compound safety concerns on stalking by having to give a male coworker their address. I will add that if there are perceived or assessed security concerns about a workplace’s neighborhood at any given time – either of day or during specific times of year – then it’s worth thinking through broader policies around how to address that. It might be a case of working at the office past 9pm or before 7am entitles staff to expense a taxi or rideshare. I used to work in an office that on a certain day of the year put the office in a neighborhood with known increased risk of violence/insecurity. Therefore staff were given the option to either leave the office early, work from home, or take the day off without penalty based on their personal assessment of the risk.

          In both situations, those policies were delivered as being mindful of all staff safety, explaining why those choices were made, as well as respecting staff agency to assess their own situation of the cities they lived in.

      2. Artemesia*

        If she were assaulted on the bus last week, it STILL would not be reasonable for the boss to expect another employee to add 40+ minutes to their own commute to drive her home. There are many ways for the boss to solve this — pay for a Lyft, drive her himself etc if it his problem to solve without drafting an employee. ANd there are liability and insurance issues involved. The employee should not even give reasons ‘No that isn’t possible’ is enough.

      3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I can’t help but picture the new employee as being very very pretty, and maybe the same blonde hair and age as the boss’s own daughter… but of course I’m jaded and cynical.

      4. fueled by coffee*

        Yeah. In addition to the many great points others have made here, there’s also the fact that even as it gets darker earlier in the winter, the *time* you commute typically doesn’t change and is typically shared with the same number of other people commuting. I sometimes get nervous taking transit late at night because it’s empty. I do not get nervous taking transit at 5:30pm just because it happens to be dark out in December. Unless you work in some industry with super weird hours, it being light or dark shouldn’t make the bus more or less safe.

        Presumably the employee was aware of seasons when she took the job and decided that taking the bus was still worth it.

    6. Wine Not Whine*

      Whether or not you have time commitments after work has no part of this conversation.

      “[Employee] is an adult. If they feel unsafe about their commuting arrangements, I’m certain they’ll do something about it.”

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Exactly. The reason to say no is not “I’m too busy.” The reason is “this isn’t part of my job” and “she’s an adult who has already successfully arranged for her own transportation.”

      2. Mr. Shark*

        Yeah, I didn’t think that was the right response by Alison. Making excuses rather than addressing the problem seems like the wrong approach.

    7. Sara without an H*

      I seem to recall a post from a few years back (don’t have time to hunt for it right now), where a young woman wrote in because she was frustrated that so many of her coworkers expressed “concern” about her taking public transportation to work. She suspected (the commentariat agreed) that the problem was that public transportation in her city was heavily used by members of minority groups and her white coworkers didn’t think she would be “safe.” I think something similar is going on here.

      And btw, there is no evidence from OP#3 that the woman herself is concerned about the situation. She might be surprised and annoyed that her managers were so “concerned” about her ability, as a grown ass woman, to get herself back and forth to work.

    8. Coffee Anonymous*

      So glad to see this thread already here since the suggestion that grown women can’t manage their own transportation and are delicate flowers in need of protection has always gotten my dander up. I’m a woman in my 50s and have been taking public transit alone since my teens. At 18, my daughter walked the half mile home from her restaurant job at 1 or 2 AM for over a year. Pre-COVID, when I traveled for work and jet lag was messing with my schedule, I regularly went out for solo walks in strange cities at 4 AM. The first time a coworker insisted that I not walk 2 blocks to my parked car by myself after dark, it did NOT go well. (Side note: After 2 years and many long discussions, said coworker & I have an excellent relationship and are among each other’s biggest professional supporters.)

      The manager’s job is to 1) be flexible in responding to employees’ reasonable requests for accommodation, and 2) create a climate where they know it’s OK to make such requests. It’s NOT to decide preemptively that grown adults can’t manage their own transportation, or that the options they’ve chosen aren’t acceptable.

    9. Another one rides the bus!*

      In several US cities I’ve lives in, the fear is racially based. Mostly Black people ride the bus, ergo the bus is dangerous. Yes, it could be paternalism, but the racial tropes are the ones I’ve encountered.

      1. Another one rides the bus!*

        OTOH, it is the height of paternalism to decide someone can’t adult for themselves and then assign one of your underlings to take care of that.

    10. Nanani*

      Boss probably thinks they’re being helpful but unless bus-colleague specifically asks you, assume boss is just being a busybody.

      People who drive can be pretty patronizing if not downright infantilizing to people who do not. LW does not need to join in.

    11. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Perhaps you could channel the boss’s concern into working with your city to improve public transit for everyone!

    12. Faith the twilight slayer*

      And can I add, someone else’s transportation issues are simply not your responsibility. These days there are plenty of alternatives to public transportation, and none of them are “this other employee owns a vehicle”. If the boss wants to make transportation for an employee happen, they’re welcome to to take on the responsibility themselves.

  4. Pixel Slinger*

    LW2– I fully agree with you that it’s a mark of privilege, but I also think it’s bad for the kids in question. I’d worry about the kid’s self-reliance if they were recommended by a parent!

    1. Virginia Plain*

      Me too. The kid is on LinkedIn himself (I assume, as it says she’s tagged him) so it just looks to me like, awww diddums needs mummy to help her little prince get a job. IMHO there’s no place for parents in hunting jobs or internships whether via LinkedIn or not. It can only lead to nepotism or accusations thereof.
      Where I am it is just Not Done. There was a to-do at my work a few years ago where a parent employed there was found to have coached a son/daughter through our application process giving them an unfair advantage. The parent lost their job (in the U.K. where as frequently discussed you can’t sack someone without a good reason). The idea of someone getting an internship because the boss knows their uncle is just weird to me, like something from the 1950s.

      1. OP#2*

        Yes, the kid was very active in the comments responding to people. The poor optics seemed to skate right over both their heads.

        1. JB*

          If the kid is in/graduating college, they probably don’t have the experience yet to realize how this looks – they’re used to mom helping with everything. (And I bet this mom has always helped with EVERYTHING.)

          1. EPLawyer*

            Yep. Which of course raises the question — is Mumsy going to complete the application, accompany her darling offspring to the interview, and be on the phone to the supervisor the minute anyone dares to criticize her darling?

            It’s not the privilege thing. It’s the not letting the kid make his own mistakes and be a grown up. If they are graduating from college, in general, they are legally and adult. LET THEM ADULT.

          2. fueled by coffee*

            Yeah, I’d bet that mom is probably telling the kid that ~everyone~ gets their first job like this, obviously, and the kid is too inexperienced to know that this is different even from typical well-connected “soft nepotism” (to borrow Smithy’s term) and comes across as very inappropriate.

        2. Archaeopteryx*

          Cringe can be passed down just like inheritance money, it would seem. I’m embarrassed on both their behalves.

        3. Van Wilder*

          The worst employees I’ve ever had came from referrals from their parents. If I saw this LinkedIn post, I would run in the other direction.

    2. Artemesia*

      I agree mainly because this is unsubtle. But I well remember decades ago that my high school peers who got well paid summer jobs all got them with Daddy’s help; the rest of us got crappy jobs if we were lucky or none at all. And today most people with the jobs that are most likely to lead to very high incomes get the through parental connections. Not all of course — but many many.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I’ll remark that it’s getting worse, particularly in fields such as journalism and media more generally (at least in the UK). It’s part of a wider problem that also includes unpaid internships.

      2. Allison*

        I remember this too, kids usually got the good summer jobs and good internships (i.e. internships that either paid well, or reliably led to a good job, or both) through connections – mainly family connections. But for some reason, it’s one thing to have mom and dad help you when you’re a teenager, or even just still in school; it’s another to have them helping to connect you with a job, on a *highly* visible platform, when you’ve graduated college and are trying to start your official, professional career.

    3. Nanani*

      Especially since this isn’t an organic contact like “Hey bob, my johnny is about to graduate with a degree in rice sculpting, does your firm still have rice sculpting internships?”
      It’s literally HEY EVERYONE! Make work for my kid!

      (But don’t hold it against the kid unless it becomes clear that the kid requested it)

    4. Smithy*

      I’ll admit that my early professional experiences (that were not food service/retail) were entirely through means like this, that I’ve always referred to as soft nepotism. Not getting a job because my family owned the business or was in the c-suite, but my parents professional connections helped me jump the queue.

      It’s 100% a mark of privilege, it’s problematic, and I’m not championing the experience I admittedly benefitted from. But, in the spectrum of what it means about the young people in question – I think the problem is that it often doesn’t indicate very much about what they do or don’t bring to the table. Other than privilege. I grew up with older cousins who had even more privilege than I did, saw what they did and then when I was of age actively asked my mother how she might be able to help to connect me to early internships in her sector. In my eyes, I was being reliant on using the tools available to me.

      For some young people who get placements via these methods and are decent to good professionals, they may be able to very quickly distance themselves from that privilege. No different than getting into a school based on a legacy, but still putting in the effort to get good grades. It doesn’t excuse the privilege, but I think trying to ascribe this kind of parenting with how it impacts their children is a lot more complicated.

      1. Observer*

        I think the problem is that it often doesn’t indicate very much about what they do or don’t bring to the table

        That’s actually the really big problem here. I didn’t have the level of privilege these kids have, but I can’t get myself worked up about them or their parents trying to use what they see as the tools.

        The REALLY big issue, though, that I would hope that anyone with sense (of any background ) should see is that Mom is doing the Kid’s work for them. If you have a business or manage a team, the last thing you need is a kid who expects things done for them, or who is so used to leaning on Mom or Dad that they do that at work too. And, if you are not working for yourself, then you have an obligation to not knowingly take that risk on.

        1. Smithy*

          I probably wasn’t clear here, but the idea I’m trying to portray is that while it’s a problem of privilege – by focusing on the parent doing the kid’s work….it’s setting up false preconceptions that can be disproved or dismissed.

          For all we know the kid asked mom to do this, wrote the post on their own, and just asked that it be published in mom’s voice to reach mom’s network. While it’s unlikely, versions of that certainly happen.

          The other far more likely scenario is someone sees mom’s post and goes – hey, my company has an opening – why don’t you apply and tell me when you apply. Then the kid does the work of putting together an application, resume, etc that gets submitted and reaches out to mom’s network friend when it’s submitted. Then the kid again does the work of doing the interview process, sharing references albeit a preferred candidate interview process. Even though the kid in question has done a lot of their own work along the way, it does not dismiss the problematic dynamic of the privilege despite a company doing due diligence around the kid doing their own work as part of the application process.

          Certainly some kids get to walk into posts based entirely on their parents efforts. But far far far more often what privilege achieves is giving that boost to the front quarter of the line that is complimented by their own genuine efforts and work. But focusing too much on mom/dad doing the child’s work, that can easily be dismissed by showing additional and significant work the kid does around a parent’s contribution.

      2. Sea Anemone*

        I think the problem is that it often doesn’t indicate very much about what they do or don’t bring to the table.

        Resumes and interviews are what indicate what a candidate does or does not bring to a job.

    5. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I would be OK with it if the parent were a little self-aware, and also recommended specific achievements or traits in the young person rather than “this is my kid, please hire them!” So something like “I know everyone is proud of their kids, but I am particularly proud of Snotleigh this week. I’ve been a firsthand witness to their hard work and dedication as they raised $25,000 for the Distressed Llama Fund. Check out their LinkedIn profile if you’re in the market for a motivated young llama groomer!”

    6. Cat Lady*

      As a young adult, hard agree. I would hate it if my mom or dad did something like this (and they probably would if they were active on LinkedIn). I don’t need to be guided by hand through a job searching process!

    7. nozenfordaddy*

      I’m torn, because my first and second internships were both the result of my dad saying to someone: are you hiring interns this summer? If they said yes I got sent a business card/contact/link to the application and had to make the next connection, apply, interview (and in one case pass a test) to get the job but I wouldn’t have known to even apply and the hiring manager obviously knew who I was because of my dad. The first time he actually wandered around his building asking other senior level staff, the second time he ran into a former coworker at the mall.

    8. SnappinTerrapin*

      It’s one thing to offer to put your progeny in touch with people who might help them get their first professional job, but this seems like a ham-fisted effort to do so.

      Maybe the folks who are enamored with Linked In will overlook how impersonal the parantal strategy really is, and help Junior out anyway.

    9. Lisa*

      The doing-it-for-him part is what concerns me the most as well. Disclaimer, I have a 27YO and a 23YO so I’m a bit in the thick of this life stage. I am very much a behind-the-scenes for my kids in most places. There is a line to be drawn:

      Sitting with them while going through an unfamiliar application process, yes. Doing it for them, no.
      Editing a resume, yes. Writing a resume, no.
      Helping them set up their first LinkedIn profile, yes. Setting them up a profile myself, no.

      My son got one of his first high school jobs through our neighbor. But our neighbor had known him since he was 5YO, and they pretty much arranged it himself. Some of my friends have offered to connect my daughter with contacts in relevant industries. But they are people who we know so well they’ve been to our home, it’s not some kid they’ve never met, it’s a kid they know and respect and want to help. In these situations, my kids are doing 95% of the work. And along the way, they are learning how to do their own networking without constantly relying on my connections.

      This is actually my whole philosophy on parenting young adults. I’m just a coach. It’s the same way I help them with tax matters or whether to go to the doctor or how to get a break light replaced.

  5. Angela S*

    #1 – I was in a similar boat with my current job.
    I joined this organization last year. A few weeks after joining, COVID-19 locked down my hometown and I was sent to work from home. During those short few weeks, I befriended a coworker (let’s call her Jane) who had some very negative views of the office and other coworkers. This coworker even predicted that I wouldn’t want to stay very long. I had sincerely thought that I would need to go job hunting again. But after we were allowed to return to the office and I got to meet other coworkers, I found out that Jane was disliked by almost everyone in the office. Also, I think Jane had started to dislike me (I technically have a job level higher than hers. I could delegate tasks to Jane… well, she doesn’t like me doing that.)
    I would recommend LW talk to the manager. I did exactly that and then I had a very frank discussion about the politics in the office. I feel much better now.

    1. I need cheesecake*

      I have a colleague like this too. But this is everyone including their manager! Which is really quite odd.

      I’d ask your manager directly. Maybe they don’t even all realise they’re in this pattern of saying these things.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I have a feeling that the last three people in OP’s position must have left in a hurry.

        But then again, maybe everyone else had to do bits of her job before. Like they’re all engineers and she’s an admin, and the engineers were all really bad at admin, so they can’t imagine anyone wanting to do that full time. They’re all so similar to each other, similar background and ambitions, they can’t imagine someone who’d hate to be an engineer, and actually has the right skills to do admin.

        1. Cold Fish*

          That’s where I was thinking. It might just be a job that requires an unusual personality. (not trying to disparage unusual. I like unusual)

          For years, I’ve organized the company holiday party and for the most part I enjoy doing it. It is definitely not a job for everyone and has some challenges (it is not easy coming up with 40-50 gifts people might like with an average budget of $5-7 per gift). I’ll put up a sign for volunteers every year. Occasionally someone steps up but several years I’ve done it alone. Most people just give me “I’m glad you’re doing it, I’d hate it”.

    2. Junior Assistant Peon*

      Try to gather more info on the source of the negativity. I worked at a place where the longtime employees were negative, but it was mostly anger at past management teams. If that’s your situation, it might not necessarily be a bad place to work if the current management team treats you well.

    3. anonymous73*

      The problem here is that it’s multiple people telling OP this including the manager they report to. I’ve always been skeptical with acquaintances/colleagues in work situations unless I’ve witnessed something first hand. I never take what anyone says at face value, because there are way too many gossips and rumor spreaders in offices. I put what was said in the back of my mind for reference, and move along with my day.

      If I were OP, I would do what Alison said and question it. If they can’t provide a concrete reason of why they keep telling me my job sucks, then I would assume they’re full of it and tell them to stop with all the negativity.

    4. AGD*

      Happened to me too. There was a quirk of our power structure that led a bunch of my colleagues to feel underappreciated and dismissed. It didn’t bother me at all, but it took a lot of thinking about it for me to see where the others were coming from. After that, I understood them, though it still didn’t affect me.

    5. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      There’s also the opposite issue. Everyone where I work now seems pretty happy and not very aware of things that are clearly serious problems from my perspective.

    6. Secretary*

      It’s amazing how common this can be!!

      My husband works for someone who is a bottleneck and can be difficult to communicate with. His coworkers, most of whom have never worked for anyone else, were complaining at an after work thing we were both at about this boss and what a terrible manager he is.
      Well, my husband and I were shocked, because the guy my husband worked for before was cartoon villain level bad. Like breaking laws, verbal and emotional abuse, non-communicative, absolutely the worst kind of person you could ever work with, let alone for. In comparison this boss my husband has now is just a little inconvenient, but at least no one yells at my husband anymore.

      As for me, I work for a PHENOMENAL boss. Like over the top good. Like he could dial back how much flexibility and good management he does just a tad and it wouldn’t matter. My coworkers who have worked here for 20 years love to complain about him. I just roll my eyes internally. Some people like to complain. There might be something behind it but I think Alison really hit home what else may be going on.

    7. Xena*

      I wonder if they’re the problem! We’ve had letters here before from people whose coworkers will NOT stop complaining, even over relatively mundane things, and one commonality is that grumbling breeds more grumbling. If the whole office is full of Moping Molly’s, even if the work was interesting, I’d probably leave pretty quickly if I could, which would just fuel the circle more.

  6. anone*

    LW #3: Disagreeing slightly with Alison that riding the bus actually can be unusually dangerous in some circumstances (especially if you are at risk of being targeted for harassment or violence based on how you look – e.g., visibly trans, wearing a hijab, being a young woman, etc. — saying this as a frequent transit rider who has absolutely been at risk & intervened in the instance of violence on public transit, both on buses and especially at bus stops where you can end up very isolated while also having a predictable schedule and location. It’s not the *norm* but in some places I’ve been, it’s definitely a higher risk), BUT even if that is legitimately the case in this instance, it’s not your obligation to give this person a ride home. Your boss could provide a stipend for a cab, or drive this person themselves, if riding the bus in this case is truly an issue.

      1. anone*

        Of course. The only thing I disagreed with was the specific statement “buses are not unusually dangerous” because occasionally they are in specific places for specific people (and as someone who has been personally affected by that in a profound way, it’s hard to let pass without comment), but I do not disagree with anything else or condone that boss’s behaviour.

          1. Pterodactylate*

            It sounds more like anone is talking about how for some people, taking public transit /is/ usually dangerous.

        1. Observer*

          The only thing I disagreed with was the specific statement “buses are not unusually dangerous” because occasionally they are in specific places for specific people

          Right, buses are OCCASIONALLY dangerous, not USUALLY – which is exactly what Alison said. If she had said that they are never dangerous, that would be something to disagree with. But claiming that she’s wrong when what she is said is actually accurate even according to you! because she didn’t highlight a particular occasional issue just comes off as nit picky.

          1. anone*

            Seriously my original comment was literally just “disagreeing slightly” to add a nuance that felt missed to me because this is something that actually deeply affects me and people I care about (including limiting our mobility because we depend on transit to get around but sometimes transit doesn’t feel like a safe enough option so we just… don’t do things or go places). And since then that has been piled-on by people who feel like that was somehow a terrible slight against Alison and buses generally. I think Alison and buses will be okay.

        2. Sea Anemone*

          The only thing I disagreed with was the specific statement “buses are not unusually dangerous” because occasionally they are in specific places for specific people

          So are cabs. So are Uber/Lyft. So is walking. So is the parking lot. So is existing in the public sphere. Your point about risk is true, but not helpful as it would apply to just about any transportation circumstance that might be suggested (kind of implying that actually, buses *aren’t* unusually dangerous).

      2. Atalanta0jess*

        RIGHT? That is baffling me the most about all of this. I would definitely not want anyone driving me home because they thought public transportation was too dangerous (under usual circumstances. If something is odd and it truly is dangerous, then perhaps I would….but generally speaking, how paternalistic!)

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I agree with what you’re saying, but also: no form of transport is without a degree of risk. The advice should still be the same if she rides a bike or drives an unreliable car: she’s an adult with the capacity to make her own assessment and decisions about her safety.

      If she mentions harassment on public transport as a grounds to ask for more flexibility with start/finish times or remote work, or for cab fares to be covered when working late – sure, that’s where they can help. But for the boss to even suggest she should be regularly driven home by her manager to be “safe” is grossly paternalistic and a huge overstep. Just like I don’t need any dude to assume they should offer me a lift or a taxi because my delicate uterus might impede my ability to drive in the dark or rain.

          1. Expiring Cat Memes*

            And I don’t disagree with you! I disagree with LW’s boss. There’s no need to get defensive here.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        She has maybe mentioned not feeling safe and OP’s boss doesn’t want to cough up more money to cover taxis.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          I doubt it. People who ride the bus are generally fine with riding the bus. It’s people who don’t take public transit who get freaked out.

          Semi-relatedly, I remember being a young adult in the city and talking to suburban relatives etc. who could NOT understand how I lived without a car. “How do you grocery shop???” I mean, I don’t buy more than I can carry? It’s not that hard.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            How true! My mom used to flip out because I regularly took the bus. In Manhattan. She was convinced it was completely unsafe. She never ever takes public transportation.

            I live in DC now. I have a car. I still take the bus.

                1. VintageLydia*

                  The Red Line in DC is especially fire-prone. This week we just took something like 70% of the subway cars off the tracks for a potentially catastrophic defect discovered after a derailment. No fires, this time.

            1. Gumby*

              Heh, parents. I got my license late (at age 23) and so got my first car, etc. well after I had moved away from home. On my first visit home after that, I expressed plans to have lunch with a friend about 30 minutes away. My mother’s reaction: “You can’t drive there! You’d have to take the freeway! I’ll drive you.”

              To be fair, it was a freeway in the LA area and drivers there are on the aggressive side. OTOH, I had just driven 350 miles *on a freeway* to even get to my parents’ house. (I let her drive me. It was a chance to talk and it made her comfortable. I mean, I gently mocked her for wanting to, but I went along with it.)

          2. Allison*

            Yep. I doubt this woman would even take a job that required taking public transportation if she was too scared to take it.

            I remember working at a movie theater in downtown Boston while going to school in the Back Bay, and it was very easy to catch an orange or green line train back to campus even if I worked a closing shift, but my mom and dad were horrified that I was taking the T late at night, and they’d even give me cash for a cab when I worked nights. I thought they were being completely ridiculous; yes there was always a slight risk, but I never encountered problems! Sometimes I even enjoyed the walk back to campus when the weather was nice.

            I do think it depends heavily on where you live, sometimes the bus can be sketchy depending on when and where you’re taking it (and where you have to wait for the bus), but I don’t think taking the bus is inherently unsafe, it’s just annoying sometimes when the bus is wildly behind schedule.

    2. Stitch*

      I will also say as someone who rode the bus every day for four years, some people just have this weird hangup about busses and think they’re dangerous even when they’re not. My mom was super paranoid about me taking the bus and wanted me to take the train instead but it was 3x as expensive. I’ve never had an issue in a bus though I did get followed on the train once.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes. My grandparents (when they were alive) used to come up to London and stay in a hotel there and meet me to go to the theatre. They were always horrified that I (not having much money) usually got the bus back home to my part of town afterwards so they’d insist on putting me in a taxi and give me money to pay for it. I must confess I was exceedingly hard up at the time (newly started in a not very well paid job and living in London) so I would usually get the taxi to drop me around the corner and get on the bus and keep the money. I thought the buses were perfectly safe and never had a single problem.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Oh the horror of my parents when I started working in London and had to use public transport to get from the main line railway station to the office. Didn’t I know how dangerous that is for a lone disabled woman?

          I never had a single problem on the tube or London buses. I *was* violently mugged once but that was on a major street at lunchtime, with other people around!

          (Who did nothing. There’s reasons I haven’t set foot in our capital for over a decade)

          1. BethDH*

            That’s horrible. I haven’t had anything near as bad, but if my (luckily few) instances being subject to harassment, the ones where other people could have helped and didn’t caused the longest trauma.

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

          Ha, I went to London a long time ago, and my main fear was being squashed or suffucated in the tube in peak rush hour!

      2. whistle*

        Yep. When I lived in LA, I took the bus everywhere, but I constantly heard people bitch about how LA had no public transportation. When I mentioned that they had an excellent bus system. people acted like riding the bus was like going into a war zone. I always felt safe on the bus, while my husband took one of LA’s actual subway lines to work and he said it was sketchy as hell. Bus stigma is real and super bizarre.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Heh– my partner and I spent a couple of days in LA a few years ago and took the bus and subway most places. People were very confused because they didn’t even know there was a bus in LA.

          1. Butterfly Counter*

            This happened when I was in LA for a conference from Chicago. I and my fellow grad students researched and took the bus and subway everywhere. We also did quite a bit of walking (that’ll sure get you stares in LA). BUT, I have to say that the public transit in LA wasn’t great in comparison to Chicago.

      3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Oh yeah, my mother was like that. Then I got my bike and told her I was no longer in any danger of being raped late at night in the metro, and she was horrified at me riding my bike through the traffic. Well what do you prefer Mum? I personally would rather get hit by a lorry than raped.

      4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        As a rider of both busses and trains at various parts of my career, I feel safer in a bus … the driver is in the same enclosure as me … and there are more options for on and off.

        Also, I’ve not felt unsafe in either place, even when it’s dark out. We’re all just trying to get somewhere.

      5. Single Noun*

        Even in broad daylight, my coworkers are weirdly scared of the bus. There’s a campus shuttle that goes directly from the door of my building to the center of campus- not right to the door of the central admin building, but closer than the parking lots, runs every 15 minutes and takes less than 10 minutes to get there- and yet everyone drives to meetings, and when we went three in a car to an event there and one coworker wanted to leave early, she’d rather stay an extra hour past when she was feeling done than let our ride know she was leaving and take the bus back.

        I’ve had so many people offer me a ride for the 2 minutes from the corner where the summer-schedule bus stops, I once took an evening class and the *professor* insisted on driving me home afterwards… (she was also a young woman, so I didn’t feel particularly threatened, but the pressure was awkward.)

      6. Richard Hershberger*

        I used to take Philadelphia public transportation routinely. There was a definite hierarchy about social attitudes to it. Regional rail? Anyone would take it. The commuting period was packed with middle class white people on their way or from work. The subway was a bit iffier. One line went next to the sports complex. For games there was a wide range of people on it. But at other times middle class white people were scarcer. Buses? As if.

      7. not a doctor*

        TBH, I have a hangup about buses, but it’s not because I think they’re dangerous. I just feel like they combine the worst parts of public transportation (being packed into an inescapable space with dozens of total strangers at varying levels of mask-wearing, hygiene, and rudeness) with the worst parts of city driving (endless traffic and delays). Plus, if someone is freaking me out on the subway, I can switch to another car. On the bus, I have no recourse.

        I will definitely avoid buses when I have the option.

    3. CCC*

      Is riding the bus more dangerous than driving? Driving is one of the most dangerous things many of us do.

    4. Student*

      “Being a young woman” does NOT make you an extra target on public transit. Woman are at far more risk of violence from men they know than men who are strangers.

      “Being a young man” is objectively, measurably more dangerous on public transit. Men are far more at risk of violence from male strangers, as compared to the risk to women.

      This is a ridiculous patriarchal myth. As a woman, absent any other mitigating information, you’re safer riding home on a bus with strangers than taking a ride home from a male co-worker you know.

      1. anone*

        Almost all of the bus violence and harassment interventions I have done were when adult men were targeting teenage girls (others were when white people were targeting racialized people). All of the bus violence and harassment I have experienced has been done by adult men toward me as a visibly queer person. Young men also have their own risk factors (for example, I witnessed a young man being intimidated by another young man on light rail transit the other week), but you will notice my list above was not exhaustive, it was just examples. If you google “violence on public transit”, you will see numerous good studies that describe this issue (transit operators themselves are of course at the greatest risk because of how much exposure they have). The type of statistics you are referencing (which I am very familiar with as I have a graduate degree in that area) are over-generalized in the way you are using them here (i.e., an ecological fallacy) and also do not account for the unique scenario of public transit.

        I am not anti-public transit. I rely on public transit heavily. Public transit is essential and important in every community and should be funded and supported way more than it is. Violence that occurs on public transit is created by systemic issues that are not the fault of public transit or the people who use it and won’t be solved by reducing or eliminating public transit. But violence on public transit *is* an issue for *some* people in *some* places and we have no idea one way or the other from LW3’s letter if that does or does not apply in their community or for their colleague.

        And it’s not necessary to dismiss this as a plausible scenario in order to respond to LW3’s question because none of that changes that this is not their responsibility, their colleague is the one best positioned to identify their own needs (not their boss), and that if there is an actual need here for alternative transportation, their boss has many other options than hinting that OP3 needs to drive anyone anywhere.

  7. Anon Again*

    #1) I had this happen at my current job. As a Sr Product Manager, I worked directly with a Director in our tech team. When I started, the director gave me an earful about being “voluntold” to be on a new team that was wildly different from what they normally did and that in addition to not having expertise, the team was over worked, under supported, and didn’t have any visibility.

    I have been on the team now for 4 months and I think I can safely say that I have started to help change the team dynamic. The team I work with wants to be successful but didn’t have a vision of what success looked like. I’ve worked a ton to educate the team about the industry, give them tools and resources to learn the skills they need, have presented a reality check to leadership on where they are versus where they need to be and gave them a clear path forward on how to get there. I checked in this week and the same director is excited for what we are going to tackle next year.

    All that to say… you can be part of the change. I think part of your fear is that you have not identified what is causing the team to say it’s not a good team. Be curious and open. Investigate and probe. Maybe it’s something that you can help them change. It sounds like you have the right attitude and outlook to help them… that being said, there is also an argument to be made for running if, once you have identified the issues, you don’t have the power to change or influence anything.

    1. OP#2*

      I wasn’t tagged, it just popped up in my feed. Otherwise I definitely would have untagged; it would have sent just the right message of “I find this distasteful and prefer not to engage.” As it is, the person is a bit senior to me, we used to work together at an Old Job but have both since moved on.

  8. I need cheesecake*

    #4 For me, step 1 would be to meet with this manager and find out more about what’s going on for them.

    I also think you need to look at prevention and not cause. Is it that your team are making frequent errors and something needs to change?

    Or is it that you – and others – are approaching something as an error when maybe it’s an inevitable part of your work process that you all just need to plan for? I’m mentioning this because sometimes you just have to build this in and expect it. Obviously it depends on your situation.

    1. LW4*

      Very insightful! It’s a very fast paced job (scheduling staff working directly with patients in the medical field). There’s so much to juggle that, yes, mistakes will happen. Since it’s someone’s schedule, it’s so highly visible that a mistake has been made.

      1. hamsterpants*

        Twice I’ve seen you comment “mistakes will happen” and while that’s of course true for every job, it’s coming across as a bit blase. It seems like the affected people think they’re a pretty big deal.

        1. LW4*

          I hear that and can definitely see your point. I can’t get into too many specifics without being easily identifiable, but I assure you that I know there are errors that occur and those need to be addressed, but as someone who has built this department from the ground up I definitely know that we are at a disadvantage given the workload, the platforms we use, and the lack of support we receive from C-Suite. So mistakes will happen and sometimes it’s a mistake because of processes or operations, and sometimes it’s a mistake because someone needs training, or more formally a PIP.

          I do think I need to work on addressing patterns vs individual instances. I don’t think I’ve ever pointed out to the team “hey, this is a pattern”.

          1. bamcheeks*

            >>we are at a disadvantage given the workload, the platforms we use, and the lack of support we receive from C-Suite

            I wonder if there’s an opportunity for you to leverage this increased oversight, then– if lack of staff, support and bad tech in your department are causing problems for other departments, is it worth talking to some of those other managers and see whether they’ll support more resources for your team?

            1. Dust Bunny*

              This. I would absolutely try to use the complaints, workload, time wasted, etc. to lobby for better tools and support. All of this is costing them money.

          2. Observer*

            I definitely know that we are at a disadvantage given the workload, the platforms we use, and the lack of support we receive from C-Suite.

            Well, in that case, you should use this new pattern to your advantage. Figure out what changes to your systems, workload, workflow and tools would help reduce errors and bring them to your c-suite. And use the complaints coming from other departments as ammunition.

            eg We have had X number of complaints about error type Z, which have cost us approximately $Y. It would cost us $Y-5,000 to implement blah, blah, blah to get rid of those errors.

          3. Jay Gobbo*

            Hi, LW4! I thought maybe I was projecting, but I had a feeling some of the problems your employees are facing are above their level. Based on this comment I think my assessment was correct. I am in a similar field — software for hospitals and doctors — and a lot of the problems Customer Support faces are “trickle down” issues stemming from bigger issues in other areas of the company.

            I know there’s only so much you can do. Unfortunately in my case, supervising a team under those conditions and putting out fires all the time was too stressful, so I recently took a lateral/slightly step-down move. I’m definitely not suggesting you do the same! As others have said, use this opportunity to advocate for your team. “My team wouldn’t have xyz stumbling blocks if the software didn’t have abc errors” or “if we had better documentation / release notes”, etc — whatever you can do to shed light on the *underlying* issues that cause the surface-level mistakes. It’s easy for other departments to point the finger instead of fixing the root of the issues with software / structure / a knowledgebase / whatever the case may be. (In my case, it’s everything! Ha ha… ha ::sweat::)

    2. Archaeopteryx*

      Yes if one or two people make certain mistakes more than others, that may be an issue just with them, but if your whole team regularly makes certain mistakes, that may be a process issue that could be improved by a PDSA or other rapid improvement process.

  9. Allonge*

    LW1 – it’s totally normal for new people to have a ‘honeymoon period’ even in non-toxic places, if the basics are ok (so, reasonable working environment, reasonable pay). We have consistently higher ratings from people in their first year or so in staff surveys, for just about every question.

    Now for the outright comments that you will hate it – yes, that is weird, but it’s also something you can just ‘grey rock’ with the people you are not comfortable addressing as Alison suggests. It might be also an idea to cut back on spotaneous expressions of enjoying the role, if that triggers the comments.

    Part of the weirdness for me comes from the attitude of you are lucky to have a short contract, as if longer contracts or no contracts would mean an obligation to stay for longer than two years. You can leave and so can they. So for me this points toward a culture of complaining.

    1. EngineerMom*

      A culture of complaining or possibly a culture of under achieving plus complaining and possibly LW#1 who is happy with the job and working hard has a chance to make others look bad by their work ethic and attitude and people want to get them out. It’s nice to assume your colleagues have your best interest at heart but sometimes at work as in the larger world people are selfish butt munches and they might be trying to protect themselves not you.

      1. BethDH*

        I sometimes see a dynamic where people convince themselves that the environment or role is such that *no one* can succeed in it, that it’s not just them. Often it’s not even that they’re bad employees, just not a good match for that place. Then someone doing well in it causes that whole mental framework to collapse.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      “Culture of complaining” is great. I bet Alison is right that the LW is coming from a worse situation so this one seems OK — my current job is like that for me. It’s one of the most functional places I’ve ever worked, but there are a lot of people who have never worked anywhere else, so they have complaints. And a lot of people who leave end up coming back!

    3. BPT*

      The “culture of complaining” thing could be spot on. Even really good employees can be caught up in it. Some things I have witnessed or experienced in the past:
      -Employees being worn down by past bad management, and even if there is new management, there is too much bad blood for them to renew their outlook on the workplace;
      -Employees not liking new management, even if it is good, because of even normal bumps in the transition process or the fact that they do things differently, even if it isn’t bad;
      -Employees getting in a cycle of complaining as a bonding measure about things that are less than perfect, or even really annoying, but don’t necessarily make a workplace toxic.

    4. turquoisecow*

      It’s also possible that you’re doing a job that other people dislike but you enjoy. I’ve been assigned tasks that other people found incredibly frustrating or tedious, but I enjoyed figuring out and managing. People would comment all the time about how much they hated the work I was doing and how much they appreciated me doing it. Sometimes I’ve had bosses apologize for giving me work that everyone hated doing but I was fine with. So maybe OP1 is doing a job they enjoy but others hate.

      Or maybe the coworkers are jaded and OP isn’t. Maybe they will be later. Or maybe the coworkers are just negative people.

  10. Ria*

    LW3 – unless you live in Gotham City, your boss is really overreacting and even if you do, your coworker’s choice of how to travel is none of the boss’s business. This is a matter for your colleague to sort out herself. So, feel perfectly guilt free and justified in not doing what your boss wants here.

    As a woman who doesn’t drive and has lived and travelled in a number of large ‘dangerous’ cities across the world alone, I have semi-regularly run into people with this ‘bUt YoU aRe In GrEaT dAnGeR mUrDeReRs AnD rApIsTs ArE sTrAnGeRs RoViNg ThE sTrEeTs FoR pReY!!!’ attitude. I find it incredibly and endlessly irritating.

    I am an adult and perfectly able to take care of myself. Public transport and the streets are not dangerous. As for the possibility of being harassed by some creep, again, I am an adult and can look after myself. I would rather live life on my own terms. It’s patronising and ridiculous, and comes from this place of weird paranoia and fear that is out of touch with reality.

    1. SarahKay*

      I’m a woman and I walk to and from work, and I used to get the same “But are you SAFE?!?” stuff, especially in winter when it was dark by the time I left work (thankfully I’ve been there long enough that everyone’s accepted it now and stopped nagging me). It drives me up the wall – I’m an adult, I can make my own decisions and risk assessments.
      What finally stopped one particularly persistent man was pointing out that statistically I’m far safer walking to and from work on my own than I am getting into a car with him (or any other man) unaccompanied.

      Lw3, on top of my above comments, I would hate feeling that a co-worker or my supervisor was having to go out of their way (every day!) for me. It makes my palms feel itchy with awkwardness just thinking about it. Your boss is way off-base with that suggestion. You know what will work best with your boss but if at all possible please either ignore it or push back for the reasons I’ve given above.

      1. Reba*

        Also, sorry to be a transit nerd on main but public transport or walking are statistically MUCH safer than car travel in terms of basic physical safety! I.e. car accidents are common and bus/train accidents are relatively rare.

        I get the feeling the boss is imagining unsavory things that can befall ~innocent young female employees~ and maybe that’s triggering some sense of propriety unrelated to the actual common risks. I don’t want to erase that harassment and violence absolutely happens on transit. But my point is that (assuming that the writer is in the US) people often ignore/write off the risks of traveling in cars because many of us do it every day. So if Boss starts tutting about the employee’s safety again, you could just say that buses are safer than cars. I doubt that he will want to fully articulate what he is really worried about, but if he does you can shut that down as paternalistic and inappropriate too.

        1. SarahKay*

          Oh, gosh, yes, never mind stranger danger, cars themselves are a less safe transport method.
          For a while I was having to fly to a European city on business, and I still remember my delight when I realised there was an easy bus connection to the metro and thus to my hotel from the airport. The taxi drivers (and all the other drivers around us) scared the life out of me with how they drove. Bonus, it cost about £10 (depending on exchange rate) instead of about £50, and that £10 covered a three day ticket for all public transport within the city. You’d better believe I never took another taxi there after that!

    2. hamsterpants*

      It’s awesome that you pointed that out! I never said anything, but I got A LOT of tutting when I rode a bike to work… Sometimes in the dark!!!! Or the rain!!!

      People visibly engage in all sorts of risk-having behaviors at work but people only openly fuss about some of them. Go tell the CEO that he needs to take better care of him gums if you’re really worried about everyone so much.

    3. Beth*

      It varies a LOT from one city to another, and from one part of the country to another. I really liked taking the bus in my old stomping grounds, but I wouldn’t want to have to do so in my current part of the country, where public transit is horribly underfunded and the general level of casual violence is terrifyingly high.

      That said — there’s often a nasty underlevel of classism and racism in the people who freak out over public transit, and that drives me absolutely nuts.

      1. Ria*

        I guess it is worth remembering that driving is riskier than catching a bus no matter the city. Car accidents are significantly more common than being attacked by strangers on public transport.

        Really agree with your second paragraph!

      2. Reba*

        Yes to the second paragraph! I also think, unscientifically, that urban legends about parking-lot kidnappings and other stranger danger are on the rise? And ofc those narratives often have racist, classist dimensions.

        I’m sorry that your current transit options stink.

      3. AGD*

        I’m a public-transit tourist (half because I’m a cheapskate, half because I like the adventure).

        I just made a list of 24 cities I’ve never lived in but have visited. I’ve taken public transit in 19 of them. Of those 19, there are 18 where it was completely fine, and one where it was a bad idea and I am definitely never doing it again.

      4. Bamcheeks*

        >> there’s often a nasty underlevel of classism and racism in the people who freak out over public transit

        As I’ve got older, I’ve realised how that’s true of lots of “women’s safety” stuff too. This is a win-win-win situation for this boss: he gets to appear concerned, inconvenience himself precisely 0, and reinforce racist and classist myths about how the threat is OUT THERE all at the same time. Triple win!

    4. The Rural Juror*

      At my previous job, I had a coworker who regularly rode the bus. The only time I ever offered them a ride was when it was pouring down rain. The bus stop near our office didn’t have any covering, but the next stop in the direction I was going did have a place to wait under a roof. I would drop them at that stop so they wouldn’t get soaked. Like you and a lot of others today have said, it would be patronizing to assume they’re not perfectly capable of taking care of themselves on public transportation. However, they did seem to appreciate not having to do so with wet feet/pants/whatever.

    5. Student*

      Harassment from strangers is annoying, jarring, and sometimes briefly scary. It’s like a smoke detector going off.

      Harassment from a coworker who is driving you somewhere is, by comparison, a four-alarm fire.

      Harassment from a coworker who is your main means of transit to and from work is a five-alarm fire.

      Violence and harassment of women is much more likely to come from men we know than from strangers. Men have real trouble grasping this concept because the situation is the opposite for them – men are more at risk from violence from male strangers than men they know. We have different risks, men don’t always realize that we have different risks, so they try to push solutions that are actually more dangerous than the problem they are ostensibly trying to solve.

  11. K.K.*

    Tell me more about this not being allowed to require you to use up sick and vacation time during FMLA, as mentioned in the response to LW5? That very much seems to be the norm in my area.

    1. PlainName*

      I think you might have misread there! It says “and they can have him use up his sick and vacation leave as part of those 12 weeks”.

      Which is what brought me here to ask: So how does this work? What if you run out of (unpaid!) sick leave but are still sick? Are you just automatically fired? Sometimes people are sick / in the hospital for more than a few days or even weeks. I’d have understood if the employer provided only a certain number of paid sick days, and then you’d have to take unpaid days if you were sick for more days that year, but if they never pay, what happens after you “run out”?

      I’ve heard (and read on this site) a lot about how sick / vacation days work in the US, but this is something that genuinely confuses me.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Under FMLA, you have up to 12 weeks of protected leave per year. Say you have four weeks of sick and vacation time accrued but you need to be out for 3 months for a medical reason (or a family medical reason). Your company could have you use up your four weeks of PTO, and then your remaining eight weeks of FMLA would be unpaid. But your job is protected for that full 12 weeks. If you don’t return after the 12 weeks are up, at that point your job is no longer protected and they could let you go. That doesn’t mean they will — many employers are willing to work with people who need more time. But 12 weeks is the limit of the federal protection.

        1. PlainName*

          Ok, so basically you could lose your job after 12 weeks, though it’s not automatic. Thank you, that makes sense!
          (Though I guess an employer could still terminate your employment on your first day back, in any case…)

          1. anonymous73*

            And under FMLA, you are only guaranteed A job, not necessarily THE SAME job. It happened to my mom when I was a kid.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              And under FMLA, you are only guaranteed A job, not necessarily THE SAME job. It happened to my mom when I was a kid.

              I believe you’re guaranteed a like job, but I don’t know how far back that clause goes.

          2. Geekykay*

            A little more about how this can work in practice, with a good employer: I was hired as a temp via an agency for a large nonprofit. It turned out that I was being hired because the main Office Manager, who’d been working there for years, had cancer. She was in remission, but still required a lot of time off for doctor’s appointments etc. and had used up all of her FMLA leave, so I was there to pick up the slack and do some of the less intensive work. (She told me all about the situation, no one else shared her health info with me)

        2. WulfInTheForest*

          In contrast: when you have a bad employer, if you run out of leave they can subtly push you to come back early before even the 6 weeks was up, like mine did, and then still get on your case about how much time you took off. Oh, and then they can just not have a place for you to pump, and then make it a big inconvenience when you do. And then you can get put on a PIP for “excessive breaks” because of how they set up an inconvenient (far away) place to pump. It’s ridiculous.

  12. Goody*

    Totally grasping at straws here. I find myself wondering if LW3’s coworker made comments to the boss about feeling unsafe on the bus. Perhaps building up to a request for an altered schedule, WFH, or even trying to quit. And boss thinks that arranging alternate transport makes everything hunky dory again. And I’m sure he isn’t thinking about any other issues in relation. Like LW’s hours, gas/insurance matters, the image perception of someone providing a ride to their direct reportee, etc.

    So, yeah. No is a complete answer and this needs to not happen.

    1. Ria*

      I mean, it is possible. But in my experience, it seems more likely that the boss is just one of those people who has decided to inappropriately take it upon themselves to ‘save a young woman from danger’. That happened to me a lot as a fiercely independent teen and 20-something year old who liked to walk or catch public transport.

      The ‘saviour’ was, more often than not, an upper-middle class person who had spent a significant amount of their lives in a more suburban area (of course, lots of people with that same background who aren’t ‘saviour’ types). I think they had this sort of deep unconscious mythology about the ‘rightness’ of being in a car and of the world and strangers as more dangerous than they are. Whereas, for someone from the inner city whose entire family have always caught public transport daily, the bus is not a scary place.

      1. Lessie*

        Reminds me of when I was a college freshman meeting with a senior at a Starbucks. It was in broad daylight. She was with some friends, I came alone. She told me it’s okay if my friend sit with us. I told her, oh actually I came here alone, I liked being on my own. She got this horrified look and warned me to not going out alone, it’s dangerous!

        I ended up reassuring her that it’s okay, really, I know what I’m doing.

    2. anonymous73*

      Honestly it doesn’t matter why boss is asking, it’s an inappropriate request. If they’re so concerned about the employee, they can take the employee home.

      1. Allonge*

        Yes! This is like when my mother tells me to put on a sweater when she is cold. It’s not an appropriate solution to the problem!

    3. Kyrielle*

      Yup. At most I might say, “I can’t do that. If she’s said she’s concerned about it, perhaps the company could pay for a taxi when she needs to leave after dark?”

  13. Office know it all*

    #2 Interestingly (to me at least), the aspect Alison finds icky is actually what I think makes the linked in post pretty harmless. It’s a mass post to 500+ connections most of whom you haven’t talk to in years and likely owe you no favors. I think a one-on-one ask is ickier since the parent may have greater influence on someone they choose to make a personal ask from.

    Also it sounds more like of a “who’s hiring” request to a large crowd than “give my kid a leg up”, but I obviously didn’t see the language on the actual post. Either way, I’d let it go. It’s unlikely you’ll convince a parent to do anything short of everything they can to help their kid anyway.

    1. Abigail*

      Yeah that’s kind of how I felt as well. I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with a post that’s like “My kid has XYZ experience and is looking for job openings! Let me know if your company’s hiring!”

      1. Willis*

        Yeah, if the post had similar wording to what you suggest, I’d consider it kinda tacky but also relatively innocuous in the realm of LinkedIn (which to me is a whole world of somewhat tacky self promotion…I’m looking at you, endorsements-from-people-you-never-worked-with). OP’s kid can apply and be judged along with all the applicants. It’s definitely a form of privilege to have a parent with a network you could mine for leads, but it seems like one that would be hard to stamp out by admonishing the parents. The bigger problem to me come when a parent pressures a contact to hire/vouch for their kid, but hard to tell if that’s what was happening here.

        But for the OP, they probably would be more effective ensuring all their job ads go to a diverse audience, working against that type of preferential hiring at their job, etc. than trying to impact this specific scenario they have no control over.

    2. OP#2*

      In this case it felt icky because the parent tagged people in the post. So it was like a hybrid btwn a mass post and a personal ask; they also went into the comments to tag more people. The parent is in the industry the kid is targeting, so the tags are not random. The parent also posted a PDF of their kid’s resume (which feels like an invasion of privacy, but I’m sure was done w the kid’s permission since the kid was also active in the comments).

      1. Roscoe*

        How exactly do you feel a resume, on linkedin, is an invasion of privacy. Its likely the exact same info that is on the kids profile. Its just saving people a click

        1. Willis*

          I think the OP meant it would feel invasive to post the resume without the kids permission. It would be super weird to post someone’s resume without their permission, but also doesn’t seem at all to be what’s happening in this situation.

        2. Purely Allegorical*

          It’s NOT the exact same info. Resumes hold a lot more private info, like address, phone, email, etc. Publishing that stuff broadly on the internet is a no-no for data scraping.

    3. anonymous73*

      I don’t think it’s icky, or a representation of the haves vs. the have nots. Anyone can be on LinkedIn and someone considered a “have not” could just as easily have as many connections as a “have”. For me, it would just get an eye roll (does mommy still cut up your meat for you too?). Yes I would have no problem reaching out to individuals that I thought could help my child, but I wouldn’t just post their resume, tag a bunch of people and ask for help. I’d reach out to them personally and make an introduction. And then leave it up to my child to take it from there.

    4. PT*

      I’d like to argue a counterpoint, many parents have a vested financial interest in their adult child securing employment post-graduation, because they end up financially supporting the kid when they’re un/underemployed, and health insurance, room and board at home, student loan payments, etc., for an adult dependent all add up after awhile.

      You can complain about privilege all you want, but when parents are financially on the hook, they’re going to meddle.

    5. Khatul Madame*

      I would absolutely not do something like OP2 described to my own kids, but then my kids are very different people from the young candidate in the post.
      Anyhoo, “Who’s hiring” mass message is lazy and disrespectful to one’s connections. I/my company/my department may be hiring, but it’s on the candidates to determine if they should apply.
      Yes, privilege is an aspect in the situation described, but I would also cringe if someone tried to promote a mentee from a disadvantaged background in this fashion. It just seems indiscreet and, again, lazy.
      I am just really big on privacy and also think referrals work better as one-on-one ask – regardless of who is being referred.

  14. Aunty Fox*

    So I am totally with OP on this one, pimping your kids CV on linkedin is tacky, let them post it and you can link to them so your network can see it, keep how proud you are and the active promotion for FB and people who want to know about your personal life. I hate trawling through loads of personal inspo posts etc just to get to one decent article about my industry. There are literally other networks for all that where people care about your personal life.

  15. UKgreen*

    Pushing back slightly on Alison’s response to #3. Yes, you COULD say you have commitments after work. But why should you come up with an excuse. Just say no.

    1. Empress Ki*

      Agree. And if the employee lives 20mn in the other direction than OP’s home, that’s adding 40mn to her commute ! This in itself is a valid excuse to decline. Who wants to add 40 mn to their commute at the end of a hard working day !

      1. Stitch*

        +1. Will she be getting paid for that 40 minutes? What about gas?

        But even with that I wouldn’t want to have to drive that much extra every day.

    2. TechWorker*

      The nice thing about ‘commitments after work’ is there’s no need to worry about what the commitment is. It might be ‘I am committed to getting home early enough to watch my favourite tv show’… I don’t see it as an excuse so much as a polite way of saying ‘I have my own stuff to do’.

      1. Quiet Liberal*

        Yes. Commitments after work don’t have to be scheduled commitments to not be a lie. Think, “I have a personal commitment to not be taken advantage of.”

      2. Esmeralda*

        Right. No is a complete answer but it can come across as confrontational, and do you want to be spending social capital on this? Probably not.

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        But the bad thing about “commitments after work” is that it invites discussion/argument. Really, you have commitments every single evening? You can’t give Jane a ride just once or twice or three times a week? Can’t you run your errands at lunch instead? What are these commitments anyway? Better to just say “no, sorry, that doesn’t work for me. But if you’re that concerned, maybe you can give her a ride?”

        1. SimplytheBest*

          “Why doesn’t that work for you? What’s standing in the way from you helping out Jane? I really think it’s important you try to work whatever the issue is out since Jane’s safety is so important. As her boss, I think that’s your responsibility.”

          Giving no reason invites just as much discussion.

    3. anonymous73*

      This. When you provide “reasons” if prompts more questions. I would even say “I won’t do that” instead of “I can’t do that”. And if they push, I’d add “It’s my choice and it’s inappropriate of you to ask”.

      I once had a work friend ask me to pick up her sister at the airport. I initially thought “not a problem” because the work friend lived down the street and we lived 5 minutes from the airport. Then I found out she wanted me to take her HOME, which was at least an hour away. I said no. There was no reason why I physically couldn’t do it, but I didn’t want to spend my night in my car. Our “friendship” ended shortly after that, when she sent me an email about how bad I should feel for saying no. I didn’t feel bad at all. It was comical actually.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        So you can see why you might want to be more tactful with your boss, right? Unless you’re willing to quit your job over it, it’s not that easy to say no to your boss, even when the request is unreasonable.

          1. Lily Rowan*

            Not at all! But couching it in a way that implies an external reason you can’t do it? Not that hard and probably maintains a better relationship with your boss.

            1. anonymous73*

              And what happens when you provide a reason and the boss won’t take no for an answer? People need to maintain boundaries with others, even if it is their boss. And if that puts a kink in the relationship so be it. Unreasonable people don’t get to have their way simply because the other person works for them.

              1. Observer*

                So you cross that bridge when you come to it. But it makes no sense to not try a less confrontational approach because the boss MIGHT NOT let it go. If the boss had a pattern, that would be different. But there is no evidence of that.

    4. Observer*

      But why should you come up with an excuse. Just say no.

      Because the boss might not take “no” gracefully. This gives everyone a face saving out.

      Alison is pragmatic. If you can get the same result without causing hard feelings, that’s often a plus.

  16. atma*

    LW1 – there is of course the possibility that there used to be issues that have since been resolved but the colleagues are still in the mindset that this place is problematic? I agree, go back to someone you otherwise trust and ask about specifics.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I suspect that the last person to hold this job ( or more than one) left abruptly and blamed it on the job. If I’m right, your coworkers are steeling themselves for “inevitable” disappointment at losing you.
      If the hiring manager described the job accurately, and you simply like tasks your predecessor did not, you’re golden.

      1. eastcoastkate*

        Yeah I was wondering this too! Did someone (or multiple people) previously really dislike this job and constantly complain about it and thus everyone then expected anyone in that job to hate it? When in fact- when the right person was in that role it was a good fit?
        I also think- as previous commenters mentioned- that teams can get into this culture of complaining and can often not realize just how negative they are being until someone points it out.

    2. no phone calls, please*

      THIS @ atma! Also, we kind of had this situation (the first COVID year was really tough and got to many of us and so it wasn’t happy place to be), but things have been changing for the better and the newer employees are happy and the longer term ones don’t “see” the positive changes. Bonus: an extremely charismatic, but toxic x 10, employee left and it’s a happy little camp now! Sometimes turnover is a fantastic thing!

    1. UKDancer*

      Well only if they want to. There’s no direct indication that the employee wants to work from home or has a problem with the bus. The boss has a problem with the bus but that’s not the same thing. Personally I would be quite insulted if my boss suggested I worked from home rather than using public transport. If I’ve made the decision to use the bus it’s because I’ve decided that’s a level of risk I’m willing to take.

      1. Ria*

        Yeah. And I mean, let’s be realistic. Which is statistically more dangerous – driving in a car or catching a bus? By taking the bus, coworker is choosing the significantly less risky option. Perhaps they should try to ‘save’ their boss from the unavoidable dangers of driving. Oh wait, that would be inappropriate…

        1. Pobody’s Nerfect*

          Well, from a pandemic and COVID and communicable airborne respiratory diseases perspective, driving in a car is much safer than taking a bus, especially if bus windows can’t be opened or ventilation is poor or people on the bus don’t wear good masks or wear them incorrectly. Buses have always been rolling Petri dishes, but now they are even more dangerous.

    2. anonymous73*

      Why? There is no indication that the employee has a problem taking public transit. OP boss is making assumptions here.

  17. capedaisy127*

    #3: Can your boss or company pay for a cab or service as they are worried about their employee’s welfare?

      1. NoviceManagerGuy*

        Yep! When you’re in a cab you’re under the complete control of a different random stranger every day. On a rush hour bus you’re being driven along with lots of other people by what’s hopefully a thoroughly vetted public servant.

        1. UKDancer*

          Also buses in London (and other parts of the UK I think) have CCTV so I always feel safer because there is a record of my presence and movement and anything that happens.

        2. ecnaseener*

          Even my grandmother, irrationally terrified of me taking the bus after dark, agrees that it’s better than me taking an Uber after dark.

  18. Beth Jacobs*

    # 2 I’ve seen the reverse scenario not once, but twice, in the past year. As in yuppies in their posting CVs of their parents, who appeared to be targetting lower-level office work. They mentioned their parents lost their jobs because of covid. This felt reasonable to me, since a) it’s one way to counter age discrimination b) the priviledge here works a bit differently: it’s kids from lower middle class families who “made it” trying to pull up their whole family with them. I’m curious what others think though.

    1. Roscoe*

      I think people will see it as different, but to me, its the exact same. You are just trying to help a loved one get a job. Pulling up your older parents, or helping your kid get a foot in the door, is 2 sides of the same coin.

    2. anonymous73*

      I think all of it is eye-roll inducing and lazy. If you have connections, reach out and make an introduction. Then let the child/parent take it from there. I would be much more willing to help someone out if they reached out to me personally than if I saw a post asking for help.

    3. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      If you’re going to do it, do it effectively — tag your friends in Mom’s industry, or give examples of Dad’s value to an employer. But as someone who deals with age discrimination every day, I would actually prefer that employers DON’T know I’m old enough to have a child in the workforce!

  19. Edward Williams*

    I am even more strongly opposed to the LinkedIn posting business than AAM. If a colleague of mine did this on behalf of the “kid” (young adult??) I would criticize it severely. If I caught a subordinate of mine doing this to coworkers, I would come down hard with a severe cease-&-desist reprimand. I commend the questioner, who is aware of the “privilege” issue. This practice could become an ugly and representative “poster child” of white privilege and/or male privilege.

    1. Roscoe*

      You probably need to mind your business if its a colleague. If it doesn’t involve you directly, stay out of it. If you are tagged, by all means untag yourself.

      If its a subordinate and they are tagging coworkers, I guess you may have a bit more standing. But it still seems like an overreach to me to tell them what they can and can’t do with their linkedin page and who they can tag. That just makes you seem like someone who would be awful to work for.

    2. Hiring Mgr*

      That seems a little overboard? No boss, you’re not telling me what I can and can’t post on LinkedIn if it’s unrelated to the job.

      1. Rayray*


        It’s one thing if they trashed the company or something but just trying to help someone network? There are far worse sins on LinkedIn constantly like the fake inspirational stories or hiring the man with no experience but with grit and determination or any post ending with “Agree?”.

      2. Edward Williams*

        I claim it’s very much related — in the scenario where I’m hypothetically the supervisor, the subordinate doing this is arm-twisting coworkers and distracting them from the assigned work.

    3. Rayray*

      This seems to have really pushed your buttons. It sounds like a well-meaning parent to be honest. I don’t think it’s that big of deal. Personally, I’d rather see the kid have his own profile and then maybe try r parent could share that and let their kid field any messages or questions.

      Legal Action against a maybe misaligned but we’ll-intentioned post to help a young person network is very extreme and to be honest, if it’s someone posting to LinkedIn, it seems out of bounds for you to punish them at work for it.

    4. Eldritch Office Worker*

      That’s quite a reaction. A social media post is a pretty passive and low impact form of parental interference in a job search. It’s not greasing the wheels with an executive or getting their kid an internship at the firm (as we saw in another post). And frankly it’s unlikely to work. It’s much more akin to “hey, Johnny’s looking for work let me know if you hear of an opening”. Would you be opposed to that as well? This strongly? I think this is hitting a sore spot for you that doesn’t have much to do with the actual post.

      1. PT*

        The vast majority of people- unless you’re in a field that Power Uses LinkedIn, there’s a few- post useless garbage on LinkedIn’s news feed. At least a resume is related to the point of LinkedIn- hiring people for jobs- but it’ll probably be buried in motivational quotes, articles about “synergy”, bad job search tips (send a shoe to your hiring manager!), and twenty different ways to “life hack” your time like an executive.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yeah I can’t even remember the last time I *looked* at my LinkedIn newsfeed if I’m being honest

        2. Rayray*

          I remember making a LinkedIn profile 10ish years ago in college. Back then it was about connecting, networking, and job hunting. Over the years I’d maybe log in occasionally but not often. When I lost my job in 2020, I was logging on almost daily to update my profile and job hunt but then I was noticing all the weird posts. The newsfeed is worse than Facebook. It’s enough to make you lose your lunch.

      2. Edward Williams*

        Perhaps it does — mommies call me at home like this: “You’re a terrible teacher! My dear daughter cried after her statistics test! You made it too hard! I’m going to tell the department chair to fire you!”

  20. Purple Princess*

    On #3 – I’ve been the coworker who gets the bus home after work and I would have hated having a manager pressurising a coworker/supervisor to give me a ride home. I liked the bus! Yes it took a bit longer, but I can put my earphones in and/or read a book and have time to compress. If the weather’s nice I could decide to walk to a different bus stop, or get off the bus a few stops earlier and walk it home. I could get off the bus in the city centre and run a few errands at the end of the workday before getting home. But even regardless of all that, I was an adult, I made my own transportation choices for whatever reasons I had at the time and I was perfectly content to live with that choice. Having a manager try to intervene because they didn’t like that I caught the bus in the dark would have felt incredibly infantilising.

    1. UKDancer*

      Yes I also quite enjoy my commute because it’s time when I don’t have to do anything else and can just zone out / read a book / think deep thoughts. I’d be really miffed if a colleague decided to unilaterally change my transport arrangements because they didn’t like them as it would imply they had no faith in my judgment. I make decisions based on risk and evidence and am old enough to decide for myself.

      When I was at university I had a holiday job at a local stately home and I used to get the bus from the small town to the village with the castle. Sometimes my colleagues (who were mainly older and had cars) would offer me a lift but it was always their choice to offer and mine whether to accept. Part of being a grown up for me was making choices. Even if it meant sometimes I waited in the rail for 15 minutes for a bus.

    2. Single Noun*

      Absolutely- I took the bus pre-covid and I’ve switched to a carpool for risk reduction now we’re back in the office, and my carpool buddy is a total sweetheart and matched my schedule almost perfectly and gets me there in half the time the bus did… and I still miss it! I used to have two hours a day with nothing to do but read, I could hop off and run errands on the way home, if I was late I was only inconveniencing myself. I can’t imagine carpooling with my boss who was being ordered to do it, that sounds horrendously awkward.

    3. EmmaPoet*

      When I commuted via train and bus to work, I could pretty much guarantee to read a book a day. I moved to a new job and commute by bus only, which means I still get 40 minutes of reading time a day. I do take the occasional Uber or Lyft in horrible weather or when the bus isn’t convenient (working the late shift and there’s a 40 minute wait for the next bus.) But the bus is free, I log over a mile of exercise walking to and from stops, and I have guaranteed read time every day.

  21. bamcheeks*

    LW3, I have seen that kind of thing on LinkedIn a couple of times, and I have been known to post something like, “It’s great to see that so many people want to support young people entering the workplace! Please do remember you can also work with local colleges and post-92* universities, which will help you find people outside your own personal networks and increase diversity in the workplace. :-)”

    It’s a bit passive-aggressive, but also — it needs to be said!

    (post-92 universities = recently created universities in the UK, which are much more likely to have students from less privileged backgrounds.)

    1. Claire*

      I really like this. It is a tiny bit passive aggressive maybe, but I agree that its good to get the word out there.

  22. Bookworm*

    #3: Agree with Alison’s answer and with the expanded comments (it’s up to the employee to decide?). If boss is so concerned, either they should offer to chauffer or hire a car service (or similar), or…take it up with the actual employee? Very weird.

  23. Hiring Mgr*

    Personally I don’t have a problem with a parent trying to help out a kid in this way (having a linkedin account doesn’t necessarily make one privileged).

    But if it’s a concern, IMO the public post is less bothersome than if the parent was asking friends 1-1 for help. A public post where lots of people are tagged is much easier to ignore

    1. anonymous73*

      Yes it’s less bothersome, but I’d be more willing to help out a friend if they contacted me personally AND I was in a relevant industry for what the kid wanted to pursue.

      My stepson is a junior in HS. He expressed interest in pursuing a certain major in college, and my husband has a friend in that industry. He reached out and asked the friend if he’d be willing to meet my stepson and chat. They had a meeting, the friend gave my stepson some numbers of people to contact, and ideas of how to accomplish his goals. It’s up to him to take it from there. I think it’s okay to help your child connect with the right people, but then leave it up to them to move forward in their pursuit. A post is just lazy and impersonal.

  24. doreen*

    LW#5 – can you describe in general terms what kind of work your husband does? Because the combination of five weeks total unpaid leave and being paid by how many clients are seen sounds to me like it may not be the typical employee arrangement. What it actually sounds like to me is a set-up I’ve seen where two or more professionals/service providers share a space and maybe support staff, but aren’t partners and bill separately and avoid overlapping vacations, etc so that the office can still be open. I’m sure he is an employee as your question assumes – but is it possible that his field is one of those where people are often not employees and his company has modeled their policies on those non-employee arrangements?

  25. Morning Reader*

    For LW3, I agree that transportation from work should not be the employer’s responsibility; however, it’s worth looking at your environment and how employees get from your workplace to their car, bus, bike or whatever. Is your parking lot poorly lit? Do you have a secure place for bikes? How far is the bus stop, and is it a safe place to wait? These are elements that you might be able to improve, if they need it.

      1. Morning Reader*

        It is not. However, if the grand boss’s impulse to increase safety is reflective of any real security concerns for staffers, it wouldn’t hurt to address that. Many employers have some kind of parking arrangement, or “let’s all leave together at end of shift” practice. I think it’s part of general social responsibility to think about the environment around your place of business, for employees, customers, the world at large.
        Not the problem the OP asked about, though.

    1. Lyudie*

      How is OP3 or even their boss supposed to fix any of those things even if they are a problem? Many companies rent their facilities, maybe they could convince the owners to improve parking lots and bike areas but maybe not. OP can’t exactly convince the company to move to a site closer to a bus stop or convince the city to make the bus stop safer. Some areas simply do not have robust public transport and there are not many stops at all, or not stops that are on the right bus line (I’d need to walk nearly a mile to get to the closest useful stop from my office in the middle of a busy, popular part of the city). It’s just not at all within the purview of OP, their boss, or even their company. Not to mention as others have pointed out, the employee is an adult and can make her own choices. If she feels unsafe and wants help from her employer, it’s on her to reach out.

      1. bamcheeks*

        “Do you have parking for bikes and is your parking lot well-lit” are absolutely within the purview of an employer. Yes, a smaller company which doesn’t own their own buildings might have limited power to change it, but they are purchasing a service, they can certainly feed back to the property management company or landlord about the changes and facilities they’d like to see. And it would be a benefit to ALL employees, not singling someone out because they’re young and female and the boss perceives them as vulnerable.

        1. Lyudie*

          Yes it would benefit all employees and yes they can provide feedback to the property management company (even large companies often lease) but many of the things MorningReader is mentioning, while all good things! as a former bus rider I fully support them! are just outside of OP3’s control.

          1. Bamcheeks*

            Oh yeah, I don’t think they’re OP3’s responsibility. But if the boss keeps pushing this, giving some practical suggestions for how they can address safety without pressuring their employees into impractical car-shares might either kickstart the boss into doing something useful (if they genuinely care about safety) or just get them to be quiet (if the concern about safety is very much “as long as it doesn’t cost me anything”).

  26. Morning Reader*

    For LW5, I am unclear on why the parent would need to use up all his leave during an FMLA leave. His Vacation and sick time is unpaid leave; people use paid leave simultaneously with FMLA so they get paid, but what is the point if the leave is unpaid? Couldn’t he use his allowed benefit of 5 weeks off and then apply for FMLA? For the non-birthgiving parent, there is no particular reason the leave has to be right after, is there?

      1. Morning Reader*

        True but the letter said he’d be required to use both simultaneously, so I inferred that it does, in this situation. My question is more in regard to FMLA qualifying situations, and I know some people use their paid leave along with FMLA. But do they have to? And why would they if it’s not paid leave? Just curious how this works.

        1. Pointy's in the North Tower*

          Depends on the employer. I used FMLA last year for surgery. I also used leave because I wanted to be paid.

          FMLA isn’t required to be paid leave. It just protects your employment. I’m a state employee, and we’re required to use all our paid leave before we’re allowed to go on upaid leave. I had enough to cover the two weeks I was out recovering, but my friend was a couple days short when she took off to have her baby, so she didn’t get paid for those days. When she came back, she had zero leave for her appointments and the baby’s appointments until she managed to accrue some.

          tl;dr answer: Yes, some of us are required to use our leave if we want to be paid while we’re on FMLA leave.

          1. Morning Reader*

            Yes, I understand that, but in this situation the employer appears to be requiring using up *unpaid* leave that is a benefit, at the same time as FMLA leave, which is also unpaid. In the situation you mention, parent used *paid* leave that was a benefit, then used FMLA unpaid later. So I wonder why LW’s husband doesn’t do the same, use his benefit leave, then take FMLA. How can they say use both at the same time? It basically makes his 5 week “benefit” useless.
            If baby is born in February, father takes his 5 week combo vacation and sick time, come May, why can’t he take his fmla?

            1. Pointy's in the North Tower*

              FMLA runs concurrently with paid leave. I was legally required to take FMLA because I was out for a qualifying event. It’s not an option to just take leave, then use FMLA later.

    1. Atalanta0jess*

      Your employer can require you to use your PTO during that time, even if it is paid….I’d assume they could likewise require you to use your unpaid.

  27. WellRed*

    OP 5: if your husband gets five weeks of unpaid time off, he really doesn’t have time off as part of his benefits package. That’s not how that’s supposed to work. Congrats on the baby!

      1. Name (Required)*

        This was my thought.

        It’s not *really* a benefit if it isn’t paid, so why is it called a benefit? 5 weeks sounds great, but if I can’t even afford 1 week of unpaid time off, who cares if I get 5?

        1. ann*

          I mean, I agree with you that paid time off would be better than unpaid, from the employee’s perspective, but another way to look at it is that it is factored in to your salary for the rest of the year. So they could give you 5 weeks of paid time off instead, but decrease the rest of your salary.
          Some teachers get paid equal amounts throughout the year even though they do not teach in summer; some get no paycheck in the summer but proportionally higher pay the rest of the year. Similar concept, I think.
          Having the time off is still a benefit, in that it is time you are allowed to be away from work without having to quit your job and reapply for it.

    1. Brett*

      I think what that indicates is that they can take up to 5 weeks off (unpaid) and still have a job. Anything more than 5 weeks, and they are considered to have voluntarily resigned; i.e. the job is not covered by FMLA.

  28. Detective Amy Santiago*

    #4 – it’s possible that it has nothing to do with you or your team and that those managers are being asked questions by their managers about why certain things are not done or where they are, etc. My boss likes to be looped in on certain things so I copy her a lot.

    But also, I work with a department that makes a lot of errors and it’s incredibly frustrating to constantly have to clean up after them. I don’t know what kind of work your team does, but if they are making repeated errors, there may be a deficiency in training or a process issue that you might want to look at correcting.

    1. LW4*

      1) I love Brooklyn 99 so talking with Amy Santiago is amazing!
      2) Yep, that makes sense. I’m working on things to get better workloads and processes in place. I also am trying to work with HR about what to do with my report that was on a PIP, completed the PIP but is now making errors again. Since that person is more seasoned it’s honestly just now making me worry about what type of tips or advice she is giving my younger staff.
      3) thanks for being kind!

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I’m a big fan of process checklists (yes, I chose this username for a reason lol). When you’re dealing with a lot of moving parts, it’s helpful sometimes to be able to look at a list and tick off the boxes to make sure you’ve considered everything.

        Good luck!

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Throwing out some things I’ve seen that were helpful:
        -quick guides/step by steps with screen shots of processes (especially with a new process)
        -make all the training formalized with just you (that way you know things are being taught the correct way)
        -spot checking/random auditing of everyone’s work (this way you are more likely to catch errors as they are happening)
        -reoccurring training for everyone both new and old (again this makes sure you know that everyone has been taught to do it the way you want it done)

      3. Cat Tree*

        I’m in a highly regulated industry so we have invested in Human Error Prevention. Just an intro level online course might be a big benefit for your group. If multiple people are making similar errors it could be a problem with your systems. A PIP has its place but might be less effective if the systems are convoluted.

  29. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    What is it with this persistent attitude from some people that taking the bus is odd, weird, unsafe or just confusing?

    I’ve encountered this SO much during my career! This attitude goes with “Don’t you drive?” Yeah, I can but for work? Nah. Parking is an issue, distance is an issue and we’re a one-car family and the car is needed for groceries and answering my FIL’s whims.

    Unless the LW’s area is one where there is poor lighting or the bus stop is not well maintained in winter or it’s a truly unsafe area at night, there’s no reason why to drive them home. If the boss is that concerned, he can pay for an Uber instead.

    1. Not Today Satan*

      Once a coworker picked me up when she saw me waiting for the bus. On the way she said, “Don’t worry, you’ll be able to afford a car soon.” I made one and a half times her salary.

      I actually own a car, but only use it to leave the city. I genuinely prefer taking transit, which a lot of people can’t wrap their heads around. I don’t get it, it’s why I live in the city.

      1. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        I like the downtime, the reading time, the chatting with people you wouldn’t otherwise, talking to your neighbors, people watching, watching the world go by and on my route, watching the sun set on the river…

    2. SarahKay*

      I’d be furious at a boss that said I should take an Uber rather than the bus, even if they pay for the Uber.
      (a) It’s my choice how I get to work; I’m an adult and can make my own risk assessments
      (b) Unless he’s insisting on female Uber drivers (every time!), I’m probably a lot safer on the bus.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yeah I regularly take the bus and take a Lyft about once a week because I have an obligation that takes me somewhere that the convoluted public transit to get home would be about an hour and a half and the drive is more like 20 minutes. I don’t love it though. When it’s late and dark especially, I feel way safer on a bus than in a stranger’s car, even with all the safety features Lyft has added.

    3. Minerva*

      I took the bus to work for an auto maker for a while. Only reason I would have stopped was the complexities of multiple child care pickups. Driving is expensive.

    4. WulfInTheForest*

      It really depends on the area. Taking the bus in my area IS unsafe, as I used to take it during college and was harassed pretty often. Also, some areas don’t have reliable public transport, or the transport offered would make the commute horrendous.

    5. JB*

      I would absolutely love to be able to take the bus to work. I’m only a ten minute drive away and we’re in the city, but there’s no bus stop anywhere near my house. Sigh.

      Anyway, the answer to your ‘why’ is ‘because classism’. The same reason people are afraid they’ll get bedbugs or ringworm if they so much as glance at a second-hand shop. It’s for ‘poor people’ in their mind, and therefor there MUST be something bad and undesireable about it.

      1. Bamcheeks*

        >> ‘because classism’

        Yup! With a healthy dose of racism, cos the two are almost always interlinked. In Dublin they say that the main success of the Luas has been to persuade middle-class people that it’s ok to use public transport.

    6. AVP*

      You’re not a Real Amurrrican unless you have a car! Extra American points if it’s a pickup that’s always in 4-wheel drive and snow tires! Didn’t they teach you that in Patriotism 101???!

  30. Roscoe*

    #2 However bad you think the parent looks for posting, I think you would look worse for commenting about what they should or shouldn’t be doing on their own linkedin page. If you don’t like that she is doing this, don’t help her. Its really that simple. But commenting or DMing her just would be a bad move overall.

    Personally, I think people are going a bit too far these days about not wanting people’s connections to help with their kids internship searches. Its like the letter from earlier this week. I think its great when companies try to cast a wider net in order to increase diversity in their interns. But I’m not going to be upset a parent for trying to help their kid.

    If its something you feel strongly about, think about how you can help other students from similar backgrounds to your own. Maybe that is doing something at your own company. Maybe that is volunteering with a local organization to help kids get internships. But don’t worry about what this parent is doing.

    And unlike Alison, I have no real problem with this.

    1. Lacey*

      Yeah, I know it’s frustrating that some people get ahead because they have all the connections, but it would be a weird thing to say all parents who help their children are elitist and wrong.

      Plus, many many parents don’t have tons and tons of useful connections. My parents could share my resume all day long – it would almost never be useful! So shaming them for trying would be really strange.

    2. Rayray*

      I agree and you bring up an excellent point. LinkedIn can actually be a great tool for networking or job hunting so long as it is used for its original intent. Sure, this. ”kid” is actually an adult but they’re young and trying to get started. We always hear how networking is the greatest tool in job hunting, so why can’t their parent be a link in their networking? I’d guess if anyone had any connections to job openings, they would be able to contact them directly and then the kid would handle it. It’s not like it’s the parent sitting in the job interview with them, sounds like they’re just helping the kid network.

      1. Roscoe*


        While I have a problem with a parent getting actually involved in the interview process, trying to help their kids find out about the options that are avialable seems pretty harmless.

    3. JB*

      On the one hand, I absolutely agree that it’s natural for any parent to want to help their kid.

      On the other hand, I come from a family where my dad helped my brother get a cushy $60k/yr 100% remote job right after he failed out of college. My sister and I (I’m also AFAB) were on our own as far as finding jobs.

      We definitely benefited in other ways from having well-connected middle-upper-class parents – we all have an excellent understanding of professional norms and language, for one, and of course there’s the enormous benefit that our parents were able to offer some financial support in college, etc. But there can be inequity in parental support even within families.

      1. Roscoe*

        Sure they can. But that still isn’t OPs business at all. Parents treat their kids different. Shocking. If you, as someone affected by that, want to confront your parents, by all means. But I don’t know that a person like OP who worked with them years ago, would be appropriate to say anything about it

  31. Indigo Bunting*

    I’ve been in LW1’s situation, and both times the complainers were “right”. It was a combination of 1) being so grateful to be away from previous job or unemployment 2) excitement about being in new field and meeting new people and most importantly, 3) not seeing how the sausage is made. A lot of terrible leaders are charismatic and if you don’t work with them directly, they seem wonderful. But over time, you see the mess.

    That being said, there’s a spectrum of “this job sucks”. I would venture to say more jobs suck than don’t. My current job is very frustrating and in a very disorganized company led by an incompetent CEO, but it doesn’t really stress me out like other jobs have. Some people just complain more than others.

    1. Minerva*

      Honestly I am more annoyed by recruiters spamming me with inappropriate jobs in my inbox than a thread of “anyone know of jobs for a kid with these qualifications?”

      Networking is always a little preserving on the in group. Linkedin mixes friends and family and coworkers. This is not a big deal, especially since it’s about as much help as I gave my GPs son and kids mentored by a friend (this posting exists and is exactly what you want. Get this experience next year in school of you want to apply)

  32. irene adler*

    #3: If the boss has issue with LW co-worker’s safety, why not have the company arrange, and foot the bill, for a taxi or similar means to transport co-worker home? Why must the supervisor (LW) be tasked with the responsibility for this sort of thing?

    (has co-worker even expressed concern for their safety on their commute home? Thinking not.)

    1. Rayray*

      This is exactly what I was thinking. Gift the person some credits on Lyft, don’t make it another person’s responsibility. Another idea is to offer someone else an hour of pay for each time they take them home. Lyft would be cheaper though.

    2. AnonInCanada*

      And the irony of that: how much safer would the young employee be in a taxi or a ride-share like Lyft or Uber? How vetted is that driver? Riding the bus would naturally be safer due to 1> trained and vetted driver, 2> safety in numbers (people will watch for one another) and 3> CCTV cameras (there’s at least 4 of them in every bus in Toronto, and I’m pretty sure most city buses have cameras recording in them as well.)

      And really it’s none of OP’s boss’s business. If the boss is so concerned about this employee’s well-being, she can drive her home herself!

      1. American Job Venter*

        This. The idea that taxis and rideshares would be safer for Delicate Young Damsels than public transit makes me laugh bitterly due to personal experience.

  33. Christmas Carol*

    Paternity leave actually benefits all women, whether we choose to bear children or not. It protects from the reasoning that if only mothers are granted leave after the addition of a child to a family, regardless if it is through birth, adoption, or finding a baby in a basket on your doorstep, and fathers are not, it makes any woman a less desirable hire, because she might someday decide to have a child. Employers expect the mothers will either leave their job, or take the extra time off, and they will prefer to hire men who won’t need this extra benefit and cause the resulting staffing issues. It’s one of the reasons we are in the mess we are still in today, still confronting significant gender bias in hiring in the 21st century.

  34. anonymous73*

    #3 – easy, say “No”. You don’t need reasons. I wouldn’t want to do it either. It’s out of your way, and not your responsibility to get this person to and from the office. And it’s shitty of your boss to keep bringing it up. I realize it can be more difficult to say no to your boss, but they’re being unreasonable and honestly the request is inappropriate. I wouldn’t even say “I can’t do it”. I would say “I’m not going to do that.” If they ask why “Because that’s my choice and I’d really appreciate it if you stopped asking me.”

    1. Colette*

      The OP does need reasons, because she needs to maintain a good relationship with her boss, and “no” isn’t going to do that. “I’m sorry, I can’t do that due to other committments” is enough, but she can’t just say no.

      1. anonymous73*

        Saying no doesn’t equal disrespect, it’s maintaining boundaries. And making up reasons is never the way to go, because when you start expanding on why you’re saying no, it gives the other person reason to ask more questions and try and get you to change your mind.

        1. Colette*

          If someone asks you to do something and you just say no, that’s pretty rude. It may be warranted (if it’s someone without standing to ask you to do it), but if it’s your boss, it’s not.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Just a straight “no” would be rude, but “that won’t work with my schedule” or “no, sorry, that’s just not possible” are softer and are still saying “no.”

            1. Colette*

              Yeah, exactly. The OP shouldn’t agree, but she also shouldn’t say “no” without any other padding and expect that to be OK.

          2. anonymous73*

            I don’t care if someone is my boss or not, if they make an inappropriate request, I’m going to say no. And I’m going to ask them to stop mentioning it. Being a boss doesn’t give you the right to basically harass someone into doing something that has nothing to do with their job. It’s not rude to say no, it’s about setting boundaries.

            1. Sea Anemone*

              It is not saying no that is rude. It is the word choices that you are advocating for the no that are rude. There are lots of non-rude ways to say no. Why not make the choice that maintains a good relationship?

      2. SarahKay*

        And if “I have other commitments” won’t cut it then try pointing out that if this is an order it’s considered work and they’ll need to reimburse mileage and any extra insurance costs, as well as pay any applicable overtime.

        1. Colette*

          It’s OK, but I’d prefer that she be more vague. The goal is not to get the boss to solve the problems, the goal is to decline in a way that the boss accepts.

  35. Lacey*

    LW3 – your boss wants you to tack another 40 minutes onto a 30 minute drive. I don’t think saying you don’t go directly home will change his mind about this “obligation” in the least.

    But, I do think you could say you don’t have the extra time in the evenings to add 40 minutes onto your commute.

    Also, if I were your employee I would 10,000% NOT want my boss to drive me home every day. That sounds incredibly uncomfortable for everyone.

  36. Beth*

    Holy crud, LW#3 — that would turn your half-hour commute into an hour and a half! JUST SAY NO. If the boss is that worried, the boss can give the employee a lift.

  37. Eldritch Office Worker*

    #1 I dealt with something similar at my current job. I was brought on in part due to a history of working successfully with difficult bosses, and throughout the whole interview and onboarding process (and even now a few months in) I got “warned” about my boss and how she was terrible and mean and I must be a saint to work with her and all these things…

    I ADORE my boss. She’s not mean, she’s direct, and she knows her own expertise and worth. I’ve seen her in some meetings where I can see how the reputation was borne, but honestly – the people she chewed out in those situations all deserved it. Would I have handled it the way she did? No. But in 40 years when I have her experience and her standing? Maybe! Who can say.

    So proceed with caution, there might be some basis for what you’re hearing. But don’t let those people get under your skin. Not every person is right for every job, and you might be uniquely suited for the challenges of yours in a way that’s hard for outsiders to wrap their heads around. If you’re enjoying it, don’t let anyone ruin it for you. Just keep an alert ear up so you aren’t caught off guard if it does go south.

    1. Rebekah*

      Yes! My first office job was as an admin to a guy who had a reputation for being impossible to work with, but I loved working for him. Part of it was that he had a direct style and no time for nonsense (and we worked in an industry with a lot of nonsense), but he was never mean. He also had a way of “punching up” and had little respect for the authority structure, which he got away with because he was amazing at his job, but he never, ever “punched down”. I’m not sure I would want to manage him, but working for him was a great intro to the work world.

    2. irene adler*

      My friend experienced something similar.
      He was informed that he would be transferred to the QC dept. to work for someone with a reputation for being just awful to work for (demanding, super picky, unreasonably unsatisfied with the work, assigned lots of work projects). He called me shortly after learning this, very upset. He thought about quitting.

      A short while later I called him to see how he was doing under the new manager. “Everything is fine-perfect even!”, he exclaimed. Turns out, he and his new manager were like two peas in a pod. They both had high standards for evaluating product and would not settle for so-so. They both liked to figure out the “whys” behind something that would not work. So he welcomed the huge workload as he understood the reason for it. Never happier.

  38. Blisskrieg*

    OP#1–I LOVE customer service positions. Favorite job ever was as a server, but also as a registration clerk at a hospital. I actually enjoyed the negative experiences as well–I liked trying to turn them into a positive, but I also just relished seeing how people are. I also did not mind the odd and inconsistent shifts. I imagine it’s a little like your situation; I know so many people who absolutely detest customer service work, and it was always made me wonder if I was crazy for enjoying it. I don’t do that kind of work anymore, but it was such good life experience. Sounds like you are just calibrated a little differently than your coworkers. Maybe you won’t want to do what you’re doing forever, but it sounds like it suits you well for now as well as the indeterminate future. Lean into it!

  39. V*


    The “senior manager” makes me think you might be in a classic consulting company. There it’s very normal to have a sort of cynical attitude to the job. If you’re coming across as “too energetic” I could see you running into a lot of comments saying you’ve still got rose-coloured glasses on. In that case I wouldn’t assume that there’s too much behind it. It’s just classic to get somewhat jaded and burned-out with the high workload.

    Even outside consulting, this is the kind of office culture that can develop when you’ve got a few “complainers” that start to colour conversations with their particular brand of negativity. It can be a depressing culture to arrive in, but I wouldn’t automatically assume there’s some giant anvil that’s about to be dropped on you.

    1. Claire*

      Ah this would make sense. In that case I was also the more eager new hire. Part of it was definitely that the things that bothered them didn’t bother me. One of the big things I learned from that job is that I LOVE working with clients.
      I really think the Big4 people I worked with were so negative about some things. It may have been a self-fulfilling prophecy at some point. Yes some things suck but at some point complaining about them is not going to make it any better.
      I basically “blank stone-d” them every time they made a negative comment until I left.

  40. LCH*

    for paternity/maternity leave, some states have paid family leave. I’m in NY and when I took FMLA, the state paid me 55% of my salary (it’s a sort of insurance employers pay into and I think there is a line on my paycheck too for it, a very small amount). so check in if your area has that!

  41. Spicy Tuna*

    At my previous job, my male boss was flabbergasted when one of our male co-workers took 2 weeks of PTO after the birth of his 2nd child (he did the same for the first but had a different boss). My boss proudly and loudly stated he never took off more than one day for the actual birth of each of his three kids.

    I will admit, selfishly, that as one of two childfree women on our team, I was the beneficiary of my boss’s discrimination against parents in the form of juicier projects and bigger bonuses. But yeah, the parent tax is real.

    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      I had a couple of male coworkers who were similarly flabbergasted when they heard about how another coworker was piecing together leave when his kids (twins) were born. I told them “Look, his household is suddenly gaining two tiny humans, while his wife is recovering from major abdominal surgery.” They gave me a funny look at that. “He told us she’s having a c-section. You can’t do that laproscopically. You have to be able to get a baby out through the incision.” There were no more comments in my hearing about his time off.

      (My company has since added proper paternity leave.)

      1. alynn*

        WOW. It is amazing how people just don’t think about what it takes to get the tiny human(s) out of one’s body. I’m so glad you said something!

  42. Esmeralda*

    #3: Oh, I’m sorry I can’t do that, I almost always have lots of errands right after work! It’s nice that you’re concerned, though — maybe YOU could give coworker a lift?

    You may decide you can’t actually say that to your boss. But I hope you can!

  43. Former Retail Lifer*

    OP#5: Paid maternal leave isn’t as common as it should be. I’ve been in the workforce for 25 years at various companies and I’ve never worked for any company that paid it. Paid paternal leave, or paternal leave at all, is much harder to find. I’d be more annoyed with the lack of ANY paid time off than this one specific issue.

  44. HLK_HLK45*

    For LW 3: You could also say “I can’t give her a ride home because , but as long as you’re offering, I can let her know she can catch a ride with you.” Bonus points if the boss’ house is closet to/same direction as newby.
    Also, as a new employee I would have MUCH rather taken the bus (where I could read, listen to music, destress, etc.) than having to be extremely circumspect and not say anything that isn’t work related while riding with my boss or grandboss.

  45. Spicy Tuna*

    LW #3- you boss is being ridiculous. I live in a city with high crime and I was one of the few employees that took public transportation. The bus stop closest to our office was on a truly horrendous block with a lot of legit crazy people lurking around and causing trouble. I would regularly leave work at 10 or 11PM and wait for the bus. My choice to do that instead of taking an Uber. I am an adult with agency over my own life. I wouldn’t have accepted a ride home from a co-worker because we just spent ALL day together! To have to be trapped in a car for another 20 minutes making small talk? Not thanks, I’ll take my chances on the bus or cough up the $$ for an Uber.

  46. Lord Farquaad*

    For commission only jobs like the LW’s husband, what would a typical paid parental leave structure look like? In my workplace, we have a sales team that are commission only, and therefore do not have PTO, but have the potential to make substantially more than anyone else at the company. I am not sure what their PTO would look like, including a parental leave, given they do not have an hourly pay rate and their success varies greatly among the team. They can take as much unpaid time off as they like (they do not have a rigid schedule) given that they are successful and can manage their time.

  47. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

    #1 – I wonder if the issue here is a general negative attitude as part of the company culture. If someone at the top is in the habit of complaining and venting a lot, that has a way of trickling down. Which isn’t to say that’s okay — working in that kind of negativity can be exhausting. But the doom-and-gloom attitude may be a lot more about the company culture than about the job duties/responsibilities themselves.

  48. TotesMaGoats*

    #2-I feel about this the way I feel about parents who shill for this kids club activities on FB instead of their kid doing the work to make sales. I’ve got a rule now that if you kid is selling something, I’ll buy it but they have to visit, call, email, face time, text me to get the sale. I would honestly buy something from every kid that did it. The girls and boy scout parents who do this when the concept (as I understand it) is to learn about being an entrepreneur and marketing really get back up.

    I think that the LI post by parents doesn’t look good on the parent or the kid and probably isn’t going to help the kid at all. I saw a similar post on our local yardsale FB group. Mom trying to help kid look for internships locally and he went to school down south. I started off my advice with “Your son should…”.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      I get your point, but most people i think are just trying to get by and help out.. it’s not my job to teach other people or their kids lessons about self reliance. Plus you’re only seeing one aspect of what the kid is doing.

        1. Colette*

          Some of the parents of my Girl Guides have advertised cookies on Facebook. I’ve also advertised them. But you don’t see the multiple weekend days the girls spend standing outside of a grocery store selling cookies, or the door to door sales. You only see what you see.

          And honestly, the goal is for them to raise money, marketing and entrepreneurship aren’t really skills they can learn in this environmetn.

    2. fueled by coffee*

      Eh, for club- or school-sponsored fundraisers, I don’t feel as bad about the parent promoting. Depending on the kids’ ages, their own networks can’t help (my elementary school friends would have loved to buy Girl Scout cookies off me, but none of us had cash back then!) and going door-to-door usually involves a parent shepherding their kid around for several hours in the hopes that someone will take pity and spend the money on wrapping paper/coupon books/magazine subscriptions no one actually wants. Parents advertising on Facebook just cuts out the middle man.

      For internships/job searches, though, college students are old enough to find postings and apply on their own.

  49. Gigi*

    LW#1-I’m in a role most people hate. It’s stressful, you’re often the bearer of bad news, you’re got three levels of management pulling you in different directions at any given time. People told me I’d hate it or said I would eventually if I didn’t hate it from day one. I’m approaching a decade in this role (with promotions/added responsibilities) and I still love it and thrive in it. I’m paid well, it’s challenging in a good way, and my skills are in demand. Maybe we just like the dirty jobs that someone has to do :)

  50. C in the Hood*

    Oh, OP3, your boss sounds *really* sexist! Would they say the same thing if a young man were taking the bus? (I’m guessing not.) The employee took the job, knowing what transportation she’d need to use. If she was unable or unwilling to use the transportation, she never would have taken the job.

  51. Sans Serif*

    1. I agree that a mass post is a bit much, but I want to ask about a different situation. Let’s say a new graduate goes to a family party and starts talking to a good friend of their cousin. The friend happens to be hiring for multiple entry level jobs in the new graduate’s field. They end up talking for hours at the party, hit it off spectacularly and he tells her to send her resume in. She does, she gets an interview where she needs to talk to four people, she impresses them, they check her references, and she gets hired.

    Is anything wrong with this? This is networking, correct? I wouldn’t call this “getting handed the job”, would you? There are some resentful people who feel this person (not me) didn’t “suffer enough” doing the shit jobs most new graduates do because she had a bit of luck running into someone who was hiring. They seem to take it as a personal affront that they have been doing crap jobs and she doesn’t have to. Yeah, life is unfair, but it’s not her fault they didn’t get a job, correct? Or are they justified in resenting her? (No, she doesn’t lord it over them; yes, she did acknowledge her luck.) I told her she was only given an interview; she earned the job by interviewing well and having good references.

    1. Roscoe*

      I think you hit in on the head. Some people are resentful that others didn’t have to suffer and claw their way like they did, so they automatically don’t like them.

      I find it a bit ridiculous myself. And I say this as someone who didn’t grow up rich or with a bunch of connections.

      1. Sans Serif*

        Ok, first I just realized I was responding to #2, not #1. And thanks, Roscoe, because it feels like an alternate universe where networking is equivalent to nepotism and being handed a job, and that somehow one person’s luck should be taken personally by someone who didn’t have that luck.

    2. Khatul Madame*

      No problem with this scenario at all.
      But the mass post, or equivalent – the candidate’s parent announcing her job search to all at the dinner table – would have damaged their chances of even getting the job lead, much less the interview.

    3. A Little Bit Alexis*

      I see the point you are trying to make but in your hypothetical, the initiative was from the new graduate, the conversation was continued by the new graduate, and the interest and follow up was expressed and conveyed by the new graduate. Sure, the source of the opportunity initially came from someone in the new graduate’s extended family/filial network, but the work to create that opportunity and opening came from the new graduate herself, not the new graduate’s parent. The new graduate in this situation wasn’t handed anything at all– she saw a professional opportunity in her personal life, and made something of it on her own. That’s quite distinct from say, that new graduate’s parent doing all of that and then later subbing in her daughter at a later stage.

      1. Sans Serif*

        Thanks, that what I thought. It’s not hypothetical, it’s my daughter and I had nothing to do with it. Because she’s got these resentful people, I have to keep convincing her that she earned the job, and that networking to get an interview was normal.

    4. Me*

      Networking is fine. But as Alison states we all need to be conscious of helping young people succeed who don’t have these in built networks especially members marginalized groups. And those of us with privilege should be cognizant of that and realize that yeah, we did have it easier than others for societal reasons.

      I’d like to think no one deserves to be stuck with “crap” jobs.

      Are they justified in resenting this person? People feel what they feel. But I’d venture that the resentment, while perhaps focused on this individual in this situation, is representative of the large frustrations with, again, the innate privilege some people have in society over others. So yeah, I’m not going to tell someone who has had it rough through no fault of their own that they can’t feel or shouldn’t feel resentful that things are the way they are.

      1. Sans Serif*

        Thing is, she had no more privilege than the people who are being resentful. In fact, they grew up in higher income neighborhoods than she did. Her running into this person was a fluke she never expected. The same thing could happen to the other people, but it just didn’t. Or hasn’t yet, anyway.

    5. American Job Venter*

      I think your hypothetical person made the most of an opportunity she gained by impressing someone. Someone she had the opportunity to meet due to family connections. She had some luck and put in a lot of effort.

      But I know that there are people who would never be invited to that party, and people whom that family friend would never give the time of day because they’re “not his kind of person”, and people whose only jobs available to them are as servers at that party being condescended to or treated like furniture. Is it so impossible that any one of those people would also make a good employee?

      1. Sans Serif*

        Not a hypothetical person or situation. Actually, my daughter. And this was not the type of party where anyone would be condescending to servers. In fact, some of the people there work in food service and retail. Most had in the past. Others work in fields that aren’t high paying. No CEOs or lawyers or doctors, not even close. This one guy just happened to be looking for people in her major. Luck if the draw.

        1. American Job Venter*

          Your daughter’s good sense in response to good luck does not disprove the existence of societal patterns of bigotry.

  52. VanLH*

    LW1: That would make me very nervous as well. Hopefully, they are bothered by things that don’t bother you. Is it possible this is a form of hazing (as in, let’s make the new hire nervous)?
    LW4: It sounds to me that the others your department are working with believe, rightly or wrongly, that too many mistakes are coming out of your department. Before this gets worse I would take a look at your procedures, especially quality control, to see what is going on.

  53. The Dogman*

    LW#3 should suggest if the boss is that concerned he can drive that employee home, or pay out of his pocket for the taxis etc.

    Ridiculous of them to suggest OP go 40 mins out of their way (presumably twice a day too) to collect someone who is clearly capable of getting a bus.

  54. Meghan*

    OP#3, just say you have commitments after work. Those commitments? Your boss doesn’t need to know. Even if that commitment is sitting on the couch in your undies eating ice cream out of the container.

    1. library-adjacent*

      OR!- treat it like any kind of work request and ask where in your work day they would like you to cover transportation– if you would need to leave at 4:00 so that you can drive people around and still end your day on time let them know. You can also always let them know that you’re not comfortable using your private vehicle for company business– it’s 100% fair to ask about overtime pay, mileage/travel reimbursement, and what steps you need to take to ensure your personal vehicle is covered by the company’s liability policy (this also could mean your own insurance rates are impacted). Oddly when you treat it like an official “ask” by a supervisor and not just someone who thinks they’re doing the world a favor by asking you to work for free they tend to back off.

  55. Recruited Recruiter*

    I wholeheartedly agree with Allison’s assessment #2 of your situation. Early in my career, I was at a job at which a customer and a co-worker each threatened my life without recourse multiple times, and a co-worker made life a living hell, and my supervisor chose to do nothing about it. I moved from this job to a different job at which the worst thing was a slight delay in communication, and a department director lacking in direct management skills. The department director knew this, and passed the direct management off to the department’s operations person, who was an expert. I accepted these minor issues with open arms – customers who behaved poorly were, in many cases, escorted off the premises promptly by security. I loved that job for three years and cried my eyes out when I left to pursue a job in my field. The entire time that I was there, my co-workers told me that it was a terrible place to work, and that I just hadn’t seen it yet. The reality was that, for me, it was the best place that I had ever worked.

  56. Jess*

    Re: manager cc’d on errors: I just want to put this out there, it may not be relevant to op situation. But i have found, that support agents without their own QAI plan, where the calls/work goes unreviewed and relies on complaints, well…not optimal. Everyone makes errors, but to use error feedback as the sole source of quality control doesn’t address root issues with knowledge. I only bring this up because our org uses a 3 party help desk and they seem to rely solely on us reporting issues to address them which is extremely frustrating lol

  57. Hippo-nony-potomus*

    “but doesn’t it seem a bit archaic, not to mention sexist, that his company doesn’t have a leave policy for non-birthing parents?”

    Part of maternity leave is the physical, psychological, and emotional recovery of the person who just birthed a human. No amount of feminism gives men episiotomies or c-sections, let alone the massive postpartum hormonal fluctuations or breastfeeding duties. (Yes, men do have some hormonal fluctuations and bottle feeding is a thing – we did that – but it’s not nearly to the same brutal extent for women.)

    1. The Ginger Ginger*

      Sure PART. But a lot of it is time to care for and support the birthing partner during recovery, bond with the new baby, and work through all the upheaval that comes with this kind of addition. Adoptive parents get leave in many offices as well and there’s no episiotomy involved there. The idea that if you didn’t birth the child, you’re not doing anything worth taking time out for is pretty gross and sexist.

      1. not a doctor*

        Seriously! Newborns take a lot of work, period. Also, adopting maternity leave but not paternity leave just perpetuates the idea that Mom is the one who takes on most if not all of that work, and Dad pops in around dinner to “help out.” Or maybe “babysit.”

        (And that’s assuming a heteronormative couple and not two adoptive dads, like the recent tempest-in-a-teapot over Pete Buttigieg and his twins, or a single father, or other possible non-traditional parenting models.)

    2. Me*

      It’s not a competition. BOTH maternity and paternity leave have value and purpose. And BOTH should be required by law.

    3. James*

      And part of paternity leave is caring for the women who just went through episiotomies or c-sections, and the massive postpartum hormonal fluctuations and breastfeeding. (It’s telling that you refer to it as “duties”.) The idea that the woman should be able to just jump up and care for the child the second it pops out, without any care whatever, is not just wrong, it can be deadly.

      It’s not a competition. And compassion for the fathers does not diminish the compassion towards the mothers. Having a child is a life-changing event, and both parents need time to adjust, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

      There’s also a business reason. Parents–BOTH OF THEM–are sleep deprived for a while. It’s physiological. Infants have two types of crying, one of which triggers a hard-wired response in the parent’s brain to care for the child. And infants have no idea what “day” and “night” are; they just know they’re hungry, or wet, or want to be held. I looked it up once–were an enemy army to do to POWs what an infant does to new parents it would constitute a war crime. (I was sleep deprived and often do random research like this, so don’t read too much into it.) Again, this is for both parents, and is something that is part of our physiology.

      Remember the Trigger States. Fatigue and Frustration are two of the four, and parents are firmly in those states. This means that errors and accidents are inevitable. Sometimes they’re small–but even small ones can be costly. I’ve seen a comma cost a company $25,000. I’ve seen a wrong digit on a sign on a roll-off box cost over a million. As a business it is a tremendous risk to demand that sleep-deprived, distracted, cranky people continue to work.

      I’ve been on both sides of the equation. I’ve been able to stay home for a while to help care for the child, and I’ve had to rush back to work because we needed the money. Everyone does better if the father can stay with the family. We made it work, but I seriously doubt you understand how hard it was on everyone to do so.

  58. CupcakeCounter*

    As Alison points out, a lot is perspective. About 2-3 months into a job a bunch of my coworkers were complaining about something and asked me my thoughts. I laughed and told them that compared to old job, it was nothing. And for me it really was nothing! My skillset and prior experiences made that task a breeze but for them is was a significant change compared to what they had been doing (think a system change). It was new to all of us but I had been through 4 upgrades/replacements at the old job and they had used the same system for over a decade so for them EVERYTHING CHANGED AND IT REALLY SUCKED. Most of those people had been there forever and any changes were terrible, everything was better when X was in charge or before Y happened (which for the record was over 15 years prior).
    I also took on a task that was simply above someone’s skillset and everything I heard from them on it was about how horrible it was. It wasn’t actually horrible but because of their limitations (and lack of desire/motivation to improve their skills) it was horrible for them. For me it was 15 minutes a day or less.
    Form your own opinions but make sure you aren’t saying this job is “great” simply because it is better than the last place.

  59. Ree*

    #5 “The leadership is a collection of old white men…”

    We really need to not do this. I know plenty of “old white men,” including my own dad, a couple of uncles, and a couple of cousins, who would love nothing more than to see parental leave be granted to women and men alike, for a lot longer than it occurs here. My brother and some younger male cousins, too.

    I just don’t see how blatant stereotyping is helpful. Please limit the criticism to the actual individuals causing the problem.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Your anecdotal evidence doesn’t override real life trends that people experience. The makeup of the leadership can absolutely be relevant to the policies and the likelihood of them changing. Moreover, debating this doesn’t offer the Letter Writer anything productive. I’m sure your family is great, this isn’t about them.

  60. Sandman*

    OP 1, I heard similar things about my manager at my last job. How she was just the worst manager ever, terrible person, impossible to work for, all of the above. She wasn’t great. But I’ve had a couple managers who were actually terrible – one brand new to both the field and to management who was just not capable yet, and one who immediately disliked me for political reasons and began working to undermine me from my first day. Probably because of those experiences I was able to make nice with this “bad manager” without a problem, and while I wouldn’t choose to work for her again, it was fine. So yes, it’d be wise to take this seriously and do a little digging to find out why people are so sure this job is a catastrophe, but I don’t think you need to panic. There are other plausible explanations.

  61. Meep*

    LW#3 – Is your boss my former supervisor? I had that pulled on me twice already (and wrote a letter about it). lol. If she continues to push it, tell her you will only do it if you are getting paid and AFTER she gets company car insurance. That will get her right off your back!

    As someone who has been there, it is not a nice gesture for either party. It makes one feel infantilized and the other feel inferior.

  62. TootsNYC*

    for the person with the supposedly horrible job, I’d like to add a #4:

    4) the person who had the job before you was a negative person who thrived on complaining and as a result, unconsciously made the job much more difficult and stressful than it needed to be (or just wasn’t as good at it). And your colleagues’ perceptions are colored by this.

    This happened at a job I was at. The guy who had the job was always lamenting how hard it was, etc. And how long things took, etc. And his complaints seemed backed up by what we all observed.
    He left, we got a new person, and I was worried it would be worse since that guy would be starting from scratch.
    But the new guy had a different attitude; he had no time to complain if someone brought him a problem, because he was too busy fixing things. He pointed out once that the time spent to do the change was about 1/5th of the time it took to complain about it.
    He also was able to group tasks, and to create stylesheets, and to streamline everything he did.
    I realized how much of everyone else’s assumptions about that role and those tasks had been shaped by that complainer.

  63. alynn*

    LW4 My supervisor was suddenly being CC-ed on emails with questions from the other team in our dept -without explanation . I, and others, interpreted it as a slight and that they didn’t trust us to answer the question(s) or something??

    I finally asked my supervisor and it turns out he had asked to be copied to try to figure out what was going on. Apparently, the other team was continuously complaining about our quality of work but could not describe, quantify, or otherwise define what was wrong.

  64. CarCarJabar*

    LW #5-

    There is a fairly new tax credit for employers who offer paid family and medical leave to employees (IRS Section 45s). Your husband may want to mention that, as stodgy old men may not care about work/life balance, but they almost always care about paying taxes.

    1. Brett*

      Sounds like the LW’s husband’s employer is not covered by and does not comply with FMLA, so they would be ineligible for the credit.

  65. Robin Ellacott*

    LW1: Asking why they’re making the comments is a great idea, but if it’s always the same few people saying these things it may be something specific to them.

    I have encountered a few people/teams who are weirdly married to the idea that their work is Very Hard and Very Horrible and Nobody Understands, but when you try to figure out where the issues are and how to help they don’t have anything specific to say. New team members get negativity bombed and are perplexed or frustrated when they find the work just fine.

    I’m not saying that is the case where you are, but if it’s just a few people making these comments, and when you ask where the issues are they have only vague answers like “nobody appreciates this team”, you can take it with a grain of salt until you notice something yourself.

    1. Robin Ellacott*

      I meant to say, but forgot: you said people in various areas are making these comments. Again, you may be saying “now I know why!” in a few months – or the people in the role before telegraphed their take on its being really awful to others, and the others bought in. Good luck!

  66. Aspergirl*

    LW1: It’s funny I had just commented on the next post re: a formerly abusive boss. My current workplace has issues. But my last workplace was so toxic and messed up and my boss was an abusive gaslighter. My actual boss is supportive and my work is interesting and challenging. So it may be messed up but it may also be perspective… and maybe someday you decide you want something even better for yourself. I hope that for now it’s good for you though.

  67. Paper Librarian*

    LW1. I had a very similar experience. I fled a miserable, toxic job and found a position much better suited, but for the first couple of years people would bitch about my job. Either the workplace was awful, the management was awful, or my job in particular was awful, even though I remained relatively happy in the position.

    I’m still at this same job (with a handful of promotions) ten years later, and it turned out to be a little mixture of possibilities (1), (2), and (3). One and two in particular seemed to come into play. A lot of the things my coworkers complained about didn’t bother me, and that might have had something to do with how relieved I was to be in a far less toxic environment. For three, upper management of my workplace has made a lot of mistakes in my time here, but my department has never been as toxic as other workplaces.

    A lot of the people who complained to me in my first few years have moved on. I’m still relatively happy with my job and a lot of my coworkers who make this place worthwhile.

  68. MathGrrl*

    Q1 – similar circumstances with my job. After 20 years, I’m still here and the nay-sayers are not. They couldn’t handle the work or challenges of this job, but I can. Their negativity was about their inabilities and nothing more.

  69. km85*

    OP #1 – Run. Look for another job now and don’t wait until it gets horrible. I was in your shoes once. When I quit that job after 9 months, my co-workers told me they had a lunch bet about how long I would last, since the manager had a history of not being able to retain staff, and the most generous bet had been 6 months. It did end up being truly awful, although it started out fun, so if you’re hearing this repeatedly, take your coworkers’ word for it.

  70. LuckyClover*

    #1 I had a similar experience when I transitioned to a new role after having 2 jobs with horrible, micromanger bosses and a lot of office drama. My new team consisted of people who had been in the role for 5/6 years+ which I took as a great sign that this job would be better as the places I were before had huge turnover. However, it didn’t take long for people to start making comments to me about complaints about our company and our manager etc, that also started to worry me. After a while, I realized that people’s threshold for “really bad” was also not at the same level as mine because they hadn’t any sort of experience with anything worse. We are often influenced by our experiences, and that office culture grouptalk can sometimes cloud how people feel about work. The drama makes people feel more upset or worse about things that really aren’t that extreme, and can cloud people’s judgment and attitude.

    Base your opinions on what you see and experience, rather than by what people tell you. I’ve been with my new job for 2 years now. I won’t pretend it’s perfect, but the problems I have encountered have been manageable, and honestly have been “normal.” to me. The people who complained to me the most had moved on to new jobs – which they have absolutely hated more than how they felt about here. The aura has changed so much since they left, since someone isn’t making negative comments about our job all the time.

  71. Anonymeece*

    I’m actually surprised at the letter-writer’s surprise at no paternity leave? Perhaps they’re in a different country (which would make sense!), but in the US, I pretty much assume not even maternity leave unless proven otherwise. I’ve also heard more and more companies claiming to have “maternity leave” – by which they mean they “let” you use FMLA for unpaid leave and you can use PTO if you have to get paid. When I asked about maternity leave at my work, I was told, “Oh, yes, we do offer maternity leave! You can take up to 12 weeks! Just fill out this FMLA form.”

    I was like, “Yeah, that’s… not what that means.”

    I would very much like for it to *be* surprising that we don’t have maternity or paternity leave, but I can’t help but feel that’s a very long way off still, sadly.

    1. Sea Anemone*

      That actually is what that means. Companies are allowed to have maternity leave, whether paid or not, and FMLA leave run concurrently. And if maternity leave is paid, it can be paid through your short term disability benefits.

  72. Chickaletta*

    #2 – The whole thing that bothers me about the question and response is the repeated use of the word “kid”, which has triggered comments about inexperience, helping to get a leg-up, parenting, providing guidance, helping out the parents… We are talking about a college graduate, which is assumed to be a 21-23 year old ADULT. A person who 3-5 years ago qualified to enlist in the military and vote, and at least I personally know several people who were married with families of their own by this age. Should their parents be helping them with simple tasks like posting theri resume by this stage in their life? Of course not. Should we be continuing that conversation by keeping referring to this adult as a “kid”? It makes me cringe. And it’s not because we don’t have other words in the English language to refer to someone’s son or daughter. My grandmother does not refer to my mom as her “kid”.

    I could go on a tangent about how US culture keeps people in childhood well into adulthood but nah, I’ll just leave this here.

    1. Boadicea*

      Fr. I was mentally thinking of an 18-year-old (still an adult!) until I remembered what “graduated college” means in the US.

      Imagine being that “kid”. I would have been completely furious if one of my parents had done a non-specific public post of my resume at that age, or any age. Completely undermines the “kid’s” efforts (if they have any…) to be taken seriously as a professional.

  73. Aubergine*

    LW5 – Are you sure your husband is an employee and not an independent contractor? Check last year’s tax docs. Did he get a W2? Or was it a 1099? If he got a W2, the Alison is correct about FMLA.

    If he got a 1099, then you have an entirely different kettle of fish and may want to make an appointment with a tax pro and/or financial planner for issues beyond paternity leave.

  74. AutumnLover*

    As a Canadian I am appalled that 6 weeks is considered good.
    30 years ago I got 16 government paid weeks at 60% salary (8 of which my employer topped up to 85%) and then another 8 weeks unpaid.
    I don’t know what it is now, but it is at least a year

  75. UnicornTears*

    In Letter #2, this line stood out to me: “Lots of people in the comments of the original [LinkedIn] post seemed to think it was a laudable move.” This is literally why I hate LinkedIn now. Everyone thinks everything is a laudable move! People post things that have nothing to do with work and like 20 people jump in an are like, “Nice post, Bob.” Just to “see and be seen” in my opinion. I can’t stand it.

  76. EngineerMom*

    LW 3 – What the heck is your boss thinking?

    If the employee is comfortable taking the bus, why does your boss care?

    As someone who has made frequent use of public transportation over the years, both alone as a single woman, and later with my kids in tow, your boss is out of line.

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