am I the toxic complainer, I don’t want to hire an anti-vaxxer, and more

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

1. Am I the toxic complainer?

I know venting/bitching to colleagues isn’t healthy, but it’s occurred to me that I do it more and more. Especially since we’ve been remote, and had a well-known chat and video call software installed, I now have chats open to two colleagues for most of the day. We discuss work, but I’m aware there is quite a lot of negative content in there too. My partner also assumes I hate my job, as though it’s a matter of course. (He is also, in my opinion, an excessive complainer!)

I don’t think I “hate my job” but I’m not sure I love it either. As a member of administrative staff, I often feel looked down on and patronized, which makes it hard for me to bond with the other team members who are “above” us. Our team of admins has also been decimated throughout Covid, so I feel very isolated in my office on the days we go in. I guess I have a lot of potentially legitimate grumbles, but I’m not airing them in the right place. Have I become toxic? What should I do?

It’s hard to say just from what’s here, but if your boyfriend assumes you hate your job because of how you talk about it and you don’t actually feel that way, it’s worth looking at what’s giving him that impression. Beyond that, at a minimum I’d look at how much you vent in your group chats versus how much others do. If you’re doing a lot more venting than others, that’s a sign you need to pull way back on it. Even if it’s not unbalanced, though, try pulling back on it for a couple of weeks and see how that feels. Sometimes complaining about the same things over and over can make you more unhappy than you’d be otherwise, because it keeps you mired in whatever’s bothering you and feeds your frustration. That’s not to say you should never raise real problems, of course! But there’s a point where chronic complaining stops being constructive (especially if it’s in a context where nothing actionable is happening). More here.

2. I don’t want to work with an anti-vax sub-contractor

I freelance in my field and when I have too much work I sometimes sub-contract the overflow work to others newer to the field. They are paid the full rate, I supervise and QA their work, and they get some excellent experience. Everyone is happy.

A former acquaintance, “Jane,” got in touch a few years ago wanting to move laterally into the field and asking if I would consider her for my overflow work. I said sure! For several reasons on both sides, the timing never quite worked.

Until now. Jane just messaged me again asking if she could be my overflow person, because she is being fired for not complying with our local mandatory vaccination policy. A quick scan of her social media shows nothing but anti-vax propaganda and “activism” work for a notorious local group that harasses businesses for enforcing government-ordered mask policies. I said it was unlikely I could help without saying why, but she is insistent — especially since I was so eager for her help two years ago. I don’t want to be associated with Jane either professionally or personally now, but I’m having trouble shutting her down. One luxury of working for myself is not having to deal with horrible colleagues, and I’m not interested in having to interact with someone whose views make me so angry.

Any suggestions for what to tell her? My instinct is to not mention her anti-vax stance as the reason I don’t want to work with her, but I’m struggling to come up with anything else plausible.

Why not be honest about it? Personally, I’d say, “Your stance on vaccination and masks is deeply harmful, and it’s not something I’m willing to be associated with.”

If you really don’t want to say that, then you can just tell her that you’re full up on subcontractors and don’t expect that to change for the foreseeable future. But why not tell her the real reason? It’s useful for people to see the consequences of their actions.

3. Does it matter where I work remotely?

I work in a 200-person company that is fully back in-office. Because I am a star performer and answer to the owner/CEO, I was able to negotiate three days remote per week. There is a tolerable level of dysfunction here, such as the company requiring all salaried employees to use a timeclock for review by the CEO every two weeks and anything under 83 hours meaning the employee is not being productive enough with hours being compared between employees and departments to determine “who is working” and “who is slacking.” This is relevant because even when I’m remote my “hours clocked” can be seen by all.

My stance is that I can work remotely from wherever I want as long as I satisfy my commitments to the organization and get my work done with great results. But I’m wondering if this could create an optics issue since I am very active on social media through my athletics? For example, if I want to go for a two-mile swim on the beach at 2 pm, I can just work from a cafe near the beach until 2 pm, swim two miles, then continue working (or not if I’m already at 8.5+ hours for the day). Anyone can see on my strava and other social media what I’ve done as I post detailed pictures and takeaways from the workout.

Taking this a step further, if there is a race I want to participate in or a game I want to see at 7 pm on a weekday somewhere else in the country, I can work remotely from airports and hotel lounges as long as I get the work done, even if others see that I am cycling in the Bahamas on a Thursday between work meetings. If I am going somewhere for a weekend, I don’t need to take days off during travel during the week because I can work on the plane and in hotel lounges.

Before working remotely, any of these things would have taken a big chunk of vacation time/days off. But now I can do all of these things as far as my budget will allow, as long as I am working 8.5+ hours a day. I haven’t run this past anyone and don’t plan to. After all, I’m working remotely as agreed. Thoughts?

If you’re posting detailed photos of your workouts on social media and it’s clear they’re happening during normal work hours, it’s highly likely to cause an issue at some point. That would be true in most offices, and it’s especially true in one with the culture you described, and especially in one where you’re the the only one working remotely and you had to get a special exception made to do it. Maybe you’re valued enough that when it comes up, you’ll be able to explain your logic and it’ll be fine — but it’s a lot safer to stop posting that stuff online if you don’t want it to create an issue.

As for the working from anywhere … you might be able to do it and get away with it, but you should be aware that your company might have a legal obligation to intervene if they find out about it. Depending on how long you’re in these other locations, working from another state can create business nexus for your company, meaning that they’d become required to pay taxes in that state, set up workers comp insurance there, and more. (You also could end up with personal tax liability to those states.) You might assume that only happens if you permanently relocate, but each state has its own rules — and in some situations, nexus can kick in really quickly.

4. Who should pay for damage I caused in the parking garage?

This morning I pulled into the parking garage in my company’s building and apparently knocked over a divider. The building, which is not owned by my company, but of which my company is a tenant, is going to charge me for damages. Am I able to send that bill to the company or is it on me? (I realize it’s my fault, I’m just wondering if there’s another option I should be taking advantage of.)

It’s unlikely your company would pay that bill, and it probably won’t look great to ask. You’re generally responsible for your own driving during routine comings and goings in the parking garage.

5. Getting time off for medical treatment every other week

I am a college student and have recently been offered a summer internship in my field. I am thrilled about the opportunity, but I am concerned about how to approach a fairly sensitive topic.

Currently I receive a specialized medical treatment every other week. This treatment must be done in a doctor’s office during business hours, and it leaves me unable to do anything productive for the rest of the day. Since I am a student I have scheduled my classes around this and have disability accommodations in place to cover me when it cannot be scheduled with no interference. However, I am unsure how to approach this with the company I will be interning with.

The obvious solution is to speak with HR and ask for accommodations under the ADA. I am hesitant to do this though as I would truly love to work for this company full-time upon graduation and I don’t want to create a reputation of being “difficult” or “a problem” right off the bat. Ideally I would schedule treatments for Friday afternoons, work a half day on treatment days, and make up my missed hours earlier in the work week. Is there a way to approach this that does not immediately give me a bad reputation with my manager or the company in general before I have had a chance to prove myself? I fear that even if I perform well, I will not receive good evaluations or a return offer due to this situation.

If this is a decent company, this isn’t going to give you a bad reputation in any way! If it does, that’s not a company you want to work for after graduation anyway — but really, in most places this will be fine.

You don’t need to start by officially invoking the ADA. You can if you want to, but generally you’d just say, “I have a medical treatment every other week that has to be scheduled during work hours and usually knocks me out for the rest of the day. Could I schedule these for every other Friday afternoon and make up the time earlier in the week? Or is there another day that would be better for me to use?” (If you encounter pushback, you’d need to go the formal ADA route but much of the time you won’t need to.)

{ 611 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. PinaColada*

    LW3, if it’s important to you to sneak in a workout or trip somewhere, I say just don’t post all over social media when you do it. Problem solved.

    Reply
      1. Elm*

        I used to spend my lunch hour exercising like LW wants to.

        Now I’m at a company that expects time sheets and I don’t get a lunch hour at all. Or breaks. I’m supposed to, obviously, but God forbid I’m ever unavailable for “a quick chat.”

        If you get a lunchtime, that’s your time. But if you don’t…well, find a new job if you can because this is intolerable.

        Reply
    1. Sue*

      Or post on a delayed basis so they appear at 7 pm instead of 3 pm. Having everyone know exactly when you are doing activities/are away from home has other obvious downsides besides the work issues.

      Reply
      1. John Smith*

        My manager does this, but it’s obvious when the photo was taken because the things he photographs only happen at certain times of the day. So even if he posted at 8 pm, we know full well where he was when he disappeared for 3 hours in the afternoon.

        Reply
        1. Amaranth*

          I don’t understand putting your social media public for your coworkers to see, but it sounds like LW is pretty invested in having a social media presence if they are constantly posting workouts at the beach, travelogues, etc. The trade off to growing online attention though, is that the optics for work will be pretty suspect.

          Reply
        2. Generic Name*

          Ha! That’s almost as bad as my boss at my last company who would tell us he was leaving work to catch an afternoon movie with his girlfriend.

          Reply
      2. Periwinkle*

        Strava, the social media for running/biking/swimming that the OP mentioned, includes time stamps! There’s a way to hide the location but not the time.

        Reply
        1. Noah*

          I’ve actually seen some activities without time stamps. But it’s only for people I don’t follow (e.g. I look at their activity because they biked the same segment as me that day), so not sure if it extends to privacy controls. This to me was the obvious solution: post later and hide the time stamp. But not sure if the functionality exists yet.

          Reply
      3. Krabby*

        Yes! I was coming to say this. I attended a seminar about safety on social media last week and the number one thing they recommended was to avoid using time/location stamps because they are basically a treasure trove for thieves and phishers.

        Reply
    2. Heidi*

      If it’s a workout that could occur at any time, posting later on would work. If the OP were running the Boston marathon or something, there’s probably not a great way to fudge when they were doing that.

      I get the impression that OP isn’t really asking for an opinion about whether their plan is a good idea. It’s more like they have decided to do it and want it officially declared that their bosses have no right to give them any pushback over said plan. Unfortunately, their bosses is allowed to view it as an abuse of the WFH option if they want to. This doesn’t sound like a fun place to work.

      Reply
      1. Zoe*

        Yes it’s definitely phrased as if they are already doing it but they have to know rationally it’s not what their bosses or coworkers are probably cool with I’d say.

        Reply
        1. The Rafters*

          The fact that they’re being so secretive about it screams that they know the bosses won’t approve and would view it as an abuse of WFH. Different circumstances, but I went camping while WFH. The boss was fully aware of it and was fine with it because I spoke w/ her about it well in advance and was ready/willing to drive to a location where I could get internet if necessary.

          Reply
          1. Koalafied*

            Yeah, I completely see LW’s logic about why this doesn’t affect their work, but they need to be honest with their boss and team. My team is large and geographically dispersed and most of this kind of stuff is generally OK, but people are up front about it.

            It’s as simple as posting to the team Slack, “It’s such a beautiful day today I’m going to take a long lunch and spend a couple of hours on the bike – I’ll be back online by 4pm and will be working through the evening.” Or, “Heads up that I’m catching a flight tomorrow for a Saturday event in another town. I’ll generally be available my normal hours, but might be a bit slower to respond to chat if you catch me when I’m going through security, and I won’t be able to take any calls on the plane.”

            That’s how this works in offices where it’s permitted. You just keep your team apprised of how they can reach you and what they can expect from you. If LW doesn’t think they can tell their team about what they’re doing, then they can’t be doing it.

            Reply
            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              “If LW doesn’t think they can tell their team about what they’re doing, then they can’t be doing it.”

              ^This. And it doesn’t sound like LW works at a place where they can tell the team about what they’re doing. Though it sounds from the letter that LW is doing it a lot, which might be too much for any firm. If they decide to move to a different company that is more open about these sorts of things, they still might have to tone it down some. (But of course the letter may have just included many examples and perhaps LW doesn’t really take that much time away from work during the day. No way to really tell.)

              Reply
              1. MusicWithRocksIn*

                To me it sounds like the LW is going to be the person who gets WFH taken away from everyone. A clear case of this is why we can’t have nice things – because one person didn’t realize they were pushing it way too far. Yes, for very special occasions this kind of thing sometimes happens (like, once or twice a year), but the letter really made it sound like it was happening all the time – and all the time is going to be a problem. Sounds like the office job is secondary to the Instagram account.

                Reply
                1. Not a cat*

                  Yes. Dead on. I worked for a butts-in-seats toxic, waste hole of a software company. The CEOs favorite employee once disappeared for a month. No call, no meeting attendance, no dial-in, no SLACK, nothing. Towards the end of the month, the CEO started blaming others, “It’s YOUR job to track him down.” (It was not.)

                2. CalypsoSummer*

                  If a single favored fellow employee was working from home and spending all the beautiful sunshine hours lazing around the pool, and biking along lovely tree-lined paths, and running through scenic areas, And Posting Pictures Of All That, I would be one seriously peeved individual. Wouldn’t matter to me if he was working while sitting in the airport, or in the evenings after watching the sunset — what WOULD matter is that HE got to do all that, and III didn’t.

            2. Smithy*

              Absolutely this.

              I will say, that when you work at a dysfunctional or toxic place, I’ve found that it very often breeds a greater acceptance of “work around” behavior. For example, I used to work somewhere that formally allowed for no half days and also did not allow us to use our sick days to go to doctor’s appointments. I was also a salaried staff member who had to track hours, and because I worked evening events – my clocked hours were regularly far higher than other staff members. As such, our Finance Director would “wink wink nudge nudge” encourage me to come into work for 2-3 hours and then say I wasn’t feeling well if I ever had an afternoon appointment. It was enough time to not trigger the system to force sick or vacation time, and I had so many extra banked hours the system wouldn’t catch it.

              The system not allowing for comp time when working evening event hours and also not allowing half days was ridiculous. So taking advantage of the work around felt 100% justified. However, had I ever formally asked my boss, it would not be approved and therefore the optics were important. If it was something I did “a lot”, I imagine the loophole being closed/and getting reprimanded.

              I know what I did was against the rules of that employer and have never felt bad. And I suspect that the OP will be in the same boat. But because of that, I strongly urge being even more mindful of optics (i.e. finding ways to disengage from social media sharing that your work/colleagues can see). Because this is a situation where most of their colleagues and management are very unlikely to defend or support them.

              Reply
          2. Researcher*

            Agreed. This is an abuse of their privileges.
            Optics matter. Being a highly valued employee means that you will enjoy certain perks, or that you can comfortably bend the rules…on occasion…to a certain degree…and management may look the other way. But the assumption is that this should be an exception to the norm, not your norm.

            OP3 has ALREADY negotiated a work arrangement that is an exception to the norm in their workplace, and wants to further bend the rules. If I were their manager, I would be upset by this. If I were their peer, I would be pretty incensed. Squeezing a workout into your day is unlikely to offend anyone, but posting about being beach-side during regular business hours is pretty flagrant.

            Reply
        2. fhqwhgads*

          It sounds like they negotiated and received WFH – but not necessarily a flexible schedule, officially. But they’re operating as though one automatically entails the other. Besides the “you might accidentally be creating nexus” problem, sounds like they might be taking for granted they negotiated they could do something fairly different from what the employer thought they were agreeing to.

          Reply
      2. MK*

        The workplace sounds oppressive, but many reasonable managers would object to an employee basically squeezing work around their hobbies.

        Reply
        1. BabaYaga*

          “The workplace sounds oppressive, but many reasonable managers would object to an employee basically squeezing work around their hobbies”

          How does it sound oppressive? 83 hours every two weeks means barely 18 minutes more a day than standard. LW seems to be a master manipulator who wants an excuse for their own poor behavior. This is a similar case to another self-proclaimed pseudo-super-performed from a couple of weeks ago who held two jobs and cashed two fat checks while her reports did all the job. It’s not the company that’s being affected, it’s those below in the hierarchy. How can anybody ignore that LW is one of those abusive managers and not an abused employee is beyond my comprehension.

          Reply
          1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

            I’d misread the letter and thought employees were expected to clock in 83 hours *every* week, and was sympathetic to the letter writer trying to squeeze in life around work. 83 hours every 2 weeks rather changes the calculations.

            Reply
          2. Brooklyn*

            The CEO personally reviewing 200 time sheets to identify slackers is quite toxic. And identifying anyone who doesn’t work overtime as a slacker? I’m not saying this is worst boss 2021, but it doesn’t seem functional. Outside of that, LW3 seems to be taking advantage and manipulating the situation to their whims. Both can be true.

            Reply
              1. Random Bystander*

                Requiring exempt employees to clock in, reviewing those logged hours to determine productive vs slacker (in place of something measurable about completion of work projects) does seem to add up to toxic and weird.

                Reply
                1. NoviceManagerGuy*

                  It may not be optimal, but having defined workweek hours isn’t toxic or weird. We don’t know the details of the job and it may involve billable hours, or a need for availability, or all sorts of good reasons to define 83-hour two-week periods. Plenty of exempt employees fill out timecards; I certainly do.

                2. Rodriguez*

                  It’s not weird if working hours are supposed to translate to billable hours. It makes perfect sense to review timesheets in that case.

                3. Annie Moose*

                  I’ve worked in multiple places where exempt employees are expected to track their hours. It’s not that unusual.

                  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever worked an exempt job where I didn’t have to submit my hours in some way! Actually punching a time clock is less common, but otherwise this is very very normal. Not all exempt jobs give employees flexible schedules.

                4. Julia*

                  From the letter: “the company requiring all salaried employees to use a timeclock for review by the CEO every two weeks and anything under 83 hours meaning the employee is not being productive enough with hours being compared between employees and departments to determine “who is working” and “who is slacking.””

                  This does seem dysfunctional. People are comparing it to filling out a timesheet, but I bet your timesheets aren’t directly reviewed by the CEO every two weeks and underperformers singled out for chastisement. The normal way to do it is your boss reviews your timesheets and if there’s a problem over multiple weeks, has a conversation with you about it. And the conversation shouldn’t immediately start with blame or marking you as a slacker.

                  This is toxic.

                5. Stevie*

                  I don’t think my own job uses the timesheets to determine who the “slackers” are, but as an exempt federal employee, we do certainly all have to rigorously keep track of our hours on a timesheet.

                6. Stevie*

                  What I’m not sure about is the extent of the punitive measures taken for those deemed to be “slacking”. Unless I missed it in OP’s letter, I can’t tell if people are publicly shamed or if it’s a case of managers being privately told this information and to keep an eye on Jane and Jim, since they’re reporting fewer hours.

                7. Amaranth*

                  Its not difficult to create a spreadsheet that just flags totals that are way outside of norms. All the work is on the employee side.

              2. somanyquestions*

                The CEO of a large company, going through every single exempt employee’s hours to judge them every timecard is, in fact, toxic and weird. You should think about the fact that you don’t see that.

                Reply
                1. NoviceManagerGuy*

                  Going through every timecard one by one would be absolutely ridiculous. Downloading a spreadsheet of hours every other week is not at all weird.

                2. Eldritch Office Worker*

                  People are talking like he’s scrutinizing every time card individually when every single software I know of has the capability to just…run a report and sort by hours so he can see the highest and the lowest.

                  I’m not saying it’s great but I do something similar as a routine audit once a month or so, as we’ve been advised to by our lawyers as a fraud check. It seems this culture cares a lot about time worked but there could be reasons for that, like billable ratios.

                3. NoviceManagerGuy*

                  Yeah, there’s lots of reasons this could make sense. Maybe none of those apply, but we seem to default too easily here to the idea that having to face any expectations at work is “toxic”.

                4. Firm Believer*

                  Maybe he feels like he has to do that because he’s got employees like LW who are abusing the WFH policy.

              3. EPLawyer*

                Supervisors checking timecards — not toxic or weird.
                CEO checking timecards of EVERYONE — toxic and weird. CEOs have better things to do than make sure everyone is working a minimum of 83 hours every two weeks. Unless they are micromanaging jerks. That’s what supervisors are FOR. To do things like that.

                Reply
                1. New But Not New*

                  THIS so much. Unless it’s widget production (and sometimes billable hours seem like widgets), tracking face time for most salaried exempt employees is a waste of time. Only exceptions such as leave should be recorded. This is micromanagement of the highest order, and assumes everyone works at the same rate, which is nonsense. The CEO should be somewhere thinking strategically, not being involved in minutia like this. They are not getting the big bucks to be a glorified timekeeper.

                  OP, nix the social media posts about your athletic activities during work hours. If you have been granted three WFH days and no one else has, they will resent your explicit enjoyment of this flexibility even if you get your work done. Sometimes, optics matter.

              4. NotAnotherManager!*

                Using worked hours to assess productivity of exempt employees isn’t great. I worked at a place that did that, and it ended up that the least efficient people who were willing to work 12 hours a day – even though they were doing less than the people working 8 hours – were rewarded despite being lesser performers by nearly any measure other than hours. My current organization only requires exempt staff to enter PTO days and assesses performance based on performance (achievement of goals, quality of work, contributions to team/department, etc.)

                I’ve lived under the billable hour model most of my career, and those are recorded and assessed separately from a timesheet that tracks employee hours. Meeting a billable hour requirement is not the same as looking to see how many hours one actually worked.

                Reply
            1. Amethystmoon*

              I would love to get overtime pay being single and having to pay all my bills myself. The company I work for bans it for hourly office workers.

              Reply
              1. Silence Will Fall*

                If they’re exempt, they won’t receive overtime pay. They’re paid a set annual amount, regardless of how many hours are worked each week.

                Reply
                1. NoviceManagerGuy*

                  Full-time exempt employees at my job get overtime when they record more than 80 hours in a two-week period. It’s just not legally required.

            2. EPLawyer*

              You know 83 hours every two weeks is the MINIMUM expected in a place like that. It just would be. 83 hours would the slackers in place like this.

              ON THE OTHER HAND, OP does sound like they are trying to put one over one everybody. Which will not help their standing at work. They are seen as a superstar now. But if a boss sees this and figures out as someone said, they are fitting their job around their hobbies, they won’t look like a superstar any more. They are liable to find their WFH privileges revoked. I think any reasonable manager would think this. In a toxic place, it will be even worse. It’s just not a good idea.

              Reply
              1. Julia*

                But I think we need to think about why a setup like OP has *shouldn’t* be normal. He’s getting his hours in and also having fun with his life. Do we really want to make that abnormal in the workplace? Shouldn’t that be what we’re all striving for – fitting your job in around your hobbies? What, actually, is wrong with it besides the optics? We have a culture in the US where work is supposed to take over your life or you’re accused of not taking work seriously, and where you’re supposed to be working during certain hours even if that makes no difference to the amount of work you do. We should rethink that.

                Reply
                1. Stevie*

                  I do agree with this in general. I guess what I’m not sure about here, is how reachable OP needs to be during the “standard” work day and work week. I do find it a little hard to believe that there won’t ever be a need to contact OP for a time-sensitive issue. OP can certainly plan around scheduled meetings, but does anything unplanned/unexpected ever come up?

                2. quill*

                  Depends on if the work needs coverage, quick reply turnaround, meetings, etc.

                  If you’re a data analyst who has to turn in a report “by friday” your exact hours matter probably less than if you’re the SME who is generally expected to be around to answer questions about the internal database.

                3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  Doesn’t this normally boil down to some getting to have fun while others are tasked with enabling them?

                4. New Jack Karyn*

                  So Lingua: Does your question apply if no one’s having to pick up the slack–if the person is getting their work done to a satisfactory level? If the person in question is doing a good job–just not doing so during 8-5 M-F–then there’s no enabling.

                5. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  I’m actually much closer to OP#3 than I am the community at large, with the significant wrinkle of it being a cold month in Hell before I’ll voluntarily post to social media under my real world alias. I’ll work anywhere (I’ve logged in on vacation while standing in line for Space Mountain to drag a project across the finish line). I’m guessing OP#3 is also similar in that they’re very adept at turning the work portion of their thoughts off and on as needed or in shifting in and out of the work mindset easily.

                  What I wrote was what I recall the consensus being when this came up in the past. If OP#3 were my coworker, and their work quality was good (which the letter leaves me no reason to doubt), I personally literally could not care less where (or even when, so long as it’s in advance of the deadline) the work was done.

                6. Everydaycrises*

                  If she can work to the same quality and efficiency in an airport terminal or on a train as she can in a quiet home office, I’d be pretty impressed. It possibly depends what type of work they do, and how easily they can switch in and out of tasks.

                  But also, their may be other reasons her company wouldn’t want her to – confidentiality, security, availability or yes, optics, especially if she needs to speak to clients.

                  (But then, some of her plans would be completely fine at my company – people regularly take time out for the gym, or family events, and pick up the hours later. But it is done up front. Some would still be out of bounds.)

            3. pancakes*

              “Toxic” is a bit much, but it’s almost certainly not realistic to think he’s personally on top of 200 people’s schedules and workflow to the point that any issues with someone’s hours would be apparent to him at a glance. It’s an indication that he’s more interested in the appearance of control than effective oversight.

              Reply
              1. Archaeopteryx*

                It also sounds as though whoever has the fewest hours upon review will be given a talking-to, creating a “race to the bottom” of people trying to work longer and longer to avoid that.

                Reply
            4. Khatul Madame*

              What’s toxic is the fact that the CEO disclosed to the company (or even just the managers) that he is doing it. Routine timecard review is normal procedure, albeit done by business operations staff, not the CEO. And yes, utilization rate is a thing in many companies.

              Reply
          3. Pennyworth*

            The Guardian had an article on 16 November about people working two jobs. One even had three jobs, but found it a stretch so passed the third one over to his sister by giving her his log-ins and telling her what to do.

            Reply
            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              My first thought is that that is terribly tax-inefficient. In the UK you would pay more tax on your third job than your first (because there’s a tax-free allowance). So a household with 1x£25k + 1x£50k salaries has more money than a household with 1x£75k salary.

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

                I assume that the sister couldn’t get the job on her own, because of a missing degree or credential or industry reputation or whatever. Or maybe the triple-jobber wanted to keep the third job on the the back burner for if and when they lose either the first or second job (or even both).

                Reply
              2. Sasha*

                Well it depends on who is earning the money – if it is being paid to him and he is passing on the post-tax money to her, then yes it’s inefficient (and the tax office would also likely consider it fraud – he is subcontracting to her, and she is not declaring this second income).

                Earning 1x£25k and 1x£50k job yourself should net you the exact same income after tax as 1x£75k job – any excess tax will be paid back to you by the tax office, either as a cheque or via PAYE the following year.

                The whole reason you pay emergency tax on your second job is to avoid a massive tax bill by underpaying PAYE on it throughout the year.

                Reply
              3. Freya*

                In Australia, too – but a subcontractor could be a deductible expense, depending on how things were structured and assuming it’s done legally

                Reply
          4. ecnaseener*

            “LW is one of those abusive managers”?? Whoah, I don’t think there’s any reason to jump to that conclusion. We don’t even know that they have direct reports, let alone how they treat any direct reports or whether they have any say in the timekeeping policy.

            The question asked wasn’t about timing — no mention of whether LW is expected to be available during standard business hours.

            Reply
            1. LouLou*

              I think they were referring to the LW who wrote in about working two jobs at once. Which, yes, was maybe a month ago and this person is apparently still hopping mad about it!

              Reply
          5. Snow Globe*

            I generally work more hours than that, but I’d find it pretty oppressive to have my CEO personally reviewing my hours and making judgments if I didn’t meet the arbitrary standard occasionally. That means that the CEO is valuing time-in-seat over actual work quality, and that is not someplace that I’d want to work.

            That said, I don’t think that has anything to do with what the LW is doing. Plenty of managers who are ok with remote work still expect the remote workers to be working and available during the day, rather than working in chunks of time in between other activities.

            Reply
            1. Amethystmoon*

              Good point. How do we know people aren’t sitting there and watching cat videos on their phones or writing fan fiction the entire time?

              Reply
          6. SarahKay*

            If they’re not paying me for 83 hours, then that’s certainly not good. Don’t get me wrong, there are often weeks when I work over 41.5 hours, but they’re sometimes offset by weeks when I work less than 40 – and, more importantly, my manager isn’t checking up and shaming me for not working an extra 1.5 unpaid hours a week.

            Reply
            1. K*

              That’s just not the reality for many jobs. People often work far more than 40 hours for a set salary. It’s not “unpaid time” if the expectation is different.

              Reply
              1. SarahKay*

                Oh, yes, I agree with you. But if you start a job being told that a standard week is 40 hours, even if that’s a salaried job, then someone publicly shaming you for not consistently working more sucks.
                For that matter, even if you are told a standard working week is 41.5 hours, being publicly shamed for not doing that is not the sign of a good manager.

                Reply
            2. Lady Meyneth*

              Is it even extra though? This is very industry and location based. I’ve worked multiple jobs where 8.5 hours a day were standard, and exempt salaries were calculated considering that timeframe (as in tasks that could be performed in that timeframe). In that situation, 83h in 2 weeks are actually 2h LESS than the company’s norm, and while that could be ok for an exempt superstar, I can see the optics of consistently working less than that being pretty bad.

              Reply
          7. LouLou*

            Wow, you got all this from the letter? Btw, I agree with you that the workplace doesn’t really sound “oppressive,” or if it is then clocking 83 hours isn’t a good example. Having the CEO review timesheets is a little strange, but I’m guessing this is a very small company.

            But declaring OP a “master manipulator” and comparing her to someone who is working 2 jobs at once? Come on! People on this site need to stop getting super mad about things that aren’t even in the letters we are all reading.

            Reply
          8. Falling Diphthong*

            It’s not clear that OP is a manger at all. Much less abusing that. Flexing your work hours is totally normal in many jobs that judge you on output rather than whether you were physically present. (The latter matters in some jobs, but clearly not in OP’s.)

            Flexing your hours without talking about it with someone above you would be unremarkable in some jobs and a real misstep in others; given the example of timeclocks I would firmly put this in the latter group.

            Reply
          9. kt*

            I don’t understand this comment. If the OP were a master manipulator, they’d be doing what they want to do without asking on a public internet forum what people think. And I don’t think this is at all the same as someone working two jobs — this OP is putting in the time, to the minute, in a publicly visible format. And presumably this OP would also find it fine for an employee to spend 10 am – 1 pm in a ferret training workshop if employee made it up from 9 pm – midnight.

            I think the real question is around availability and responsiveness — how responsive do you need to be, OP, during standard working hours?

            But BabaYaga, you’ve got a lot of anger about this, evidenced by your inflammatory language and extrapolation. This anger doesn’t seem rationally supported by the facts as we know them.

            Reply
          10. MCMonkeyBean*

            I think it’s not that they are asking for an unreasonable amount of time, but having the CEO personally inspect timesheets for every salaried employee is certainly unusual and excessive. For me, the primary benefit of being salaried is not having to fill out a timesheet! And my employer is great at being flexible so in theory yeah you’re supposed to be working about that much every week but if you’re a little under one week they don’t care because they know during busy times we’ll be putting in a lot of extra. There is just no reason to keep that close an eye on everyone’s hours unless there is an issue with their work output.

            And I’m not clear on what you think OP is manipulating? It seems to me they plan to work the expected hours but are just looking to shift it around to fit in their training. There is nothing inherently wrong with that at all and many employers would be able to support such a thing! I do think though it’s not really something you can do easily without getting your employer’s “ok” and this employer seems unlikely to sign off on it…

            Reply
        2. Lizzo*

          I work for a reasonable manager, and they would have no problem with 1) me working from a beautiful location, and 2) taking two hours to go ride my bike, provided it didn’t interfere with my work obligations and there were clear expectations about when I would be away and when I would return. They understand that being away from my desk and engaging in these types of activities ensures that I will be much happier and more productive when I do return.
          That said, our entire workplace culture supports this kind of flex time/geography, and we are also highly dedicated to our work. That flexibility is the reward for that dedication.

          Reply
      3. Seriously?*

        Sounds like they post their workout details from an exercise watch. I don’t think there’s any way to adjust the time/place stamp from that. So they really need to stop posting at all.

        Reply
        1. Periwinkle*

          You can hide the location on Strava but not the time!

          And you can make workouts friends-only (although a lot of hardcore people have all their workouts visible to the public)

          But overall, I agree!

          Reply
      4. Falling Diphthong*

        I would think “so focused on butts and chairs the salaried top performers still have to punch a time clock” would be synonymous with “totally cool with the appearance of not having a butt in a chair.”

        If ever a company were going to really embody flextime, this would the the one.

        Reply
    3. AcademiaNut*

      I’d be careful about travel out of state or out of the country – as Alison said, the first can cause tax and regulation problems, and it’s also common for companies to policies restricting taking work materials abroad (also, some countries care a lot about people working when coming in on a tourist visas).

      In a company where work from home and flexible hours were normal, scheduling your work around your exercise would be quite reasonable. For your company, I think you’d be risking losing your work from home perk if they feel you’re abusing it. So for the exercise, I’d just keep the details off of social media.

      I will say, as someone who has spent a lot of time working in airport lounges and hotel rooms in random parts of the world, I’d be pretty dubious about someone claiming they were fitting a full 8 hour day of focussed work around their international vacation.

      Reply
      1. Siege*

        Yeah, that stuck out to me too. I realize no one just sits down and grinds out 8.5 hours in a sitting, but there’s no way you can rationally argue you are working when you’re in an airport lounge. If your gate is changed and it takes 20 minutes to get to the new one, are you tacking that time on to the end of the day? Are you planning on Zooming during a flight?

        Reply
        1. AcademiaNut*

          You *can* work in airport lounges (and airplanes, and trains). I’m not recommending it unless you have to, beccause it tends to be in a rather distracted and frequently interrupted way. If you’ve got access to the business class lounge, it’s much nicer and you can get a quiet place with a power outlet to work for an hour or two while waiting.

          Also, doing telecons while waiting at the boarding gate is unpleasant for everyone concerned.

          Reply
          1. it's-a-me*

            If I were to work in an airport lounge I am confident I would miss my flight. I’d be so focused on tuning out everything around that I would miss all the calls for boarding.

            I’d get a lot of work done though…

            Reply
          2. Siege*

            Well, that was my point. I was commenting that, at best, working in an airport or on the plane is going to generally lead to fragmented work because of distractions that aren’t present in a typical office-work environment. There’s a reason most employers don’t put their offices on the side of Splash Mountain. Working in an airport lounge is not the same as working in an office.

            Reply
        2. Frauke*

          I came here to say this! I’ve worked while travelling (on work trips!) and while you can squeeze in work here and there, it’s not the same level of concentration and efficiency and it’s also fairly unpredictable.

          Let’s say he planned a whole day of work around a flight – but then there’s a storm, everything’s delayed, there is no place to sit in the airport except on the floor, the gate gets changed three times, the flight is 4 hours late and bumpy, the suitcase isn’t on the same flight and there’s an hour wait at customs. That workday just completely and unpredictably evaporated.

          Reply
          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Yeah, as a freelancer, I work while travelling (mostly on the train). Since I’m sitting in a quiet compartment with free wifi, I might as well get some work done, then I’ll have more time to enjoy being in the place I’ll be visiting. But I’ll have set my deadlines without taking that travel time into account, just in case it ends up that there are kids screaming and running up and down the compartment, or the train breaks down and we have to get off and wait for another train, or maybe the socket to charge my laptop up on doesn’t work and I can’t sit anywhere else, or whatever.

            Reply
          2. marvin the paranoid android*

            I’ve occasionally worked while travelling, but because it wasn’t that often, I was able to save up a bunch of routine, mindless tasks for that time, so I didn’t have to worry about concentrating on anything too difficult. It was also more predictable than waiting for a plane–more along the lines of working on a train with workstations.

            Reply
        3. EventPlannerGal*

          It can be done but it’s not optimal. The level of not-optimal is going to depend on what OP does, where they plan to travel to and (most importantly IMO) whether they have access to the business lounges – I assume they do because otherwise this plan would be very uncomfortable! If their workload will allow them to spend a couple of hours answering emails or working on documents or something then sure, a lot of my colleagues do that. If they need to be on calls/in meetings a lot or do work that needs prolonged concentration, that will be trickier. If they plan to travel to more holiday destination-type/off-grid locations with less reliable wifi, that will also be tricky – some airports have much better business facilities than others.

          Reply
          1. Siege*

            I think when you’re starting from the premise OP appears to be, which is that 8.5 hours in front of a computer is 8.5 hours working whether on an active volcano or in a cloistered nunnery, the subtle distinctions of what kind of work and how much of it are lost. This is not someone who’s planning to use travel time to do catch up or mentally-light work, this is someone who is making no allowances for the distraction of an airport and saying that they are working to the identical level in the airport as in an office. With a strong undertone of righteously sticking it to the man, as well.

            Reply
        4. Student*

          Speaking only for myself here:

          I am not nearly as productive doing work on an airplane as… anywhere else. Including such non-productive areas I have worked in such as: the middle of nowhere in a desert, on multi-hour car rides, in hotel rooms, on boats.

          I mean, you don’t have to protect your laptop from sea spray or keep an eye out for rattlesnakes when you are on a plane, but it is so cramped, the power and internet are just present enough that you think you can use them but not present enough to be reliable, there’s noise, you have a seatmate who may or may not be waging a cold war with you for elbow space, sometimes the person behind you kicks your seat, there’s not enough space to use the laptop and eat or drink at the same time, it’s so cold my feet may go numb, my back hurts, and the lighting is perpetually bad in all possible configurations.

          So, unless it’s an emergency, I’ve stopped even trying to work on planes. I’ll work at the gate. I’ll work on the bus ride to the rental car center. But on the plane, I’m reading or otherwise entertaining myself, because I will get exactly the same amount of work done.

          Reply
      2. Willis*

        I really agree with the second and third paragraphs. I travel a bunch for work and there’s a big difference in terms of focus and accessibility when I’m at my desk vs in an airport or on an airplane. If your company is such a stickler for number of hours worked, I could see someone questioning whether bits of downtown while you’re on a vacation really counts the same as time in the office (or at home). The midday workouts in the area where you live might be easier, especially if you already have flexible hours and the people you work with are generally cool with you being unavailable for a couple hours. But the whole way this question is phrased sort of sounds like the OP knows their work wouldn’t be cool with this and therefore won’t bring it up…which I guess will last as long as no one sees their posts or wants to videochat while they’re midflight.

        Reply
      3. Allonge*

        Yes. Also, part of work in a lot of cases is availability in / through certain hours – that is why a lot of companies have core hours even when you are allowed to flex. This is not the case for all jobs of course, but important to consider for OP if they have not yet.

        From what I see, no matter how stellar a performer OP is, it would be really easy to end up with a reputation of ‘oh, they are never answering their phone, but all over social media at every hour, cycling and swimming instead of working’. Reporting directly to the CEO can be a trap – nobody else sees your work, so you end up being their pet in everyone else’s eyes.

        Reply
        1. ecnaseener*

          I was wondering that too – LW3, can you tell us whether there’s any expectation of being available during core business hours? That is in practice more of an issue than the location thing IMO

          Reply
        2. Colette*

          I think even if there are no official core hours, people generally expect you to be working during business hours. Very few jobs are completely independent. While it might be OK for the OP to say “OK, I’ve got a break between meetings, I’m going for a run”, it would be different to schedule a race during the day and then turn down meetings/be mysteriously unavailable for hours without telling anyone, or to tell someone you have to get off the phone because you’re going for a run, or to be working in a place with loud background noises such as traffic so that you can’t participate in meetings.

          Reply
        3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I think it’s even worse if the in-person employees have a fixed 9-5 and those on WFH can set their own hours.

          Reply
          1. Never Boring*

            I am on WFH with quite inflexible hours, which is fine by me. One of my colleagues has been working from all over the place over the past year-plus, and although I am confident that she is actually working a full day on average, she doesn’t seem to think it’s important to tell me when she will be out of pocket for hours or even days at a time, which is really annoying when we are working on projects together and I need answers from her about things. I am nonexempt and therefore required to be clocked in and logged on at particular hours, so if she is online from 6 am – 9 am and then again from 6 pm – 11 pm, we don’t have much ability to just hash things out live, which is sometimes the most efficient way to do things.

            Reply
      4. Uranus Wars*

        I think scheduling your work around your exercise is quite normal in some companies, whether you are remote or in office (we have several people who run or visit the gym on lunch breaks), but I think this OP is a little extreme in that. And it sounds like at times the workday might be around races and more than just an hour long training run/swim/bike.

        Reply
    4. No Sleep For The Wicked*

      If your Instagram audience is primarily family and friends, there’s no reason not to lock down your privacy settings.
      If you’re trying to launch a side hustle as a fitness influencer, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that your workplace aren’t going to want you doing it during hours you’re supposed to be working for them.

      Reply
      1. Betteauroan*

        My thoughts exactly. OP seems to think quite highly of him/herself, but it will not endear them to their co-workers, who will resent this. Almost guaranteed.

        Reply
        1. Liz*

          This 100%. While my job has a certain amount of flexibility, for which I am grateful as I am a partial caregiver (i.e. driving mostly) for an elderly relative, I try my best NOT to take advantage. and if i sometimes have to take them to the dr. etc. during the day, i will come home and immediately log back on, to see if anything needs to be done, or finish something up. But I wouldn’t do what the OP does; if I want/need time off for”fun”, I take PTO.

          Reply
          1. PeanutButter*

            Yep. I also have a lot of flexibility in my work, but am expected to be available for a (very, very broad) range of “core hours”. I do work out during the day, but I have it scheduled on my calendar and it shows me as out of office. I also have my “available for immediate response” hours on my calendar, which are a full (if sometimes interrupted) workday.

            Reply
        2. Office Lobster DJ*

          Oh yeah. Even if the boss is okay with this, the resentment from onsite co-workers is going to be monumental. Can you imagine them having to upend their schedules because OP isn’t available for a meeting, only to find out OP was taking a fun little Thursday cycle through the Bahamas?

          Reply
        3. TechWriter*

          Yeaaaah if OP’s the only one allowed this level of flexibility, and posting all over social media where all his coworkers can see… it feels like flaunting. I’d be pretty resentful if I had to come into the office every day, but the high-up CEO’s buddy was jetting about and doing intense workouts and sharing the details with all and sundry, regardless of how many hours of work he was putting in.

          Reply
    5. Casper Lives*

      Yes, I’m not sure why OP must post on social media and have it all on Strava. OP’s coworkers might already resent their special perk of WFH 3x/week. They’re not going to see OP favorably when OP is posting in the middle of a beach vacation in a foreign country.

      Reply
      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Honestly, I cannot imagine any circumstances in which I’d be interested in viewing information about a colleague’s workout anyway, but maybe their organization culture is that you work hard and brag about your boring extreme workouts. If this is the case, it’s probably best to not post about your workouts if you’re in a tropical location.

        Reply
        1. catbowl*

          It’s absolutely a cyclist / triathlete / marathoner / etc. thing to share these things, and some say (to varying levels of tongue-in-cheek) that if they don’t post it publicly on strava it doesn’t count. I have to admit as a cyclist who isn’t in the strava-sphere this sort of made me chuckle – it’s so easily solved by not talking about it, but that’s so antithetical to strava culture that OP didn’t seem to (or won’t) consider it.

          Reply
          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            The whole category of apps which allow you to brag about your workout is just weird to me. My whole family has a FitBit thing going on that I refuse to join. I like working out, I just don’t want or need anyone else to have details!

            Reply
            1. pancakes*

              It’s not something I’m into, but there are reasons people do it other than bragging. Some people put a lot of work into planning their workouts and analyzing the results, and it makes sense that some will want to compare results with others. Are people on a recipe site talking about what might happen if one of them were to substitute parsnips for celeriac bragging that they cook?

              Reply
            2. catbowl*

              Some people find it very motivational, some people use it to find community through hobby. I’m in no way judging OP, I think it’s a valid desire to want to share your passion with people who understand! I just think it’s funny that there’s clearly a cultural disconnect here in the comments – I have a connection to that world so I understand why OP sees it as a totally reasonable expectation to get to share these activities on these platforms, whereas the commentariat is a bit befuddled by it.

              Reply
              1. JB*

                Because fitness is the only hobby that people seem to expect to break the rules for.

                I love board games and tabletop RPGs. I love posting about these hobbies on my social media. I have the kind of job where I’m not necessarily expected to work a standard work day.

                If I publically posted photos of a D&D session, or a mini-painting party, or a game of Monopoly I hosted at 2PM on a workday, I’d fully expect my boss to be less than pleased about it.

                So, yes, to those of us who don’t buy into fitness being some kind of moral exception in the world of hobbies, “what do you MEAN I might face consequences for doing hobby and posting publically about it in the middle of a workday?” sounds bizarre.

                Reply
                1. catbowl*

                  Well for one – I didn’t say that I thought an exception should be made for fitness over tabletop (and a lot more fit people are into tabletop than this makes it sound like, I know, I run in those circles)

                  For two, yeah, fitness does get exceptions because it IS different. The last three employers I’ve worked for have employee fitness programs, some of which take the shape of on-the-clock fitness classes, but for my current employer, employees get paid time every week to go work out. So posting about running, etc. during work hours would be totally okay -quite literally signed off on by the supervisor.

                  OP doesn’t say that’s the case here, but if OP sees someone in a program like that posting, and there isn’t the explicit caveat that it’s part of workplace wellness program, I don’t think it’s that strange that the lines of what’s acceptable seem blurred.

                  And that’s what’s happened – they’re blurred, and OP is trying to reality-checked if it’s good or not. That’s why they’re asking here!

              2. Researcher*

                I have a colleague who participates in these endurance sports, has become somewhat of an influencer, and appears to have a minimal amount of sponsorship/income from it. He works a full time job with some flexibility, and does continue to share his fitness activities online. I would say that he strikes the right balance – it’s clear that his long workouts are done at 5 AM before work, or if he squeezes in a mid-day workout it’s short and the gym is a block away. No one thinks twice about it and everyone is actually very supportive. But he is NOT posting from a far away place, an airport, multiple times per day, or hours long workouts during office hours. There’s a right way to do it, but OP really wants to push the boundaries.

                Reply
            3. MK*

              It’s not necessarily about bragging, apps that allow you to monitor an activity help you reach your goals. I have been trying to get out of a ears-long reading slump by making a list in January with zero success, but I managed it with goodreads’ reading goal feature. It’s not because I need anyone else to know about it, it’s for myself.

              Reply
        2. PeanutButter*

          There’s tons of privacy tools on Strava – I use it because it’s a great way to gauge progress, even if you’re (like me) a generally very non athletic sort of person who is never going to win a competition. In the Before Times (I haven’t gotten sick since the mask mandates started, knock on wood) I would get a few days heads up that I was going to be coming down with something because my average heart rate jumped during a workout, despite running the same pace.

          But like I said – tons of privacy tools. The only people who can see my workouts are me and people who are Real Life friends who also run/cycle/swim.

          Reply
      2. LouLou*

        Yeah, I can’t say I’d be thrilled to be stuck working at the office while a coworker who was getting paid the same as me was swimming in a tropical sea. I wouldn’t blame the coworker, but I’d be demoralized?

        Btw, how does this actually work? Does OP really have enough time to travel regularly to faraway locations? I had some time during the early pandemic where I was WFH a few days a week and it’s not like I could go anywhere, since I had to be on the office the day before and after…

        Reply
    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      LW3 how do you plan to explain your midweek trips & games if you’re the one who brings in the Delta* variant and gets you shut down?
      (*Or Lamda or whatever gets nasty next)
      It’s a vaccine not a force field — and you’re one helluva vector. That goes way beyond optics of being the only one on WFH/flextime and exercising. If you’re still in my airspace 2d/week, my problem is the many activities you mention that have a high risk of covid-exposure.
      I’ll forgive a 2-hour beach swim, but maybe reconsider the airports & crowded sporting events.

      Reply
      1. ecnaseener*

        Not that I would like working with a vector either, but an employee who’s fully in office could be just as much of a vector from similar activities on evenings & weekends. I’d be less worried about sitting next to someone who’d recently been on an airplane than someone who’d recently been to a crowded nightclub for example.

        Reply
    7. anonymous73*

      Honestly if the boss/company knew about the way OP works and are fine with it, I don’t see an issue posting on social media. But it sounds as if they don’t have permission, so advertising it is a bad idea.

      Reply
    8. Richard Hershberger*

      Yup. I know it is a generational thing, and that I am on the far side of that line, but it seems very odd to make this effort to publicize what you are doing, then worry about the repercussions of having publicized it.

      Reply
    9. Ferdinand the Dog*

      I think the simple most important information here is that the OP3 is evidently one of the very few allowed to work remotely 3 days / week at this company. Reporting all the fun things OP3 is doing with this perk on public social media’s got to make at least some colleagues feel bad, like OP3 is ‘rubbing it in’. Really unclear why OP3 finds the need to boast about all this publicly on social media. Just make it private, maybe share with your non-work athlete friends. It’s such an easy problem to fix that it feels like OP3 wants to, at some level, be noticed by the company for doing this.

      Reply
  2. Clear Eyes, Full Hearts*

    #4 – I don’t know what kind of divider you struck, but if the cost of the damage is significant, file it on your auto liability coverage.

    Reply
    1. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      I’m curious about what kind of divider it was and what kind of damage was done. It’s seems that there would be damage to the OPs car as well. The awful thing about using insurance is the rate increase that they hit you with for using it. In the long run, it may be less costly to pay out of pocket.

      Reply
      1. German Girl*

        And a good insurance agent can calculate this for you and advise you whether to file it or not, so if you have one, ask them to do the math for you.

        Reply
        1. Perfectly Particular*

          Be careful! That only works if your insurance agent is independent. If they work for the insurance company, you have essentially made a claim as soon as you call them.

          Reply
          1. Hazel*

            I discovered this, too. I told the insurance company I was thinking about whether I wanted to make a claim, and then the repair money (minus my deductible) appeared in my checking account! Oh, I just realized this won’t make sense unless I add that I use USAA for banking and auto insurance. But even if I had totally separate insurance and banking, I think the insurance company would have cut a check and sent it without waiting to hear back about my decision – like Perfectly Particular said, I had already made the claim by calling them at all.

            Reply
          2. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

            My buddy hit me in his driveway. He immediately went back into his house and filed a claim. I never actually got the damage repaired, because I didn’t want to increase his insurance (and it wasn’t that bad). Are you telling me that he probably took a hit to his insurance regardless?

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

              My cousin works in insurance (in a different state than buddy and I) and she said that claims under some number, like $1000, don’t count. $0 is under $1000.

              Reply
            2. Anon Supervisor*

              Yes, the purpose of Liability Insurance is to make the person who’s property was damaged whole, either my a straight monetary payout or repairing the car at a preferred auto body shop. Depending on the amount of damage, it might not have counted against your buddy’s insurance. Also, you have a good friend that didn’t give you any grief about hitting your car.

              Reply
      2. Phony Genius*

        If it’s a simple rubber probe or something like that, there may not be damage to the car. It may also not be expensive enough to be worth filing a claim. It may even be less than the deductible.

        Reply
      3. Uranus Wars*

        It sounds like OP maybe didn’t know they hit it and maybe was caught on camera. It seems weird to me, though, that they are charging him for it. I thought that would be part of cost of owning a structure like that – damage is bound to happen?*

        I ask with curiosity, because I definitely have never owned a parking structure so don’t know!

        Reply
        1. Ann O'Nemity*

          If the OP’s employer’s owned the garage they may have been more likely to eat the cost, but it’s another business entirely. I suppose it’s a blessing they haven’t escalated it to hit and run property damage.

          Reply
          1. Public Sector Manager*

            Why would they have to eat the cost? Granted, it was an accident and not deliberate. But if OP ran into a company owned car, the company wouldn’t be precluded from filing a claim against their own employee. How is this any different?

            Reply
        2. quill*

          Yeah, did you ding a plastic divider with the rear on a wide turn and crack it open, or did you wallop a divider with your car?

          Reply
        3. JB*

          Damage is bound to happen to rental properties over time as well, but if you knock a hole in the wall, your landlord will probably charge you for repairs.

          Reply
          1. JMR*

            But, like, I wouldn’t expect the company to charge me for carpet cleaning if I accidentally knocked over a mug off coffee one day. Some damage to the building is expected if enough people occupy it for a long enough time. That seems like the cost of doing business to me. I guess there’s a line somewhere between “damage that is considered a normal part of doing business” and “damage that is caused by gross negligence,” but I think it would be hard to determine where to set that line.

            Reply
            1. Gothic Bee*

              I mostly agree. Though, I could see charging if this is like one of those dividers that some parking garages have at the entrance/exit that’s meant to have the driver come to a stop and wait for the divider to raise before going (like a train crossing divider). In that case, the point of the divider is that they stop people before entering or exiting (whether to pay or just to keep you from driving in at full speed), so it would make sense to charge for damages as a deterrent.

              But if it’s just a plastic lane divider or something, I wouldn’t expect anyone to be charged for damage to something like that in a parking garage. Assuming you have to pay to use the parking garage (or the company pays to use it), I would expect that to cover the normal operating costs, including damage to stuff like a plastic divider. Plus, wouldn’t the company that owns the parking garage have some kind of insurance for stuff like this?

              Reply
    1. Wendy*

      Or, same sentiment but a little easier to say: “Sorry, but I saw the anti-vax and anti-science things you’ve been posting lately and that means anyone I recommended you to could see them too. I don’t want to ruin my professional credibility.”

      Reply
      1. allathian*

        Yeah, this. I’m very strict on this, I don’t want to have anything to do with anti-vaxxers if I can help it. Luckily there aren’t any who are vocally anti-vaxx in my team at least. I don’t know for sure if all of my teammates have been vaxxed or not (we aren’t allowed to ask and not everyone has volunteered the information), but as long as they aren’t in my face about it, I can live and let live.

        Reply
        1. Cinderella Sparklepants*

          The LW mentions Jane’s protest activities as well – maybe she’s concerned Jane will badmouth her or otherwise make her life difficult if she admits her true feelings? I wouldn’t want to work with Jane either, but I can see why LW might want to frame it differently. Maybe more like, “My clients aren’t comfortable with someone who is so vocally controversial” or some such BS… I agree with Allison that she should feel the consequences of her actions, but I can sympathize with the LW, especially if it’s a bit more nuanced than she said in the letter.

          Reply
          1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

            Yes – I think in terms of tone, there are a lot of different possible levels on which to convey “we don’t agree”.

            If LW2 does want to be honest, but in a less confrontational way than Alison’s script, I could imagine going with something like “Aaah I’m sorry, I actually think vaccines are a good thing, so it would be awkward to work together now”.

            The “sorry” isn’t a lie, but it also wouldn’t refer to LW2 being sorry about their views on the vaccine – it’s “sorry our earlier plan didn’t come to fruition after all” or “sorry our previously-friendly connection has been damaged”.

            I will add that even though some of the misinformation is silly, some of it is very plausible-sounding, especially when people with letters after their name are backing it up. And there has been glaring misinfo from professional sources who ought to know better: for example, the WHO told us it was a “myth” that covid is airborne, still won’t use the word “airborne” afaik, & hasn’t yet fully corrected the impression that gave.

            So yeah, if you can wade through the lies and end up with a clear map of what’s known, that’s partly the luck of the education you had. And when not everyone can, that’s partly because we don’t have the luxury of simply being able to trust what comes from our governments. It’s a systemic problem.

            Reply
            1. Harper the Other One*

              It can also be a problem of scientific terminology versus public understanding of that terminology which confuses things even more. The best example for Covid was when a WHO expert said there was no evidence of asymptomatic transmission and people jumped on that to say, see, as long as I’m not showing symptoms I don’t need to take precautions. “Asymptomatic” to a scientist means “shows no symptoms and never will,” like a typhoid carrier, as opposed to “presymptomatic,” before the symptoms emerge. Most of the public didn’t (and still doesn’t) understand the distinction so to them it’s evidence of inconsistency on the part of the experts.

              This is why it’s so important to have people who specialize in scientific communication involved in big information releases etc. It’s so easy to forget what you know that non-experts don’t.

              Reply
              1. pancakes*

                The sensible thing to do when one encounters a word one doesn’t have a good grasp on the meaning of is to look it up rather than guess. We don’t have to pretend that people who choose to guess are making a good or smart choice.

                Reply
                1. Snow Globe*

                  You assume that people “choose to guess” when it is more likely that they think they know. You don’t always know what you don’t know, you know?

                2. ecnaseener*

                  We’re getting way off topic here, but I just looked up the definition in Merriam Webster, and guess what? It says “not causing, marked by, or presenting with signs or symptoms of infection, illness, or disease” ! So even looking in a dictionary wouldn’t correct that mistake, it’s a specialized medical term.

                3. BethDH*

                  I have little patience for anti-vaxxers but people will only look up words they KNOW they don’t know, but not look up words where they think they know it. They know “symptomatic” and they know the prefix “a-,” so they technically know the meaning of asymptomatic and just don’t know how it is used in a specialized field that very quickly became relevant.
                  In fact, looking right now at the top three hits I get googling “asymptomatic meaning,” none make that distinction obvious. So looking it up wouldn’t fix the issue.

                4. Green Beans*

                  I am a professional science communicator (in the biomedical field and I did a lot of COVID-19 science comms) and it’s way more complicated than just looking words up.

                  Bad science communication, though obviously not the only factor, does/did play a significant role in the amount of people who are anti-vaxx or vaccine-hesitant.

                5. pancakes*

                  I agree with all four of you who’ve responded that people often don’t know what they don’t know. It’s the second sentence of my comment that we seem to disagree on. “I don’t know how to parse this complex scientific information so I’m going to reject all of it” isn’t worthy of nearly as much respect as some of you want to give it.

                6. Observer*

                  The sensible thing to do when one encounters a word one doesn’t have a good grasp on the meaning of is to look it up rather than guess.

                  Except that the common understanding of “asymptomatic” IS common. It’s common for a good reason. What’s more WHO (and all of the other medical organizations) KNOW this. It’s utterly irresponsible to use a word that has a colloquial meaning in communications to the general public, without making it clear that you are using a specific medical meaning rather than the common non-medical meaning.

                  In the case of WHO I think it’s a combination of various factors including a desire to hide the fact that they were wrong about the situation. Because at first it was a common assumption that people were not contagious UNTIL they got symptoms. ie It was thought that people don’t spread covid if they are PRE-symptomatic. That turns out not to be the case, but the WHO has a terrible track record of admitting anything.

                7. Marzipan Shepherdess*

                  The kicker is that you have to realize that you don’t fully understand a word before realizing that you have to look it up. If you wrongly assume that you DO know what a word means then you WON’T look it up – you’ll just go on using and understanding it incorrectly. Knowing what we DON’T know isn’t as easy as it sounds!

                8. quill*

                  People who have an approximate knowledge of a word, or even an accurate-in-other-contexts knowledge of a word rarely believe that they’re guessing.

                9. LinuxSystemsGuy*

                  But there’s a big difference between “a word I don’t know” and “and word I think I know, but is actually more nuanced than I realized”. In the first case I’d look it up, in the second case I don’t think I need to.

                  Another good example of this is the word “theory”. Which in science tends to mean a “highly tested and comprehensive explanation for a phenomenon”, and in common parlance tends to mean “an educated guess”. There an ocean of misunderstanding there, but many of the people who misunderstand don’t even realize it.

              2. nnn*

                As a living, breathing example of the point you’re making, I’m a non-scientist who’s been following COVID science, and this is the very first time I’ve been exposed to the notion of “asymptomatic” not encompassing “presymptomatic”.

                I understood “asymptomatic” to mean the absence of symptoms, and saw nothing in the word or how I was seeing it used that suggested a distinction between whether there might be symptoms later versus never. I think your comment is the very first time I’ve seen the words “asymptomatic” and “presymptomatic” next to each other in a way that makes clear that they have distinct meanings.

                Reply
                1. Harper the Other One*

                  I only found out about the distinction thanks to Doctor Mike’s YouTube channel – and I’m generally pretty educated about medical terms even though I’m not in the field!

            2. pancakes*

              I really, really dislike the idea of apologizing for not being a fellow anti-vaxxer and don’t understand why you think it’s a good idea. Why make a point of being so deferential to someone who is a) an equal, b) an acquaintance rather than a friend, and c) has made a point of being inconsiderate of other people’s well-being? Yes, it is a huge problem that many people have no media fluency; no, that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to pretend they’re doing a good job working with the extremely limited critical thinking skills they do have.

              Reply
              1. ecnaseener*

                1) Saying the word “sorry” isn’t always an apology so much as a social lubricant, conveying “I know this is a disappointing situation for you.” You don’t have to use it that way, but many people are more comfortable using it.

                2) To the extent that it’s an apology, it’s an apology for going back on the earlier informal agreement to take Jane on. Yes, Jane brought this on herself by espousing harmful views (and it sounds like actively participating in harassment), but it’s still okay to say “sorry I won’t be doing what I earlier said I would do.”

                Reply
                1. pancakes*

                  Of course I don’t have to use it, and of course I’ve noticed that other people like to use it to soften their messaging. It has not escaped my attention that many people really dislike confrontation of any kind. Sometimes it sends the wrong message to soften a rejection of someone or something, and I think this is one of those times.

                2. Mimi*

                  @pancakes Yes, but if LW is concerned that Jane will be hostile if she’s honest about the reasons here, I think softening the message is entirely appropriate.

            3. Falling Diphthong*

              I googled, and the second result is the WHO admitting in May that the virus is airborne. The first result is information from the EPA about how the virus is airborne.

              Naomi Wolfe got banned from Twitter after promoting the results of a “scientific study” from a “doctor” at “Stanford” who was and had done none of those things.

              Wading through the lies = getting your information from something more reliable than a Facebook conspiracy theory page or a twitter meme.

              Reply
            4. Green Beans*

              @pancakes but it’s way more complicated than that. A lot of times it hits up against self-identity “I am a smart person, and I understand things. I can’t understand this [science], so it must be wrong. I can understand this [misinformation, which is usually designed to sound “smart” but be easily understandable, partially because you can just make stuff up to make the pieces fit], so it must be correct.”

              This isn’t really a conscious process, but it’s a super common one. I have seen it happen with STEM PhDs in scientific meetings when they’re talking about a topic in STEM but outside of their field. I have seen it with blue-collar workers with high school diplomas.

              There’s a lot of other processes that contribute to anti-vaxx beliefs, like the politicization of vaccines also makes it an identity issue, the exclusionary nature of academia/STEM, social media, leadership’s stances and expectations…
              Most of them, however, could be helped with an investment in good science communication developed for a wide variety of audiences.

              Unfortunately, the trend for the last few decades has been decreasing investment in science comm and science comm experts corresponding with an explosion of scientific knowledge. And we’re now seeing rather predictable outcomes.

              Reply
              1. pancakes*

                Of course the reasons are complex, and of course people aren’t conscious of every thought process we have. I don’t believe I suggested otherwise. I don’t feel a sense of duty or obligation to help other people preserve their self image, though.

                Reply
                1. Green Beans*

                  No, but we do have an obligation to invest in a system of science communication that doesn’t make people feel stupid.

              2. tangerineRose*

                I’ve also noticed that people complain when the CDC’s advice changes. I keep wanting to yell “It’s still a new virus. They’re still learning about it. The CDC and WHO aren’t magic. They can’t instantly know everything about a new virus.”

                Reply
          2. Emily*

            OP 2, I really hope you consider using Alison’s wording when you explain to her why you won’t be giving her any overflow work. Other commentators have mentioned concerns about retaliation, and obviously you are better situated than any of us to know how likely Jane is to try and retaliate in some way by smearing your name, etc. However, it sounds like you are quite established in your field, while Jane is trying to get into it, so it is very likely even if Jane did try to smear your name professionally, she would not be very succesful, especially when people find out about the activities she is involved in. I would do all communication with her via email, that way if she ever tries to twist or lie about what you said later, there will be written proof. No one can stop Jane from holding her views, but if the consequence is that she can’t get employment, so be it.

            Reply
            1. OP2*

              I’ve really been torn on telling her the truth and letting her feel the consequence versus not telling her because it feeds into the victim complex anti-vaxxers love. I’m leaning more towards telling her because she already has the victim complex, so what does it matter if I’m one more name who “persecuted” her.

              Reply
              1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                Telling her also preserves your professional integrity. You’re already a close contact in her mind, it might be worth putting more distance there in case you two get lumped together in some other way.

                Reply
              2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

                No matter the reason you tell her no, she’s going to feel persecuted. It seems to be her jam.
                Sorry you have to navigate this. My only comment to you is, whatever you tell her, make it clear that it is the end of the discussion.
                Don’t let yourself get dragged into a lecture/debate/rant.
                You don’t have to accept every argument you are invited to.

                Reply
                1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  You don’t have to accept every argument you are invited to.

                  I wish I’d run into this advice 30 years ago!

                2. LW 2*

                  >You don’t have to accept every argument you are invited to.

                  This is very good advice that I have not learned yet! The key for me is probably saying what I need to say and then blocking rather than waiting for the comeback.

              3. Falling Diphthong*

                If it’s concern about re-enforcing the victim complex (rather than dealing with countless spittle-flecked personal confrontations) then I would be clear that the anti-vax stance is the reason. As with drunk drivers and the harsh judgment directed at them.

                “I’ll reconsider my stance and the evidence, because I am unaware of any consequences to my actions” is not really a line of reasoning most people take.

                I think in 20 years a lot of people would be deeply embarrassed to have their Facebook anti-vax rants brought up. But we’ll get there because, as with smoking and drunk driving, the social norms shifted to be closer to the rest of the world in terms of publicly embracing conspiracy theories.

                Reply
              4. Observer*

                I’ve really been torn on telling her the truth and letting her feel the consequence versus not telling her because it feeds into the victim complex anti-vaxxers love.

                Nothing you do is going to make her feel less “persecuted”. On the other hand, the PRACTICAL stuff might (or might not!) cause her to tone her activities down a bit. I wouldn’t make my decision based on that hope, but even in the worst case, you are not doing any harm.

                Reply
              5. kt*

                Yes, I too would not say anything because of the victim complex. In my experience, she’ll absolutely take it as “I’m being persecuted because of my principled stand.”

                Nuances like it being more about her social media presence and harassment of local businesses will not even register — and I’m betting if she had no social media presence, had never said a peep to anyone about vaccines, and also didn’t get vaccinated, this wouldn’t have even come up and you would’ve happily given her some work. So it’s not actually about her vaccine status, it’s about her public image.

                Reply
                1. LW 2*

                  That’s absolutely true! If she hadn’t told me about being against vaccines in her first message, I wouldn’t have poked into her profile and would never have thought to ask. It was absolutely the in-your-face-ness that made this an issue.

              6. So long and thanks for all the fish*

                I like Wendy’s wording over Allison’s for this reason. It’s still a no, but it’s less about your or her personal beliefs.

                Reply
              7. JB*

                If you don’t tell her, she is likely going to assume you agree with her anti-vax sentiments. Most anti-vaxxers assume everyone agrees with them unless explicitly told otherwise. Are you more or less comfortable with that vs. feeding the victim complex?

                Also, if you aren’t direct with her I’m not sure she’ll ever leave you alone.

                Reply
              8. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                The victim complex these people have is largely a self-sustaining reaction by this point – nothing you’re going to say is going to stop it, or even make it worse.

                Think of it like a runaway nuclear reactor with no cooling, no control rods and no instrumentation.

                Reply
          3. Mockingjay*

            This was my take. Freelancers’ careers rely on reputation. OP2 doesn’t need her name dragged through the mud by an irate Jane (and Jane will) and have to do damage control. Jane can feel the consequences – not being hired – without OP2 delving into Jane’s anti-vaxx stance.

            Reply
            1. pancakes*

              If Jane does attempt to retaliate, she would be doing so as someone with social media accounts filled with anti-vax propaganda. Jane herself is not going to have a good reputation to anyone sensible. She probably has a good reputation among her fellow anti-vaxxers simply by being one of them, and if they’re seen as smart and decent people in the letter writer’s community that could be a problem, yes, but we don’t know from the letter that they are. In my community and industry, if a loon like that tried to discredit me, anyone whose esteem I care about would brush them off as a loon.

              Reply
              1. Mockingjay*

                In my industry, we have a lot of highly educated, technical professionals who are vehemently anti-vaxx because they view it as a political issue, not scientific. While not a majority of the workforce, these people are influential and can affect careers. We do fall under the federal mandate (thank goodness for THAT), but these people are quite proud of their stance in spite of being vaccinated.

                (It completely boggles my mind that these people are able to preach disinformation from a social media soap box while remaining safe themselves.)

                Reply
            2. nora*

              I agree with Mockingjay; to me, reputation is key here. I think you can even be less specific and still entirely honest.

              “As a freelancer, my reputation is key to maintaining and securing clients. Unfortunately, it seems you are publically engaging in controversial topics that could cost me business, so I am uncomfortable contracting work to you.”

              Reply
              1. pancakes*

                I think it would be better to simply not reply than make a point of saying, in essence, “please don’t mistake me for someone with convictions about this; I don’t have any besides getting paid.”

                Reply
                1. nora*

                  You could take it that way, it is indeed reductionist. But when it comes to navigating a professional context, in which the recipient has zero chance of changing their behavior based on what you say, and furthermore are quite likely to twist any personal convictions you communicate into additional evidence of their “persecution”, I think this is a feature.

            3. Observer*

              Freelancers’ careers rely on reputation. OP2 doesn’t need her name dragged through the mud by an irate Jane (and Jane will) and have to do damage control.

              True. The problem is that reputation cuts in both directions. The last the thing the OP needs is to be connected to Jane! And given that Jane isn’t taking no for an answer, the OP has to worry about damage control anyway. At least let it be something they can hold up with integrity intact!

              Reply
              1. Hannah Lee*

                Yeah, while it’s good to consider possible fallout from interactions like this, LW could frame their rejection of Jane in an perfectly impeccable way … and Jane could still go off the deep end with rants about LW rejecting them and made up grievances.

                LW can’t control what Jane will or won’t do, and Jane has demonstrated repeatedly that she’s not going to make rational decisions or rein in her own words and deeds based on facts or politeness or professionalism or reality.

                I think LW should decline to offer Jane work, and tell her why. Not because it will necessarily cause Jane to rethink her positions due to lack of work, but more because it’s consistent with LW’s values and beliefs. Something along the lines of “My policy is not to work with unvaccinated people. Therefore I am not able to offer you work at this time” The End. If LW wants to flush that out a bit, they can say something about following public health guidelines to keep themselves and their clients safe. But as far as Jane’s actions, choices, public/SM statements, I’d leave all that out of it and just focus on the “vaccine required” part. Either Jane is vaccinated or she isn’t, and since she isn’t she’s eliminated herself from eligibility to work for you, just like she did with her previous employer.

                That way LW avoids getting into a debate about what Jane thinks or feels or believes or whatever, because there lies madness.

                Reply
              2. Anon Supervisor*

                TBH, what’s the reputation OP is going to get from this person? That she won’t hire on anti-vaxxers? Oh Noes! At the very least, it would prevent others from trying to apply. Of course, I don’t know how looney tunes the people the friend hangs out with, so that’ a consideration.

                Reply
          4. Felix*

            I was actually thinking LW could use the “protest” (aka, harassment) as the basis of denying work more than the Jane’s personal beliefs. If LW doesn’t to have the vaccine argument – which is just exhausting when you’re dealing with irrational people – she can say something like “you are entitled to your personal beliefs and what goes into your body, but I cannot support or be associated with harassing and frightening people where they work.” At least the puts the spotlight on Jane’s most egregious behaviour.

            Reply
            1. Elizabeth West*

              This is where I fall. I don’t want to have anything to do with someone who sets out to deliberately terrorize people who are just going about their business.

              Reply
          5. Philly Redhead*

            If the group is “notorious,” I wouldn’t worry too much about badmouthing. If a notorious group is badmouthing a business, I almost always want to patronize them more.

            Reply
      2. Caroline Bowman*

        exactly this.

        I am very pro-vax but if someone were privately not vaccinated and just hadn’t been, but didn’t post rubbish and rhetoric about it, I’d take more of a live and let live view, particularly if all work was remote, but this is a hard no from me, and I would courteously say why. It would in fact being doing the person a service to honestly and without meanness, just say honestly what the issue is.

        Reply
      3. Richard Hershberger*

        Very much this. Any other considerations aside, I would not want to take the risk to my reputation. Whether, or how, to say this to Jane is a separate discussion. A lot would depend on whether the LW wants to maintain any sort of relationship with her. If not (and frankly that seems the wisest bet), then the LW can be very blunt. It is all to the good if these people know they are paying a price for their poor life choices.

        Reply
      4. So long and thanks for all the fish*

        I like this- my read is that LW doesn’t want to get into an argument over the merits of vaccines, and this sidesteps that nicely. It’s not about the merits of her beliefs, it’s about the LW’s reputation.

        Reply
    2. NeutralJanet*

      It sounds like it’s the local government that’s instating the vaccine mandate, not just Jane’s former employer, so there’s that consideration as well! I’m not entirely sure if government-instated vaccine mandates necessarily apply to freelancers/the sub-contractors or freelancers, but OP2, if you don’t want to be too confrontational with Jane, which it seems you don’t, you can defer to the local laws. I do recommend being as confrontational as you feel comfortable being, but if she tries to argue back about having the right to her own opinion, or whatever, you can always fall back on wanting to make sure you’re following applicable mandates.

      Reply
      1. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

        Jane is probably one of those people who believes strongly in her right to be unvaccinated, but not your right to hire only vaccinated people.
        What’s good for the goose…

        Reply
      2. Bagpuss*

        Even if they don’t apply, presumably OP’s clients might prefer or require that their sub-contractors comply with their own policies – particularly if any of the work ever involves meeting or being on-site with the client .

        While I think that OP would be totally reasonable to say “I’m not comfortable with outsourcing work to you as I feel that your very public stance on vaccination would risk damaging my professional reputation, if I employed you ” I think if she is afraid of retaliation, then possibly something along the lines “My clients will be implementing the vaccine mandates and expect those working with them to be vaccinated, so it wouldn’t work for me”
        Or even “In order to align with the requirements and values of my clients, I don’t contract to anyone who is not fully vaccinated and willing to comply with the Covid policies of the firms I work with., so I fon’t think you would be a good fit”

        Reply
      3. OP2*

        I’m fully remote, and the mandatory vaccine requirements don’t apply to me (which is likely why Jane came running!). Maybe deciding that vaccination is a “business policy” for my business (which is literally just me) is a good way to frame it to myself, though!

        Reply
        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I think this is perfect.

          “I’m being fired for not complying with our local mandatory vaccination policy.”

          “Oh, sorry, but that would be an issue here too.”

          Reply
          1. Bug*

            I agree…that’s perfect. Nonconfrontational yet gets the message across and leaves the door open should Jane come to her senses.

            Reply
        2. Hillary*

          If any of your customers fall under the federal mandate you might too – it includes subs on federal contracts, but also potentially contractors working for locations under that mandate even if they’re remote.

          I have a feeling a lot of large companies are going to add vaccination requirements to their contract language soon. It’s more risk to not have it.

          Reply
            1. LW 2*

              We have a vaccine mandate for certain federal employees, and I think this was actually the one Jane fell foul of (based on the timelines). In my view she already torched her own (VERY) sweet government job over this, so she is willing to torch everything.

              Reply
              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                How charming that mindset is. Jane is welcome to do Jane – but it sounds like just firmly saying “no job” and then blocking is probably your best bet then.

                Reply
          1. Canadian Public Servant*

            Here in Canada, the federal vaccine mandate also impacts various types of contractors and appointed positions, even where they don’t set foot into a federal workplace.

            Reply
    3. Snuck*

      I’m torn on No. 2…

      I live in a very COVID free part of the world (Western Australia) that has recently mandated vaccines for about 75% of it’s workforce statewide…. And it’s left a sour taste in my mouth. I personally am very pro vaccine (and vaccinated, with serious side affects that left me hospitalised, but went back for round two and dodged the hospital the second time, bring on the boosters for a third bout!) …. And believe everyone else should be, but the way the government here has moved to mandate instead of convincing people leaves me feeling a bit unhappy.

      If I thought the freelancer was going to accept me no politely I’d just say something like “I’m sorry, professionally I am compelled to be neutral politically and I cannot afford to lose clients if they look up my freelancers online and find political statements. Let me know if/when you lock down and if I have capacity I’ll consider my capacity then” – this way you aren’t hard slamming them, but still letting them know the problem. They might lock down and then come knocking, and you can then say “sorry too little of your type of work” or “my current clients require even subcontractors to be vaccinated I’m sorry” but I doubt they’ll do it.

      If I thought the freelancer was going to give me hell for telling them the real reason I’d just say “Oh, thanks for your interest – I have been approached by many people lately, and my diary is full at present. I will reach out to you if I need your services, but right now I don’t want to give you false hope”.

      I wish there was an option, somewhere between vaccinated and unvaccinated, for those who feel they need it. It’s become so political. Ideally people will care about the people around them and consider themselves part of the herd, but sadly individualism is rife.

      If it’s any consolation farmers in rural Western Australia have sent out a loud and proud “we are not your Plan B option” to city folk who decide they’ll just go drive harvesters in the coming season and not get vaccinated ( problematic because a) there’s no quality healthcare/ICU in rural WA, b) farmers fall into category 3 of the compulsory vaccination if they want to truck grain anywhere, c) there’s a massive labour shortage in WA right now due to the closed borders and lack of back packers -normally we get Irish and German backpackers who are experienced in grain growing, but not the last few seasons – but city folk aren’t going to be any better than any random other) …. This is happening all over the world, people trying to change jobs but forgetting that they are exposing others to risk.

      Reply
      1. Harbor Porpoise*

        Also in WA, and just started advertising today for a position opening up due to a really good employee refusing to be vaccinated. I’m also very pro-vaccine, but seeing this employee’s distress at being forced to get a vaccine in order to stay employed is really, really sad. She’s never had a single vaccine in her life and doesn’t want to start with this one. (I live and work in Freo so there are a lot of totally unvaxed people about.) I’m really undecided about where I stand on these mandates. But, alas, I work in allied health, and we would be requiring vaccination in order to work around vulnerable clients even if the premier wasn’t requiring it.

        Reply
        1. BubbleTea*

          She has never had a single vaccine?! Why on earth would you feel sympathy for someone who is actively working against public health?

          My dad had polio as a child. I have no sympathy for anyone who is working to make it possible that my son might have to go through the same thing.

          Reply
          1. UKDancer*

            Same. My mother’s cousin had polio and lost the use of her legs and had an extremely limited life as a result. One of my mother’s colleagues had also bad side effects which shortened his life. A number of people in her class at school died of measles. My great-grandmother died in her 30s because of Tuberculosis and it scarred my grandfather and his brothers to watch it killing her.

            Vaccines make the difference between life and death for people. How anyone could choose to go through life and not have any is completely bewildering and makes me angry because there are so many people who would have survived if the vaccines for their diseases had existed. People like my mother’s cousin would have done anything for the vaccine as she might have been able to walk.

            Reply
          2. somanyquestions*

            I agree. It’s not OK to endanger those around you when vaccines are a proven safe concept. People have to live with the consequences of their actions, and these are people who are willing to hurt others out of irrational fears.

            Reply
          3. Richard Hershberger*

            Yup. I recently came across a newspaper editorial from 1871 on the topic of how vaccinations should be mandatory. Back then smallpox was the most prominent example. Literally nobody gets smallpox nowadays. It has been wiped out. How? Mandatory vaccinations. Any opposing vaccinations is a death cultist, and again I mean that literally.

            Reply
            1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              A very good friend of mine in the states recently lost his wife who had been struggling for most of her life from the after effects of polio (they’re in their late 70s). He’s been very, very vocal about how getting a tiny little vaccine can save a whole life of hurt and how he doesn’t understand those who are against them.

              Got to say I’m 100% behind him. I studied viruses for years, they are not fazed by what your political opinions are, or if you eat certain foods or workout, you’re just a bag full of genetic duplication machinery they can hijack.

              Reply
          4. Anon Supervisor*

            Same. I have no sympathy for these people. Either you love your job so much that you’ll comply to a completely reasonable request, or you want to stick to your “principles” and not vaccinate (excluding those with medical conditions). Just because you don’t like the choices doesn’t mean you don’t have a choice.

            Reply
        2. Snuck*

          It’s really tough…

          I assume your employee is not an allied health worker then? I’m pretty sure mandatory Hep B vaccination at least exists with all OT/PT/ST etc courses? At least it did 20years ago!

          As a parent of a compromised child I’m really glad that the therapists are all mandated – they are working with vulnerable populations! I’m less certain about some of the other less people orientated professions that have wound up on the list. I guess they represent a high number of contact opportunities… but it’s very nice for the highly educated sit in an office type (accountants, lawyers etc) who can work remotely and make choices that others cannot.

          At a recent staff meeting we offered all our staff time off to get vaccinated (rural business, no rural centres at that time, so it included time to travel), thankfully all staff indicated they’d been done, saving us the issue of now having to politely ask forcefully as the rules changed. (We’re an essential food supply agribusiness, group 3)

          The pandemic has thrown up a solid range of human challenges. Heavy lines between education levels and economic status. The haves and have nots, and the can and can’ts. It’s really driving home some solid ethical debate. I’m not sure our world can handle the conflict much longer.

          Reply
          1. Anon Supervisor*

            It’s not about whether or not you have access to patients and could pass it to them, it’s making sure you’re not contributing to the problem of overwhelming health care centers and already-burned out health care workers. There are people who have to wait in the ER for hours while having a stroke because there are no ICU beds in my state. If you don’t want to vaccinate, fine, but stay home and don’t interact with the public at all.

            Reply
        3. a tester, not a developer*

          As an immunosuppressed person (who has had my 2 shots and my booster), I was terrified of coming into contact with health workers who aren’t vaccinated. Luckily it’s now mandatory where I live.

          I don’t understand why anyone would go into a profession where they are unwilling to meet the safety requirements – to me it’s like saying “I want to be a construction worker but I refuse to wear a hard hat”.

          Reply
          1. Hannah Lee*

            “I want to be a construction worker but I refuse to wear a hard hat”.
            with the added risk of anything that whacks the person who’s said that in the head can bounce off them and take out anyone around them for days and days.

            Reply
            1. Sasha*

              Yep, it’s closer to “I want to drive a truck for a living, but I don’t see why I should stop my breakfast mimosas”.

              It isn’t solely the risk to them. It’s profoundly selfish.

              Reply
        4. SpaceySteph*

          I can see that maybe the calculus on covid vaccine is different in Australia which has managed to control the spread. In the US we still have 1000+ people A DAY dying of covid so the trade is very different. We *need* the vaccine to stop the spread.

          And I definitely have 0 sympathy for people who have never gotten a vaccine in their life. Such privilege to put the health of those around them at risk.

          Reply
          1. Snuck*

            We need the vaccine in Australia too… because otherwise we’re going to be in the same situation as everyone else in the long run. We’ve had the luxury of an ocean border and a swift (ish) thinking government and a constitution that let us become an island quarantine.

            Don’t lose it all now just because you don’t want hte vaccine! If we don’t get vaccine numbers up we’ll just be like everywhere else… later than them.

            Reply
        5. Vanellope*

          Is there not a testing option in Australia? Most places in the US (outside of healthcare and other critical areas) have their mandates written so employees can vaccinate or test weekly, so to me the people arguing against even that are just lost in the political side of things against all good sense.

          Reply
          1. Gumby*

            From my reading of FAR 52.223-99 the test weekly option is *only* if you have a documented medical or religious exemption. Without one of those exemptions being approved, even if you work entirely at home and never go into the office or any federal building for work, you must be vaccinated. So any person who works for a company that has a government contract doesn’t necessarily have the ‘test weekly’ option.

            To be fair, the FAR clause actually points to a task force web site and the guidance might have been updated since I last checked (incidentally, IMO that seems like a *horrible* way to handle this: “here, agree to this thing contractually and by the way the web site could change at any time, good luck!”).

            Reply
          2. Snuck*

            There isn’t as an exception to vaccine no.

            There is regular/routine testing of healthcare staff, customs and border staff, truck drivers who cross state borders etc, and I believe in hotspot areas supermarket employees etc are mandated to test every ?three days? (I’m in WA, we haven’t had this, NSW and VIC definitely have though).

            And if you want to cross state borders you need a test in last few days too.

            But it’s not an exemption to vaccine, it’s in addition. Testing once a week won’t stop Delta spread. You catch it on day 0. You are infectious on day 2-3. You show symptoms on day 5. Testing on day 7 is pointless… you’ve been out infectious in the community for four or five days.

            Reply
      2. Don't Be Long Suffering*

        I would love to agree with you, Snuck, because that’s the way the world should work, but I live in the Covid world (I’ve been jealous of Australia during the whole pandemic) where misinformation reigns and “convincing people” just isn’t working. Maybe you haven’t had to learn how the algorithms work on social media or how certain people with power are out-and-out lying to the world, but regular people are inundated with bad info and don’t seem to have the capacity to sort it out. :(

        Reply
        1. Lime green Pacer*

          +1 I am in Canada, and a certain provincial premier has delayed mandatory measures at every step of the way because he believes people can and will isolate, mask, vaccinate, etc. voluntarily or with positive incentives. Each time, he has been proven wrong, and rising case counts and—most recently—near-catastrophe have forced mandatory measures to be put in place.

          Reply
          1. OP2*

            I’m in Canada too (and so is Jane), and…yup. Our strain of anti-vaxxer is absolutely loving feeling “persecuted” by the government. Every consequence for their choice seems to just solidify them in their stance. I was trying to avoid that, but really that ship has sailed.

            Reply
            1. littledoctor*

              I, too, am Canadian, Nova Scotian, and I think mandating the vaccine is good sense. There’s not time to convince people when extremely vulnerable people are actively dying.

              Reply
            2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              In the US in a very red state – and our anti-vaxxers here are also loving the “you are infringing on my rights and persecuting” us mentality. Wish I could change it – accept I can’t – just doing my best to stay away from them.
              In the mean time, I’m finally eligible for my booster tomorrow. And my youngest gets their second dose on Saturday. Spouse gets their booster Wednesday. All we can do is be diligent and protect ourselves.

              Reply
          2. BunBun Babbin*

            As someone who is from that province you are talking about…it is extremely infuriating that the sane population is basically screaming from the rooftops that our province has a sizeable chunk of anti-vax idiots and cannot be trusted to “be responsible”.

            I’m glad workplaces are independently mandating vaccines because people cannot be trusted to use their common sense. I don’t feel bad for these people. If you cannot get vaxxed for medical reasons, you’ve already spoken to your employer and provided doctor notes. If you don’t want to be vaxxed, well you have two options – unpaid leave or pay for the tests every 72 hours.

            OR GET A COMPLETELY FREE VACCINE.

            Reply
          3. Karen from accounting*

            I live in that certain province and I think a bonus of government mandates that doesn’t get talked about a lot is that it gives employers and businesses the ability to avoid a lot of confrontation with anti-vaxxers by saying “it’s the law, there’s nothing I can do about it!”
            Almost all of the small business owners I interact with agree with the mandates and seem relieved that they don’t have to fight with clients about having to wear a mask or show proof of vaccination. Pointing to government guidelines is a lot easier than trying to convince angry and irrational customers (and employees!) that you have the right to set the policies of your own business.

            Reply
          4. Llama face!*

            Hi neighbour! And yes, seconding this. Just watching a provincial update facebook comment stream today and the amount of willful ignorance and disinformation spreading ((abetted by our cowardly premier refusing to institute measures when necessary and sending mixed messages) is absolutely mind boggling. The legit info is out there but people are refusing to believe it. At this point it isn’t a matter of people not being clearly informed.

            For the OP, I’m in sympathy with concerns around harrassment by militant antis so choose whatever level of disclosure is safe for you.

            Reply
        2. Anon for this*

          Yeah my workplace refused to require vaccinations “because we want 100% vaccination rates because employees get vaccinated of their own free will” and that’s…. just not happening. Social media plus the tendency of humans towards herd mentality means misinformation propagates.

          Reply
          1. Hannah Lee*

            Add in tendency for people to lean towards whatever option takes less effort and “hmm, I could schedule a vaccination and get up off my sofa and go get it, or not” can land on “not” many many times.

            Reply
      3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        The simple matter is: when you try to just ask people nicely or convince them to get a vaccine – a lot of people won’t. We see this time and again in epidemiology and getting on top of a pandemic requires a high percentage of people be vaccinated.

        The information has been out there for ages, there’s been massive campaigns to inform people, at this juncture it’s just all we’re left with to get out of this.

        Reply
        1. UKDancer*

          Yes. The UK Government’s been asking people nicely to get vaccinated since last summer and most of us have but some people have consistently refused. They’ve made information available, run campaigns and done all of the explaining one could ask.

          There comes a time when a certain proportion of people just won’t and Governments have to decide whether to impose a consequence of “if you’re not vaccinated you can’t do x or work as y”

          Reply
        2. NotRealAnonForThis*

          The simple matter is that you cannot ever count on a third party to behave in a rational and kind manner to benefit someone else. Its a bonus if they do, but its not the norm.

          I have a child with a fairly common yet serious food allergy. Somehow, that my child has the right to breathe doesn’t seem to be more important than, oh, their child’s right to smear the food physically on my child. I’ve spent all of her elementary years hearing people b!tch and moan about the minor inconvenience to them, how this student’s parent shouldn’t allow him or her to be picky, he or she should be homeschooled, “Darwin should be allowed to weed out the weak”, so on and so forth. Suffice it to say that I was NOT shocked by the response to Covid here. I guess the bonus is that I knew who to avoid, since I knew who’d been bending my ears over this for years without realizing it was MY child they were saying wasn’t important enough to live. I’m really glad she’s out of elementary school and they assume kids are a little more responsible and a little less messy (let’s be honest, the mess is why it’s banned in elementary schools….). There’s no ban on foods now.

          Reply
          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            That’s really rather a great analogy. I’m truly sorry you’ve had to endure all that. (I have an uncommon allergy to decaff- I’ve given up on trusting people to NOT slip me decaff coffee when I ask for regular. Unless they are family or very good friends)

            Reply
            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              +1. I can’t wait until my allergy ceases to be the among the fads du jour… I can’t even trust my family on that one.

              Reply
            2. DJ Abbott*

              Many years ago I worked in a restaurant where are the owners were cheap – too cheap to make a pot of decaf that would not all be used. During the time after dinner when demand was slow, they would take the regular coffee and pour half of it into the decaf pot. They didn’t care if it made people sick.

              Reply
          2. Richard Hershberger*

            I remember when there was a brief phase of people pointing out that wearing a mask is more about protecting other people than protecting the wearer, and hoping that once this was explained of course people would cheerfully agree to wearing a mask. This is where my cynicism pays off. I knew from the start that this hope was unrealistic.

            Reply
            1. Nethwen*

              True, people often are more influenced by what others are doing than by education. I was in the store recently and overheard someone say, “I was wearing my mask when I came in, but then I saw so many people not wearing one that I took mine off. It’s so hard to know what to do when you’re vaccinated.”

              Reply
              1. Elizabeth West*

                I wear mine all the time (still) and I’m quadruple-vaxxed—three COVID shots and a flu shot. If asked why, I just say “Because we’re still in a pandemic, it’s flu season, and people are groooooss.”

                Reply
                1. quill*

                  People were staring at me when I got groceries wearing a mask yesterday… as if I’m going to go maskless in a grocery store the sunday before (US) thanksgiving, when everyone in town, and their dog, is trying to cram into the canned goods aisle.

                2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                  Vaxxed up to the eyeballs against everything Ican get a vaccine for – and still wearing a mask. Last year was the first winter I wasn’t bedridden with a respiratory infection.

                3. NeutralJanet*

                  My seasonal allergies have been WAY less of a problem since I started wearing a mask, so I’m most likely going to keep wearing them at least sporadically during the fall and spring even when/if COVID is less of a concern! (That said, I did see a grocery store employee wiping down a shelf and a customer saying something about how they can’t wait until this COVID thing is over so they won’t have to do that anymore, which suggests that some people view “cleaning” as something we only started doing because of the pandemic, which is…something.)

              2. SpaceySteph*

                My husband started to go down that path recently and I’m like even if we’re the only ones masked that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do the right thing.

                I’m thrice-vaxxed plus flu shot plus I already had covid last year and it was a super mild case, but even getting a cold is a huge pain in the ass because we have to go get tested and quarantine anyway. I’m team “mask in cold/flu season forever,” because why would we choose to get sick all the time if there’s another way?

                Reply
            2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              Way back in my virologist days I wrote a novel about a fictional zombie outbreak caused by an airborne virus where people insisted it didn’t exist/wearing masks was against their freedoms/vaccines were evil/it was all a government hoax/the healthy were fine…and the resultant dystopia that ensued.

              That was in 2000. Seeing it darn near happen in 2020 was not good for my mental health let’s put it that way.

              Reply
                1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                  A few copies were circulated round the lab, in an early form of MS Word! But don’t have them anymore. The hard drive it was on fell pray to a boot sector virus and early Keymaster didn’t backup her stuff :(

        3. marvin the paranoid android*

          To my mind, the mandates (or at least the ones I’m familiar with) are relatively fair. They’re not marching anyone down to a clinic, they’re just saying that if you want to partake of the benefits of living in a society, you have to be a good citizen and not knowingly spread a dangerous virus around. (That’s not to say that there aren’t issues.)

          Reply
      4. Boof*

        I was shoeing a political cartoon about antivaxers for smallpox vaccine / jenner’s cowpox, and someone popped up in the comments claiming it spread mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy). I asked for sources on this and none were forthcoming despite them saying that “the first Frenchwoman to receive it has been officially diagnosed” and i can find nothing, and it makes pretty much no sense. as best i can tell people are STILL making up misinformation about even the first vaccine AND posting about it as fact on 120 year ild cartoons poking fun at vaccine hysteria!!!

        Reply
        1. pancakes*

          I don’t know why so many people think it’s a good idea to go through the motions of asking someone for sources when they know perfectly well there aren’t any. It is not helpful to pretend that something nonsensically counterfactual could be true simply because someone badly uninformed asserts a belief that it is. It’s playing to their solipsism to treat them this way. There is a body of scientific knowledge that exists whether or not people like this aware of it. Why pretend a factual yes or no question is unsettled when it isn’t?

          Reply
          1. I should really pick a name*

            Often asking for sources is a good way to show others who are following the discussion that the person making the claim has no basis for it.

            Reply
            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              yup, there’s a friend of a friend, I keep asking for sources and she comes up with a list of links. I doggedly click on each one and come back with quotes that prove that the links actually prove my point not hers, it’s just that the headline is a question and she assumes the answer is yes when actually it’s no.
              Or she studiously ignores my request, so I make a point of coming back to the same thread and adding in “Still waiting” as a further comment. I can be petty like that.

              Reply
            2. pancakes*

              I don’t agree. I think it shows them (and everyone in the vicinity) that even the most senseless claims will be entertained as reasonable.

              Reply
                1. pancakes*

                  I see them daily on Twitter and elsewhere. I also see that polling on this and similarly divisive issues frequently and consistently reveals that people with fringe and extremist views very, very often think their own views are more popular than they in fact are. Data for Progress has been gathering data on this discrepancy for several years now.

            3. SpaceySteph*

              Yup, I know I’m not going to change a person’s mind if they’re spewing antivaxx nonsense all over the internet. But if someone else reading those comments has doubts/questions and I can counter with some good facts, then its worth it. This is why I put my blood pressure through it.

              Reply
          2. ecnaseener*

            Being open to the idea that you don’t know everything in the world? I’m pretty positive the smallpox vaccine doesn’t cause mad cow, but if someone COULD show a reliable source (maybe from contaminated vaccine carrying mad cow, or weird vaccine symptoms resembling mad cow, ie something that could be oversimplified or misinterpreted through the global game of telephone) I’d like to see it.

            And just as importantly, modeling good behavior for how to talk about science – you back up your claims, you ask respectfully for more information if something doesn’t sound right to you. You don’t scorn people who’ve fallen prey to misinformation, you simply model this behavior without embarrassing them too much, so they’ll stay and learn media literacy.

            Reply
            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              Small pox was officially eradicated in 1980 (meaning vaccination from it was no longer necessary). The first known case of BSE was in 1984.

              Reply
              1. socks*

                To be absolutely clear: I don’t believe the smallpox vaccine spreads mad cow, because there’s literally no reason to believe that. But prion diseases lay dormant for years, or even decades. And that’s that’s problem with fighting obvious nonsense with facts — you just end up playing whack-a-mole.

                “We didn’t identify mad cow disease until after smallpox was eliminated.” “Yeah but it has a long incubation period.” “So why didn’t we see it sooner?” “It was misidentified/the incubation period is longer than they want you to think/literally any other rationalization.” And on and on

                Reply
            2. pancakes*

              I don’t at all agree that patient indulgence of terribly uninformed people on social media is a good way to teach media literacy, and I don’t see any good reasons to believe that those of you trying it are having a lot of success. I am not advocating scorning them; I am advocating not wasting time getting into back-and-forth with them and asking to see evidence for very silly assertions, like the claim that vaccines have spread mad cow disease.

              Reply
              1. Archaeopteryx*

                I agree; if doggedly engaging in good faith with those who are acting in *bad* faith actually worked, we wouldn’t have a problem by now.

                Reply
              2. jiggle mouse*

                Vaxholes take engagement as proof they are right and should keep it up. Attempts to use facts & reason are treated like weakness and uncertainty.

                Reply
              3. Fresh Cut Grass*

                I like to strike a balance by replying once in good faith, regardless of how certain I am that the other person is *not* engaging in good faith. If they surprise me by responding in a civil way that suggests they’re open to learning, I’ll continue engaging. If they don’t, I block them, turn off notifications for the thread, and let it slide.

                Reply
            3. Hannah Lee*

              Someone making a point in good faith should, would be 100% willing to show their work, share their sources.

              Someone spreading misinformation because of ‘reasons’ or so that they can ‘win points’ for their ‘side’ usually won’t, or will just respond with circular logic, tabloid references or personal attacks.

              If someone’s piling on my posts I absolutely will ask them to show their work. That’s not giving credence to misinformation, that’s being clear that I’ll shine a light in all corners, so don’t come at me with made up propaganda nonsense.

              Reply
          3. Observer*

            I don’t know why so many people think it’s a good idea to go through the motions of asking someone for sources when they know perfectly well there aren’t any.

            That’s actually the reason to ask. Person says ridiculous thing. Response “Sources, please?” When those sources fail to appear, that gets pointed out to observers (it’s exceedingly rare that the person making the claim is going to be affected, but it can work for people on the sidelines.)

            Reply
              1. quill*

                Thing is it works on some people. Usually people who trust you personally already. Others will insist that it’s their right to believe that the earth is flat, because reason no longer works with them. The loudest people are the ones that reason no longer works with.

                Reply
                1. Salymander*

                  Yes, the loudest people who, when confronted with facts disproving whatever half baked nonsense they are spouting, say, “I have a right to my opinion,” and are so exhausting to deal with. As if their opinions are the most important thing. Not that their opinions are well researched and well informed, but simply that they are their opinions and therefore must not be questioned. I have talked with people who think that a right to their (misinformed) opinions is protected by the first amendment, facts and reality be damned. So of course they think that their cockamamie ideas and most random and fleeting brain farts are to be protected at all costs as part of the greater good. Trying to have a reasoned discussion with someone like that is about as much fun as pouring lemon juice on a handful of paper cuts. And less useful.

          4. Boof*

            Frankly it’s not a connection i’ve ever looked up before and I wasn’t asking in bad faith; the person stated a few things as fact that i couldn’t find and i was really, really curious where that came from.
            I couldn’t find much disproving it either as it just didn’t seem to be a thing. At best i found a single sentence in one review article saying the likelihood of contaminated cow lymph causing bse, while not 100% impossible, was astronomically small. I did not delve further on how they arrived at those odds as the person thus far hasn’t responded on why they thought the connection was there.
            Sone people aren’t worth engaging with, but there are a few people where community / friend level advocacy can make the difference, and being open and polite is helpful.

            Reply
          5. NeutralJanet*

            I think it can be useful less for the person spouting the misinformation than for anyone else who might be observing—it’s very easy for even reasonable people to subconsciously internalize messages if they see the same misinformation several times without seeing it challenged. I did also once comment on a public Facebook post about how Autism Speaks is not a good organization to support and then had a complete stranger message me and ask for more information, and then actually read the sources I sent and say that I’d given him something to think about, so I am perhaps unfoundedly optimistic.

            Reply
        2. The Rafters*

          Every time I see someone post something I think is insane, I ask for sources (always have, well before COVID). Only once in many years of using social media did someone give me a credible source. Even so, it still hasn’t all come out in the wash, so not sure if it’s true or not.

          Reply
          1. Richard Hershberger*

            I do this when I see someone shouting “communism!” (or “socialism,” which these people think means the same thing) in response to some policy that Eisenhower would have found unremarkable. I ask for their definition of the word. Usually I get silence or some incoherent “Freedom!” reply. A couple months back I actually had someone come back with a semi-coherent answer. This was the first time this had happened. It was the Algonquin Round Table of internet discourse. I got the guy to come around to admitting that the claim was not actually true. I’m sure he regarded it as a mere rhetorical flourish, and not the vacuous BS it was, but still, this was a historic moment.

            Reply
          2. pancakes*

            “This makes no sense at all and I’m eager to hear more about it from you” sends the wrong message to people with fringe views.

            Reply
            1. Spencer Hastings*

              That’s not really the tone, though…it’s more like “oh no you don’t — extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence ’round these parts.”

              Reply
              1. pancakes*

                That really is a tone some people take. There’s not just one tone! I don’t have any problems whatsoever with asking someone who seems reasonable and is making a reasonable / reasonable-ish assertion for their sources, but there are very few social media anti-vax activists I’d put in that category.

                Reply
            2. Boof*

              That’s really ignoring a lot of nuance and context; there is hardcore antivax who cannot be reasoned with, they’ll either just move the goalposts indefinitely or do their best to resort to personal attacks or otherwise impossible arguments (ie, vast conspiracy). There is also vaccine hesitant who can be brought around, and then there’s those watching.
              I don’t usually waste my time on the obviously debunked stuff but this was a new one on me and I was really curious. Also, the context was just so amazingly ironic.

              Reply
              1. pancakes*

                That’s why I added, “I don’t have any problems whatsoever with asking someone who seems reasonable and is making a reasonable / reasonable-ish assertion for their sources, but there are very few social media anti-vax activists I’d put in that category.”

                There is often a block-headed irony to anti-vax and other extremist views, sometimes intentional, sometimes not. An example another commenter mentioned, some of them say things along the lines of “my body, my choice.” I get being wryly amused when this happens, but if the allure of arguing with someone who is doing simple irony is entertainment, it’s a distraction.

                Reply
        3. Stitch*

          My Dad’s a pediatrician so in his world anti Vax BS is nothing new.

          What they’ve shown is the most effective way to get people vaccinated is for pediatricians to have a clear “get vaccinated or you’re out of the practice” policy. Believe it or not, most parents end up complying.

          It’s also crucial so parents of newborns don’t have to worry about their one mother old picking up pertussis from an unvaccinated toddler in the waiting room (90% of patients who die of whooping cough are under 2 months old, which is when the vaccine can be given).

          Reply
        1. AnonInCanada*

          And if dangling a carrot doesn’t work, then you’ll have to beat them over the head with a stick. Case counts are going up in Ontario, where close to 80% aged 12+ fully vaccinated. And now that 5-11 year-olds can get a reduced dose Pfizer shot, hopefully the numbers will get better. And why are the case counts rising? Because the remaining 20% either can’t (legitimate health reasons) or won’t (because they’re a-holes.) So for those a-holes who refuse to get the vax, they don’t get to dine in a restaurant, go to a movie in a theatre, or see a concert or sporting event, or go to a gym, or leave the country.

          And “Jane” is definitely one of those a-holes I wouldn’t associate with.

          Reply
      5. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The vaccination mandate or frequent lockdowns, you take your pick. Co-workers in Melbourne were caught in this summer’s lock down over something as simple as two guys moving things from Sidney to Victoria. People died from that.
        People are dying here from unrelated things because equipment & staff are tied up with covid cases. You do not want this.

        Reply
      6. Consuming all the tea*

        I’m in South Australia which is also Covid free, but our borders open tomorrow. Very nervous about how this will play out. I’m vaccinated but my industry has been given three weeks to get vaccinated and the anti-vaxxers are now emerging in my work place. I don’t like mandates either but I’m keen to be as safe as possible and if people are forced out I can live with that.

        Reply
      7. Kate 2*

        I mean most governments mandate seat belts, car seats for children, laws on how to build a house, etc. Even if you are the one living in it you can’t build anyway you want. It’s not safe. And some of these things the government works more or less on persuading people.

        Reply
        1. pancakes*

          The seat belt analogy is a good one. When NY was the first state to pass a law requiring usage in the early 1980s, 65% of Americans opposed making them mandatory. More and more states did anyhow, for clear-cut safety reasons, and at this point NH is the only hold-out. It’s worth reading up on the history and noting that we didn’t get to where we are by being endlessly patient with people who want to huff and puff about their right to die needlessly early deaths.

          Reply
          1. Hannah Lee*

            NHites probably think they are living their “Live free or Die” slogan. But some wind up experiencing it as “Live free AND Die”

            They also don’t require motorcycle helmets, I believe.

            Reply
      8. anonymous73*

        People are MAKING it political but it’s a health matter. OP has every right to not want to work with someone refusing to be vaccinated, just the way a business can require patrons to wear masks. Jane has a choice, and if she chooses to not get vaccinated, her options will be limited. Kids in the US have to have certain vaccines before they can start school. Why is this one SUCH A BIG DEAL???

        Reply
        1. Rayray*

          I agree with you. It’s no different than a “No shirt, no shoes, no service” policy. There’s still probably thousands of public freak out videos of people throwing toddler-like tantrums at store employees about it.

          I like wearing masks. I haven’t had Covid, a cold, stomach bug, or anything since I started actively wearing them places almost two years ago and I’ve definitely been exposed. Masks are wonderful and I feel stupid that I haven’t been wearing them during cold/flu season all my life. THEY WORK.

          Reply
          1. Hannah Lee*

            Part of the lunacy of this is that many of the same people who are screaming loudly about their rights to choose not to be vaccinated, or wear a mask, are the same ones complaining about OTHER people’s rights to wear a mask or not be around un-vaxxed, un-masked folks. They think it’s fine for businesses to refuse to provide services to certain people because of who they choose to love, marry, but think it’s outrageous when a business chooses not to provide services, employ someone who chooses to ignore public health guidelines and could put the lives and safety of others at risk.

            The hypocricy is strong with many in that crowd. (See also ‘my body, my choice’ RE their vaccination choice, but ‘her body, my choice’ RE the reproductive health and choices of women they don’t know.)

            Reply
              1. What Angelica Said*

                It used to make me livid. But now, if it’s someone I know, I tell them I’m glad they finally realize how important women’s healthcare is and that I just made a donation in their name to Planned Parenthood. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

                Reply
          2. Windchime*

            As someone with asthma who routinely suffers from bronchitis every winter, I fully agree. Masks and more conscience hand-washing has made a world of difference for me; I haven’t had bronchitis for a couple of years and it has been heavenly. The last time I had it (pre-Covid), the doctor’s office made me wear a mask in the waiting room and I felt stupid and awkward about it. Now it makes perfect sense to me and I don’t mind wearing a mask at all.

            Reply
            1. Boof*

              I work in health care. I have allergies. Also, pre-covid there was a tendancy to go to work even if under the weather because it’s hard to find last minute coverage. I would ALWAYS wear a mask if I had the slightest tickle/sniffle. Yes it sort of called attention to it but I’d just say “I have allergies and I don’t know if I have a little cold or not so I’m masking and lots of hand sanitizer”.
              Wearing a mask all the time doesn’t feel that weird to me. I also haven’t been sick since these precautions started, which I am loving.

              Reply
        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I had to go to a medical facility and prove I wasn’t taking drugs before I could get hired at my current job. At previous jobs I’ve had to prove I didn’t have tuberculosis. Workplaces have always required a disclosure of medical information on some level, and I don’t see how covid vaccines are different from the requirements people have traditionally approved of.

          Reply
      9. RagingADHD*

        “I wish there was an option, somewhere between vaccinated and unvaccinated, for those who feel they need it.”

        Unfortunately, like “alive” and “dead” there really isn’t a third option. One is or is not, and having to make choices and live with the consequences is the nature of being an adult.

        Here’s the thing about people who are anti-vax. The choice not to get vaccinated has consequences for everyone else around you. And antivaxxers are perfectly content with that. They push the consequences of their personal choices onto the rest of society, but they don’t want to have any consequences themselves.

        That’s not how society works. You don’t have the right to own a vicious dog that attacks passers-by. You don’t have the right to pour toxic chemicals in the river. You don’t have a right to turn your home in a residential neighborhood into a loud nightclub. You don’t have the right to drive drunk. You don’t have the right to pass out tainted candy at Halloween. You don’t have the right to shoot a gun across your neighbor’s property.

        You don’t have the right to knowingly risk other people’s lives. And if anti-vaxxers want to risk their own, society has the right to give them consequences and push them out of public spaces in order to limit the damage they can do.

        Reply
    4. AnonInCanada*

      Or if you want to sugar-coat it a little: “All my clients insist that all our sub-contractors are fully vaccinated with proof of their second shot done more than two weeks ago.” There. Problem solved.

      Reply
    5. learnedthehardway*

      My usual bias is to not burn bridges, but when someone is an activist for a really awful cause, and their reputation could affect mine, yes, I would tell them I can’t be associated with them. The contact’s activity goes way beyond a personal concern about vaccination safety or adverse reactions (which I’d have reservations about anyway), and into advocating for other people to ignore public health warnings, and that’s not only irresponsible, but it would be a hot button issue for any of my clients who are implementing vaccine policies at their companies.

      Reply
    6. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      The one thing I see as an issue with this is that LW is obviously already getting a lot of messages from Jane. Which implies that for whatever reason they can’t simply ignore her. Since Jane appears to be a “true believer” when it come to her anti-vaccine stance, simply coming right out and saying why they don’t want to work with her could backfire. Instead of two messages a day asking for work, they could start getting 5 messages a day asking for work with an extra helping of “why do you hate freedom” and “here are 7 pseudo-scientific articles proving I’m right”

      Reply
  3. Cricket*

    OP 3, you’re living some kind of dream life! You and I have very different social media strategies, but if you must share your workouts online, you could use privacy settings or create a second account such that your workday workouts aren’t visible to coworkers.

    Reply
    1. meagain*

      I don’t get the sense that the LW wants to keep her workouts and travel private or being interested in privacy settings. It comes across like they want to be able to share as they wish and be able to push back that it’s fine as long as they get their hours in. I don’t see this going over real well with coworkers.

      Reply
    2. PeanutButter*

      Yup. I use Strava, there’s all sorts of privacy tools to completely lock it down from people you don’t want seeing it. I block out my during-the-day workouts well ahead of time in my calendar as “unavailable, out of office” but let the admin for my department know that “WO” in the title meant she could schedule over them if needed.

      Reply
  4. Ashkela*

    LW5, please go to HR. You’re projecting your own internal ableism on yourself by viewing needing reasonable medical accommodations as being ‘difficult’. It is a real part of your life and trust me, you don’t want to work anywhere that will view this as problematic.

    Reply
      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Exactly, no need to go to HR. You can just bring this up with your manager as part of discussing details about your start date and onboarding process. Any decent manager would be fine with adjusting your schedule for a health reason. It’s best to assume that all will go smoothly. Referencing the ADA or going to HR before having a conversation about it with your manager might come across as unnecessarily adversarial.

        Reply
      2. Ms JT*

        agreed. I have someone on my team who has to take off 3 hours early 3 times a week for dialysis. He can either make up the hours or just not get paid by them. (he was off for 5 weeks due to a medical emergency and chose to use his PTO instead of filing for FMLA/short term disability – i made sure he and his wife had those options after one week – he was in a coma for 2 weeks)

        If its a medical thing, as long as it does not cause undo hardship, then its fine!

        Reply
    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I have a similar medical situation. I need biweekly treatment, though I can work afterwards. I’ve never needed to go to HR. I just speak with my manager, arrange to make up hours and be sure to keep my calendar accurate so no one accidentally schedules me on treatment mornings. I’ve been in this situation for over a decade and never needed to go to HR over it. If I ever had a manager push back, I would, but I think going straight to HR is an overreaction if you haven’t even spoken to your manager first.

      Reply
      1. a tester, not a developer*

        Me too – but I have the “I feel like I’ve been beaten with a mammal’ feeling for about 12 hours afterwards. Even with my most difficult boss all that was needed was to make up the hours, and to switch my infusion day to a Thursday. (That boss didn’t like the ‘optics’ of one person leaving early on a Friday). All my other bosses were all “Do what you need to stay healthy!” and left it at that.

        Reply
    2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      Yes, any reasonable manager will work with you on this. Bear in mind that while this is new to you, your manager may have already dealt with these situations before and will be ready to handle it.

      Reply
      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        This is a very good point.

        We have a newish employee who didn’t disclose she was pregnant until after she was hired. She felt she had done the right thing, strategically, but also felt very guilty. Our VP who oversees these things waved her off, told her she did exactly the right thing and that we’ve dealt with 50 or so maternity leaves before, this won’t be a big deal. Employee is currently on paid leave and doing great, and will be welcome back when her leave is over.

        Companies know how to deal with this stuff. In the grand scheme of asks, two Friday afternoons off a month is really minor.

        Reply
        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Particularly in the context of having done the 40 hours already. That’s “compressed” hours, not reduced. 9-day fortnights are hardly a new concept, and 9.5-day fortnights are barely noticeable to others if you aren’t in a meeting-heavy role, because you produce work every day.

          Reply
    3. VI Guy*

      Agreed that you don’t need to include HR, unless your hiring manager suggests it as part of a formal process. Our workplace has a team for Disability Accommodation that would keep a file, to ensure equitable treatment of all employees, but it isn’t mandatory.

      The recommended way forward is to discuss this when they have made an offer and you haven’t yet accepted. That’s when I tell them that I can’t drive and need a larger screen, and most places prefer that I take a taxi on business trips and a bigger screen is relatively cheap so they are always happy to accommodate.

      In this case I might suggest not starting with Friday as the suggestion, rather ask if there is a day that is better or worse than another. You could mention that the appointments are currently set up for Friday afternoon to give you extra recovery time on Saturday. I mention it because some people are weird about Monday mornings or Friday afternoons (bad managers notice if you take more sick leave on Fridays) so that would be my only suggestion on wording.

      Reply
    4. Eliza Clare*

      LW5, I’m currently undergoing medical treatment that is sometimes fortnightly and sometimes weekly. Usually it’s on a Thursday, but not always. Nobody has said or implied that they think I am “difficult” or “a problem”. It’s not so uncommon as you might think. Like Ashkela says, you don’t want to work anywhere where people are annoyed with you for having a body! Sending best wishes and I hope your treatments give you the outcome you are hoping for :)

      Reply
  5. Tali*

    #1 Complaining is my love language! I also experienced the realization that my first reaction is often negative or critical, and it makes people think I’m angrier than I am, and makes other people unhappy too. I think self-awareness is a very important first step!

    One thing I try to do is, if I catch myself saying something critical, try to follow it up with something positive. Not something fluffy and stupid, but to acknowledge the good that is there and not take it for granted. Or to give a sense of proportionality to my criticism–is it just one flawed part of a decent whole?

    Also I have tried to become aware of where the impulse to criticize comes from. Sometimes it’s just a need to vent. But if you don’t feel better/acknowledged/relieved afterwards, then it’s not just venting. Sometimes I am critical about something as part of my journey to understanding it fully. It sounds like you are frustrated by some other dynamics at work and it’s spilling into everything else–are you complaining about things B-Z because you can’t do anything about thing A?

    Another thing I’ve done recently with my spouse is when we realized we were treading a lot of the same common topics and riling each other up with negativity, is saying “Pretend I ranted about X.” Then we could just skip to the end of the debate, having acknowledged the problem and affirmed our values to each other. So we could be discussing a movie and say, “I really hated the role they gave that actress–pretend I ranted about sexism–but I did enjoy the costumes.” Perhaps you could end your day with your partner similarly, “My day was OK, pretend I ranted about how people treat admin, but I made small talk with someone near the elevators which was nice!”

    Reply
    1. Mangled metaphor*

      Hubby has been complaining a lot about his manager recently.
      I stole some advice I found online (could be here, could be a different site, I’m sorry I don’t remember) and asked “Do you need me to listen, or help find a solution?”
      This was enough to shake him out of his venting for the sake of venting.
      Since then, we’ve both internalised the question – sometimes, one or other of us will *start* by saying “I just need to vent” which gives the other the opportunity to identify “that’s the fourth time this week and it’s only Tuesday”, and suggests maybe there’s something else going on.

      (Sorry if this is less coherent than usual – I’ve been awake for (checks phone) 8 minutes)

      Reply
    2. Abogado Avocado*

      #1 – Good jobs can become unbearable for all sorts of reasons, including that lack of control over your own work and institutional chaos (like that caused by the pandemic) can really change how you feel about said work.

      I don’t know if you have a good supervisor — certainly, someone as dedicated and introspective as you are should have a supervisor who recognizes your contributions! — but if you do, it’s worth: (1) really thinking about what bothers you about your job; and (2) assuming it’s something your supervisor can do something about, sitting down with your supervisor and describing the situation in a non-accusatory and/or non-complaining way and seeking changes. I don’t know if that will be possible, but if you do think you like your work at some level, it may be worth thinking about what changes would make it better for you.

      Reply
    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “my first reaction is often negative or critical, and it makes people think I’m angrier than I am, and makes other people unhappy too”

      Ugh I’m working so hard on this. I try to stay neutral and solution oriented but I know my body language still gives me a way, it’s hard to catch in time. I also really empathize with “critical as part of my journey to understanding” – I poke at all the weaknesses of a thing until I feel I can really tackle it. Which is hypocritical because if someone does the same to something I raise I get really annoyed. Interjecting positivity is a really great solution, though I’m still struggling with it coming off as genuine. Work in progress!

      Reply
      1. Software Dev*

        Hah same, and I often come across as critical when really I just want to understand—if I ask “won’t X be a problem”, I am asking for someone to tell me why it isn’t a problem but people often take this as me having made up my mind that X is a problem and that’s likely down to body language/tone

        Reply
    4. Emily*

      I like that last idea! I’m not a huge complainer, but I do have a few issues that tend to set me off (and not always in a productive or healthy way). Since my S.O. already knows my feelings about those things, in great detail, I could probably skip some complaints and make both of us happier!

      Reply
    5. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

      Excellent advice. As another complainer and huge fan of venting, I’ll also add – I got to a point where I was rehashing the same issue over and over and getting myself so worked up about it. The first question I asked myself was “What is my desired outcome and can I do anything to make it happen?” In this case it was something I had no influence to change, and I had done my part where I talked to leadership / the decision makers and flagged it for them and am just frustrated that they are (as far as I know) doing nothing about it.
      At some point I had to step back and then ask myself, “What is the business impact on my job / day-to-day / my team? What happens if nothing changes?” And that helped me realize that though this particular issue really annoys me, it’s not the end of the world and I just need to let it go and spend my emotional energy on things that I CAN improve and change.

      Also my advice OP is to find your people. I have 2 work friends where I realized (too belatedly perhaps) that they don’t love venting as much as I do and don’t enjoy talking about work if they don’t have to. I also have 2 other work friends who would love to spend all day ranting about work and talking about work issues (this is the level I’m on as well!) and so I make sure to schedule time with those people to help get my complaining fix :)

      Reply
    6. Joielle*

      “Pretend I ranted about X” is such a great idea! My spouse and I do exactly the same thing – ranting about things we agree are terrible and both getting upset for no good reason. But it also feels like… we’re both constitutionally incapable of just letting this stuff pass by without comment. This is a nice middle ground. Thanks!

      Reply
    7. Elizabeth West*

      For me, the critical talk is a symptom of anxiety. If I start dissing something before I’ve even begun doing it, that usually means I’m anxious about it and trying to stave off a result that intellectually I know might only be mild disappointment but my jerkbrain thinks is a calamity. It took me a loooooong time to figure that out.

      You’re right; a big old negativity dump can rile other people up. At least now I’m aware of it when I start doing it and I can redirect. However, sometimes I need to talk through all the options, even if they aren’t ideal. Your “pretend I’ve already ranted about X but I like Y” is brilliant.

      Reply
  6. Anony*

    LW 3, did your company or CEO actually agree to flexible work hours as long as you get 8.5 hours in, or are they expecting you to work typical business day start/end hours with a lunch break at a similar hour to those in the office? You refer to meetings so it seems like at least some work has to align with others. Permission to work remotely doesn’t automatically mean you can work at any hour; plenty of businesses allow remote work but not flexible hours.

    Reply
    1. John Smith*

      I was going to comment on flexible hours, but even if it were the case, it can still cause problems. My previous managers often disappeared for hours in the working day for their own social wants (playing golf, trainspotting, that kind of thing) and it caused a LOT of criticism and dysfunction, especially because if we did it, the Spanish Inquisition on amphetamines followed. Also, managers were expected to be available to, you know, manage issues that arise.

      As for working anywhere, I personally wouldn’t care so long as work got done, but consider matters of privacy and data security. And also jealousy of colleagues who for whatever reason aren’t able or don’t get to do what you do.

      On saying all of that, it’s a different story when the tables are turned. A lot of managers don’t seem to mind employees working (at managers request) when employee is supposed to be on holiday!

      Reply
      1. Liz*

        What you describe is exactly what my one former boss used to do. She was also the type who would ONLY take vacation if she was going somewhere; she thought it was ridiculous and a bit “wasteful” to take time off to just do things, like errands, dr. appointments etc. So she would do ALL her personal stuff during work hours. while there’s nothing wrong with making a dr. or dentist appt at lunch, once in a while, and maybe taking a bit longer lunch, she would routinely take 2+ hour lunches, running errands, AFTER going to the gym for an hour long class, etc. I decided that in her mind, using her own time for her own stuff wasn’t going to happen so she’d do it on work time!
        and as you said, if my immediate boss or I ever tried that, it wouldn’t fly. But she somehow managed to get away with it! whcih caused a LOT of resentment.

        Reply
      2. I'm just here for the cats!*

        I’d also be wary of bringing my work laptop with me when traveling. What would you say to work if your luggage got stolen? It would be a huge liability for the company. I would seriously rethink the traveling and working strategy.

        Reply
    2. Bamcheeks*

      Yes, working from home and flexible hours are two different things, and it’s weird that the expectation of WHEN LW should be working hasn’t been discussed explicitly.

      LW, either your company is a bit rubbish for not addressing this directly when your working-from-home request was discussed, or you know full well that they’re expecting you to work conventional hours and that what you’re proposing is isn’t really ok. I mean, if it’s worth it to you, by all means play that game— but given that you explicitly KNOW that working from home is a special privilege which has been offered to you because you’re a trusted high-performer, I can’t think of a quicker way of getting it withdrawn than to rules-lawyer “you never SAID I couldn’t work flexible hours…” It just seems like a very quick way to sabotage that relationship and good will!

      Reply
      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        It reads to me (and I may be projecting here) that OP3’s management has communicated to them about working standard business hours and they are looking for validation that they can work around it. That is unlikely to work in their corporate culture, especially since they post so much on social media.

        Reply
    3. Manager at a large organization*

      There is a big difference between flexible hours and remote work. I am a manager in a large organization who is allowing hybrid work remote options for all. Your plans would be an issue.

      You talk about biking or swimming on your lunch break. This would be acceptable. But your plans to do travel during working hours would not be.

      Even the time driving to the beach and setting up in a cafe is taking away from working hours. While you state you can work on planes or in airport lounges, what you cannot effectively do is work while driving or parking at the airport. While checking in for your flight, checking baggage, going through security check points, boarding the plane, waiting for take off to access the internet, leaving the plane, baggage checks, taxis to your final hotel. These are hours of lost working time. And if those times were clocked to the company I would have serious concerns as the manager. Time fraud would be a fireable offense in our area even with meeting work output requirements.

      Now if you fly at night, travel after working hours, and then work a full time at the hotel prior to doing your activities. That would be different. Based on the optics alone I, as a manager would request a very accurate time sheet from you reflecting that you are deducting these non work times as mentioned above (driving, parking, checking in) in your time reporting.

      Also given that all other employees have had remote work revolved, if the social media posts still caused an up roar with coworkers who are not allowed any remote work, I would redefine your work from home abilities. I would be balancing what benefits I as a manager am getting from your remote work and if having a 200 person work force lodging valid complaints, it would not be worth it. And I am
      Pro remote work. I fight every day to keep it for my staff.

      Reply
      1. Annony*

        I agree. The biggest problem seems to be working while traveling. I can get some work done from airports and on planes, but it definitely impacts productivity. There are times when you must put away computers on planes and there are interruptions for meals. Even in the airport I can’t focus 100% because I need to keep an ear out for flight updates. Working for an hour on a plane and an hour at home are not comparable. I am comfortable claiming those hours when the travel is work related but doing so for personal travel is different.

        Reply
    4. Esmeralda*

      Exactly. I’m expected to work my usual hours when I’m WFH. If I need to flex, I clear it with my boss. Now, my boss almost always says, no worries, I trust you to do the right thing, but he does know if I’m flexing. He does not get put in an awkward position where, for example, the dean wants me at a meeting and I’m not checking my chat so boss can’t say why I’m not there.

      Reply
    5. Lemming22*

      Agreed. I am a remote worker that manages remote workers (even pre pandemic) and I’ve always told my employees that I am not interested in micromanaging their time but there is a general expectation that you are available during regular work hours for meetings, messages, or calls. I don’t care if you miss an unscheduled call because you are turning laundry, or even an occasional errand, but if you are working around your personal life rather than an occasional flex then that is a problem. Even having a scheduled workout during the day would be fine so long as it is in your calendar and consistent I wouldn’t mind.

      Reply
  7. PollyQ*

    Why not be honest about it? Personally, I’d say, “Your stance on vaccination and masks is deeply harmful, and it’s not something I’m willing to be associated with.”

    Do this! Do this! DothisdothisdothisdothisDOTHIS!!!!! (and then report back?)

    Reply
    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      Yes. #2, you can revise the language if there’s a different way you’d like to say it, but I don’t see a reason to avoid telling the truth. You’re clear that you don’t want any personal or professional contact with this individual and it’s best to be straightforward. By avoiding stating the reason, you will just prolong your interaction when she asks again about working with you.

      Reply
    2. Artemesia*

      I agree. This wording is perfect.

      There are two choices: do the socially beneficial thing, take a stand and be clear to her i.e. use these words of Alison’s.

      or

      if necessary for self preservation for some reason, just tell her you don’t need anyone and keep putting her off.

      Reply
      1. Radio Girl*

        Agree with Option 1 here.

        Being transparent is the right thing to do. Businesses and organizations that demand employees get vaccinated are doing the right thing.

        Reply
        1. Perfectly Particular*

          But would you be willing to put your business on the line to prove that point? The contractor could easily retaliate, and depending on where OP is located, a pro-vaccine stance could be just as harmful as an anti-vax one. I wouldn’t risk it in a red state, and even parts of blue ones.

          Reply
          1. pancakes*

            In other words, “It’s ok if these people keep us in an eternal pandemic because you could lose business if you don’t play along with their nonsense. Needless death is ok but losing income is not.”

            Reply
            1. Snow Globe*

              Is being honest about the reason for not hiring Jane going to change anything regarding Jane’s anti-vaxx stance? Speaking honestly to Jane is not going to change the outcome of the pandemic in any way, and it’s a pretty big exaggeration to imply that people will die needlessly if LW is not honest.

              Reply
              1. Stitch*

                +1. LW isn’t going to be able to dislodge someone this far gone and should feel no guilt for not trying to educate Jane.

                Reply
              2. pancakes*

                I didn’t say or suggest that I think being direct with Jane is likely to change her stance on vaccination, but you’re speaking as if it’s certain nothing will reach her, even the prospect of unemployment. I don’t think that’s correct — we have heaps of evidence that most people threatening to quit their jobs over this don’t in fact do so. I also don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that careerism around this topic has contributed to the number of needless deaths we’ve seen. Your stance is basically, do whatever you have to do to keep income flowing. That has been a popular stance in the US throughout this pandemic, and it’s been deadly.

                Reply
                1. Stitch*

                  I really don’t think that’s fair at all. Le not trying to dislodge an antivaxxer is not equivalent to forcing a business open and risking COVID exposure.

                2. LouLou*

                  “do whatever you have to do to keep the income flowing” is not a fair representation of anyone’s position here!

                  If you’re serious about the fact that OP should try to convince Jane to get vaccinated, then Alison’s proposed script is terrible for that purpose — it’s just hectoring and scolding without any persuading or listening. But I’d argue that OP does not have a personal obligation to try to convince a particularly intractible anti vaxxer she knows slightly to get vaccinated.

                3. pancakes*

                  LouLou, I disagree. Numerous commenters have said that would be their preferred answer. I also don’t see how I can make it any clearer that I don’t think it’s the letter writer’s job to convince their acquaintance to get vaccinated. Simply rejecting working with her doesn’t require her buy-in on vaccines. I also don’t at all agree that saying “I don’t share your views and am not open to working with you” is “hectoring” or “scolding.” People who take any and all refusal as “scolding” do so because they’ve cast themselves in a infantile role.

                4. LouLou*

                  But nobody here has said OP should work with her. The only question is if she should use Alison’s script, say something else about vaccines using a different script, or just say she has no need for a contractor.

                  This clearly is a person who’s not reasonable and will likely read anything other than “yes!” as hectoring and scolding. But if you are indeed trying to persuade a person to get vaccinated, you should not open with “I find your views abhorrent and don’t want to associate with you.” There’s plenty of research on this! (I’m ok with Alison’s script for OP’s purpose, btw, my only point is if we imagine she wants to encourage Jane to get vaxxed, that script won’t do it)

                5. pancakes*

                  “But if you are indeed trying to persuade a person to get vaccinated . . .”

                  For the third and final time, I’m not.

                  “I’m ok with Alison’s script for OP’s purpose, btw . . .”

                  Odd that you made a point of saying it’s “it’s just hectoring and scolding without any persuading or listening,” then.

                6. LouLou*

                  Pancakes, it seems like we’re talking past each other and for what it’s worth, I’m not sure whatever you mean to say is coming across clearly to most people on this thread. I can’t tell how you feel OP should respond to this situation or what her goals should be, but I’m not sure continued dialogue with you will be productive so I suggest we leave it here.

                7. turquoisecow*

                  Jane has already been fired for not being vaccinated. The threat of unemployment is clearly not persuasive to her.

                8. Observer*

                  I don’t think that’s correct — we have heaps of evidence that most people threatening to quit their jobs over this don’t in fact do so

                  Except that Jane has actually been fired.

                  Basing decisions on what you WANT to be true vs what IS true is not useful. Accusing people of being indifferent to death just because you would handle things differently – and you would make decision based on hopes not grounded in reality is incredibly counter-productive.

                9. pancakes*

                  turquoisecow, I don’t agree that being fired and then also being rejected for employment by an acquaintance is guaranteed to be worthless in terms of putting pressure on Jane to get vaccinated. The more people who decline to hire her, the better.

            2. DrSalty*

              OP has to pay the bills. It’s not her responsibility to convert people who have shown clearly time and time again they refuse to listen to reason.

              Reply
            3. Observer*

              n other words, “It’s ok if these people keep us in an eternal pandemic because you could lose business if you don’t play along with their nonsense. Needless death is ok but losing income is not.”

              That’s not what’s being suggested. The OP is not in any position to make Jane get vaccinated. And it’s actually not all that likely that if they tell Jane why they are not taking on, that Jane would change her views or behavior.

              Claiming that not getting into a useless fight with an anti-vaxxer is continuing the pandemic or being ok with it is NOT ok. At best, it’s unhelpful.

              Reply
              1. pancakes*

                Of course the letter writer isn’t in a position to make Jane get vaccinated. No one is. She is, however, in a position to make it crystal clear to Jane why she doesn’t want to work with her. I think it would be foolish to be coy about the reason. The idea that people shouldn’t be clear about their views on topics like this unless and until they feel assured their audience will agree is a convenient excuse to avoid confrontation, and doesn’t seem to me to have anything else going for it.

                I also don’t find arguments written in caps more persuasive than ones that aren’t.

                Reply
                1. Observer*

                  I also don’t find arguments written in caps more persuasive than ones that aren’t.

                  Which has what to do with the conversation?

                  I’m not going to engage with the rest, because you just keep on ignoring what other people are saying, while not bringing any backing for the fact-related parts of your assertions.

                2. pancakes*

                  You often use caps, Observer, and used them in the comment I replied to. Their effectiveness is something we disagree on.

                  I’m not following as to what facts you think I’ve ignored here. Whether or not being clear with Jane is likely to change her mind and whether or not that should be the letter writer’s goal are both obviously matters of opinion.

          2. jiggle mouse*

            This is how democracies die. When decent people enable real harm out of fear for standing up for basic public good.

            Reply
            1. LouLou*

              This seems like such an uncharitable interpretation! I haven’t seen a single person say that OP should employ Jane — just people pointing out that she may not want to (or can’t afford to) get into conflict with an activist who has been harassing local businesses.

              Reply
              1. pancakes*

                It’s almost funny that some of y’all keep making this point when the letter writer clarified in multiple comments hours ago that she’s not afraid of being harassed by Jane.

                Reply
                1. LouLou*

                  Then you must be psychic, because your needless ad hominem accusing commenters here of being ok with needless death was in fact posted before OP’s clarification!

                  People here are discussing the facts of the letter and, in many cases, also discussing the broader issues. Not every part of the discussion will be strictly relevant to OP’s exact situation.

                2. LouLou*

                  And again, people are discussing a range of possible options. Alison’s script is on the more inflammatory end of the spectrum. As other commenters have said, simply telling Jane “I require my contractors to be vaccinated” might be a way to get the point across while minimizing conflict. There are lots of ways to frame this that would work for different people and situations.

                3. pancakes*

                  Nope, I criticized the positions that some commenters have taken. That isn’t what ad hominem argument is. If you are nonetheless confident you’ve identified ad hominem responses, go ahead and flag them for moderation.

                  No one disagrees that there is a range of possible options here.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Or, if one is truly afraid of her retaliation (and she sounds like she’d do it) just try the old ‘not a good fit for the job’

      Reply
      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        And if she hassles you over this? One response of ‘it’s not up for discussion’ and just delete any further emails/don’t answer her calls.

        If she’s out campaigning and been fired for her stance she can’t really claim she doesn’t know why nowhere wants to hire her anymore.

        Reply
        1. OP2*

          I can definitely see her trying to argue back, and probably even posting a screen cap of my response, but I’m leaning more towards “oh well.” I also don’t really want to talk to anyone who agrees with her, so there’s no loss for me!

          Reply
          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            I like you! I’ve got zero desire to even speak to antivaxxers but have had a few…interactions shall we say with people who felt that they were gonna make me ‘respect their views’ that have left me a bit nervous about riling them up.

            Reply
              1. Lunar Caustic*

                Getting shot by a gun-toting ignorant bully doesn’t help the world, either. Everyone is allowed to judge how much risk they are willing to take in a given situation, especially when being murdered is a real possibility.

                Reply
                1. PollyQ*

                  Getting murdered is not impossible, but it’s very, very slim possibility. We have no reason to think that Jane will become violent over this subject.

                2. LouLou*

                  PollyQ, I agree, but I still think many people would prefer an option that minimizes the chance of conflict. I personally would probably just go with a straightforward “I also have a vaccination policy,” or simply declining without mentioning vaccination if I were afraid Jane would react violently or with sabotage.

                  OP has come into the comments to say she’s not afraid of Jane successfully sabotaging her business, so Alison’s script may be perfect for her. But I do see why others here prefer a different script.

              2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                Choosing to prioritise my own safety doesn’t mean I’m contributing to a bullying culture. I’m perfectly happy to tear into antivaxxers online and when I know they can’t retaliate but when someone is threatening you with visiting you and taking out their ‘freedoms’ on your property it’s rather different.

                Reply
  8. Ben*

    #2 – How worried are you that Jane will target you with hostile action if you tell her that being an antivaxxer is the reason you don’t want to work with her? Based on your description it sounds like she is truly off the rails – is your instinct not to specify the reason a fear that she will escalate against you?

    Reply
    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      “Jane, I can’t hire you because of your unprofessional anti-vax actions.”
      Jane then proceeds to harass OP.
      “Well, Jane, you just proved my point.”

      Reply
        1. pancakes*

          If you’re waiting for them to see it before proceeding with being reasonable yourself, you’re going to be waiting for the rest of eternity. You don’t need agreement or buy-in from them to communicate your own reasonable views.

          Reply
    2. Storm in a teacup*

      Exactly this
      If you feel able to, being transparent is best.
      However if it will impact you negatively (eg she’ll post about you or harass you) you don’t have an obligation to be.
      There is a difference in protections that a larger organisation would have in place for this sort of thing vs. a sole contractor such as yourself. Whilst the ideal is for Jane to feel the consequences of her actions, you act in way that you are comfortable with. Don’t feel you have to challenge her stance if that is hard for you professionally to do so.

      Reply
      1. Storm in a teacup*

        Caveat: if your reluctance is purely to avoid awkwardness or so with a former acquaintance – just tell her the truth and accept that it won’t be pleasant but you may feel better afterwards.

        Reply
    3. LW 2*

      My main reason for not telling her the real reason is that anti-vaxxers are in love with being “persecuted” and I don’t want to be part of that delusion. Really, though, what’s the harm? Jane’s list of people “persecuting” her is a mile long, so what does it matter if I’m on it…

      Reply
      1. Stitch*

        I mean, you’ve seen her social media. 8s she posting particular names? Will she call in fellow antivaxxers to review bomb you or try to interfere with your work?

        While I do agree she’s facing the consequences of her actions, I also think you have no obligation to educate her if you don’t want to. She should have gotten the message already and clearly hasn’t.

        Reply
        1. LW 2*

          I’m not too worried about that thankfully! Anti-vaxxers are a tiny minority here, and my work is very behind-the-scenes for big corporations, not individuals. I didn’t want to feed her persecution complex, but she’s already deep enough in it that my refusal is just another on a long list.

          Reply
          1. Kate*

            I think Allison’s wording is well suited then for this, and I appreciate you supporting public health through your decision here.

            Reply
          2. Elizabeth West*

            Honestly, you can just blame your clients as someone above suggested. “My clients insist all contractors and subcontractors be fully vaccinated in the event they must attend in-person meetings.”

            She can argue with that, but you don’t have to entertain it.

            Reply
      2. Storm in a teacup*

        If that’s the only reason then definitely tell her and block if she becomes argumentative.
        I really loved the framing someone else had above re: you don’t have to join every argument you get invited to!
        I’m stealing that.
        In the UK they’re just starting to mandate vax for NHS and care home staff and I personally think it’s about time. The sad thing is there are still a sig minority in this group unvaccinated. From some data I’ve seen it’s more likely to be in lower banded staff and I worry about the impact this will have on patient care and also on them. Finding successful ways to address vaccine hesitancy is so challenging.
        If an ex NHS colleague of mine reached out and was out of a job due to not getting vaccinated I would have no qualms telling them I don’t agree and therefore don’t feel comfortable recommending them for any roles in my company.

        Reply
  9. The Original Stellaaaaa*

    OP1: You only mention it in passing, but I’m wondering why you’re placing so much weight on bonding with people who are senior to you. Obviously it would be nice if that happened, but IMO it shouldn’t be an expectation that makes or breaks your experience at a job. It’s actually a good thing if your managers are enforcing a bit of distance; it’s bad news when friendships cross supervisory lines. And if you’re not talking about management, there’s still not much you can do if the people above you aren’t making any moves toward building that kind of connection.

    Reply
    1. Maid Dombegh*

      I think “bonding” can be interpreted in different ways. OP doesn’t necessarily sound like they are trying to be friends with their seniors, just that they want to feel like a respected part of the team. I too work in a support position, and I can relate. It used to be that my coworkers were very respectful of my expertise in my role, asked my opinion when appropriate, didn’t try to do my job for me, and generally made me feel included. In the last few years, there has been a lot of turnover and the many of the newer people who are senior to me tend to treat me like they think they can do my job better than I can (though when they try, they often get things wrong), and like they think they don’t really need me as part of the team. That’s how I interpreted the OP’s statement about lack of bonding, and I guarantee that this type of treatment leads to, well, a lot of venting.

      In my case, I am soon to be leaving for a different position where I will be on an equal footing with my coworkers. OP doesn’t sound ready to leave, so maybe they haven’t yet reached the level of frustration that I have. But in light of the comment that “I often feel looked down on and patronized”, they may want to think about whether their complaints might not be more serious than they actually realize.

      Reply
    2. MyGoingConcern*

      I don’t think this was a references to actual superiors like managers. It’s common in many companies for the admins and other internal services staff to be treated as inferior outsiders by the teams they work with on a daily basis. It’s more overt in some places than others, but it’s pretty common and can be lonely and demoralizing. It’s not about becoming bffs with people at work, but feeling like a valued part of the team at the place they spend most of their waking hours is important to many, many people.

      Reply
      1. Rayray*

        Absolutely. It is incredibly demoralizing and crappy. Burnout from admin and support type jobs is very real and a huge part of it is being treated like “the help” and not as part of the team. It sucks.

        Reply
    3. Hogwash*

      As a former admin I know exactly what OP is talking about- it’s more of a respect issue than higher-ups not wanting to be friends. It almost felt like we were in a different class (I guess technically we were) and as such we were treated differently.

      Reply
    4. AnotherEA*

      In general I would agree with you that having a close relationship with upper management isn’t as important for job satisfaction, but OP1 said they are administrative staff. I am an EA and my job would be MISERABLE if I didn’t have a good relationship with my executive and have his expectation that others treat me with respect — being an admin is hard enough without feeling mistreated/unappreciated by senior management.

      Reply
  10. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    I would definitely tell Jane the truth. There are consequences for actions, or non-actions, and people need to feel them. Even without the anti-VAX craziness, I would mostly chose to not work with someone who will not get vaccinated. You won’t get vaccinated and that could kill me? Then I won’t hire you or contract with you.
    Recently I was hiring a plumber to do work inside my home, and I require that anyone working in my house be vaccinated. One of the two companies I was going to get bids from had no vaccinated plumbers. I cancelled the appointment and told them why. If they lose enough business, maybe it will have an impact.

    Reply
    1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      Agreed. I feel very strongly that there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for OP2 to feel the least bit apologetic about not wanting to work with this unhinged sounding antivaxxer, and I agree with Alison and everyone else who has said to simply tell Jane the truth,

      If she gets upset or tries to argue back about her “right” to her antivax opinions and activities, OP2 should reply, “Yes, and I have the right to decide whether I want to be associated with those opinions and activities. Since I find them to be harmful, I choose not to.”

      Will Jane like it? Maybe not. But that’s perfectly okay!

      Reading this and other advice columns has made me aware that often people are not trying to figure out the right thing to do so much as trying to figure out how to do a thing they want to do without upsetting anybody. Upsetting people is not fun, and I get wanting to avoid doing that if possible. Unfortunately, people sometimes go overboard with trying to avoid upsetting people.

      I wish I had a dollar for every advice column letter I’ve read that starts out something like, “I want/need to do [perfectly reasonable thing], but my [parent / sibling / so / friend / coworker / whoever] doesn’t agree.” Then the next part is something like “How can I do the thing without upsetting that person?” AND/OR “How can I explain to that person so they will understand that I really need / have a right / am entitled to do the thing and not be upset about it?”

      The truth is that sometimes upsetting someone else if going to happen, and it’s not necessarily the end of the world. Sometimes people are just plain unreasonable, and the only way to avoid offending them is to go along with whatever they want and not let out a peep no matter how much you disagree. That is not a healthy way to live. Sometimes a thing is right enough or important enough to be worth the risk of upsetting someone by taking a stand. I think this is one of those times.

      Good luck, OP2. I realize being honest with Jane may not be the easiest thing to do, but I really, truly believe it’s the right thing!

      Reply
      1. bamcheeks*

        There’s “I don’t want to have an awkward conversation / hurt Jane’s feelings”, but there’s also, “I don’t want to become a target for a group of people who have a big crossover with the far-right, social-media-pile-on and also armed groups”. If Jane’s posting a lot online, rather than just personally vaccine-resistant or vaccine-hesitant, then it’s genuinely reasonable to be fearful about who she’s linked up with and what they’re capable of, and LW doesn’t have the resources of a big company behind her to support her. I think there’s a very pragmatic argument for caution here.

        Reply
        1. UKDancer*

          Yes. Given the stories about people being attacked virtually and sometimes stalked in real time by anti-vax organisations I’d probably be a bit hesitant to be too overt about this. I’d probably go for something more generic by way of refusal.

          Reply
        2. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          That is an excellent point, and one I wish I’d thought of before I posted. Now I’m wondering if that is what OP2 was worried about, at least in part.

          Reply
          1. OP2*

            It’s not! That’s a totally valid concern in some places, but where I live, anti-vaxxers are a small minority who aren’t taken seriously by anyone whose opinion I value. My main concern has been feeding more fuel into Jane’s victim complex, but that complex already exists without me. Maybe I shouldn’t worry that my rejection is going to be the thing that solidified her position–it already seems like that’s done.

            Reply
            1. Kate*

              Yes. I think there are *some* people who are unvaccinated at this point that are on the fence. And especially with them, natural consequences can move them towards getting vaccinated (e.g. if your job requires it than most people who’ve delayed actually do go ahead and get vaccinated).

              There are others however, that are so deep down their rabbit hole that they’re not going to change their mind. And we can only hope that there are enough guardrails around that prevent them from spreading illness.

              Jane sounds like she’s far gone, and you’re right that you won’t be the last straw. But telling her in a calm way that these are the conditions for subcontractors, you are leaving the door open in case she does decide to change her mind.

              Reply
      2. Caroline Bowman*

        many millions of times this totally. As long as one is kind and clear, remains courteous etcetera, it’s okay if your decisions sometimes annoy or upset people.

        Reply
      3. anon for this*

        And then there’s “I don’t want to have an awkward conversation / hurt Jane’s feelings” vs “I don’t want to over-engage.” Sure this is about vaccination and there is a lot of public health reality going on — I am married to a physician who has unvaccinated patients dying of COVID right now, and he’s got a lot of feels about his responsibility and whether he’s failed in his duty by being unable to convince them to get the vax — but at the same time, one need not have every conversation with every person. Engaging with some people is like getting near a black hole, whether it’s about health or dogs or parenting techniques or Thanksgiving meal planning. You engage too much and every conversation becomes a disaster, a judgement about them, a personal slight. You think you’re talking about Blockbuster and whether they could’ve made it if they were more nimble, but it becomes personally offensive. If this is one of those people, just don’t engage.

        Reply
  11. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    #4, I don’t understand why you think your employer would pay for an accident that happened at the end of your commute. Would you share your thought process with us please?
    Would your position change if you rear ended another car rather than hitting property?
    I was also confused that you were not aware of the accident when it happened. Were you distracted?
    If you were driving for a work required meeting when the accident happened, I could argue that your employer should pay for the damages.

    Reply
    1. TechWorker*

      If the car park had been part of the office and owned by the company LW worked for then things may have been different – I can imagine in that scenario a company choosing to pay the cost for a good employee who hasn’t previously caused any trouble, in the same way they might for any other accidental damage of company property. (Eg someone leaves their laptop on a train – my company has paid for that before). I agree it’s different if the car park is not owned by the company but I don’t think it’s totally out of line for LW to wonder if it’s something her company might cover.

      Reply
    2. Betteauroan*

      I got on here to say the same thing and I’m surprised no one else has jumped on this OP yet. How is it NOT their responsibility to pay for the damages? How? I want to know. When you go to driver’s ed, they teach you this. Anything you do when you are behind the wheel, intentionally or not, is on the driver. Period. The divider did not jump out out in front of the car like s deer. It was a fixed object that was hit by the driver. Driver needs to pay up. I would love to see the look on the boss’ face if the OP presented the bill to them. Lol.

      Reply
      1. Anononon*

        I don’t think it’s necessarily something to be jumped on, and OP doesn’t deserve a pile up. They say in their response that they know their at fault, but they’re just wondering, essentially, if there’s any type of norm for the employer to pay these costs. If she had made a massive mistake at work, costing her company a lot of money, the answer would be that the company would have to eat that cost. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to wonder if a parking garage accident could be a similar situation. She wondered, she asked, she got the answer, and now she knows.

        Reply
        1. comityoferrors*

          Agreed. As TechWorker said, if this garage was owned by the company instead of rented, the company would call it a nonissue and eat the cost. I know in my gut that the company won’t cover it in this situation, but I can definitely see where OP might wonder about it.

          We’ve seen other OPs on this very site who didn’t know they could ask their company for Expensive Thing A or help with Pricy Accident B. This OP didn’t send the bill and come asking why their company declined and how to convince them. They asked if it was, maybe, an option. That doesn’t warrant some of the hostility here IMO.

          Reply
    3. Stantheman*

      Why not take it to the extreme.
      I hit a person in the parking garage. Should the company pay for medical treatment?

      Reply
    4. anonymous73*

      “If you were driving for a work required meeting when the accident happened, I could argue that your employer should pay for the damages.”

      I don’t agree with this. Unless driving is actually part of your job, your company should not be responsible for anything that happens as part of your commute, even if you’re going somewhere offsite.

      Reply
    5. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      This letter reminds me of a young colleague who couldn’t accept that it was her fault that she rear-ended the car in front of her going down a hill as it was snowing heavily. She’d previously moaned at her mother not letting her go out when it snowed, and she had this accident while her parents were away on a cruise so they couldn’t prevent her from going out.
      She was trying to make a case for incriminating the council for not clearing the roads… no dear, they clear the roads once it’s stopped snowing, and you said it was still snowing when you went out.
      Then when I casually commented that my partner had rear-ended a car in heavy rain driving the same model of car as her dad’s, her eyes lit up “oh so it’s clearly a manufacturing defect, we can sue Nissan”. OK you go ahead, just let me get the popcorn out first.

      Reply
      1. Anononon*

        That’s literally the opposite from what’s happening here and is pretty unkind to the OP. They literally say that they know it’s their fault – they just don’t know if this is something the company could potentially pay for or not.

        Reply
        1. LouLou*

          It’s crazy how mad people are at OP! This site wouldn’t exist if nobody had work related questions that might seem obvious to others. Chill out!

          Reply
    6. OP4*

      OP Here! The answer is that it was one of those flexible rubber poles, so there was no impact. I didn’t feel anything, and didn’t realize I had pulled too far forward until I the building showed me a photo hours later (there are no cameras).

      My thought process was that yes, this is probably completely on me to take care of — but I’ve seen stranger things on this site, and it doesn’t cause anymore harm to ask the question. Simple as that. I accept Alison’s answer, and now I know.

      To some of the comments down thread — I did want to say this:

      Thankfully, paying for the damage isn’t a hardship for me. But you don’t know me. What if paying out of pocket means I can’t pay rent this month? What if my insurance premium going up a few bucks knocked me further into food security? What if I was asking out of desperation? Your comments and bold assumptions would definitely make me feel even worse in a bad situation. Be kind.

      Reply
      1. LlamaLawyer*

        That was my thought. Someone trying to be an influencer, either getting paid or maybe getting some of these trips comped or discounted in exchange for social media postings. It reads like this is a second job. Would also explain why the most obvious answer (lock down your social media posts) wouldn’t be a welcome option for OP.

        Reply
      2. pancakes*

        There are a lot of people who belong to running groups, etc. who are into posting their workout routines. I think it’s bad opsec but it’s pretty common.

        Reply
        1. CTT*

          I re-read an old New Yorker article about a runner who (allegedly) was cheating at marathons, and it seemed like there was a very active online community back in 2012 for people who are into running, so I imagine it’s only grown since then.

          Reply
          1. pancakes*

            Yeah, that rings a bell. I don’t keep up with it too closely because I’m not a runner, but I do like to keep up with tech news, and there’s been a lot of extremely unflattering news about Strava. In 2018 in particular it was discovered to be revealing the locations of military bases not meant to be publicized, and that it was showing users an awful lot of info about one another’s whereabouts as a default even if they weren’t following one another.

            Reply
            1. PeanutButter*

              Yeah, Strava has a thing called “heatmaps” which shows running routes of people as bright lines on a map, scrubbed of any identifying data…that’s great when it’s in a big city and you can see which parks are the most popular, or which rural highways are probably the best for cycling because of all the people who use it. But when there’s ONE line in a remote town (showing the route ONE person runs all the time) that’s a safety issue, or a handful of lines in a remote area of Afghanistan that all trace the same perimeter…

              Reply
              1. pancakes*

                One of the articles I read was about a guy who passed by a woman running, and noticed that it automatically linked them even though they weren’t even following one another in the app:

                “This week, Andrew Seward, Head of Data Product Development at Experian, brought to light how Strava exposed sensitive information on nearby runners.

                ‘Out running this morning on a new route and a lady runs past me. Despite only passing, when I get home Strava automatically tags her in my run,’ tweeted Seward.

                ‘If I click on her face it shows her full name, picture and a map of her running route (which effectively shows where she lives),’ he continued.”

                Reply
                1. PeanutButter*

                  Yeah, there were also cases where it was used in accidental death cases (I’m thinking of the pedestrian killed by a cyclist in San Francisco a number of years back) because the “KOM/QOM” features encourage reckless behavior. When I first set up my account I remember being super annoyed at the default privacy being “absolutely none” instead of having to opt-in to all that stuff.

    1. Rayray*

      There’s a surprising amount of people who think anyone following them on social media is actually interested in seeing them workout. I’ve always suspected these people are insecure and need to make sure they are proving to everyone that they do in fact exercise.

      Reply
      1. Julia*

        This is sort of unkind. For all you know LW is part of a community on social media that share their progress and support each other, and he gets fulfillment out of that community membership. There’s nothing actually wrong with sharing your interests online. It’s just another medium to connect with people about stuff that interests you. I have rock climber friends and we all share our rock climbing progress; I’m genuinely interested when they tell me they climbed a new wall or post a photo of their new shoes.

        Telling LW to stop posting online misses the point that he might get a lot of fulfillment out of that and not want to stop. Instead, LW, try disconnecting from / blocking coworkers religiously so work doesn’t see your personal life. It’s none of their business if you’re getting your work done.

        Reply
      2. doreen*

        Maybe – but I’ve noticed an awful lot of people on social media who either think everyone is interested in what they are interested in or don’t care if people aren’t – so I’m not at all sure it has to do with insecurity. I mean, if someone wants to post on their own Facebook page about animals five states away that need to be rescued or what they made for dinner tonight, that’s up to them – I can find a way not to see their posts even if it takes unfollowing that person. It’s far more annoying when people post about those things on a group page devoted to something else

        Reply
    2. mourning mammoths*

      Another option is to schedule your posts to go up on a different day and time than when you actually did them. Perhaps on days when you are in the office, on holiday, or on a weekend. If I were working on a social media presence I probably would do that anyway (and do this already now) for my safety. Meaning, preventing that people can track me down while I’m still out and about.

      Reply
  12. My other username is better*

    #1 Your company’s software isn’t the wisest choice of outlet for venting, FYI. They can look at that any time.

    You don’t mention how much of the negative content is coming from you or being instigated by you – so it’s hard to tell if it’s a conversation that you take turns to start or if it’s all instigated by you. Neither is ideal, just you might deal with them differently.

    Anyway. I have a colleague who vents a lot over chat. Here’s what I wish I could say to her:

    You seem really unhappy working here and I’m sorry about that, but I am unable to fix it for you and you are asking too much of me when you try to constantly vent to me. It’s a shame as having good relationships at work can really help make things feel better, and we could have had a good relationship. However, you turn literally every conversation into an opportunity to vent and complain – this is stressful and draining for me, and not something I want to be involved in doing on company software. I’d be thrilled if you just stopped doing that – didn’t announce it, just started conducting yourself differently when we spoke. And I’d feel much more able to be supportive to you if I wasn’t busy trying to grey-rock you.

    Reply
    1. Willis*

      I have a good friend that became a complain drain for me, also over chat. I had to stop that form of communication altogether and just talk when we see each other in person vs the continuous chatting. It was just too much for me.

      Anyway, I think venting can be constructive if you’re just blowing off steam about something and are then able to get back to work, or if it makes you realize a complaint pattern and then do something about it. I guess in this case, either look for a new job or talk to your manager about what you’d like to see change at your existing job if that’s possible. But if you’re just on constant vent mode then it probably is toxic for you and your coworkers. I agree about not complaining over the company Slack, there are so many ways someone may end up seeing it. Also, I’d think about your communication with other co-workers beyond these two in the chats. Are you complaining to other people too? Chances are if your partner’s gotten the impression you hate your job, your vents are not limited just to those couple chats.

      Reply
      1. Identifying remarks removed*

        I have a coworker who has similarly turned into a complainer. He’s on at least triple my salary and several grades higher up the org chart to me so I have limited sympathy. He seems to be stuck in a complaint whirlpool and I find myself dwelling on the negative things about my job if I’m around him. So now when he starts complaining I just laugh and say that’s above my pay grade, got to get back to these reports and put my headphones on.

        Reply
    2. anonymous73*

      Why can’t you say something to her? When she starts venting disengage. Tell her to stop. If she’s bringing you down or wasting your time, you have a right to put an end to it.

      Reply
    3. Grace Poole*

      I have a workplace complainer that I’d love to use that script on. I do my share of venting, but I’m trying my best to not drag every conversation down into an airing of grievances. For my work friend, we’re often chatting on Slack, and when she starts in, I just stop responding to her DMs. It’s passive aggressive and I know I need to have the real conversation, but it works in the short term.

      Reply
  13. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    #5, congratulations on your internship offer. Alison gave you great advice. It’s a very reasonable request.
    You don’t even need to start with HR. I would recommend having the conversation with whoever offered you the position/is the person you will report to.
    I also agree to just ask for the schedule accomodation first. ADA may sound adversarial to some people, and the request with Alison’s phrasing is likely to be effective.
    As a a long time AAM reader, I think I remember that if you request an ADA accomodation, the employer has the right to ask you questions about your condition/treatment. (Someone please correct me if I got that wrong.) Why you need treatment isn’t anyone’s business unless you choose to tell them.

    Reply
  14. My other username is better*

    #5 Please stop talking about disability accommodations or time off for medical treatment as difficult or a problem. Anyone who approaches them this way is not a reasonable person. I’m sorry anyone gave you this idea.

    Reply
    1. LKW*

      Agreed! If I had an intern with a similar situation, I’d ask them to do their best to schedule appointments in the afternoon and to send me a reminder so I knew when they’d be out. That’s it. If they had a standing day of the week, then I’d do my best to work around it and when not possible, I’d catch them up the day after. It doesn’t have to be Friday afternoons either (in fact, leave your Fridays alone, why make your weekends sucky?).

      I would go to HR just so that it’s all on record, in case someone is being a dick about it. But for me, all you’d have to do is tell me that you have a standing Dr. appointment. I don’t need to know anything about your care. I need you to tell me if you’re not feeling well but I don’t need to know anything you don’t want to tell me. That’s your business.

      Reply
  15. My other username is better*

    #3 So everyone else has to be in the office, your company thinks working > 83 hours is slacking and you’re asking if you should post your mid-work beach swims on social media?

    As you suspect the optics are bad. It’s also worth considering that there’s more to getting on at work than just getting results – do you not care at all about your relationships with your colleagues?

    Reply
    1. Ariaflame*

      83 hours over 2 weeks is doable, (I had to double check and recalculate as many people do hours on a weekly basis and 83 hours over a week would be insupportable. Over 2 weeks it’s doable. ) But if they’re not hourly then every hour over the hours they are paid for is taking their effective hourly wage down.

      Reply
    2. Eden*

      My understanding is that it’s 83 per 2 weeks. Still over 40 a week but not like a regular-weekends-and-nights situation.

      Reply
    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      It’s 83 hours per 2-week period. So just 90 minutes more than a standard 40-hour work week.

      This is nowhere near the biglaw/consulting/game developer definition of “slacking”.

      Reply
  16. CreepyPaper*

    Op#5, I have to work from home every other Friday because of the schedule of my medication. It renders me unable to drive and when I started on the meds about three years ago, I was so worried about requesting work from home every other week but I spoke to my manager and she said ‘oh yeah, sure! Let me speak to IT about sorting a laptop for you’ and that was the end of it.

    I mean I did have to fill in a form saying why I needed the wfh thing (this was pre-pandemic) but that was more so Finance knew why they were buying another laptop.

    Also the key is don’t ask, tell them you need this. It’s your health. No matter what, health comes first, despite what employers would have us believe.

    Reply
  17. AnotherLibrarian*

    OP5: I also get biweekly treatments, though I can work afterwards. I agree with everyone that you need to speak with your manager and make arrangements. Go to HR if you must, but start by asking for what you need and seeing where it gets you. I’ve never needed to involve HR in my situation and never had trouble getting an accommodation. I do think that if you want people to focus on your work (which I assume you do) and not your health (which I assume you don’t) than be sure to establish yourself as on time, careful, hardworking, and otherwise great worker. Once people know the quality of your work, no one will worry much about you being out. And what you are asking for is super reasonable. Do decide how much you want to tell people ahead of time and maybe practice telling that to folks, because I find it is much easier to field questions when I have practiced my “Oh, it’s nothing I want to talk about” answers with a friend.

    Reply
  18. Need a WFH policy*

    Letter 2. I see this as the reason why she does not want to engage with Jane – ‘“activism” work for a notorious local group that harasses businesses for enforcing government-ordered mask policies.’
    I can see why they wouldn’t want to spend time on the very likely end result of the harassment that is sure to follow from stating their own vaccination views.
    However, if the position is one that involves onsite interactions with your clients, you could potentially just state that your agreements require all subcontractors used by you be vaccinated. And don’t apologize. Alternately, no is a complete answer.

    Reply
    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      However, if the position is one that involves onsite interactions with your clients, you could potentially just state that your agreements require all subcontractors used by you be vaccinated. And don’t apologize. Alternately, no is a complete answer.

      Even if on-site direct client interaction isn’t part of the equation, I still think this is one of the better approaches to take.

      Reply
  19. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

    #5: If your treatments aren’t currently on Fridays, and you’re generally able to work the following day after a treatment, I’d recommend modifying Alison’s advice slightly and, instead of suggesting the Friday afternoons off instead say “my treatments are currently on x afternoon due to my school schedule, but I could try to move them to a different afternoon if that would work better”. The optics of wanting to leave early on Friday can look a little different than wanting to leave early on a midweek day, so unless that’s your current treatment schedule I’d suggest opening with a day that wouldn’t be extending your weekend. You know that your treatments aren’t “fun” and don’t let you “get your weekend plans started early”, but why create the possible confusion unless Fridays are specifically best for your treatment needs? Maybe your company will suggest Fridays because it works best for their business needs, but if you lead with Tuesdays it’ll make it clearer that it’s not about long weekends.

    Reply
    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Offtopic… 7Hobbits, I’m still grinning at your username after all this time. (Yes, I’ve taken some Covey classes.)

      Reply
  20. Beth*

    OP3: The short answer is yes, this is almost definitely an optics issue that could seriously blow up on your face. There are companies where your plan would be seen as acceptable, but your employer isn’t one of them. You work at a company with rigid ideas around where and when people should be working–namely, 8.5 hours a day, in office, and if someone varies from that, they’re seen as ‘unproductive’ and ‘slacking’. In a climate like that, if this comes out, it’s going to seriously sour your relationships with coworkers and damage your CEO’s trust in you.

    I think you know this. If you actually thought this was a good and reasonable plan, you wouldn’t have any issue with running it by your boss before acting on it. Maybe you’re hoping that asking for forgiveness will be easier than asking for permission. I don’t think your boss is going to buy it, though.

    Look, I get it. I would also love to work from anywhere and at any time. Most people would! But this company and this CEO are not going to be on board. It sounds like you’d be happier in a job where 1) remote work is normal, 2) a flexible schedule is normal, and 3) your bosses care more about productivity than the number of hours your butt is in your seat. Instead of risking this job when you don’t have something else lined up, why not go find that job?

    Reply
  21. LDN Layabout*

    In regards to LW2, if someone is unhinged enough to make to publicly be an anti-vaxx activist I’m not going to trust them to react proportionally when told it’s an issue.

    If LW2 isn’t ready for their name is to be smeared, passed around various (very ugly) places on the internet or risk the possibility of becoming a target for these people, I would say just ignore Jane.

    Reply
    1. Dr B Crusher*

      I agree. I get that it is very satisfying, from behind a keyboard, to tell LW2 to tell Jane exactly why she won’t hire her, but Jane doesn’t appear to be some vaccine-hesitant person who will just say okay, agree to disagree, and leave it. Jane has already proven herself to be a bit unhinged on this topic, so LW2 should just protect herself. And LW2 telling Jane why she won’t hire her is unlikely to do a thing to change Jane’s mind; it’s not the same as the person earlier in the comments who mentioned not hiring a plumber because none of the plumbers at a certain company were vaccinated.

      Reply
    2. Butterfly Counter*

      This was close to what I was about to suggest for LW2. In the spirit of “no” being a full sentence:

      “I will not be referring work to you any more. Please don’t contact me again.”

      It drives the point home without giving the antivaxxer ammunition.

      Reply
    3. LW 2*

      Her message to me opened with complaining that she was being fired because of the government’s vaccination policy. I can definitely see the message to whatever her Plan C is starting with “First the government, and now independent business! I am the victim here!”

      I guess I can let her complain. I’m OK if the anti-vaxxers don’t like me.

      Reply
      1. LDN Layabout*

        I saw your response to another comment saying you wouldn’t care if she mentioned you/you became part of your rants so I think you’re good being explicit about it :)

        Reply
  22. prof*

    I feel like a lot of people commenting about.how OP5’s situation is not a problem etc. are not themselves disabled and thus haven’t experienced ableism. This may very well impact OP5 negatively despite that being illegal. OP5 isn’t being foolish or worrying too much to think this.

    OP5 should talk to their manager first as advised. Good luck!

    Reply
    1. My other username is better*

      I’m disabled. I find it very unhelpful when people talk about accommodations as an imposition. HTH

      Reply
    2. Colette*

      In many workplaces, it wouldn’t be an issue. Sure, there are some where it would be – but the OP needs to take care of her health, so there’s not much of an option. And screening out companies none of us should want to work for isn’t a terrible side-effect.

      Reply
    3. Observer*

      If it has a negative impact on the OP, this is not a good employer. And that’s something that is important for the OP to know.

      Reply
  23. me*

    LW3: In addition to what others have said re: posting on social media less and making sure you’re available when others need you, working during trips can kind of suck.

    As someone who’s done the digital nomad thing on and off, it’s really tiring to log on to work on a document, put together an outline, or be available to speak with clients when I’m traveling. My computer might die, the internet may be spotty, and taking time to travel and enjoy somewhere is really hard if I need to wake up early to write before enjoying my tropical paradise, or being back to the hotel at a certain time to work for a few hours before dinner. This was even the case when I was doing part-time work that was entirely on my own schedule and all my clients knew where I was, so I didn’t have to be available for coworker emails or phone calls. Especially now that traveling internationally is back on the table, why not enjoy your time to relax and unwind?

    That being said, depending on internet security/job requirements, working at a cafe in your town is something that’s significantly more feasible and less stressful.

    Reply
    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      That being said, depending on internet security/job requirements, working at a cafe in your town is something that’s significantly more feasible and less stressful.

      I’m a long-term remote, and the nearby Paneras are part of my plan B for an Internet outage. My supervisors have always approved and appreciated that I am thinking that far ahead.

      Reply
    2. Cj*

      If I were this person’s boss, I would fire them so fast it would make their head spin if I found out they were doing this.

      Like others have said, they obviously know it’s wrong or they would be asking ahead of time if it was okay.

      If their work environment was about productivity and not hours, but I still didn’t wanting them doing this, I’d tell them to knock it off and not fire them right away unless I found they continued. But that is obviously not their company culture/ requirements.

      Reply
  24. Despachito*

    LW3, it seems to me that you cannot have a cake and eat it at the same time.

    If you had to pick between being able to have a dream job with a possibility to follow your hobby, OR posting all the fun stuff on social media, which one would you drop rather?

    I think that now you seem to have reached a perfect work-life balance, but by making it public you will very likely ruin it.

    (And I am taking for granted what you said – that your output is stellar – and what was somehow implied – that your working hours are so flexible you do not have to worry if you cannot be reached at 2 pm because you are doing your two-mile swim. Because if any problem arises, if I were your employer, I’d definitely hold it against you)

    Reply
  25. Rosacolleti*

    #3 People posting daily accounts of their workouts, and worse showing off their strava results – seriously, who is interested?

    Reply
    1. Fieldpoppy*

      The other people who do that sort of thing are the ones who are interested. Strava is social media for people who work out to give each other kudos for what they’re doing. I also have a FB workout group of people who post their workouts to encourage each other. BUT you don’t need to cross post those things or share it with the whole world — which is the part that confuses me with the LW.

      In fact, I met one of my clients ON my fb workout group, and even then I can be hesitant to post a workout if I know I owe him something! The LW is looking for a situation that just doesn’t exist.

      Reply
    2. Metadata minion*

      Other people who do workouts! It’s obnoxious if you’re trying to talk about them all the time to other people who aren’t interested, but like any hobby it’s really, really common to want to talk about the “boring” details with people who share your excitement in them.

      Reply
    3. Andy*

      Being inside community of people who do similar workouts (or any activity in general) helps to keep motivation. Posting and seeing other people post workouts tricks your brain to think exercising is normal. Seeing other peoples workouts makes you want to workout too.

      The exact same thing works with art, music, electronics, anything. Humans are social creatures.

      Reply
    4. sunglass*

      I’m interested in my friends’ workouts! I love seeing the routes they’re running, seeing any improvements they make, seeing which races they’ve done, even seeing the “bad” workouts. I interact with their Strava posts and they interact with mine – it’s mutual support in a shared hobby.

      I mean, I wouldn’t share outside of Strava because no one else cares about my incrementally improved 10k pace, but I am baffled that you can’t imagine why people might want to share at all? People are social and many of them share hobbies. The online running community is absolutely huge, and I imagine it’s very much the same for cyclists and swimmers.

      Reply
    5. Marie*

      Oh it’s a Thing and it’s a way to stay connected with your community virtually. I trained for a race with a friend from afar, we kept tabs on each other via Strava. It was fun!

      Reply
    6. Lizzo*

      – The people who are part of their running/biking/swimming/triathloning/etc. community
      – Friends/family who might be supporting this person as they train for something big like a marathon
      – Accountability buddies

      Sorry if the concept of a supportive community is lost on you.

      Reply
  26. EventPlannerGal*

    OP3: I am very surprised that you are “wondering if” your plan will cause an optics problem. Everyone else in your company is stuck at their desks in-office punching in and out to hit these minimum hours, and you want to plaster your social media with beach workouts and cycling trips to the Bahamas? Yes, that will be an optics problem. I don’t know how feasible your plan is work-wise, but if you do go ahead then just… don’t post it. Or set your social media to private and limit what work people can see. I’m trying to be constructive here but I mean, come on.

    Reply
    1. Bananas*

      Absolutely. If you’re trying this hard to talk your way around what you’re doing, then you already know it’s not a good idea.

      Reply
  27. Betteauroan*

    OP4: Why would you think your company should pay for your damages in the parking garage? Anytime you are behind the wheel, you are responsible for whatever you hit. It doesn’t matter where it is.

    Reply
    1. mreasy*

      I could see the thought process that maybe the company they work for has some sort of arrangement or insurance setup with the garage they contract. Honestly I would probably have the same question.

      Reply
    2. Kippy*

      I think the OP is just hoping there’s some way they don’t have to pay. She knows she’s at fault but is really hoping this is one of those gray areas where her company will pay the costs. It’s not but she’s gonna do what she can to save the $200 or whatever.

      Reply
  28. Agent Diane*

    #OP5. I’ve managed people who had regular medical appointments. When they raised what they needed, I said “OK” and worked with them to make it work.

    I agree with someone up-thread that if you can move the medical appointment about, it may be best to go in with an open/flexible schedule rather than Friday afternoon. So something like “I need a half-day every fortnight for a medical appointment, and I’ll happily make up the hours the rest of the week. What afternoon is the best for me to take?” That way the manager can think about the needs of the role, and your co-workers don’t give you any side-eye for having a longer weekend than them. In my old team, short Fridays were a problem, as it was a crunchy point in the week. Tuesdays and Wednesdays were totally fine.

    Good managers will work with you and don’t need to be dragged into agreeing time off by HR. How they treat this request will give you a good idea of if you do really want to work for this company in future.

    Reply
  29. Betteauroan*

    My thoughts exactly. OP seems to think quite highly of him/herself, but it will not endear them to their co-workers, who will resent this. Almost guaranteed.

    Reply
  30. camford*

    This comment was interesting:

    “As a member of administrative staff, I often feel looked down on and patronized…”

    Is this feeling common amongst administrative staff? I’m wondering as I’ve always felt looked down on and patronized by the administrative staff. This is in higher education, and I am only in research, not teaching.

    Reply
    1. bamcheeks*

      Do you mean administration as in the ordinary staff who handle things like student records, finance, procurement, estates etc, or the university management? I’m in the UK where we call that university admin, but I’ve flinched before as US academics complaining about university administration only to find out that they mean management, not what I think of as admin!

      Reply
      1. After 33 years ...*

        Canadian academic: I would use “admin staff” to describe the people bamcheeks refers to, and “administration” to describe Presidents, Provosts, VPs, etc.
        LW 1: some professors do patronize admin staff (or anyone without a PhD). Such foolish or thoughtless behaviour on their part can have consequences. It’s up to the Department Head / senior professors to set the tone for appropriate professional, respectful conduct in working with all university staff. When I was Head, I encouraged our admin staff to bring complaints or vent to me when they wished, as a normal response to issues. The senior admin staff person is the key to any well-run department!
        Problems can arise when professors try to give instructions /orders to (e.g.) staff in the Registrar’s Office without consulting (e.g.) the Registrar. Often, that does not work out well …

        Reply
      2. camford*

        “ordinary staff who handle things like student records, finance, procurement, estates etc”

        Yes, those are who I mean, also buildings management, IT, HR etc.
        Not all are like this, but I often get the impression from them that I am a nuisance for merely asking them to do what they’re supposed to to do, and somehow an unimportant person compared with them.
        The only interaction I’d have with management would be reading their all-staff emails.

        Reply
        1. bamcheeks*

          So, I’ve got a foot in both camps, and I get a lot of career mileage out of understanding both “sides”, and where the tensions arise!

          I think there are a few things that both sides resent the other for, but one of the really big drivers is just more and more work being piled on academic staff so they just don’t have time to understand how admin staff work and what they are trying to do. So a particularly dynamic I’ve seen that can result in what you describe is that admin staff tend to have a very clear idea of how the university works, why things are done a particular way, fairly fixed job descriptions and sets of responsibilities, and they know their area very well. Academics are very focussed on teaching, research, and student learning and wellbeing, although they often define and prioritise those things differently because you have the freedom to do that as an academic (with some good reasons, and some very bad ones.) They also tend to work on longer timescales, and adjust much less quickly to internal changes, because that’s just not where their focus is, and they don’t have time to attend internal training sessions on things like new IT systems — I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had academics say, “So I understand I’m supposed to do XYZ? that’s what I was told when I started in 2012” and you’re thinking, “wtf, we got rid of that system in 2015!”

          So I’ve definitely tensions like the one you describe arise when an academic thinks, “aaargh, how do I work out my expenses and why is this system so shitty, I know, I’ll ring Rosa in Finance and ask her for help”. Meanwhile, it seems very, very obvious to Rosa that she’s Payroll and has nothing to do with the expenses system, why on earth would she be expected to know about expenses and how is it even possible that academics know so little about how the university functions that they don’t know the difference, etc.

          You can get around this with management and internal comms teams who understand those tensions and work to alleviate them– such as designating business partners in Finance for each academic department, so Rosa knows that alongside running payroll, her job is to be the first point of call for everyone in Sport Science and to direct them to the right bit of Finance. You can train the Finance department to take a customer service approach, and make it clear that understanding finance IS a specialised skill that they are being paid for, not a bit of basic common sense that every adult in the room should just get. But you have to have decent management, and even then you will get academic staff (often senior staff) who take advantage of that because as far as they are concerned they ARE more important than mere finance staff, because they’re doing the essential work of the university, and also, not figuring this stuff out leaves them more time for research and/or teaching which is where their reputation, promotion prospects, and probably passion lies.

          Like I say, though, my observation is that a ton of this is caused by the fact that the expectations on academics far exceed what anyone can achieve in a reasonable work week, and something has to give, and it is usually “keeping up with how this very large institution works and whose job it is to do what”.

          Anyway, I don’t know if that’s what’s going on in your institution, but it is outrageously common in UK universities!

          Reply
          1. After 33 years ...*

            All that sounds familiar. There are professors who believe they are more important than all other humans… although I would say that our younger professors, even as they get older, are less likely to believe that.
            Compounding the problem, downsizing budget cuts, and downloading mean that more and more work is being piled on both academic staff and admin staff, nobody has enough time. Our Dean’s admin support staff went from 6 to 2 in two years, with extra work coming from above and extra work pushed down to the department staff (down from 6 to 4). Although we did have staff designated to assist specific departments (as with Rosa), much of this has broken down under the stresses of the past 3 years. To plug leaks, staff are shuffled from responsibility to responsibility, often retaining the first set of duties as well. We play the game of “find the person”: “Can I call X about that?” “Well, X was transferred to the Dean’s Office when L retired, but I think X is doing J’s job, as well as L’s – no, wait, X was seconded to the Registrar’s Office to replace Q who went to replace Y at Financial Resources who is the interim replacement for Z in Faculty Relations – I think …”. Our three most common names for staff could be “acting”, “interim”, and “seconded”.
            High expectations + limited resources = problems!

            Reply
            1. bamcheeks*

              our younger professors, even as they get older, are less likely to believe that

              I think that’s true, BUT when I worked with postgraduate students I saw some of them being taught to think like that by senior staff as part of their induction into the world of academia. And it made me so mad, both because of the impact on other workers in the university but also because of the impact on students/early-career staff themselves: it’s absolutely part of the toxic “but our work is SO UNIQUELY IMPORTANT” which makes staff vulnerable to horrendous exploitation.

              Reply
          2. Bananagram*

            Another academic with a foot in both camps here, and this is the best explanation of the problem, at least as far as I’ve seen it in US and Swiss universities. The other thing I’d add is at least in those two countries, the academic staff may be further distanced by being from other countries, having trained elsewhere etc, while the staff is usually local.

            Reply
          3. Amey*

            OMG yes, also in a UK university with a foot in both camps and this is a beautiful description of what goes on and why these misunderstandings and frustrations occur.

            Reply
          4. camford*

            Thanks for taking the time to write that. It certainly rings true to me .

            “You can get around this with management and internal comms teams who understand those tensions and work to alleviate them…”

            We don’t seem to have this, sadly. I usually find that when I’m required to undertake a task that relates to university administration rather than writing research papers or conducting experiments then it’s hard to find documentation, that documentation is not always clear and asking an administrator for guidance generally involves being passed from person to person until the last in the chain will tell me to go away and stop bothering them.

            “…you will get academic staff (often senior staff) who take advantage of that because as far as they are concerned they ARE more important than mere finance staff,…”

            I’m aware of some of those. Some (not all) of the professors who appear on television are quite bad for it, I’m told.
            The way I’d see it is that I’m not personally more important, but what I’m doing _is_ “the essential work of the university” and I can’t always do that without support. Is disheartening to feel that if I ask for that support it will come slowly, incompletely and (apparently) reluctantly.

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          5. uncivil servant*

            That’s a great explanation! I work in internal services in a research agency and I experience both sides – I’ve had to accept that the scientists do not understand and do not care to try to understand the divisions between my section and other related ones, but I’m also not in one of the big corporate services sections like finance or procurement and *I* don’t understand all the latest procedural changes in those groups.

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    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      In some places it’s a problem.
      I have the utmost respect for our VP’s Executive Administrator, and it burns me when I’ve heard people say things like ‘she keeps the supplies cabinet’.
      Well yes, but that’s on breaks. She manages the budget for supplies, rental equipment, and employee events. .. and that’s before you look at the financial analysis she does with the VP.
      I’ve been blunt on this to co-workers who should have known better.

      Reply
      1. Liz*

        Yup. I’ve worked as an admin, and most of my jobs were fine, but one, where I was in a corporate legal department of a large, multinational company, well, let’s just say we weren’t totally respected or thought very highly of. There was a LOT of entitlement, and “oh that’s not MY job”, and working for several higher ups was always fun as every one of them thought their stuff was the most important.
        but the most memorable was one woman I reported to. She lived a fair distance away, and all of the higher ups could basically set their own hours. We as admin staff however, could not. So she would breeze in a couple of hours after we all started, hide in her office, “lying in wait” as I used to call it, and come to life an hour or so before I was supposed to leave. Oh, and we weren’t really allowed any overtime either. Yet I’d have to stay to finish her stuff because she had no respect for ME or MY time.
        I was young enough i didn’t really want to rock the boat, so I never really brought it up with my supervisor. Today? You can bet I’d be all over that!
        Eventually i started telling her HOW long I could stay. we finished at 4:30 so I’d say to her i could stay an extra hour but no more. Thankfully, when we merged and layoffs came, I was one to go. hahahaha. With a very generous package too!

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    3. Esmeralda*

      We lost an exceptional office admin last month, in part for this reason. Also because our higher ups would not let her WFH one or two days a week — unlike the professional staff, even though it was completely possible to do and she worked at the same very high level when remote. That inflexibility to my mind is part of the lack of respect.

      Not the first time this has happened, either. It has only gotten harder to find admins of that caliber.

      I worked as an admin while in grad school. It was true then, too. Most of the professionals in my office treated me exceptionally well (they were very very happy to have a competent admin, plus they were decent people), but a few did not, and the clientele was notoriously shitty towards admins.

      Reply
    4. Julia* <