drama over kids’ fundraisers, can I charge for dream time, and more

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

1. I supported my coworker’s kid’s fundraiser and he didn’t return the favor

I supported a coworker’s kid’s Boy Scout fundraiser. I did last year too. For the record, I hate mixing this kind of stuff with work but I’m a new mom and learning this is what people do, and when I was little, my mom had her office buy my Girl Scout cookies.

In exchange, I told him I was happy to support his kids and would be grateful if he supported mine as it was her first ever, and I sent him the link to purchase along with the deadline and he said he’d be happy to help. I did send a courtesy reminder some time later.

Radio silence. Really? I don’t know why but I’m livid. I want to say something to the effect of, “I’m a little upset that you chose not to support my kid’s fundraiser when this was the second year in a row I supported yours. If you couldn’t, of course I would have totally understood but you had said you would. Going forward, please do not ask me again unless you plan to return the favor.”

Is that really bad? (Also I haven’t been sleeping because my toddler is now afraid of monsters and up all hours lately, so I’m not thinking straight.)

If you made it clear you were asking if he’d support your kid in exchange for you supporting his and then he just … didn’t, I get why you’re pissed off. That’s rude! But you can’t let kids’ fundraisers cause drama at work, so you have to let it go.

For what it’s worth, chances are high that he did intend to do it and then forgot. The reminder should have taken care of that, but some people get reminders, think “crap, I better do that,” and then forget again. It’s still rude, but it’s probably not deliberately jerk-ish.

If your coworker asks you to support his kid’s fundraiser again next year, you can always decline if you no longer feel good about doing it. Or you could say, “I think you still owe Cordelia from last year! Here’s the link to support her this year” and see what he does. But I wouldn’t give him A Talk about what happened — that’s letting fundraisers become too much of a distraction at work.

2. Can I charge time spent dreaming about work?

I work as a consultant at a large accounting and advisory firm. I am salaried but record my time in hourly increments across a few different clients. The total number of client hours worked during the year has a huge impact on yearly bonuses (which can get up to ~20% of my total compensation). When charging time spent on client work, I often need to include a general description of what I did (e.g, “status meeting”). The hours in this industry are long, and it’s not unusual for me to work 60+ hours a week, including weekends. That said, I love my job, in part because of the thrill I get from solving difficult problems for my clients.

Last month, after working an unusually long week, I was exhausted. I spent much of Saturday on the couch watching football with my dog and husband. At some point, I nodded off and woke up about two hours later. During this glorious nap, I had a dream where I solved a pretty big problem that had been nagging at me all week. And here’s the thing — this idea was good. So good, I pitched it to the client on Monday and they decided to implement it immediately.

I’ve been pretty open with my team about the origins of this idea and we’ve gotten a good laugh out of it, but I’m not sure how to, or if, I should record my time for this. The abstract nature of a dream makes it pretty difficult to recall exactly how long I spent solving this problem. My company’s time recording policy likely does not cover dreams, either. Can I charge the entire two hours without guilt? If so, how should I describe what I was doing in that time?

You can’t charge for dream time. I get your argument for it, but it’s just not a thing you can do. It could have been two minutes, it could have been one hour — there’s no knowing. You don’t want to become known as the person who tried to bill for a nap (and you will become known for that).

3. Employer told me they’re still “working through their internal processes”

Recently, I had a phone interview with a recruiter for a company. They said that they wanted to pass my resume onto the hiring manager. However, yesterday (yes, on Sunday), I received an email which started like this: “As a quick update on your status for the X position, we are still working through our internal processes. We do appreciate your patience and we will be connecting with you very soon on next steps.”

What does “working through our internal processes” mean?

It means anything that needs to happen before they’re ready to move forward in the hiring process. They could be working out some questions about the role, or waiting on potential moves involving other staff members, or securing the budget for the position, or getting the role formally approved, or getting a job description written, or all sorts of things. It could even be something with nothing to do with the job — like someone involved in hiring needing to deal with higher priorities somewhere else before they can focus on this position.

4. Is my reference becoming a detriment as time goes on?

From 2015-2017 I worked as an Americorps member for a nonprofit that provided in school literacy tutoring to elementary students. The tutoring was primarily done by volunteers. During that time I worked with a tutor I will call James.

James was in his 30s and, I believe, had been out of work for a time and was using volunteering as a springboard to get back into the game. Totally understandable and not uncommon for this nonprofit. A few months after I left, so fall 2017-ish, James reached out to me to see if I could provide a reference for a job he was applying for. James was a consistent, dedicated tutor, whose students enjoyed working with him. I was happy to provide a reference.

Since then, I have provided at least 1-2 references for him every single year. Again, he was a good tutor and a kind person, so I am happy to help in his job search, but at this point I am starting to wonder how much of a help I actually am. While I remember the major themes of James as a tutor, the details are starting to get fuzzy. When asked for specifics, there aren’t many that I can truthfully or reliably provide. And it might be different if we had worked together daily, but he came in for a few hours once a week for the duration of a school year, so we were hardly working together full time. Additionally, the references often ask about things like collaboration and teamwork, and while James worked well with me in a supervisory capacity, the tutoring was all 1:1, and was not really an opportunity for teamwork.

I understand how hard job hunting is. It’s a struggle, as is providing trustworthy references. But I can’t help wondering what James has been doing in the intervening 5+ years that he is still listing me as a reference. I feel like part of the reason he hasn’t been able to land a job is that I am simply not a good reference anymore. Not that I’m taking responsibility, but I do wonder.

Do hiring managers take into account the age of references? Is there a point where I should reach out and tell him I don’t feel I can be a good reference anymore? And if so, how to I do that gently?

The age of references does matter — there’s a point where a reference will be so old that it raises questions about why you don’t have more recent ones (unless there’s an obvious explanation like that you’ve been out of the workforce since then) — but a reference from four years ago isn’t very old. I’d be more worried that you’re losing the ability to provide nuance and specifics; if you can’t do that, the reference won’t carry a lot of weight and could even weaken his candidacy if it leads the reference-checker to wonder why he can’t come up with references who worked more closely with him in the years since. (Of course, he could have a good reason — like if he’s been working for the same manager since then and can’t use that person as a reference since they don’t know he’s job searching.)

The kindest thing would be to let James know that you’re finding that as time goes by, you’re less able to provide the sort of nuanced specifics that references ask for, and that if he has other options, they might be better choices. You could stress that you’re happy to keep being a reference if he wants you to, but that you want to make sure he knows you’re less able to speak in specifics than you used to be. Then he can decide which of his options are the best ones.

5. Metal detectors with a medical implant

I’m a few weeks into a new job and it entails going to a building with some security measures — including metal detectors at multiple points. I have a medical device implanted into my spine that doesn’t mix well with metal detectors (and most security measures) so I need to turn it off prior to going through, then back on. This involves a remote and lots of beeping so it would be nearly impossible to hide. Due to the level of security, avoiding the detectors is not an option.

While this hasn’t been a problem yet, I will be going more often as Covid regulations ease and was wondering how to address it with my bosses/coworkers if we are going through security together. It seems like a very natural thing to ask questions about and I wouldn’t fault anyone for asking. I just don’t know how to handle the answer. Unfortunately, just leaving the device off isn’t an option. Thanks to the device, I don’t anticipate needing accommodations and don’t want people to overreact or treat me any differently. I know you typically say only disclose health information when asking for accommodations so I don’t know how to take the right tone.

The tone you want is breezy and matter-of-fact: “Oh, just a medical device I have to turn off before going through a metal detector — nothing to worry about!” If someone asks what it’s for, you can answer if you want to, but it’s also okay to just breezily repeat “nothing to worry about!” and maybe add, “It really only comes up in situations like this!” Most people will understand that the subtext is that you’re not taking questions on it. But if someone pushes, you can always say, “I don’t like to talk about medical stuff at work. Thanks for understanding!”

{ 686 comments… read them below }

  1. Ashley*

    I don’t think someone is obligated to buy something you or your child is selling just because you previously bought something from them.

      1. Cait*

        I am of the mindset that you shouldn’t give unless you really want to. And by that extent, no one should feel obligated to give to you. You don’t give to fundraisers because you expect a quid pro quo. You do it because you want to help a cause. Next year, don’t give if you don’t want to. But, if you do give, don’t turn around and announce that you expect something in return when your kid is selling cookies. That just makes you disingenuous.

        1. Middle Manager*

          Honestly, I think that mindset is the only way fundraisers can be functional/permitted in the office. It ALWAYS has to be 100% obligation free. While I get where OP is coming from on a personal level, it’s annoying to not have a courtesy reciprocated, as a non-parent who does not intend to have kids it will never be reciprocated if I donate/purchase from co-workers so it just always have to be because I’m willing/able to give at the time.

        2. Miami Beachbum*

          Yes, and I actually disagree with Alison here. I can’t imagine saying “you still owe Cordelia from last year.” Yikes. This is just info you know about the person, and if you were only buying something to get something in return, then I wouldn’t do it with this coworker again and just move on.

          I would also find it weird to even ask that someone do this. If you want to buy with the hopes they will reciprocate, that’s great, but they may not and you just have to know that.

          1. Lanie*

            Yes, I’m actually really surprised by Alison’s advice to bring it up again if given the opportunity, which seems like a bad idea to me. Doing this after two years (if I understand the timeline correctly) would seem like a massive overreaction, and the other coworker might not even remember what the LW is talking about!

            “No thanks, not in the budget this year!” is by far the more reasonable thing to say if this topic comes up again.

            1. Darsynia*

              From the letter it appears that the LW thought they had a verbal agreement that they’d rather spend the money on a coworker’s kid and have that reciprocated than spend the money on their own kid’s fundraiser, and that was why they did it for the coworker’s kid. So a kind of ‘how about letting our kids think they’re getting outside support and spend it on each other’ thing. That, I think, is the only reason that Alison is saying what she said. Essentially, OP’s kid did ‘worse’ on the fundraiser because LW1 didn’t spend the money on them, but spent it on their coworker’s kid’s thing, and it wouldn’t have shaken out that way if their coworker had held up their end of it. Otherwise, yeah, it’s an unreasonable expectation.

        3. Lotus*

          Yeah, this OP has totally the wrong idea about how fundraising works. You give money to a fundraiser if you want to and that’s that. It was weird of them to try and implement a transactional “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” situation. It’s also very inappropriate to obligate coworkers to give to their children’s fundraiser.

          And they are “livid”? Sheesh.

          1. OverpricedPopcornUgh*

            OP here. I guess I thought of it as a segue, not a transaction, if that makes sense. I was looking for the appropriate time to “ask” and thought that was it. My intention was not to obligate, and probably not my coworker’s intention either. And you are right, I have zero clue. I am a first time mom navigating this world of “overpriced crap” as many put it. I think I hate it and everything that comes along with it. Grateful to the commenters who have reaffirmed this, actually.

            1. middlemgmt*

              it is most definitely crap. Mine are just at the age where this is about to start and i’m dreading it.

          2. Barbara Eyiuche*

            School-based fundraising does not work like regular fundraising. With the school-based fundraising, really the school (or other child-based organization) knows that people are buying the stuff because they are related to the child, or because the parents of other children will buy because they expect reciprocity. Nobody really wants what they are selling – it is either poor quality or overpriced or both. There is an assumption that if you buy stuff from Johnny’s father, then Johnny’s father will buy stuff from you in turn.
            Personally, I would refuse to engage in this at all. It is taking advantage of children, and their parents, and it is a poor way to fundraise since only a very small percentage ends up going to the school.

            1. Lotus*

              There is something dystopian about underfunding public schools and then outsourcing fundraising to literal kids.

              I am aware of the social dynamics of these types of student fundraisers, but I guess what I’m trying to assert is we shouldn’t give into it. But I get what you mean.

          3. Working*

            Ideally, yeah, people support if they want and “that’s that.” But I think in reality it’s pretty common for drama to come up around who gave to whose kids and how much.

        4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Right. I’ll be honest. I’ve never seen a fundraiser done like that. Granted, I’ve only ever done one myself and only after the school twisted our arms and *forced each parent* to buy at least one $60 box of two-dollar chocolate bars, and to pay for it up front. I brought the box to work. About a dozen people bought the bars, because they wanted chocolate. The rest didn’t. I was the youngest in the office by many years and everyone else’s kids were adults, and long done with fundraisers. But to enter into agreements with coworkers like “I’ll buy stuff for Johnny today if you buy an equal amount of stuff for Susie next month?” This is some TV-show organized crime thing, lol.

          1. Wonderer*

            These fundraisers are absolutely the worst. Most studies show that anything candy-related is going to be more than half purchased by the student’s own family. Given the small percentage of the money that goes to actually ‘raise funds’ (maybe 25%?), you’re far better off to just pay them a bunch of money so you don’t have to participate.

            1. Ellie*

              Funny – I work in IT and the chocolate fundraisers are the only ones I can guarantee I’ll sell all of. I just stick them in the lunchroom (often with 2 or 3 other boxes) with an envelope and a sign on it, and they’re all gone by the end of the week. Usually I am a dollar or two short but that’s fine… once or twice I’ve even been over.

              I hate fundraisers though, I wish they’d just add it into the school fees.

      2. Mannheim Steamroller*

        My standard response for office cookie sales: “Sorry. I have two Girl Scouts in the family.”

        1. alienor*

          My daughter was a Girl Scout for seven years, so I didn’t buy cookies at work because we already had too many at home. But I would always do the “donate a box” option because I knew the pain of trying to unload cases of cookies on everyone I knew. (Same with supermarket sales–I’ve spent so, so many hours standing behind a folding table in the cold.)

          1. Fresh Cut Grass*

            That’s been my family’s policy for years, too. Buy one box from each girl who asks, because we know full well how rough cookie season is for the girls!

      1. JM60*

        But he probably felt pressured to agree to donate when the OP told him that she “was happy to support his kids and would be grateful if he supported mine”.

        1. The OTHER other*

          Why is it he feels pressured when asked to support someone else’s kid yet is fine with pressuring others to support his? This would be kind of a crummy mindset IMO.

          I hate most of the products hawked in these fundraising drives. With the exception of Girl Scout cookies… YES, please!

          1. JM60*

            Why is it he feels pressured when asked to support someone else’s kid yet is fine with pressuring others to support his?

            The OP simply says, “I supported a coworker’s kid’s Boy Scout fundraiser. I did last year too.” I don’t see any evidence that he did anything to pressure the OP beyond sending out an email with a description and link to the fundraiser. If that’s what he did, I don’t think people should do that at work, but that’s much different from telling someone, “I was happy to support his kids and would be grateful if he supported mine as it was her first ever”, which sounds like someone feels entitled to a quid-pro-quo.

              1. KRM*

                But maybe LW likes/wants what the coworkers kid is selling, and the coworker didn’t want or need what LW’s kid was offering. There should be no obligation to buy something you don’t want just because you said you would before you saw it.

                1. The OTHER Other*

                  With the notable exception of Girl Scout cookies, no one *ever* wants what the kids are selling.

                2. I Am Not a Lawyer*

                  The OTHER Other, that’s actually not true. My coworkers have had fundraisers for their kids with nice chocolates, homemade treats, raffles, and plenty of other things I’ve genuinely wanted, in addition to wanting to support them.

                3. The Rural Juror*

                  A specific club at schools in my area used to stagger when they did their fundraisers for a specific food product that everyone loved. It was basically like School A sold in September, School B in October, etc. My mom’s office had a sign up sheet specifically for buying it. Whoever had a kid or knew a kid selling for a school during that month would just take the sign up sheet and send it to them…or divvy up the orders between a couple of kids if there were multiple. My brother and I each usually got half the orders during our month and didn’t even need to get orders from anywhere else to meet our tiny quota.

                  It was basically like grocery shopping for their office. But if we came in selling something else for another occasion, like those silly lollipops, it was a much tougher sell!

              2. JM60*

                Just because someone voluntarily did a favor for you doesn’t necessarily mean you’re obligated to a favor from them.

          2. Meep*

            Along the vein of Girl Scouts cookies, Boy Scouts sell popcorn. I don’t know what her daughter was selling, but I could totally see him needing nor wanting none of it but agreeing at the time without knowing what would be sold. For example, my elementary school had a catalog of things to purchase from around this time. It was mostly expensive Christmas decorations and wrapping paper. My parents felt bad asking anyone to donate so we never did, but my mom did have a sign-up sheet for Girl Scout cookies for those who wanted them.

            One is low states $20 popcorn. The other sounds like it might be $40 minimum for crap.

            1. Mannequin*

              I wouldn’t pay $20 for popcorn even it was my OWN kid (I don’t have kids), I sure AF wouldn’t pay it for someone else’s!

        2. tamarack and fireweed*

          Well, the OP is also feeling mildly pressured. So this pressure about something non-work related and pretty minor ratchets up, and here we are.

          I think it’s somewhat of an asshole thing to not follow through with something that you agreed to. I also know that if it’s something that may get pushed out of my field of vision by higher-priority work stuff that kind of failure may be mine (though not typically if I’ve been asked to – but it does happen if I commit to something on my own initiative, and I’m not proud of it).

          But yeah, bringing it up is probably going to distract – it sounds like bringing an interpersonal issue into the workplace, and not one related to work interaction. Ie, it’s not about favoritism, discrimination, uncollegial behavior, but about a purely private matter, and not one that has an impact on your quality of life or economic situation or reputation in the community.

          The way I hope I would handle this is to get over the aggrieved feelings for myself, remain privately disappointed in the co-worker, and if he ever asks again for support for a charity thing, be able to say calmly and a slightly surprised smile “I don’t think this worked out very well last year. Maybe let’s stop asking each other for charity contributions.”

          1. JM60*

            Well, the OP is also feeling mildly pressured.

            If the OP did feel pressured, they didn’t say what he said/did to make her feel pressured. She simply says, “I supported a coworker’s kid’s Boy Scout fundraiser. I did last year too.” I think people usually should solicit donations at work, but if all the coworker did was send out an email with a description and link to the fundraiser, that’s a lot less pressure than, “I was happy to support your kids and would be grateful if you supported mine as it was her first ever.” The latter sounds like feels like you owe them something as part of an implied a quid-pro-quo that you never agreed to.

            1. Roscoe*

              Yeah, I’m really curious exactly how he asked. Did her corner her in the break room, or just send an email?

              1. OverpricedPopcornUgh*

                OP here. No, he did not corner me at all. He sent an email with a picture of his two cute kids and a link to buy.

                1. Roscoe*

                  I mean, it seems like just normal “marketing” that you fell for and you assumed it was an implied agreement. He maybe forgot, maybe didn’t want it, but you should let it go.

                2. Bluephone*

                  I know you’re stressed out right now but yeah, you have to let this go. Don’t buy the bad popcorn again but also do NOT be all “ohhhh did you forget about my kid’s (whatever scam it was) last year???”. Just pretend it never happened. This is so not worth creating workplace drama for.

                3. Miss Muffet*

                  I’m kinda with you on this letter, OP – and I do agree you have to let it go, but I supported my boss’ kid with a fundraiser and was a bit annoyed that she didn’t reciprocate when my kid was up for it. I get it, people, no pressure, yada yada, but I didn’t need that butter braid either and still bought one to help out a team member; she coulda done the same.

                4. Jules the 3rd*

                  I think any ‘pressure’ was the ‘social expectations’ kind, as OP says ‘this is what people do.’

                  OP: My employer doesn’t allow individual fundraisers. We still hunt down the Girl Scout parents because we want cookies, but it’s pretty covert. (No, that was not me in the parking lot getting a ‘delivery’, nope, nuh unh) So office fundraisers is not what ‘people’ do, it’s what your office allows. That means:
                  – You are never obligated to do a fundraiser
                  – You can casually check around your office on whether people actually *do* these, and whether not doing them would cost a little office kismet, but in a healthy, non-toxic office, not joining a kid’s fundraiser should be no big deal (nbd).
                  – The ‘not joining = nbd’ has to hold true both ways, tho, Alison’s totally right that you can’t lecture your co-worker on reciprocity.

                  In some offices people can ask, but if you are expected to participate that’s a yellow flag. Be wary of bees, and “we’re like a family”, and general dysfunction.

                  Congrats on getting your kids successfully to the ‘school fundraising’ stage. As someone who is 8 years into that, we just ask our kid what level of reward he wants and donate that amount, *or* we just donate the amount directly to the school / PTA, so that the school / PTA gets the full amount without the fundraiser rake-off.

                5. marvin the paranoid android*

                  I would also be annoyed if I were you, but I can’t see anything good coming from bringing it up. Maybe this is a good time to write a scathing letter where you can vent your anger and then ritually burn it.

                6. tamarack and fireweed*

                  You know, when I came to the US, I didn’t realize the Girl Scout cookie thing was a fundraiser. I just thought it was a nice custom to sell delicious cookies once a year :-) .

                7. tamarack and fireweed*

                  Also, took the “feel mildly pressured” from the strong negative feeling. You don’t hate fundraisers if you don’t feel there’s a degree of pressure to participate. (Ok, ok, except if they’re fundraiser for something hateful or whatever. Or, as I do in fact do, believe that charity is mostly a failure of government, and many things shouldn’t be fundraisers.)

        3. Pennyworth*

          I hate fundraisers with a passion. Especially ones where you are expected to pay more than you would in a store, ‘because fundraiser’. At my kids school they used a chocolate company for fundraising and we were expected to buy boxes of chocolate bars to on-sell chocolate at a ridiculous price. I asked how much of the money raised went to the school and how much went on buying the product. Turned out the school got about 30%, so I refused to take the box and made a donation for that amount direct to the school AND gave my kids money to buy chocolate from their friends who were desperately trying to sell. They were quite popular that year!

          As for the transactional ‘You support my kid and I’ll support yours’, why not just support your own kids and save all the drama. I don’t buy into the idea that it is good for kids to be encouraged to pressure family and friends into buying stuff they don’t want or need.

            1. Mare*

              Yes! I personally buy enough for my own kid to meet their goal and we’re done. No asking anyone else (other than grandparents!).

          1. Melly Melz*

            “Especially ones where you are expected to pay more than you would in a store”
            That’s how most fundraisers work. A retail markup would never be enough.

            1. Gumby*

              Right. Which is why I tend to never participate in those kind of fundraisers – the org gets so little money and the “fundraising company” pockets an outsized amount in many cases. I might be, however, happy to support a fundraiser where more of the funds go to the org especially if the kids perform some of the work – car wash, bake sale, even silly things like a cartwheeel-a-thon or the like.

          2. Birch*

            Yes, also totally agreed! It sets up a terrible dynamic where kids end up competing to raise money, using that time to beg for cash instead of maybe volunteering, and those kids whose families and neighbors have less ability to contribute never have the same chance to win prizes… and meanwhile these companies are profiting off schools. It’s gross. Just donate directly to the school if you can and want to and maybe bring up to the administration or parent-teacher association how outdated and problematic these fundraisers are. (Yes, this is fueled by the rage of teenage Birch who had to participate in an annual fundraiser where we literally spent a whole Saturday knocking on doors asking people for money for our wealthy! privileged! school and offering nothing in return. It was gross.)

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              Yeah, as the child of two introverts, there were very few people I could ask to sponsor me on school walks. Then my friend’s dad owned a pub, and she just went round asking all the regulars to sign up and she made tons of money.

              1. banoffee pie*

                Oh yeah my school used to expext us to go round random doors asking for money for sponsered walks etc!! I think it would be considered too dangerous these days. Some of the people we were asking for money got aggressive and swore. Good times.

              2. marvin the paranoid android*

                Yeah, the life lesson these fundraisers impart is probably not the one the schools intend, although I guess it’s illuminating in its way. I was like your friend, one of my parents had a public-facing job so I just brought my boxes of chocolates to the shop and they disappeared on their own. To this day my sales abilities are hovering around nonexistent.

            2. Roscoe*

              Also, the prizes the kids get are so cheap lol. Its like “Sell $100 and you get this jump rope”, and said Jump rope could be purchased at the dollar store anyway.

            3. Retired Prof*

              We did not do fundraisers when my kids were in school. Instead I made a generous donation at the beginning of the year, and I bought all my kid’s teachers a box of paper when they needed it (he had accommodations that required extra copies of things). Imagine my rage when I found out they made him sit in a classroom all day during school field day because he did not sell any wrapping paper.

          3. OverpricedPopcornUgh*

            OP here. I did say that I hate doing this stuff at the office but it really is common practice. It is also common practice to ask friends and family to support. Proceeds go toward the school and education in general needs all the funding it can get. Going forward, I am not asking colleagues ever again. I just feel… yucky after this.

            P.S. These better be the best damn cake rolls ever.

            1. Malarkey01*

              I will say this practice is really starting to change in the last 15 years I’ve been a parent (EXCEPT a for daycares and private clubs which daycares REALLY annoy me because you pay such a hefty tuition). Once you’re kid is in elementary, I’ve seen every parents association raise the issue that we’re asking people to spend $20 on crap and only see maybe $6 so let’s just ask if parents/grandparents would consider a donation of $10 to the science fund/field trip/art supply fund and call it a day. I’ve never seen people pull out wallets faster.

              1. NervousHoolelya*

                Yup. The HSA that I’m part of is using an “un-fundraiser” model that works exactly like this: “Instead of spending all day baking brownies for a bake sale, send us $10. Instead of harassing your family and friends to buy crap, send us $20. You can only spare $5? No worries, we can make really good use of that $5!”

                1. High Score!*

                  Yep, thanks to me being pushy, my son’s high school did this, they still do this years after he graduated bc it was immensely successful. News letters went out saying almost exactly what you wrote and everyone sent a little. Even people who couldn’t afford much sent a couple dollars and then raised more that way.

                2. Jax*

                  THANK YOU! I’m trying to plan a Fundraising Campaign for my daughter’s private school and will 100% include this idea. Off for an internet deep dive of clever examples!

                3. Texan In Exile*

                  My favorite fundraiser ever was a library fundraiser I saw that suggested that instead of attending a big event, people donate money and stay home and read.

                4. Guacamole Bob*

                  @Jax, I think every PTA type organization should include a “here’s about what we need to raise, if you want to just decide on your annual contribution and write a check now and be done with it and feel no guilt about future pitches, here’s how” option. At some schools that will work as the only approach and at some it won’t, but it’s a huge service to the parents who prefer that.

                5. Butterfly Counter*

                  I’m part of a volunteer group and we raise money for scholarships in a similar way. We hold a “Phantom Ball” where we tell people that there is a fancy fundraiser that they do NOT have to buy tickets for and attend. Just send the RSVP as “no” (and sometimes we include the boxes to check as to why they can’t, like “washing my hair that night,” or “already have plans”) and any donation they’d like for the scholarship fund.

                  No overhead but for the invitation letters. The donations all go 100% into the scholarship fund. And no one has to get dressed up and go out.

              2. Guacamole Bob*

                Yeah, I’m pretty happy our PTA puts on one fundraising drive a year (tied to a run/walk event on the school track). They’re clear it’s the only one, and what they hope they’ll raise. I divide that total by the number of kids in the school to figure out the per-kid donation average they’re aiming for, double it because we’re better off than some of the families at the school, and I’m done.

                1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  One of the things I like about the STEM charter my kids are at is they don’t do fundraisers – but there is one “walk-a-thon” a year to raise money for a local cause.
                  This year was the exception- the money went to schools in MS and LA to help rebuild and replace science equipment after hurricanes damaged the schools.

              3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                “pony up or we’ll foist outrageously expensive cupcakes and lemonade on you” haha!

              4. College Career Counselor*

                My spouse was part of a public school elementary school massive carnival carnival event billed as a fundraiser and found out after the fact that it was intentionally run as a “break-even event” because it was “fun for the kids” and “gave bored parents something to plan.”

                I would have happily donated money NOT to participate in a waste of time.

              5. Middle Manager*

                100% this. The one place I do feel obligation to support fundraisers are those for my nieces and nephews, not work. I was fairly scandalized when asked to donate for a fundraiser for their quite expensive daycare. I know the margins on daycares are tight, but I’m not even convinced their fundraiser was legal. They are a business, not a charity, my siblings pay A LOT of money to send their kids there. I way less begrudgingly support the public school ones.

            2. Lexie*

              OP, I deal with fundraising at my kids’ school. I have to ask are you sure he didn’t order anything? I ask because we have found that when people order online the “ seller” isn’t necessarily notified that they made a sale. This has caused issues because families haven’t known they needed to come to the school to pick stuff up or they do pick up the stuff they sold in person but don’t realize there is more under someone else’s name.
              Another issue could be that he was willing to purchase something until he looked at what you were selling. I know there have been times when I was hard pressed to find anything I was willing to spend money on.

            3. EPLawyer*

              It’s common practice because no one says “hey this is not the place for the kids’ fundraisers.” I mean I get it. I was a Girl Scout leader for many years. I can do the spiel about how the money is broken down in my sleep. But, I was also the kid whose dad REFUSED to take the order sheet to work. So I only got the lowest level prizes while the kid whose mom took it to work got all the cool stuff.

              This really hurts the kids whose families cannot afford to subsidize their kids’s prizes. It also does not teach the kid all kinds of skills they might need later as promised. It’s just a status symbol for some families and a PITA for others.

              1. Librarian of SHIELD*

                This is exactly the point I came here to make.

                I’m so glad my workplace doesn’t allow outside fundraisers.

              2. Maseca*

                Yep, I was that kid whose parent didn’t work an office job. So I had to do all the selling myself, while getting utterly outflanked by all the kids whose parents could just post the order sheet at work and rack up the cash nonstop/get their senior trip fully paid for/etc. As an introvert with a tiny, poor family in a very working-class/retiree neighborhood where no one had a ton of cash to spare on overpriced wrapping paper or tiny frozen pizzas or whatever… ugh. I am still pretty reluctant to buy from coworkers in these situations because I resented the unfairness so much.

            4. High Score!*

              And it will continue to be a common practice that everyone hates until more people push back and say no and push back more.
              Find raisers are NOT part of parenting and they are not part of a healthy society. But enforcing boundaries is. As a parent, the most important thing is to protect your child and self by enforcing boundaries.

              1. banoffee pie*

                Yeah people will feel pressured to donate, especially for kids, even if you say ‘no pressure’. Like if somebody asks me for something I have to get into an almost belligerent mood to say no. Naturally I’ll just say yes. I have to check myself and think ‘do I actually want to do this?’ If it’s a fiver it’s easier to just give, if it £100 or something, not so much!

              2. Ashley*

                I have to say selling Girl Scout cookies back in the day did some great teaching for me. I was also lucky to live in a neighborhood where we knew most of the people and it was safe to go door to door. Each year my parents did less to help me with the Girl Scouts and made me responsible for the deliveries and money.
                Because I do think it is good for kids to learn to ask for things that might be awkward I will always buy when a kid asks, but the kid has to do it.

                1. New But Not New*

                  I was a GS cookie mom (yes, always moms never dads and I worked full time) for exactly one year (my daughter was a GS for seven years) and it was the most unpaid work I have ever done. Furthermore, the council decided to hold our sale in January on Metro Chicago. Duh. I was disappointed to see how little of each box sold went to the troop itself. I also bought a lotta cookies, let me tell you, they freeze well.

                  In the fed, even GS cookie sales are prohibited as are all fundraisers other than the annual United Way campaign, where they strong-arm you to contribute.

                  Most folks I knew would buy at least a box or two, and yeah I looked askance at those who wouldn’t do even that (mostly they had no children). But I had no problem just contributing to other fund raisers as I hate selling anything, I would much rather just make a donation for my kid.

                  I just bought popcorn for an adult fund raiser, fifty percent went to the group. Yes it was overpriced but this was for a very dear friend. I would have donated the fifty dollars directly.

          4. High Score!*

            Speak up at schools too! When my kids were in school and I saw those stupid fundraisers, I went straight to the principal and said, “Instead of selling people all this over priced crap they don’t need or want and will only the crap companies, let’s just ask for donations!”
            Shockingly, that raised more money. We also got everyone to link their grocery and Amazon cards to the schools. Ask around, often stores have automatic donation programs and all you have to do is tell them which school or org you support.

            1. Lexie*

              I serve on the PTO at my kids’ school. Parents asked us to send out a letter asking for donations instead of selling stuff. We tried it and didn’t raise nearly enough money and still had to do 5 sales that year.

              1. Jax*

                There could be a couple reasons for that: 1.) The campaign didn’t include a compelling case of need, and people were easily able to forget the request. For example, “Every $25 donation replaces 2 books in our library!” vs “Please consider donating to X School.”

                Or, 2.) The well is dry. Parents can’t afford to donate any more, and the school needs to reach out to their alumni or community to find more donors.

                1. Lexie*

                  The parents were aware of what the money goes to.

                  It was the first fundraiser of the year so it’s unlikely people weren’t burnt out on donating.

                  It’s a public elementary school, not the type of organization that has alumni lists to solicit (also the school is relatively new so the alumni are under 40).

                  The school serves a small town and rural community so once the kids have hit up their family and friends they’ve pretty much hit everyone in our area who is willing to donate.

                  We made more money and had better participation selling stuff.

                  What I think happened is people wanted us to send out one of those funny letters saying that if they donated X amount they personally wouldn’t be asked to fundraise or volunteer for the rest of the year and that just wasn’t a guarantee we could make.

                2. Amy*

                  @Lexie – Who were the letters targeted to? The people you’d be selling to or the parents of children in the school? The way it works in many places is that the letter goes to the parents. If, for example, every parent donates $100 a year then we won’t need to do any fundraisers (since the margins are usually low and requires the parents to do a lot of work.) Not that the letters go to the colleauges or neighbors who bought the pies / mugs / glowsticks / junky wrapping paper.

                  I donated $300 this year so it was the equivalent of me and two other famillies who might not want to make a donation of that size. But I wouldn’t ask others for straight cash. Frankly for many PTAs, there’s not a high enough ROI or a valuable enough mission for many to want to donate. I’ll donate to my own kids’ school but otherwise my non-profit dollars are earmarked for organizations like Planned Parenthood, St. Judes or the Human Rights Campaign. I’m definitely not doing a straight PTA donation.

                3. Lexie*

                  @Amy, the letters went home with the kids and were directed towards their parents/guardians. I know some families opted to solicit donations from the people they would typically sell to but that was their choice,we didn’t direct them to do that.
                  It’s the same with our sales. The information goes home with the kids and they and their parents/guardians decide if they are going to participate and who they will sell to. We don’t have minimum sales numbers and don’t keep track of who sells what unless there’s a prize for highest seller involved.

              2. Malarkey01*

                FIVE sales a year? That’s a horrible fundraising strategy. How long did each one run? Parents must have felt like that year was one constant money grab and I’m sort of shocked the administration okayed that. I’m also surprised that parents unwilling to pay a little cash (which absolutely some can spare nothing) would be able to out raise that with the minuscule percentage on most products. We’d have to do over 3x the sales volume just to break even.

                1. Lexie*

                  They don’t run very long, typically a couple of weeks, maybe less. If we had made enough money to cover what we fund with the first one we wouldn’t have had the additional five fundraisers. The previous year we had an extremely successful one in February (it was the first of it’s kind in our area so people really got into it) and as a result we canceled the rest of the fundraisers we had been planning for the year.
                  We try to keep it as low pressure as possible and there are no mandatory minimums for sales.
                  As for the administration the principal has never had an issue with the fundraisers since I’ve been there because they know what the kids will lose out on if we don’t have the money. The only time we needed approval from above the principal was the first time we did that really successful one because it was very different than what we had done before.

              3. a thought*

                I think a cash ask has to be INSTEAD of a sale. If you do both, one cannibalizes the other. That said, everyone is different and it sounds like your people prefer to participate in a sale!

                1. Lexie*

                  When we asked for cash it was instead of a sale. But when we made less than 25% of what we needed for the year we had to do other things.

          5. Jack Straw from Wichita*

            ” I don’t buy into the idea that it is good for kids to be encouraged to pressure family and friends into buying stuff they don’t want or need.”

            And in this case (as most), it isn’t even the kids doing it. Part of the learning aspect of fundraisers used to be giving kids the experience of approaching adults, speaking, calculating orders, etc. which isn’t happening if mom or dad is doing all the selling.

            1. Olivia Mansfield*

              My husband and I hated the selling so much that we just bought the Boy Scout popcorn ourselves and gave it out as Christmas goodies to friends and family. Each boy had a minimum goal of $250 or $300 depending on the year, so we were spending that much money on popcorn each year and just considered it an annoying cost obligation of belonging to the club.

              1. Retired Prof*

                I have been the Popcorn Colonel (yes, they actually call it that) for the Cub Scout pack. With our entire house full of popcorn right before Xmas so there was no room for any Xmas stuff and the whole damn place smells like a carnival. *shudder* glad those days are over.

          6. Jean*

            When I was in high school, the extracurricular I was involved in had a notorious annual fundraiser that forced us to sell giant boxes of citrus fruit. No, I am not kidding. The football team sold chocolate bars, and the wrestling team sold Chick fil A biscuits and Krispy Kreme donuts in the gym before school, and the people in charge of my activity never seemed to understand how football and wrestling killed us in fundraising every year. NO ONE WANTS A FREAKING BUSHEL OF GRAPEFRUITS, FOR PETE’S SAKE. Yes, I’m still salty about this 25 years later.

            1. Momma Bear*

              Some of our local schools still do this for band. I have sometimes asked if I could just donate the $ because I liked the kid but don’t want 15 pounds of grapefruit.

              Also, the % that the org or school actually gets from most fundraisers is pittance. The last one I did for my kid had an option for a monetary donation through the company but it was only a 50% share so (sigh) I told friends to donate to the PTA directly instead.

            2. Oryx*

              You just unlocked a memory of mine from high school band. I had completely forgotten about the fruit fundraiser.

            3. Midwest Manager*

              For band/orchestra we did fresh holiday garlands and wreaths, which was always super popular. I had my boss from my HS job asking me about it every year, and then asked me to send another student her way after I graduated. I always did well enough on that one without really trying that my spring trip was covered every year. My parents never took the forms to work, because my siblings and I were all involved (close in age) and it was too much all at once.

          7. Jenna Webster*

            Exactly this – people try to make it about helping their kids, and put on the pressure, and then there is nothing you want and it all costs too much anyway. I wish these would just stay out of the workplace. And if they don’t, then people need to understand that they can’t get upset if people don’t participate. And you’re right that it’s usually not very profitable for anyone other than the company selling their items marked up 300% while passing very little along to the organizations.

          8. Quickbeam*

            One of the things I will not miss about the workplace as I retire is the constant lean for donations for kids’ activities. Pizza, wrapping paper, candy, cookies…..its so annoying. Also I’ve seen this broaden to help pay for kids’ hocky team equipment or Irish dancing lessons.

            My rule of thimb is that if I say no to everyone, I’ve been equitable.

          9. Potatoes gonna potate*

            I think that’s what my parents did, they didn’t want me going around door to door begging for money and they didn’t want to do that either. Except for that one time where I ate the whole box by myself, I’m not sure what happened with the rest of the candies.

            1. Mannequin*

              My mom felt exactly the same way about school fundraisers- it was unsafe for kids to go door to door, an imposition to expect parents to take them, and rude begging to ask people to buy expensive candy. I went to school before budget cuts made these fundraisers ubiquitous, but she was especially incensed that the school that expected us to do this was a private one they already paid a hefty tuition to! This was just one of the many reasons they put us back in public school. No more fundraisers until I was in middle school, when it was totally optional, and one in high school to raise extra funds for a specific class. Both times were candy.
              My dad was an electronics engineer in the aerospace industry, he took a box to work with a sign and they went pretty quick without pressure.
              And they were kind enough to bail out my best friend when she ate 1/2 her box- she was being raised by a poor single mom, hardly ever got candy, and couldn’t resist the temptation! Her mom would not have been able to afford to cover the cost, and would have beat the crap out of her to boot, she was terrified to to tell her.

              1. Mannequin*

                Oh, also my brother and I were in 1st & 2nd grade when the private school expected us to sell candy door to door, and even in my 50s I absolutely agree that 6-8 year olds are WAAAAAYYYY too young to do this.

          10. Jules the 3rd*

            Yep. This is what we do. Except for the band fundraiser, it’s not through a company and our kid *reaaaaally* loves the Tuba Toss.

          11. Caroline Bowman*

            This completely.

            Our school does a very icky thing where they send home a form with places to fill in as you hit certain monetary amounts (think $10, $20, $30 and so on), with a huge ”total” amount stated, indicating that really, that’s the amount that needs to be sponsored for whatever they’re doing.

            Under no circumstances would I ask anyone to donate money, to this kind of thing, so we decide what we’re happy to donate, and enclose that amount, with the form, in an envelope and that’s that. It may be substantially less than what they dreamed of, but too bad, so sad.

          12. Queen Anon*

            It’s too bad school programs can’t get the funding they need and have to resort to fundraising. When I was in high school, it was always the orchestra that did fund raisers – without them, not orchestra. 40 years later, it’s still the music programs that do fundraisers. The elementary and junior high band does one every year – it’s the only door to door one I’m aware of and even though it’s truly overpriced, if a band kid comes to my door, I’ll buy one product. (Usually food, always good, always costs way too much!). You don’t see the football and basketball teams doing fundraising money will always be found for them. Always.

            (Also, I’ll always buy Girl Scout cookies if I can find them – I loved when those order forms showed up in the office! But I’m not in the office anymore and at least the past 2 years they weren’t set up in front of the grocery store, so I haven’t had any GS cookies in 2 years.)

            1. Ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

              Exactly. Instead of fundraising on the backs of taxpayers whose taxes already pay for public school, why not put more of that tax money into the schools?

              It’s one thing to fundraise for a fun program or something for a specific group, like the band trip, or similar.

              But at my kids’ elementary there was:
              Scholastic books.
              Hot lunches.
              Daily milk or orange juice.
              The annual magazine fundraiser.
              Terry Fox run. (charity, not for the school but again, send money!)
              Skipping for Cameroon. (ditto)
              And then a random fun day / fundraiser / collection of goods in June where each grade was asked to bring in a specific thing.
              And we were also the “sister school” of a school in a poorer area and asked to help them out too.
              And the White Elephant Sale. Now this was a great way to for parents to get rid of stuff and kids went shopping for Xmas gifts for family but it just occurred to me I don’t remember where the proceeds went from that White Elephant Sale.

              AND this was on top of the annual “activity fee” that covered other stuff.

              I did sell magazines for the kids and bought Scholastic books. The rest? No budget at the time.

              1. Librarian of SHIELD*

                Your tax dollars *theoretically* pay for public school. But the amount of money budgeted to public schools in most states is nowhere near where it needs to be to cover all the school’s expenses. If you have a problem with public schools doing fundraisers, take it up with your state’s legislators and make sure schools are actually getting the funding they need.

          13. Not your typical admin*

            I’m another one who hates fundraisers. I hated doing them as a kid, and hate them even more as an adult. The only one we participate in is the winter showcase my girls’ dance studio does. The kids choreograph their own dances and there’s no overhead.

          14. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            I actually liked it when my kids’ school sent fundraiser catalogs home, because, each time they did, we’d sit down with the kids and go over the items and the prices, have them think about whether they had any use for the item if they’d bought it, what would a similar item normally cost in a store, etc. Then, after we were done and the kids agreed that they were being asked to buy or sell bogus overpriced items, we’d throw the fundraiser paperwork in the trash. A fun and educational activity! isn’t that what a school should be doing? /s. This helped my kids be more resistant to all the advertising that the preteen and teenage children are bombarded with, oh, everywhere they go.

          15. Anonymous pineapple*

            Yes to all of this. I would rather give $20 directly to the school than buy $20 worth of stuff I don’t want so the school can get $5.

            My kids’ elementary school doesn’t even sell anything. The PTA does a run/walk and asks parents to advertise it on social media to get sponsors for their kids. Of course the only sponsors are family members, which would be fine, except that they give the kids little prizes (keychains and fidget junk) based on how much money they raise (not distance walked or anything like that – they don’t commit to any distance). So the kids don’t actually do any fundraising (the parents are just told to register online and send links out in emails and Facebook posts) and get rewarded solely based whose family donates more. It irritates me so much. Just tell parents how much money you need and for what and we’ll all donate what we can/want to. Do the walk separately from the money just to encourage physical activity.

          16. Mannequin*

            Depends on the chocolate, though. I’ve seen them want kids to sell regular candy at overinflated prices and won’t buy into that, but if I’m walking into a store & a kid is selling those FANCY fundraising brand candy bars and I have cash on me I will buy one every time, because they are really good chocolate!

        4. Olivia Mansfield*

          Maybe he thought this person just wanted the stuff she bought at the time, and then she turned it around as a retroactive obligation on him. It would be nice if he bought something from her child, but springing an obligation on someone that they didn’t realize at the time that they were incurring isn’t cool.

        5. Rose*

          This is pressure he created himself. He can either accept that this is a (fairly dumb) quid pro quo and get into it, or make a vague excuse like “to be honest my family doesn’t really eat girls out cookies” or “we already get out cookies from my niece”, or just say no thanks and allow OP to opt out if they want to.

          Being livid is a strong reaction, but the coworker should not have agreed to this if he wasn’t comfortable, and any pressure on him was just a lesser version of the pressure he was putting on others already.

    1. JM60*

      That’s what I was thinking too! Also, I suspect that the coworker felt pressured to agree to donate when the OP told him that she “was happy to support his kids and would be grateful if he supported mine”.

      Though there are differences, this “I donated to your kid’s cause, now I think you should donate to mine” attitude reminds me of a now banned practice. Some businesses would mail their product to people who didn’t order them, then billed them later if they took possession of it.

      1. Don't Be Long Suffering*

        In my state, if someone sends you something you didn’t order, you are under no obligation to pay for it. It has your name and address on it, they cannot produce evidence that you ordered it, must be a gift.

        1. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

          This is actually federal law in the US. If it’s addressed to you, it’s yours even if you didn’t order it, and you do not have to pay for it. This is because there used to be a scam where companies would send people things unsolicited and then bill for them.

          1. Former Retail Lifer*

            I remember an old Married With Children episode where Marcy told the Bundys about this law. Buck, their dog, was somehow sent a credit card and they used it under the guise of that law.

            The only reason I know this is a law is because of that episode.

            1. PT*

              There’s an episode of The Simpsons where the dog gets a credit card, too. It’s made out to Santos L. Halper. Bart goes on a spending spree but doesn’t pay it back and everything gets reposessed.

        2. generic_username*

          This is the law now because of the practice that JM60 is talking about. There also used to be an issue with companies mailing unsolicited credit cards to people, which could then be stolen and maxed out by anyone because all you had to do was activate them. That is now also illegal (if you receive an unsolicited “credit card” in the mail, it’s just a fake piece of plastic that you then can apply for)

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I think this is more akin to free catsitting. Where if you catsit for your neighbor a couple of times, and then ask them to return the favor, and they explain that the “favor” is suddenly something you clearly did out of joy and the love of their wonderful cats. And the neighbor is So Busy and your cat is to be honest kinda basic in their view, now like Muffin–then you are annoyed that they violated the social contract.

        1. Caroline Bowman*

          But the OP specifically asked the co-worker if they’d reciprocate and they agreed. So it’s not really implied, more like they said yes and then didn’t follow through.

          I’d be annoyed but I’d chalk it up to experience and under no circumstances support that co-worker for anything similar again, just smile and say ” no thanks” or even just ignore the begging email.

        2. JM60*

          I think one important difference is that the coworker advertised the fundraiser by sending a generic email to the office at large, whereas asking someone to catsit is usually directly asking them *in particular*. I think if someone asks you in particular for a favor that you agree to, it’s much more reasonable to be a little peaved if/when they don’t reciprocate later.

      3. Dotty*

        I wondered that too, because I had something similar happen once. I dutifully purchased chocolates from a coworker’s child’s fundraiser, and was later politely confronted about not participating when I’d said I would. I did receive the items I ordered (by mail, from the supplier), so I’m not sure what happened – perhaps I did something incorrectly in the online ordering process that didn’t end up crediting the sale to the coworker’s child, or perhaps the coworker missed my name/order in whatever notifications she received, but I made a good faith effort to order from her and only got grief (and chocolate) as a result.

        1. Lexie*

          With our online fundraisers we have had situations where the “seller” isn’t notified they sold something, which can be an issue if it’s delivered to school with the intention of the seller picking it up and delivering it to the buyer.

          1. Dotty*

            Yeah, that’s the kind of thing I’ve had happen.
            My workplace doesn’t allow adults to do fundraisers for their kids anymore, because of the pressure and the drama. They allow kids to come do the rounds themselves, but they don’t let parents take orders or deliver products. I’ve found this such a relief, after being guilt-tripped for years by every parent supporting their kid in every activity. It was all too much for my budget, and now has been reduced to just the few boy scouts and girl scouts who come to the office and do their own work.

    2. Kella*

      Yeah the reciprocity angle is kind of irrelevant, but the fact that he said he would donate, didn’t, and never followed up again is kind of rude.

      I wonder though, is it possible he *did* donate by clicking the link and buying online and he just didn’t accompany that action with an email to the OP? I don’t know how the fundraiser in question works so maybe she’d be notified of the specific person who donated/bought something and he wasn’t on the list. The fact that it was online just made me wonder.

      1. Ashkela*

        It looked like it was for Girl Scouts or something else to actually purchase, so yes it would have shown if he did because something would have been either shipped to him or delivered by her depending on the circumstances.

      2. OverpricedPopcornUgh*

        OP here. No, I would have gotten an email notification if he purchased through the link. I also checked my dashboard set up through the fundraising company. Nope.

        1. High Score!*

          Yep, I don’t participate in funds raisers ever. I refuse to buy garbage. I just donate to the causes that I want to and ignore any pressure to do otherwise.

        2. Retired Prof*

          OP, I get your frustration but this really doesn’t seem like a hill to die on – or to sacrifice a good working relationship over. Chalk it up to not-enough-sleep brain, forgive and move on. And I see elsewhere you have foresworn fundraising at work, which seems like a good idea. Plenty of drama at work already what with the supply closet wars and coffee room skirmishes. And welcome to the not-so-wonderful world of underfunded schools trying to balance the budget on the backs of little girls selling wrapping paper. We who have been there feel your pain.

      3. Loulou*

        It’s a little rude, but OP also sounds pretty intense about this. Even if I had no intention of buying anything, I might be afraid to tell her so! I can see saying “thanks, I’ll pick out something from the website myself” just to politely end the conversation and then not doing it.

        1. Environmental Compliance*


          Fully agree. If someone agreed to purchase, and then went back… yeah, a tiny bit rude of them, but I could also see someone feeling pressured and not wanting to make waves, etc. etc. Roll your eyes if you need to and drop the issue.

          But OP comes off as taking this a little personally, which is a bit much, really. It’s a fundraiser for a *daycare*. This is neither worth the frustration or the workplace capital to do anything about a coworker not donating.

          To be quite honest, OP – if I were a third party coworker who heard about this…. I honestly don’t know if I’d support your fundraiser next time (and usually for Scouts/school stuff I’m happy to) simply because I wouldn’t want to go near that kind of drama with a 10 foot pole.

        2. Olivia Mansfield*

          Right?! Like, she pretty strongly implied a tit-for-tat obligation from where she bought from him a YEAR ago. He might have just frozen in the moment because she was pretty rude. Like she thought she had him cornered and obligated and now he needed to come through or things were going to get awkward — which they did!

          1. OverpricedPopcornUgh*

            OP here. Clearly you did not read my original post. In no way was I rude to him. If you reread, I asked Allison if my potential dialogue was necessary and we concluded it is not and that I will not follow through. (Maybe you misunderstood and thought my dialogue was what I actually said to him, which I did not?)

            I had him cornered? Obligated? From something a YEAR ago? What do you mean? I bought last year, and recently just now, and gently asked him to consider supporting my child. Please reread my original post before you frame me out to be awful.

            1. Loulou*

              For what it’s worth, the way you’re engaging with commenters here is coming off as a little hostile. There’s no reason to accuse Olivia of not reading your original post — more likely, she read it but had a different perspective on the situation. Which tends to be what people want out of advice columns!

              1. OverpricedPopcornUgh*

                She stated that I was rude to my coworker and cornered him, which was not true. The dialogue I had in my head would have been rude and cornering- we established, per Allison’s advice, that I would not go that route. That’s not the same as having a different perspective- it seemed like Olivia’s comment implied that those things ARE what happened.

                I appreciate and welcome all of the advice and have been thanking people. This is maybe the second instance in this entire thread where I felt the need to defend myself. Hardly hostile.

                It’s judgments like these that make OPs or commenters not want to engage, which is unfortunate.

                1. Loulou*

                  It just seems like you’re taking these comments more personally than they were intended. Like all Olivia said is that you MIGHT have been rude in this one interaction, and you say she’s “framing you to be awful.” Nobody is intending their comments to be judgements on you as a person!

                2. BuildMeUp*

                  @Loulou – The “might” qualifier is only on OP’s coworker’s actions, not OP’s – he might have frozen. Everything about the OP is phrased as if the OP definitely was rude and cornered him. It’s a pretty unfair assumption to make and I think the OP is right to feel offended.

                3. Working*

                  I’m not seeing any hostility, and it seems like some commenters are being weirdly harsh on the OP + making assumptions about things she didn’t even do/say.

                4. AngryOwl*

                  OP, fwiw I don’t think you sounded rude. Frustrated, yeah, but even in the letter you acknowledge that you might be coming at it wrong. And sleep deprivation is no joke. I hope it gets better!

              2. BuildMeUp*

                The comment the OP is replying to makes assumptions about the OP’s actions that have no basis in the letter and is worded pretty rudely.

            2. Jax*

              You’re not awful–not at all. You’re having a perfectly normal reaction to Kid Fundraising, trust me. It brings out the worst in all of us.

    3. Catherine*

      It sounds like OP thought that “I told him I was happy to support his kids and would be grateful if he supported mine as it was her first ever” implied they were agreeing on mutual support, and what OP is actually upset about is the subsequent perceived breach of the social contract.

      Based on the language OP uses here, I think she may have used a pretty light touch–“would be grateful if…” is a soft way to communicate expectations, so if she wants to try to strike explicit quid pro quo bargains about kids’ fundraisers in the future, she probably needs to be more direct about it.

      1. Willis*

        I also wonder how clear of a quid pro quo it was. Are both scout fundraising seasons at the same time? If OP explicitly said she’d buy some wrapping paper from co-worker’s son in exchange for a cookie order and he agreed, then yeah, it’s crappy of him to forget or purposely mislead her. But if she bought stuff from co-worker’s son and then a couple months later forwarded a cookie link with the note “I was happy to support Johnny, I’d be grateful if you got something from Cordelia,” then I don’t think he really has any obligation at all since he didn’t agree to it beforehand. But in either case, I think the OP needs to get over it and not bring it up. Just don’t buy from that guy’s son next time, if you don’t want to.

    4. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      This part is confusing me “but I’m a new mom and learning this is what people do.” Is it something to do with her very young baby that the OP is fundraising for? I’d have a problem participating in that, too.

      1. MsSolo (UK)*

        She might have recently become the mum of an older child – step parent or adopted.

        (though the childhood fundraising culture of the US is different to the UK, so it’s possible that nurseries are having parents do this sort of ‘make a lot of money for a for profit company in order to get a very tiny cut back for the organisation’ fundraising too)

      2. Catnip*

        She could have a slightly older kid as well (I think Girl Scouts starts around age 4-5) and is just still thinking of herself as a new mom because the kinds of situations she deals with as her oldest child ages are all new to her.

      3. OverpricedPopcornUgh*

        OP here. My daughter is 2.5, in daycare, and this is the first time her daycare has established a fundraiser.

        1. anonymous73*

          A fundraiser for daycare???? I think I’ve heard it all now. Not a dig against you, but WTF does a daycare need to raise money for?

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Operating costs, particularly if it’s a nonprofit daycare.

            I still get emails about upcoming fundraisers from my son’s co-op preschool, and he’s in college.

            To be clear: I could have opted out of the emails and probably will at some point. The only time we partook was to get an older set of silhouette portraits of our kids.

        2. High Score!*

          Fund raisers are NOT something that is part of being a parent. They are something that are pushed on to parents. You pay your daycare to take care of your child already. When you hire a plumber to fix your pipes and he says “hey now fund raise for me?”, Do you do it?? No, you’ve paid already, you’ve done your part, you’re the customer.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          Hi OP. My kids are in undergraduate and graduate school, so here is my accumulated wisdom:
          • Set a fundraiser policy and live by it, letting the rest go. Maybe you will buy one item under $15 from each close contact; maybe it’s one item per office parent per year; maybe it’s Just Saying No. Other people will be pursuing different policies, so try to let go of expectations and allow for some mismatches as different traditions bump up against each other.
          • Around 15-20 years ago the “just write a check and opt out of this year’s fundraisers” model became popular. I would much rather write a check for $100 that all goes to the PTO, than spend twice that much on stuff I don’t want. So try to advocate for that as it becomes an option.

          Also, it is okay if your daycare’s fundraiser has lackluster results: This is often presented by the relevant committee as “right now we are earning nothing from this, and if we tried it we would probably earn something.”

        4. EPLawyer*

          UGH. First thing first, you tell the daycare this is a terrible horrible idea. If they need funds, there are better ways to do it than selling overpriced crap. This doesn’t even have the benefit of the kids learning “skills” from selling. If they need to fundraise, a letter to parents or a carnival for the families or SOMETHING ELSE is much better than this.

          Second, I know daycare is really hard to find right now. If things every improve and your daycare continues this extremely annoying idea, consider switching daycares. Tell them why and make sure the new daycare doesn’t have this stupid policy.

        5. rl09*

          Doesn’t your daycare charge tuition?

          I’ve heard of public schools doing these fundraisers because they’re underfunded…but a daycare is a for-profit business. The concept of a daycare doing a “fundraiser” is really gross to me, and you should push back on that.

          (And maybe that’s why your coworker didn’t want to participate – he might have thought you were raising funds for a school or Scouts or something, but didn’t want to donate once he realized it would go to a for-profit business.)

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              Not to mention, daycares have to employ large numbers of people to stay within legal limits for caregiver to child ratios. Paying that number of employees means you either have to have astronomical tuition or get some of your funding from somewhere else.

                1. rl09*

                  Genuinely curious…but where??? I just had to find a daycare for my 7 month old, and literally nothing I could find was nonprofit? Maybe this is common in larger cities like NYC? I genuinely have never heard of a full-time daycare option that wasn’t for profit.

                2. Eldritch Office Worker*


                  This is a good starting point (though at 50 pages they are also interspersed with child advocacy organizations or other family-oriented resources so it’s a little bit to slog through). It’s not comprehensive and probably doesn’t include ones run by public schools, or local churches, or universities, or options under a certain capacity. But it also definitely depends on where you are. In the northeast I’ve always been aware of them.

              1. RagingADHD*

                In the US, there are eleventy squagillion daycares and part-time childcare programs run by churches and faith-based nonprofits.

                However, the licensing and rules for operating them vary from state to state so your state may have certain requirements that preclude them being run effectively (or at all) by nonprofits.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Not sure why? My kid went to for-profit daycares. There are a few nonprofits in the area, run by churches, but most of the daycares are businesses.

              1. rl09*

                I’m with you – I am genuinely baffled that so many people seem to think non-profit daycares are common? My kid is 7 months old, so the daycare research process was very recent to me, and there are no non-profits where I live. The only thing close to a non-profit daycare would be churches that offer a few hours per day of childcare for single moms, stay-at-home moms who need a break, etc. But that’s not full-time daycare, so it’s unlikely that LW is referring to one of those programs.

                1. Lexie*

                  With a non-profit it could be that you have to qualify to send your child there so it might not be something most parents come across when doing their daycare search.

              2. ErinWV*

                What about daycares run out of people’s homes? Licensed, and maybe an LLC or whatever, but definitely not franchised. Are these considered non-profits? They are certainly not established for raking in money.

                1. Not Allison*

                  I don’t know if this is a regional thing? But where I live, licensed home daycares do in fact operate as businesses and the purpose is to make money (by providing childcare). I sent my son to a home daycare that was an LLC and had one employee, the business owner, who watched three to five kids at a time. She wasn’t rolling in dough, but of course she did it to make money—it was her job!

                2. iliketoknit*

                  Those are businesses. Not sure what else they’d be established for. Being a non-profit isn’t about how much money you make.

                3. Lexie*

                  They may not turn much of a profit but that’s not what non-profit means. A non-profit exists for the purpose of providing a good or service. They are not owned by anyone and are run by a volunteer board of directors so that decisions are made in the best interest of the organization and the population they serve, not in the best interest of the board’s personal bank accounts. Some do have a CEO, COO, Executive Director, whatever you want to call them that handles the day to day operations of the organization but they are an employee like everyone else who works there and they answer to the board.

          1. Simply the best*

            You are really incorrect about your knowledge of daycares. Most are nonprofits. Just because you pay tuition, doesn’t mean it is not a non-profit. Early childhood education is one of the most underfunded industries in the US. That is my tuition prices are so high, but it’s still not enough. You think teachers at k through 12 are paid poorly? That is nothing compared to early childhood teachers.

            1. Not Allison*

              Non-profit doesn’t mean the teachers do or do not make a certain salary! It’s a specific tax designation. How much employees make has nothing to do with the designation of “nonprofit.” I agree with all other posters saying nonprofit daycares are extremely uncommon where they live. In my area, too, there are almost no nonprofit daycares. Incidentally, the only nonprofit daycare I put my son on the wait list for years ago, which is run by my employer, was by far the most expensive daycare I looked at.

        6. generic_username*

          Wow…. that’s something else. I associate most school fundraisers with raising money while also teaching kids about selling and accounting and such. This is just your daycare (who probably already charge a lot of money) making you do extra work (lol, not like your 2.5 year old can go around with an order form).

        7. Cobscookie*

          I find school fundraisers super-annoying–both when my kids are the sellers, and when I am the buyer from other peoples’ kids. But in each of those situations, the reason I support them at all is b/c the kids are at the center of the fundraiser, and tracking their own successes, and (in our case) they’re in an underfunded public school system. In this case, your 2.5 yr old daughter is not fundraising–you the adult are fundraising for (presumably) a private daycare. Which is fine, but if I were your officemate, that would feel like apples and oranges.

    5. Artemesia*

      It is hard to imagine things more quid pro quo than buying useless crap for kid fund raisers. Yeah — don’t expect your colleagues to buy your kid’s stuff if you are not going to reciprocate. Better yet — no kid fund raisers at work. In this case, the OP should close her own wallet to these things at work.

      Absolutely don’t make a fuss about it; no good will come of that and it will sour things at work.

    6. River Song*

      Especially since fundraisers vary so much! Yes, I will buy a $4 box of cookies or a $10 tin of popcorn, but if your kid is selling the $70 bedsheets or $15 wrapping paper? Nope, sorry. That’s out of my budget for those particular items. All fundraisers should be a no-pressure, no expectations, delightful surprise if someone decides to buy.

      1. Mannequin*

        Exactly this. I don’t care how much I love you or your kid, if I don’t want it/can’t use it, I’m not spending my money on it.

    7. Roscoe*

      If you are only doing something for someone so you have a chip to cash in from them later, you probably just shouldn’t do it in the first place.

      1. Colette*

        That’s kind of where I land. If you want to support a fundraiser, do so; if you’re going to resent the person because you bught from them but they didn’t buy from you, just say no. (And, if you bought this year but are unhappy that they didn’t buy from you, just say no next year.)

        Speaking as someone who runs a lot of fundraisers, I’d rather you say no than support us and be unhappy about it.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I think in practice a whole lot of social interactions are transactional and follow the “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” model.

        You can tell yourself that everyone in the office who bought your kids’ stale popcorn was just thrilled about stale popcorn, but that probably wasn’t it.

        1. Colette*

          You can buy fundraisers because you want to support the kid or the organization, even if you could get the product cheaper somewhere else.

          But if you’re only doing it because you want something specific in return, you’d better make sure the other person agrees to that.

        2. Roscoe*

          Sure, and I get that people may not really want the popcorn and are doing it to support the coworker/kid. But if they are only even supporting them so they’ll get a favor to be named later, that is where my problem lies

          I don’t have kids. But I have raised money for 5ks and stuff I’ve done. I can’t imagine keeping a tally of everyone I bought cookies from or something who didn’t donate to mine. It just seems a bit much.

          I think do unto others… is great in terms of treating people nicely, but it falls apart if you are only doing nice to others so they will do a similar nice thing for you later.

          1. Willis*

            I agree with this philosophy whole-heartedly. Donate if you would like to support the kid or the cause or just want some cookies but bother if you’re just doing it to tally who owes you something down the line. It’s kind of like gift-giving to me. If you want to bring a gift for someone’s bday, go ahead, but don’t expect it means anything is owed to you when you’re birthday come around. And if you can’t handle that, just don’t give the gift to begin with.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Actually I think this is the core of these transactions in work or neighborhood groups. With the exception of Girl Scout Thin Mints, I don’t want what you’re selling. I could get a version elsewhere, with more selection. The only reason to buy is to “support” this young person’s activity.

      You can have a strict “I only buy it if I need it” policy. But in that case don’t be surprised if everyone around you abruptly realizes they no longer are delighted to buy your kids’ fundraiser stuff. (Which is what OP should do: Don’t buy from this coworker again, because he has signaled he doesn’t want to be part of this transaction.) (Which is a weird one, but many aspects of normal life are weird if you try to break them down to logical optimization of resources standards.)

      1. High Score!*

        Other than thin mints (bc who can resist those?), I’ve ALWAYS had the policy that I’m not participating. I’ve even told neighbors, teachers, principals, etc, “You support your school or cause and I’ll support mine and there will be a lot more money for us and our causes and less for the over priced wasteful crap generating fund raiser companies. I’ve been right every time.
        As a bonus, anyone who cares about the environment will refuse the overpriced wrapping paper and candles.

    9. Stepped on a Lego*

      Regarding fundraisers, slightly side discussion – engrained in me from my childhood – I was a girl scout and my mom wouldn’t take the sales sheet to the office for me – I had to get in my uniform and take it myself after school and make the rounds. Same for in the neighborhood.
      Same for the current day. I won’t buy anything for your kids’ program. I politely say, I will buy from your kid (or just donate $), not from you. (And this is really hard for me, thin mints and the coconut caramel cookies, ugh!).
      Gets off soap box…

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Me, too. I will buy from a kid who asks me personally. Actually, I won’t even buy – I ask the kid how much money her group actually gets and then I donate 2X that amount. I want to support Girl Scouts and the schools but I don’t want more junk in my house.

      2. Mannequin*

        My mom was the opposite- she thought it was horrible that school fundraisers required grade school age children to go door to door selling things.

        To her, sending children around unaccompanied to knock on strangers doors was unsafe and just asking for trouble (not in a victim blaming way, but in a ‘how stupid do you have to be let your kids walk right up to the doors of potential molesters/killers’ way) , so they’d need to be accompanied by a parent, and this was an unacceptable imposition on parents (and children’s) personal time. Not to mention, she felt it was rude AF to knock on doors ‘begging’ your neighbors to buy overpriced crap out of a sense of guilt or obligation. Also, this was a school they already paid a hefty tuition for, so it pissed her off they expected this work from kids & parents.
        The letter announcing a blood drive was the final straw- she said she cracked up, thought ‘first you take all my money and now you want my blood too?’ and immediately made arrangements to put us back in public school, lol.

    10. RussianInTeaxs*

      Yes. As a person without kids, I have never once bought anything from a school fundraising. Just no.
      Except the GS cookies, I have a personal dealer.

      1. Mannequin*

        I buy World’s Finest chocolate bars anytime I see a kid selling them, but that’s because I think they are delicious.

        Where I used to live, a rehab/detox/sober living place for low income men used to set the guys up selling those candy bars in front of the mini mall postal service where I had a PO box and I bet they made BANK there…I know I bought one every time I had cash on me.

    11. WN*

      The kids fundraisers at work just turn into swapping the same money around anyway. If every parent who does this buys every other parent’s fundraising item (and the prices are similar), you get about the same result as if everybody just took what they are spending on everybody else’s fundraiser and spent it all on their own kid’s fundraiser (better yet, just make it an outright donation rather than buying the fundraiser item).

      1. Jax*

        Swapping the same money around the office…but the junk fundraiser distributer takes 70% of the funds, while the org will only receive 30%. While it feels like the same money is going back and forth, the entire office is really donating to the Wrapping Paper Company or the Cookie Manufacturer, and the org is thinking, “See? It works! We should do this again next year!”

        Donate directly. Each org would have 100% of the funds.

    12. kittymommy*

      Hmm, as someone who has no dog in this fight (unless my cats start a side business) I actually disagree. Listen, I find these damn fundraisers really, really annoying and I never buy anything because I actually don’t think that it should be brought into the office (maybe a flyer left in an unattended breakroom is okay), but if one is going around promoting your kid’s gift wrapping fundraiser then one should be willing to pony up some money when Dave comes in with his son’s cookie dough catalog.

      What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I can kind of see the point but after years of dealing with fundraisers, I also feel that they are not all equal. I might buy your kid’s candy but I can’t really blame anyone for not wanting my kid’s $20 popcorn or overpriced kitchen gadget. I don’t want to feel obligated to buy something that I will never use or eat. I know sometimes what the kid is asked to sell is trash. I don’t take it personally when no one wants it.

      2. abc*

        I couldn’t agree more with this.

        But also, the point of fundraising, at least when I was a kid, was to provide education opportunities for kids (customer service, math, sales, etc). Parents selling teaches kids nothing. I’m not inclined to purchase from a fundraiser unless the kid asks me themselves.

        1. Momma Bear*

          Girl Scout cookies are one thing but catalog fundraisers are zero about teaching kids how to be a good salesperson or anything remotely educational.

        2. Mannequin*

          My mom hated kid fundraisers because she thought it was unsafe to make kids go door to door, an imposition to expect parents to take them, and rude to beg your neighbors to spend money on overpriced candy. I grew up before they were ubiquitous, so parents hadn’t yet been conned into feeling like they were a necessary part of the school experience.

    13. Momma Bear*

      The way I look at school fundraisers is I buy if I want to and don’t pressure anyone else to buy. They are a racket. I would much rather make a direct donation to the PTA than to buy some weird kitchen gadget no one needs or yet another roll of paper. My kids were selling the same things their cousins were the next town over and both families just agreed to not bother each other.

      It was nice of OP to buy, but if the coworker doesn’t have the money (and maybe doesn’t want to tell OP that) or doesn’t see anything they want, then they shouldn’t be obligated. You can ask but not demand. Please, OP, let this go. If you do anything at work, mention it ONCE, leave the paper in the break room for a few days, and then just accept what you get.

    14. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      With this as my screen name I obviously can’t be in favor of banning fund-raisers, but I would advocate for a complete no-pressure policy. I will buy stuff if it’s for an organization I support if I happen to have extra money, but both of those things have to be true AND are none of my colleagues’ business.

  2. WS*

    I have a friend who wears an insulin pump (they don’t all set off metal detectors, but hers does) and she handles it exactly as suggested here. She sometimes also jokes, “Just call me the Bionic Woman” or “the Wolverine” or “Iron Man”. Very occasionally, a particularly nosy person asks further, and that’s when the “I don’t like to discuss medical stuff at work” comes out. But it became normal at work very quickly, to the point that her office mate knows to start the kettle if she spots her switching things on and off in the entryway, because she’ll be up to the office just as it boils.

    1. The OTHER other*

      I’m curious whether people getting implants get some sort of identification or proof they can show, with security being as widespread as it is.

      1. WS*

        Back in the days of flying, she had a doctor’s letter and the specifications of the device to carry with her.

      2. Ina Lummick*

        I know my granma had some bar codes to scan for her knee implants but as she never went abroad afterwards (they never really helped) it was a bit of a moot point.

        1. Empress Matilda*

          I keep picturing the security guards with a handheld bar code reader, scanning your grandmother’s knees. I’m sure this is not actually what happened, but the mental image is making me giggle!

      3. LemonLyman*

        I had both hips replaced in my mid-30s (I’m now 41) and do not have a card or anything. I always warn them ahead of time. But I set most of them off so when I go through airport security I just resign myself to the fact that I’ll most likely get wanded and have the weird pat down they give to people they assume are woman.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          My old cousin used to carry an official (think it was) note from his RAF days explaining why he had more metal in his body than I do in my Honda.

          1. Former_Employee*

            Thanks for the laugh.

            I don’t know why, but I immediately got a picture of David Niven playing your cousin who had been in the RAF.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              That’s…actually pretty accurate to how he looked! He sadly passed away a few years back but definately could have pulled off a great David Niven in Casino Royale (the old film) impression.

        2. the cat's ass*

          How things change…I work in ortho and before 9/11 nothing implanted set off the scanners with the exception of the occasional pacemaker, and people DEFINITELY had and have a card for that. Now with everything fine-tuned, all metal seems to be a thing, including the metal support strut in my Dansko shoes and sandals and my hearing aids.

          1. Anon for this*

            My bra sets off the metal detectors at all courthouses. I’m not alone. Many of us female colleagues shrug at each other as we get a perfunctory wanding.

          2. Hillary*

            I kind of enjoy it – it’s fun to see which metal detectors the same shoes set off. Different airports definitely have different calibrations. I spent a lot of time in airports in the before times and probably will again soon. My favorite thing was always the look on the TSA agent’s face when my composite safety shoes didn’t set off the metal detector.

          3. Retired Prof*

            My ankle brace apparently has the chemical signature of plastic explosives, so it sets off the puffer machine at the airport. After the time they threatened to strip search me (after I was directed there to prevent the brace from setting off the metal detector!) I learned to shed all the braces and limp through security – though I have to wait for my stuff at X-ray as they try to figure out what all the weird metal things in my bin are.

      4. PollyQ*

        My mother has a couple different metal joints, and she hasn’t run into any issues while traveling. It may be because the full-body scanners actually show the implants, rather than just beeping the way an old-school metal detector would.

        1. TimesChange*

          My mom usually gets a pulled aside wanding and pat down. She tries to tell them ahead of time but it doesn’t seem to matter, they sort of hand wave and have her pointlessly go through the machine to pull her aside. When she doesn’t tell them, they tend to get grumpy. It’s been really variable for her.

          1. Momma Bear*

            I had an acquaintance who once literally took off her leg to deal with an aggravating TSA person who treated her terribly trying to get through security. They were also not happy about the scissors she needed for her bandages. If I were OP, I’d reach out to the head of security or HR and ask if there’s any kind of side security thing available or a kind of “fast pass” given their documentable medical needs. Other than that I’d just be matter-of-fact about it. There are so many medical devices these days.

            That said, security can be variable. I no longer wear a particular dress when I have to go through a body scanner b/c something about it looks suspicious. Not a fan of the thorough pat down over a dress.

        2. generic_username*

          My husband has a metal rod through his leg and it never sets off the machines at the airport normally, but we flew to a small island nation for a vacation and it set it off then. The security guards kept demanding paperwork documenting the surgery/injury (which my husband certainly didn’t have on him) and I was a bit scared they weren’t going to let him through, but they eventually just patted him down and let him go.

        3. clairendipity*

          My husband has been stopped multiple times for additional screening after the full body scan because he’s so thin his collarbones read as an anomaly.

      5. Sopranohannah*

        I also have an insulin pump and have to go through metal detectors to get to work. I did have to get a doctor’s note at this particular place.

      6. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        After I had a heart valve replaced, I was given a laminated card with full info about it that I’ve kept in my purse ever since. I have never needed to use the card (and the implant hasn’t set off any metal detectors, so far, thank God), but it’s nice to have, just in case.

      7. Jay*

        I have a knee replacement which worked so well that the first time I flew after the surgery I completely forgot about it. I set off the metal detector and had nothing on my body or in my pockets. Finally they asked if I had an artificial joints and the light dawned. I do have a card but TSA has never asked to see it – I tell them I have a new knee, they wave me into the full-body scanner, and then I get patted down because it flags my groin and upper back. That’s what happens when you lose 200 lbs and don’t have plastic surgery. I’m totally OK with that.

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          (I wouldn’t be TBH. It seems a lot of surveillance for questionable gain in security.)

      8. DAMitsDevon*

        I have a pacemaker, and a few days after the surgery, I got a card in the mail that I can bring with me to provide proof that I have an implant. I’ve learned over the past few months that it sets off some metal detectors, but not all of them.

      9. ErinWV*

        My grandma got a hip replacement around the year 2000 and went abroad a couple years after. The doctor’s office gave her a little photo of the x-ray of her metal hip to show at metal detectors.

        1. Matt*

          Yeah, I broke my ankle several years ago, and have a nice collection of what the Physician’s Assistant assured me was titanium that shouldn’t set off a detector. I never did get a note from them, but I do have access to my x-rays on my phone if it came to that.

          Of course, I had to fly on same-day notice for a family emergency the other month, and I went through the “fancy” machines (x-ray backscatter? I don’t recall), and got fussed at for still having my handkerchief in my pants pocket (of all damn things), and nothing about my ankle. But no metal detectors, so I dunno…

      10. Metadata minion*

        Often yes — I have a medical ID for my pacemaker so I can show it to doctors, and an extra TSA-friendly “no, this patient does not have a bomb in their shoulder, please stop waving magnets at it” card.

      11. lailaaaaah*

        My aunt had multiple implants in her hips and feet after a car crash, and did not have any form of proof; we just kind of accepted she’d get held up at airport security + someone would go order her a coffee for when she got through (though this was in Europe, where airport security is a tiny bit less stringent than the US type).

    2. allathian*

      Yes, this. It’s probable, though, that the LW will need to be more specific with security. After 9/11, my uncle who had lots of metal keeping his bones together following multiple sports-related accidents in his youth always carried an X-ray on him when he traveled. It got him faster through airport security than anything else, and he traveled a lot for work.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I have never been outside the British Isles but if I were to have to fly somewhere abroad I wonder if I should take along the xrays and MRI scans of my spine? (Okay, maybe not the MRI. That’s…really graphic on the damage I had)

        1. UKDancer*

          I don’t think you need to take the xrays and MRI. I traveled with a colleague in a previously company at one point who had a lot of metal bits and he had a letter from his GP explaining what he’d got. I don’t think he regularly needed it (or not when I was with him) but he found it helpful to have in case of queries.

      2. Allonge*

        The ‘more specific with security’ is what I would expect too – in our building, you would absolutely have to specify to security what is happening.

        Most likely the details of the health situation do not matter, but if something interferes with normal procedures, that needs to be on file (so that e.g. security don’t insist you go through the gate).

        1. Person from the Resume*

          The LW has been getting through security fine. Security isn’t what the question is about.

    3. Xenia*

      A family friend of ours got a hip replacement one year and their christmas letter started with “So you should call me Bionic Gregory now”

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          They are! Any artificial body parts are. They do not need to be electronic and they sure don’t have to make you into a superhero.

      1. raktajino*

        When I was teaching 2nd grade, the art teacher had her hip replaced. We had the class write her get-well letters, inspired by the prompt “all the things you can do now with your new hip.”

        Most of the letters were along the lines of “take your dog hiking” or “play soccer with me.” A few seemed to think she’d become Superman: Leap a skyscraper! Jump and catch a plane!

    4. Person from the Resume*

      The LW didn’t say that she sets off the metal detector. Maybe she does but that’s not what she mentioned.

      She says she must turn off/on the device, there’s obvious beeping, and a bit of time.

      So a medical letter isn’t needed. Just an explanation if someone asks. Alison’s answer is good. I’d probably assume an insulin pump but I hope I wouldn’t mention that ir be noisy further.

    5. NYanon*

      I think colleagues may not notice this as much as OP2 thinks they will. With all the digital watches, phones and other devices we all carry, beeping is not that weird.

      I do sympathize because I had breast cancer in my 30s and there was a period in between my mastectomy and my reconstruction surgery when I had a temporary implant called a tissue expander, and it had metal on it. They gave me a card to show at security. The only time I had to go through any security during that time was a meeting I attended at the US Capitol with colleagues. I was so self conscious about it (even though my colleagues knew about my condition and wouldn’t have really batted an eye knowing about the implant) but no one even noticed me talking quietly with the security guard about it, and the guard himself was very blase about it, didn’t even care what my device was and didn’t ask to see the card (and it didn’t end up setting off the metal detector).

      I think being low-key about it will be best and Alison’s answers will work well for anyone who happens to notice–but I do think there’s a good chance most people won’t notice. They will be busy sorting out their own stuff for the metal detector.

      1. NYanon*

        Oops, I mean OP5.

        Must have been a subconscious slip because I was also fascinated by OP2 and her dream! As a consultant who charges by the hour I’d be tempted… maybe not to charge for 2 whole hours but definitely round up a bit on one part of the bill, perhaps!

        1. Anon Mouse*

          Personally I’m actually lost about why OP2 can’t charge for “research into client problem” or “brainstorming session” or “preparing pitch for Monday.” OP said it’s normal to work on weekends, right? So how would a charge like that even bat anyone’s eyes?

    6. EmbracesTrees*

      >her office mate knows to start the kettle if she spots her switching things on and off in the entryway, because she’ll be up to the office just as it boils.

      This is delightful! You just get so used to seeing posts about people being difficult — this simple act of thoughtfulness is making me happy! (I think I’ll get off line now while I’m ahead! =))

  3. Viki*

    LW 1,

    Do you want to be the person in the office who gets upset when you don’t donate to their kid’s fundraiser? Because that’s what sending that email will make you known as.

    If someone at my office is selling their kid’s chocolate or whatever, and I have cash at the time I’ll buy it. Otherwise I’ll say “tomorrow” forget about it and not buy anything the next day because I don’t have cash.

    The guy who told me I could etransfer him, raised my eyebrow and I did tell a few coworkers who avoided that guy.

    This is one of those things you let go of. Or right the school the cheque for the chocolate and give it as presents—which is what I do.

    1. AS87*

      That’s for sure. I don’t mind buying some chocolate or cookies occasionally but if someone acted like LW around me, I certainly wouldn’t feel like helping out anymore.

      1. OverpricedPopcornUgh*

        OP here. I did not “act” in any way. We have established that I will not be confronting my coworker about this issue.

        1. Rose*

          Good for you OP. These comments have gotten weirdly harsh. You’ve wisely decided to not send an email you drafted while angry, and your coworker was the one that brought this into a workplace, and then acted very annoyingly.

          1. KittyCardigans*

            Agreed! OverpricedPopcorn, you haven’t done anything wrong! I think people are taking out their dislike of fundraisers on you.

    2. Laure*

      Sure, but the case seems a little different here, if she actually negotiated a qui pro quo, that the guy understood it was one (that may be the salient point, that he didn’t understand it was a clear deal) and that he did not do it anyway.
      But I agree with the conclusion anyway, she should not say anything. It’s also not worth it to bear a grudge, there is a good chance that the guy forgot. Just don’t buy anything from him next year!

      1. Laure*

        Actually, I reread the letter, and now I wonder if there was a qui pro quo, or if the LW sent the mail AFTER she contributed to the guy’s fund-raiser, saying, I contributed to yours, now I consider you should contribute to mine… In short, I wonder if that the guy never agreed to the deal, that she just said, “I contributed, your turn.”
        Because in this case yeah, he might feel pressured and pissed off that the OP transformed her generous act in an obligation without him accepting that it was “a deal.”
        In this case maybe he was slightly offended… I would be too, I guess.

        1. OverpricedPopcornUgh*

          OP here. I am not familiar with what a quid pro quo is. I did not think of it as a deal or obligation in my mind, simply common human courtesy, taking work out of the equation. However, after mulling it over, I am going to follow Allison’s advice and not say anything and just not do any of this next year.

          FWIW, my wording to him was that I was happy to support his children. I did not use the word “if”, and I did say, “no pressure, but feel free to also contribute to ToddlerSassyPants’s fundraiser and check out these delicious baked goods.” In my mind, he could have easily ignored the email and I would have gotten the message. But the fact that he said he’d be happy to, IMO, is on him.

          My (internal) reaction is on me, I get it. I am offended because it is rude human behavior. I get I need to let it go.

          1. Shirley Keeldar*

            One of the things I noticed when I became a mom is that a lot of those visceral “UNFAIR!” feelings from childhood just came surging right back, except now they were centered around my kid rather than me. If somebody did something to my kid that felt unfair, boy did my adrenalin shoot up. It’s great to do what you did here, OP—take a step back, check in with somebody. (Also, sleep deprivation is awful and ramps all the emotions right up, too.) So I can understand how you were feeling, and yes, letting it go is best.

            1. 2 Cents*

              OP, I hear you on the sleep deprivation. My kid is 3.5 and has yet to sleep more than 7 hours straight. I.am.tired. Sometimes it messes with my perception. Also, to Shirley Keeldar’s point above, I find that stuff that bothered me as a kid is amplified 1000x when it affects my kid. I’d be like a duck and let this slide off my back (but I might reconsider buying overpriced anything in the future).

              1. Shirley Keeldar*

                I really do believe that none of us actually grows up, emotionally speaking. We learn to control our reactions, we learn which emotions should be acted on and which should not (at least I hope we do), but deep down inside, we’re all toddlers wailing because somebody else’s cookie has more chocolate chips.

          2. Roscoe*

            I mean, I think you are taking this WAY too personally. IMO, its not “rude human behavior”. You said feel free to contribute. And in the moment, he said he’d be happy to. Maybe he meant it. But I think it is more rude for you to directly try to pressure him later and say “Well I bought from you”.

            1. Loulou*

              +1. I feel like OP feels validated by Alison agreeing this was rude, but Alison was only saying this based on OP’s initial description, which now doesn’t sound that accurate.

                1. Loulou*

                  It sounds like you didn’t explicitly agree that you would support his kid’s fundraiser IF he supported yours, but now that agreement exists in your head and you’re mad that he didn’t stick to it.

                2. tamarack and fireweed*

                  You appear to have interpreted something as a commitment when the coworker heard your “no pressure” and didn’t feel bound.

                  It’s quite possible that both of you have legitimate grounds for thinking of the other as mildly rude (“They said they would be happy to, but didn’t contribute?!” “They seriously send me reminders about something that they presented as a no-pressure thing?!”) These just sound like pretty common failures of busy humans to me, and they have no actual repercussions on anything. Neither you nor your kid nor your co-worker nor their kid is missing out on anything.

            2. OverpricedPopcornUgh*

              OP here. We have established this. I am not going to react or engage further about this at work. Thank you.

            3. JB (not in Houston)*

              Eh, if somebody voluntarily told me they’d be happy to do something and then didn’t, I’d be miffed about it. I wouldn’t go overboard with it and start telling people he’s unreliable or anything like that, but it doesn’t seem like the OP has any intention of causing drama over it. It’s ok (and imo understandable) to be irked as long as she doesn’t let it get out of hand, which, from her comments, she’s not going to do.

            4. generic_username*

              I mean, she isn’t wrong that it’s rude to say you’ll do something and then not. Also, it sounds like she asked him to contribute in an email so he didn’t have to respond that it would to be less awkward (as was suggested above); he could have simply ignored the email and pretended to have not seen it/to have forgotten about it. My guess is that he did simply forget – I’ve done that before with an email fundraiser like that. I couldn’t decide what I wanted and decided to ask my boyfriend if he had a preference and then promptly forgot entirely about it

            5. Mannequin*

              Agreed. OP state’s that it’s “simply common human courtesy” but I hope from the responses that she can now see that, aside from an EXPLICIT agreement to reciprocate the fundraiser buying, most people do not regard this as being part of any implicit social contra or if they do, it’s a very minor faux pas.

              OP is also overlooking the fact that answering yes to “buy my kids expensive fundraising crap” and then “forgetting” is totally a socially acceptable way of giving a soft no to a low stakes ask that people would rather just avoid conflict on.

          3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I am not familiar with what a quid pro quo is.

            I get to pretend to be useful for 5 minutes! Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase that roughly translates to “this for that.” It describes barter, but it’s usually used in a less-than-fully-honest context. Cf. one hand washes the other.

          4. Mockingjay*

            As the parent of now-grown children, I can tell you that donor fatigue for kids’ fundraisers is reached far more quickly than other fundraisers. Because there are SO MANY OF THE DARN EVENTS. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, field trips, booster club, neighborhood club, kid charity this, kid medical charity that…all worthwhile, but I’m not a billionaire philanthropist with bundles to spare to support them all.

            Your coworkers are a captive audience. They may not support your child’s charity this go-round because they have another one you don’t know about or they have to get the brakes replaced. The reason doesn’t matter. It’s not your money to spend.

            Do what most other people do. Post the flyer in the breakroom or on the company website with details on how to order and pay with an end date. If people want to sign up, great. If not, great. There will be another event.

            1. the cat's ass*

              My officemates are extraordinarly good about this-many of us have more than one fundraiser and we have all decided to contribute to ONE fundraiser per person, eg, my kid has wreath sales, nuts/mag/candy sales and cookie sales but i only inflict the cookie sales on my office, and that works out well. My office mate has popcorn and pies sales, and i get the pies. Only 3 more years and I’m out of sales but will still contribute to my office mate’s kids stuff.

          5. anonymous73*

            Your internal reaction though is based on thinking that he neglected to buy something from your child on purpose, and you’re taking it personally. It’s not necessarily rude human behavior. If you’re sending emails and reminders through work email, it’s entirely possible that it got lost in the shuffle of his actual work.

          6. generic_username*

            quid pro quo = “you help me and I’ll help you,” essentially it’s doing each other mutually beneficial favors

            And I get why you’re upset! I’d be too. Boy Scout popcorn IS overpriced and kind of meh.

          7. Empress Matilda*

            OP, I’m on your side here – I’d be annoyed too. Maybe not quite as annoyed as you were, but I would definitely do some grumbling about it! Of course he’s not obligated to buy anything from you, but it would have been kind of him if he could. Both of those things can be true at the same time – we can recognize the logical “rightness” of a situation and also feel really mad about it. You did the right thing by stepping back and asking for advice.

            Also, I hope the monsters under the bed find a new home soon, and you can all get some sleep!

      2. Loulou*

        I think the quid pro quo mostly existed in OP’s mind. From other comments, it really sounds like she bought from this coworker, and separately said “also, my kid is doing a fundraiser, want to buy something?”

    3. Peachtree*

      Wait, why does e-transfer raise eyebrows? Here in the UK it’s pretty common to send cash for fundraisers, collections for leaving parties etc by Monzo or another online bank system. Surely it just gives you more options to pay as people are less likely to carry cash?

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes, I don’t think a one-off mention that you can pay by e-transfer is eye-brow raising.

        It may be that you saying you don’t have cash was intended as a brush-off because you don’t want to buy, but it’s not unreasonable for the persona hearing it to think you actually mean you don’t have cash, but would like to buy/donate in which case offering the alternative is totally reasonable.

      2. Artemesia*

        Because the person told you ‘No’. I am not going to buy this and you (the person in question) then kept pushing. ‘I don’t have any cash’ is not about cash; it is about saying no. If she wanted to buy the junk or make the donation she would have suggested ‘oh I can venmo you’ — she didn’t and so it was just a way of saying ‘no’.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Oh, that’s not actually obvious– I have often said “I don’t have any cash on me” meaning literally that I don’t have any cash but would like to know if I can pay you on Paypal or whatever! That’s definitely not a universal soft-no.

          1. mreasy*

            Yeah I usually don’t carry cash – I think given the ease of venmo and similar apps that excuse isn’t as regularly taken as a “no” as in the past. But you can always say “oh I don’t have venmo” as many people don’t for security fears.

          2. Loulou*

            I guess I would say “I dont have cash — but do you have PayPal?” if I didn’t mean it as an excuse. Saying just “I don’t have cash” comes off as a “no” to me.

          3. Lenora Rose*

            I’d make the “but is there another way to pay?” part explicit.

            I suspect this is like the difference between “Sorry, I’m busy tomorrow.” and “Sorry, I’m busy tomorrow, how’s Thursday?”

            The first is a soft no. The second is a “I genuinely am busy tomorrow, but interested.”

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          There are lots of times I want to donate to something but I genuinely never carry cash. If someone says “no I don’t want to donate” then offering another method is pushy. If they say “I can’t because I don’t have cash,” then letting them know alternatives exist is a perfectly reasonable followup. It’s not their fault you were being cagey and not offering a direct “no.” Just because it was a soft “no” for you doesn’t mean it isn’t just a barrier for someone else who would like to donate but genuinely needs to know there are other options.

          1. Mannequin*

            Exactly. There have been MULTIPLE times I’ve wanted to buy a fancy chocolate bar from a kid selling them in front of a store, and couldn’t even REMEMBER if I had cash in my wallet. Sometimes when I haven’t, I’ll get the cash from the store I’m at & buy it on my way out, lol!
            I really do like those Worlds Finest bars so if those kids take Venmo now, I am all set!

      3. Media Monkey*

        i think in the UK we are several steps closer to cashless than they are in the US. especially with the pandemic way more people use contactless chip payments for small amounts and rarely/ never carry cash on them.

        1. Linda*

          Cashless payments are also very popular in the US. Just because one commenter says that they are not familiar with it doesn’t mean that their experience is representative of the entire country.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Media Monkey didn’t say the US doesn’t have it — just that the UK is further along towards going cashless. Which is true. Not long pre-pandemic, an organization I belong to had to scramble to write new rules for attendees from outside the US. All we were set up to take was cash and check, and people wanted to make reservations without checking accounts.

            1. Cal bear*

              I work in the cashless tech industry and the data that I’ve seen indicates that both countries are on a similar pace towards cashlessness. There are differences in the preferred method of cashless payments and the reasons why some people prefer to stick to cash, but I wouldn’t say that the UK is “further along.”

              1. TechWorker*

                I cannot remember coming across anywhere in the U.K. that doesn’t use chip and pin since I’ve been responsible for paying for things for myself (so ~13 years). In the US (San Fran/San Jose areas) a couple years back I was bemused at constantly having to sign to use my card and this being ‘normal’ – so maybe cashless is just a totally separate axis but my experience was certainly that the US was further behind there at least. (And now I rarely use my pin as applepay is less hassle…)

        2. Birch*

          That reeeeeeally depends on the area, for both countries. According to some statistics, UK and europeans are more likely to use contactless payment but americans use more payment apps and mobile pay options. I also have to laugh whenever I hear that the UK is so cashless… lived in the greater London metro area for 3 years fairly recently (pre-Covid) and still always carried cash for cafes, takeaways and shops that either didn’t ever accept plastic or had such bad machines that you’d have to pay in cash anyway more often than not. Buses still took exact coinage, needed coins to get a locker at the gym. Was laughed out of the bank for asking for a chequebook but had a landlord insist on getting the rent in cash. Cashless living is great if you can, but a lot of UK society does not function that way even now.

          1. londonedit*

            Buses haven’t taken cash in at least five years. It’s all Oyster or contactless cards. You can still buy a paper ticket at the tube station but hardly anyone does. Cashless has definitely been accelerated by Covid but I can’t think of one business on my local high street or beyond that doesn’t take cards, and I can’t remember ever paying my rent by cheque or cash (and I’ve been renting since 2001).

            1. UKDancer*

              Definitely. Covid has accelerated it but everywhere takes contactless nowadays on my high street and some places don’t take cash if they can avoid it (e.g. I went to Cote (chain restaurant) for dinner and they had a sign saying card only). Even the local monthly market takes card payments. I tend to take out a small amount of money to tip my cleaner and hairdresser and those are the only cash payments I’m likely to make. I pay for my car parking space with a cheque but that’s the only one I write.

            2. Shad*

              I know in the US, it’s fairly common for small shops to have card minimums (both game shops I go to do); is that the case in the UK as well? That’s one of the bigger delays in going cashless in my experience.

              1. londonedit*

                Years ago that was the case (you’d have a £5 minimum in smaller shops because the admin fees weren’t worth it to process smaller transactions) but again that’s something that’s disappeared now – and on the other side of the coin the contactless limit has just gone up to £100 per transaction (from £45) which is an indicator of how common contactless payments have become.

              2. Media Monkey*

                not any more – i literally only use cash to tip my hairdresser. even market stalls and small shops take contactless now that the readers are so cheap!

        3. generic_username*

          Lol, last time I was in the UK in 2019, the friend I was visiting had to pay all of our cab fares because I didn’t get cash out and they prefer it. So idk if that’s true considering I haven’t had to use cash in the US for years – if anyone gives me cash it sits in my wallet for ages.

          I think it raised eyebrows because “I don’t have cash” is normally a great way to get out of buying something for a fundraiser when you think it’ll be impolite to say “no.” I still remember having someone ask me for a donation and saying “I don’t have cash” despite having plenty of cash in my wallet, then being somewhat dismayed when he pulled a credit card reader out of his pocket.

          1. TechWorker*

            Cabs do seem to be the last category of thing that does not take card… and even then many of them do so I’ve been caught out before by assuming and then having to stop the taxi to get cash out to actually pay.

      4. Roscoe*

        I was wondering that too. If someone was fundraising and said “you can venmo me” I’d have no problem with that.

      5. Falling Diphthong*

        That’s where I got bemused by the colliding social norms. He’s making it easy for you to do the thing you said you’d be happy to do. And it’s not like here “Gosh I don’t have cash on me” was even code for “I will never buy a slide whistle from your kid’s band fundraiser.” The determinant of whether to purchase an item was the existence of that amount of cash plus whatever buffer, at the moment asked.

      6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I am also confused about that part. You told him you didn’t have cash, he said that’s ok and offered alternate forms of payment, you got upset with him and told a few coworkers and you are now all avoiding this guy because why? Because he should’ve read your mind and known that “I don’t have cash” means “no”? And yes, I did venmo a coworker for girl scout cookies in the before times, because I also do not carry cash and I had a craving for the cookies.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      I’d agree – don’t make anything of it. No reminders, no asking for money, just let it go.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I don’t know what industry you’re in and I don’t know what industry your co-workers spouse is in, but please remember that a lot of families are in financial situations due to the pandemic. Anyone who runs a restaurant, anyone who is paying medical bills or increased child care costs, anyone whose job didn’t cover the increased child care costs and had to leave the workforce… Just say no thanks the next time.

    6. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      RE the etransfer thing — sending money this way is so ubiquitous that it would not raise a single hair in my eyebrow. Rather than a reaction to “avoid that guy” I would see it as a convenience offered.

      1. Tabby*

        This. I do a lot of petsitting,and haven’t gotten a cash payment in YEARS due to e transfer. I prefer it, actually, because it creates a receipt I don’t have to write, even though my clients always say I have beautiful penmanship (And I do, because I worked to get it to the point of pretty). I do NOT, however, want to keep track of a thousand pieces of paper when I csan keep that same record in my phone, which never leaves my orbit and is password, pin, AND fingerprint protected (you’d need my fingerprint to get my phone to unlock, or the pin, let alone getting into anything else.).

        I’d be like “What?!” if someone tried to hand me cash for my services — you’re talking btw $100-500 for overnight stays,and $50-100 for a week’s walks. Okay, I’d still ACCEPT cash, and write a receipt gor you, but I’d still wonder wby you’d do that instead of the thing that gives us both a legally-accepted form of proof of payment (most small-claims courts take the various cashapp things as pop, since you can list what the money is for, and I ALWAYS list that, down to the dates, and the names of the pets).

    7. Jenna Webster*

      I think he just misspoke. I usually just say, “Sure, I’ll take a look,” but I can see how someone could answer, “Sure, I’d be happy to” and then find out that there is $15 wrapping paper and $40 home decor and just nope right away.

  4. Stitch*

    I much prefer the low pressure fundraisers. At my office a couple people let it be known that their kid is selling cookies or popcorn, come sign up if you want, and that’s it for the pressure.

    As a kid I personally hated selling things and just hate it as a concept. if it’s something I support I’d really rather just give money and skip giving most of the money to whatever wrapping paper company or magazine subscription they work with. The exception is if I like the product.

    But unless the coworker promised a fundraiser quid pro quo at the time you bought stuff, I don’t really think expecting exact reciprocity is fair. It ends up being a tangled web of who bought what when and it’s just messy.

    This is a long winded way of saying, let it go, LW1 and in the future don’t buy the popcorn unless you actually want it.

    1. Edwina*

      Honestly, I HATED fundraisers, and think it’s ridiculous. Why should I have to pester someone to help pay for my kid’s school? Literally, I always bought the stuff myself, or even just wrote a check, and that was that. Never asked other people to contribute, ever.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I’m not fond of them either. That said, when my son’s elementary school class sold cookies, I bought a couple of boxes and took them in to work to offer to my team. Some people liked them so much that they asked if they could buy them, too, and that went well. I would never, ever pressure anyone to buy, though. My coworker was one of those who bought a box. When his son’s soccer team was selling cookies a few months later, I bought a box because turnabout’s fair play.

      2. Artemesia*

        Back in the dark ages when my kids were in school, parents agreed to give the school money — I think 30 years ago it was about $60 a kid, so we would not do fundraisers where much effort went into little benefit. As far as I know parents who could not afford it were not hassled. My grandchild’s public school collects $1000 from each family — again those who cannot afford it are not hassled. for my kids, computer and music instruction was paid for by this donations as were supplies for kids who could not afford them. Similarly in my grandkids school they would not have music and art or field trips or resources for teachers without donations. (I support donorschoose.org projects for teachers in inner city schools in our district where parents are less able to pay for such ‘extras’ as instructional materials. I went to grade school in the 50s — I didn’t even have to buy my own pencils much less textbooks, art supplies etc.

        1. Mannequin*

          I went to school in the 70s, in my area we had a big famous property tax proposition that cut funding to schools got voted in while I was in grade school. The effects were felt immediately- field trips were the first to go and it’s just gone down from there.

      3. Lexie*

        I deal with fundraisers for my kids’s school and we don’t expect anyone to pester anyone. If the only person a kid sells to is their parent, cool. If you just send in a check instead of buying or selling anything, awesome we get to keep 100% of that. But some families can’t afford to buy anything or make a donation so selling even one thing to a neighbor gives them the ability to contribute.

    2. Ginger ale for all*

      I was a Girl Scout from second grade through to the twelfth grade. My parents coached me on my sales pitch but never sold for me. Cookie sales are fund raisers but they also teach the kids about salesmanship, organization, math skills, time management, public speaking, etc. It builds your confidence. I was always either second or third in sales each year and I was always beaten out by kids whose parents took the order forms to work. I am still salty about that. JMO, let the kids do the selling. If you need to bring the to your workplace to get sales, then do it. Have them do the leg work and sales pitches. Let your kids learn how to do it themselves.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        The thing which always cracks me up about people saying that kids should be made to sell totally random stuff because it develops X skill is that (in the case of the OP and many others), their parents are doing much of the work for them. So the primary skills that the kids are learning from that are getting their parents to do stuff for them and nagging them about it.

        1. banoffee pie*

          Yeah and the kid isn’t really learning to be a little businessperson. I mean the adults are clearly taking pity on them and buying their stuff because they’re kids and it’s for a fundraiser. It isn’t going to be the same if they start a real business as an adult. You’re setting them up for a fall people! lol

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Oh come on, the kid is learning door-to-door sales skills that will be perfectly applicable in 1925. If the kid ever gets their hands on a time machine, they’ll be set for life!

        2. JustaTech*

          My parents refused to bring my cookie order sheet (or gift wrap order sheet) to work because they said it was inappropriate to force their reports to buy stuff they might not want or be able to afford.
          “But Katie’s dad does it and she won the best seller prize!”
          “That was wrong of him. And you didn’t want the prize anyway.”

          (I remember, vividly, the time I sold cookies door-to-door when I was 6 and a neighbor answered the door with an arm full of acupuncture needles. A strange sight at any time, but completely unexpected in rural Maryland in the early 90’s. And she bought cookies!)

          1. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

            When I was a Girl Scout, my dad refused to take the order form to work and I had to do the door to door (hoping that I got to the neighbors before my neighborhood troop-mates) or make the phone calls (in the case of extended family). I admit I caved and took fundraisers to work when my kids were younger, since I didn’t feel comfortable with sending them door to door, but kept it low pressure (put the order form on the outside of my cubicle and sent an email to people who either bought from me previously or did their own fundraisers). Family sales had to come from the kids on their own, although I did generally put a link on Facebook when the middle school band opened their chocolate sale. It was good chocolate and you could order it to be shipped; I think my uncle once bought a batch and finished it quickly enough to place a second order before the fundraiser window closed.

        3. braindump*

          My mom actually did make me go door to door on my own. I made like one tenth of everyone else, but I learned the real truth of “fundraisers are parental popularity contests” early on. I suppose kids that grew up with their parents doing all the work for them (sorry, “giving them the best chance at life”) already knew that.

      2. Artemesia*

        As a kid I sold them door to door and the whole sales thing was a plus. My own daughter sold them to friends, family and at tables at the grocery store; a young child in our neighborhood had been murdered a few years before while delivering cookies. A nice middle class neighborhood; the murder was never solved. I am now an assistant leader of my granddaughter’s troop and all our sales are either friends and family or at tables — we arrange spots at grocery stores, malls etc throughout the sales season. You just don’t send little girls out to pitch their sales story to strangers at their door as we did in the 50s.

        1. TimesChange*

          The table plan seems better anyway — otherwise my interactions for girl scout cookie were always through parents. At the table, the kids can sell, the parent can be there for backup.

        2. Ellie*

          Agreed – my friend was a girl scout, and her mum would go with her and sit in the car as she watched her go door to door. But even with some supervision, you’re still teaching your child that its ok to knock on a strangers door, who knows who could potentially take advantage of that later? What’s the child going to do if that stranger later approaches them at the playground and offers to buy more boxes? Will they feel comfortable going back to their house for the money? Will they let them in when no-one’s home? Its a dangerous precedent and I’d much rather do the selling for them, or just buy the products myself.

      3. Action Kate*

        GS Troop leader here, and yes, this is the way. LW (and co-worker) shouldn’t be selling “for” their kids anyway. The money the kids earn for Scouts is sort of beside the point. The idea is to teach the kids skills: how to talk to people they don’t know, how to speak in front of a group, how to speak in public, how to accept a rejection politely and not take it personally, how to organize and keep track of inventory, how to follow up with delivery, money going in and out, and so on.

        If the kids just hand the order form to Parent to use at work, the kids have learned nothing. Bring the kid to the office. Have the kid make a pitch video and then hang out on Teams/Slack/etc. for an hour after school if everyone is remote.

        The LW shouldn’t be fussing about reciprocity; she should be planning how to get her kid to make her case to everyone remotely or angling for a good booth spot for the troop. :)

        1. Paperdill*

          OP’s kid is a toddler, so I suspect that, in this case, the point is IS, indeed, the money, and not teaching a 1yo public speaking skills.

        2. OverpricedPopcornUgh*

          OP here. I should have clarified in my original post that my “kid” is 2.5 years old and this is the first time her daycare/nursery school has set up a fundraiser. So, yes, I am selling “for” my kid.

          As far as expecting reciprocity, fair enough. I have come to basically expect nothing from anyone these past two years. Maybe I am frustrated.

          1. Stitch*

            I mean also, I will point out that those things are a bit different. Boy scouts have been selling that popcorn for decades at least and they are a well established non profit (albeit one with some very real controversies). A daycare not so much.

            You just have to let this go.

            1. Pinkie Pie*

              I’ll never forget a coworker bringing me a sheet of paper asking for a $5 dollar donation and asking me sign off why I’m donating. I was so grateful to be out of cash that day. The next day, I set a personal rule that I would only donate to fundraisers that offered coupon books or sold cookies. Now that I have daughters who sell overpriced popcorn, I’m glad I set that rule and let that rule be known. I might mention camp cards, but never popcorn. I also make one mention and done.

          2. Ellie*

            A lot of people are frustrated after the terrible couple of years we’ve all had. In fairness, I’ve flaked on things before after being given multiple reminders. They probably just forgot. I’d just try to move on, and don’t donate to their kid again.

            As an aside, there’s no way I’d be taking my kid to work for them to pitch their sales skills either. Firstly, I’m not allowed to (no minors on site) and secondly, it’s an incredibly manipulative tactic to pull on your co-workers. See whose willing to be nasty to the bosses kiddies. Its not appropriate at all.

        3. High Score!*

          That’s not what ever happens. I’m girl scouts, The scout Troup who has the best connected parents earn the most and their troop “wins” bc EVERY parent takes their find raising crap to the office and pressures their coworkers. Subordinates don’t usually feel like they can say no.

          1. Jax*

            THANK YOU. Can someone tell my old coworker, a GS Troop leader who always sold a ton of cookies to her direct reports at the office, that her daughter is supposed to sell them? Her daughter “sold” by posing for a picture with a box of cookies and a social media blurb on Mom’s account that she was selling cookies. Then the troop would set up tables outside of Wal-Mart or the VA on the weekends, and the girls would be off in the grass playing while the moms’ sold the cookies.

            MOM sold the cookies. Not the girl.

        4. Queen Anon*

          I’ve never seen Girl Scouts come into the office and I’m glad. It would be very intrusive and annoying. I always loved it when the parents would bring in order forms and even more if they had the cookies on them already and all we had to do was hand over our $7.50 and take our Thin Mints. Yum! As I mentioned above, I’m not in the office anymore and Girl Scouts haven’t been set up in front of the grocery store for the past two years so I haven’t had an GS cookies in 2 years. I hope next spring they’re back at their table in front of Kroger (which I think is a great way to see and gets the Scouts directly involved).

      4. roisin54*

        Former Girl Scout here. I was incredibly shy and withdrawn as a child and the thought of having to walk door to door selling cookies terrified me, and fortunately my parents never made me because they thought the whole thing was absurd. They’d buy a few boxes and that was it. I’ve never been a competitive person (outside trivia contests anyway) so I didn’t care that I never won a prize or anything. That’s how they handled all our fundraisers, they buy something just so we’d have something to turn in and that was all. I’m very grateful to them for never pressuring me and I don’t think I missed out on any major life lessons by sitting those things out.

        1. Wolfie*

          I was supposed to sell Girl Scout cookies and refused. My troop leader would yell at me and tell me it was costing us cool things, like a trip to an amusement park. I didn’t care!

          I didn’t last very long in GS.

        2. braindump*

          Agreed – the real lesson of who is most popular via their parents is already well engrained by that point tbh.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      We don’t have the cookies thing here in the UK but occassionally we’ll get ‘here’s the donation sheet for my kid’s 100 metre race for (charity)’ or whatever. I’ve always preferred those to be a sheet pinned up on the notice board.

      I’ll tolerate a single ‘here’s a link to a fundraiser’ email. If it’s selling stuff from a catalogue, that goes in the break room. if it’s MLM get out of my office.

    4. Don't Be Long Suffering*

      Kid was in a sport that, unlike football, had to raise its own money. It’s also a sport that doesn’t need to cut anybody and a lot of kids played it. At the parent meeting of Kid’s fresh year, the coach said we need to raise X and here are the fundraising ideas we’ve used in the past. One parent asked how many kids were on the team and then said “if each family donates $10, we’re done fundraising”. The words weren’t totally out of the speaker’s mouth before people had started writing checks. Without further discussion some people wrote bigger checks for the families who can’t/don’t contribute. At that meeting we exceeded the goal. Coach told us they loved the idea (yeah, teachers have plenty of other things to do too!) but was forbidden from bringing it up. (It’s okay to ask for volunteers, not okay to ask for money.) Every year after that, a parent obliged by making the suggestion and every year, fundraising was done in 10 minutes. I assume now they use some electronic collection because so few people carry checkbooks.
      Since we all agree there’s nothing fair or equitable about school fundraisers, and since the majority of the money spent on them goes to the company that provides the crap being sold, this might actually net the school more money than the icky fundraiser.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A long time ago I started offering to make a donation to the group instead of bringing home something I didn’t want. Far too many organizations don’t recognize that as an option, and wouldn’t award anything to a child who brought in cash donations instead of sales.

    5. Sleepless*

      I never, ever took my kids’ fundraiser stuff to work either. I didn’t want to pressure people and, even more, I didn’t want to administer all that stuff. I was totally the person who would buy my kid’s quota myself (oh, and my MIL, who would enthusiastically buy anything her grandchildren were selling…I miss that cheerful, generous lady). The one exception was Girl Scout cookies! My coworkers all knew my daughter was in Girl Scouts and they kept asking ME about it. I still didn’t want to deal with taking and filling people’s orders, so I would order several dozen boxes myself, put them in my drawer at work, and put up a sign to help yourself and bring me cash. I really didn’t care if I got fully reimbursed.

      1. eastcoastkate*

        Yeah I feel like the exception to all of this is girl scout cookies- I will FIND someone with a kid that’s a girl scout when I am in a new job/office because I like supporting someone I know’s kid! But I also was a girl scout as a kid and have been there- did the pitch, did the “math” for the sale, walked door to door.

        It’s odd to me this is for a daycare cause there literally isn’t any way the kid is doing the selling- it’s ALL the adults.

    6. generic_username*

      Ugh same. I remember at one point my band did a fundraiser and told everyone they had to sell a certain amount or make up the difference and my parents were FUMING. They went to the school board and complained because they knew that would cause financial hardship for some of our bandmates and they didn’t feel like buying a bunch of wrapping paper from us. Suddenly the demand that we sold a certain amount was gone (lol, turns out you cant make public school kids pay the school money).

      It was particularly annoying because I spent most summer/autumn weekends doing car washes and bake sales for that band as well and was really good at soliciting donations. Like, sorry, I’m not going to sell a product I don’t believe in ($10 wrapping paper), but I can talk my face off asking for someone just to give me money to support my under-funded band (and I often netted a few hundred $$ an hour doing that)

    7. cacwgrl*

      This is the best way IMO, in person or in a teleworking group. We’ve always treated kids fundraisers in my old office and within our teams as “hey, Johnny is selling apples (or whatever), if you’re interested, I can share catalogues” and it was no pressure for us. They also tends to know many of our group don’t regularly carry cash or a checkbook and would say if they were open to collecting money via paypal or venmo. Those of us that like popcorn or cookie dough would swoop in and if we didn’t want candy or holidays wrapping paper, we’d just leave it be. Being in HR and the government, we had to be very careful about putting the word out and expectations, so this worked for us. And never once did I feel guilt about not buying something that brings me joy.
      I caveat all of that with saying, if a kid asks me themselves, I’m inclined to buy no matter what because good for that kid for reaching out and not being rude. I’m happy to make it work no matter what they’re selling in that circumstance.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      I do.

      (Although I really want to be uploaded into an artificial frame one day. With lasers. And jumpjets)

    2. I take tea*

      I have a colleague who had an operation on his back. We joked a bit about him having a spine of steel, literally (ok, titanium, I suppose).

    3. Fluff*

      I used to set these off as a kid (metal in leg) in airports. My uncle told the scanner lady that I was Wolvernine’s kid and it was the adamantium. Boy, I strutted through that thing so proud.

    4. Kit*

      A person I know who has a spinal implant (possibly of this sort, in fact!) does exactly that – no need to discuss the specifics of her diagnosis, medical devices, or prognosis, just “haha yep I’m a cyborg, gotta deactivate all my fancy implants before I go through the metal detector, whatcha gonna do?” Because… that’s all there is to it.

      (I’m with Keymaster, though, I eagerly anticipate the brains-in-jars stage of human development!)

  5. Stitch*

    I mean, no, of course you can’t bill for time spent sleeping. I mean imagine Archimedes sending a bill for his bath time.

    Ilbillaboes are brutal, but imagine if you were a client and you found out you got invoiced for someone’s nap. You wouldn’t be pretty happy about it.

    1. Boof*

      I was thinking about Archimedes; but I think he was getting paid per deliverable, not per time spent

    2. Stitch*

      *Billables. I’m not sure if this is the model they’re using but based on the other details, it would make sense. The reason this would be an especially big no no is that it means the client is paying for that time.

      1. generic_username*

        Lol, I was about to google “Ilbillaboes” thinking it was some scientific term for dreams about work

        1. Thursdaysgeek*

          Me too, but I figured I’d look in the comments first to see if someone else had already done the work for me.

    3. Artemesia*

      I don’t know; the key here is that she came up with a solution to the problem that was accepted. Archimedes should certainly have been justified in billing for his time in the bath. If she had not told everyone she got this in a dream, then I think it would have been fine to bill a reasonable chunk of problem solving time for this even though she was unconscious at the time. I went home and came back with amazing project solution — sure I should be able to bill some time for that. But since she yammered about her dream solution — yeah, no.

      1. LQ*

        If you go with the problem was accepted then do you not bill for every time you come up with an unacceptable solution?

      2. HoundMom*

        I worked for one of the largest consulting firms in the US years ago. They literally sent out a memo stating that any time you were thinking about a client including sleeping, commuting, showering, driving was billable.

        Not saying I would bill this but if you asked management they would tell you this is billable time.

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          I don’t doubt you, but this seems unusual and frankly seems like a way to pump up billable hours for large mega-corporations that aren’t going to have the infrastructure to nit-pick specific invoices.

      3. Jennifer*

        Gee, I also do consulting, and when I was younger (and working for a firm that demanded at least 40 hours/week of billable time) I always wondered if “walking around the block” was billable time. Because I’d sit at my computer and work on something until I was well and truly tied into knots, then go walk around the block a few times and figure out how to get the problem solved.

        Most recently, I spent 4-ish hours outlining a problem, then logged out, had dinner, and went to my kid’s concert. Whereupon I found a pencil in the bottom of my pocket, and (writing on the program for the concert) wrote out an elegant solution to the problem, which I implemented the next day. Did the concert time count as billable? (I asked my project manager later, and we agreed the answer was “yes”.)

        Now I am an independent consultant, and as long as what I pass along to my project manager is reasonable, no one questions my judgement. In fact, I generally don’t bill “walking around and thinking” time (actually usually “hiking and thinking”), but it’s because I find the problems interesting enough that I sometimes don’t mind thinking about them on my own time. (And because I feel like I’m not always particularly efficient at “work time”, so it all works out in the end.)

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          I don’t find any material difference between intentionally thinking about a problem while hiking versus intentionally thinking about a problem while seated at a desk.

          I do, however, think there’s a difference between both of those and being hit with an unplanned “eureka” solution–say, while sleeping–and then trying to bill for the entire context around that.

          If we start billing for naps, then the logic would have to work the other way as well, meaning that if a consultant is at her desk working on a client solution, but then has a different eureka moment–“Oh, I just thought of a perfect gift for my mother-in-law!” do you then deduct the entire context around that on the invoice? (Of course not.)

        2. Spero*

          To me the concert counts as billable moreso than a dream because you were literally writing out the solution during that time. I don’t think the OP can bill for the dream, but I do think she can bill for any time she spent post-dream writing up and refining the solution in preparation for the Monday pitch.

          1. EPLawyer*

            Definitely this. I do a lot of “let it percolate” thinking. I say I have my best ideas for cases while driving — when I definitely cannot write it down. I really need a voice activated recorder in my car. Anyway, I do bill for the time I had the brilliant idea, but usually .1 or six minutes which is my minimum billing time. So I’m not billing for the entire drive. But I am billing for the fact I was actively thinking through the case and considering if the idea would work or not. Also for desperately trying to remember it until I get to a point I can write it down (thank you Keep for being a quick record).

            1. Daria Morgendorffer*

              My partner has this happen a lot on insurance cases. When we’re driving around he will use the voice to text feature to send himself an email with the problem and resolution. Not as elegant if you don’t have the bluetooth integration built in with an older vehicle but maybe enabling the voice activated wake word would suffice.

        3. generic_username*

          Honestly, these kinds of examples point to the major issue with paying for things via billable hours vs per product. Sometimes, being overworked and forcing your brain to work when it doesn’t want to is counter-productive (imagine that!). Sometimes what you need to get a solution is a nap or time away from your desk. (That said, I get why billable hours are a thing – they’re quantifiable)

      4. Hippo-nony-potomus*

        Exactly. The real solution is to keep your mouth shut about exactly how this problem got solved (your subconscious, when asleep) and bill for an hour. Stephenie Meyer had a dream that started the Twilight novels. Einstein used to nap and solve problems. I swim laps while mulling things over and have gotten some great ideas that way.

        1. Empress Matilda*

          Yeah, I think this is the best solution for next time. I wouldn’t bill the entire sleep period, but it seems reasonable that you could bill half an hour for something like this.

          (Disclaimer, I am not a consultant, and never have been! So it’s entirely possible that I don’t know what I’m talking about and you should ignore me entirely…)

      5. Starbuck*

        Yeah, totally – the lesson for next time is don’t tell everyone it was from a dream. Just figure out how much time would be reasonable as a brainstorming/idea-outlining session and bill for that.

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      My writing style (strictly nonfiction) involves working out in my head how to organize the material, the challenge being to get as much as possible into as short a word count as possible, lest it get out of hand. My best time for working this out in my head is while I am driving my commute. I am not paid by the hour (and barely any other way), but I can totally see the temptation to bill my drive time, if I were. And of course if I were paid by the word I wouldn’t spend the mental effort keeping things short. Hence the quote (variously attributed) in a letter apologizing for its being overlong, but the correspondent didn’t have the time to write a short one.

    5. kt*

      I would.

      I learned some hard lessons in my first contract gig (programming) — there was this dude who just hammered on the keyboard producing trash repeatedly until something worked, and he got like 60 hours a week billed, and I would sit & think & think until I knew just what to do, and then typed it and it worked (ok there was some debugging but yes I’m a think-then-code person) so I initially only got 20 hrs week despite progressing the project much faster… and then I realized that that time thinking *was the work* and I shouldn’t penalize myself for that, I should charge for it. (And if that was not ok with the client, I needed to raise my per-hour rate substantially.) I talked with other folks in this sort of hourly contractor position and they helped me understand what was work and what was not. I was coming at it from a pretty blue-collar point of view (fingers on keyboard = work, solving the architecture problem = thinking, not work).

      After the adjustment, I did charge for the hour bike ride on which I solved the problem of how to structure the relationship between the database and the actions they wanted on the front end. I didn’t call it “bike ride” in the invoice.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think that last bit is key. If you can charge for “thinking, researching, sketching possible ideas” then you can do that, and whether you were on a bike ride, in a bathtub, or reading internet memes is not a thing you carefully lay out for the person entering billing codes.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          I’ve done some creative writing stuff for clients, and I’ve always estimated the amount of time I think it’ll take, then doubled it and rounded it up and given the client that figure as a take-it-or-leave-it flat rate. It usually ends up reflecting the amount of work I do for this type of project (I’m hopelessly optimistic about how much time something will take, hence the doubling).

          Oh and that will sometimes include a dream!

          Once I did a translation, for the website of the agency I worked at. There was one word the boss didn’t like, and he asked if I couldn’t put another word that resembled the French word more closely. I explained that it wasn’t possible, he didn’t like it but grudgingly took my word for it.
          Then the next night I woke up with yet another word, the exact right word that covered all the nuances of the French word! I went in and told the boss that this was the word we needed, so he had the website amended. As a salaried worker, I wouldn’t be billing the time I spent dreaming and then making a note of the word in the middle of the night, but I believe that I came in later that day and didn’t stay late to make up for it.
          I rarely bill hourly for my work now, but I would totally include an extra hour to cover that dream if I did. But then, my clients have to trust me on the time I spend working because I refuse to use software that tracks it: I’m often thinking about my work as I make a coffee, have lunch, go shopping etc and will totally include that time. Especially as it’s very often during those moments that a good idea will bubble up!

          1. Stitch*

            I should note I’m a lawyer who noped out of firm/billables very early in my career and now work in public interest. Much better for my sanity.

      2. Generic Name*

        Yeah, this is important to note. I’m a consultant as well, and I tend to let things percolate in the back of my mind while doing other stuff. Meaning I’ll be writing a document and I’ll check the news when I get to a point where I can’t figure out how to say something. Then I’ll go back to the document. Maybe I should subtract the 5 to 10 minutes from my work time, but I usually consider it part of my work day. I do think charging for dream time is a step too far, however. As much as it would be nice to charge the 8 hours I spent tossing and turning thinking and dreaming about work the night before a major project.

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        Many years ago when I worked for Walmart I would sometimes have the job of resetting the merchandise on a four-foot section. For a major overhaul there was nothing for it but to strip the section down to bare shelves or pegboard, but often most the merchandise was the same, with some rearranging and some new stuff. For that I would begin the process by standing in front of the section with the diagram of the new set and work out the most efficient way to get from here to there. There was one assistant manager who always complained when he saw me doing this, as he though I was malingering. I am quite sure that he would have preferred the job take longer so long as there was constant movement.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          ah I totally see you being an ace at those puzzles where you have to move just one match to totally change the picture it forms!

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      When I’m drifting in and out of sleep in the morning I can have surprisingly complex-feeling dreams in a few minutes.

      OP, just figure this took 5 minutes, and in practice at some point when billing this client for 5 minutes you sat and thought about hedgehogs and how they really are so cute. Maybe when coming up with the pitch for Monday.

    7. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I would like to go back in time and invoice certain employers for nightmares about work!

      1. Zzzzzzz*

        OP- the fact that you are even asking the question means you are CHEATING YOURSELF OUT OF TIME REGULARLY. I’m a lawyer, not a consultant, but it’s the same slog and I hate it. (Monthly hours due yesterday-THE WORST.). Men are going to the rest room, getting coffee, then counting the full 8 (or more!) hours as billable. You’re deducting for all that, and they end with a bonus and you don’t. It’s not these 2 hours that matter; it’s that you’re shortchanging yourself 45 mins daily every work day. I am guilty of all of this! I am working on it! You should too. You sound creative and hardworking and they’re all lucky you’re working for them. Remember that and never feel guilty for billing!

        1. Zzzzzzz*

          Another way to summarize, paraphrasing Clue: the nap-billing is a red herring! You’re under billing for the work you do and that’s what hurting your bonuses and also probably your progression. (That is, your bosses want you to bill that extra .2 while you walked to the water cooler!)

  6. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    Alas! I really wish Alison’s answer to #2 was to give the go-ahead to charge for dream time. Dream sleep generally lasts about 10 minutes I believe, so what if it was listed as offline idea research and development?

    1. No Dumb Blonde*

      I thought I’d heard everything yesterday when LW wanted their employer to grant bereavement leave for a pet.

    2. Wednesdays we eat chicken*

      Was any time spent recalling, evaluating, and recording the idea upon waking? That time seems potentially billable?

    3. river*

      Time in dreams goes much faster than reality. Just yesterday I had a dream that felt like at least half an hour, but when I woke up only 5 minutes had passed since I had turned off my alarm and gone back to sleep.

    4. EventPlannerGal*

      Alas indeed – I honestly love this question even though the answer is no. It could be so fun! If the dream happens in the middle of the night can you add an out-of-hours call-out fee? The purple elephants and dancing hippopotamuses that I discussed the matter with will provide their consulting rates directly on request.

      1. banoffee pie*

        Best question ever, agreed. It reminds me of The Firm. ‘You’re shaving, you think about the case. Bill the client for one hour. You’re sitting at a red light, you think about the case. Bill one hour.’ lol

        OP if you’re reading, I’m kidding, I’m not saying you’re as bad as that. If it was a good idea that came to you in the dream I see why you want to charge for it ;)

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Times have changed substantially in legal – post-2008, clients no longer accept the “services rendered” invoice with nondescript time descriptions. Anything a client can’t read and tell how it advanced their case, specifically, they will refuse to pay. It’s kind of funny to see the lawyers who grew up in the legal landscape of The Firm trying to wrap their heads around the idea that they actually have to demonstrate their value to the client on an ongoing basis.

          1. banoffee pie*

            I always wondered if that way of billing was realistic, or if so, why the client would be so gullible as to just pay!

    5. MrsMotz*

      If they hadn’t already laughed with their coworkers that the solution came to them in a dream, I’d say bill it for 15 minutes of brainstorming. Or add a few minutes to/round up the hours you work for that client on Monday refining the idea for actual development. I have a similar role and there’s no question we sometimes “work” by letting a problem sit in the back of our minds while doing something different. If that time was spent staring at a computer monitor (or off into the distance above it), it would be billable, so within reason we should be able to “get credit” for work done on off hours as well. But I agree it would look bad to “bill a nap” very explicitly after laughing about it with coworkers.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        This was my thought. The idea was so valuable that I’d see no problem in billing an hour to “brainstorming.” That hour would include the idea production and the documentation.
        If I was sitting in the tub musing about traveling and came up with a brilliant solution to my client’s bridge building quandary, and I sat in the tub for another 45 min working out the details, then I’d bill the time.
        This is assuming that I’m the kind of consultant that bills for thinking time. I’ve only been the kind that bills for nose-to-grindstone time. But some people are paid for their thoughts as well as their work.

      2. Elysian*

        This is how I would have handled it (had you not already made a thing about it with coworkers). Round up another time entry by a small amount. This assumes you’re billing in small enough time increments that that wouldn’t be problematic – if you only bill by the actual hour, don’t round up an hour. But if you can add 6 or 15 minutes to another day’s work for the same project, I think that is ethically ok.

        There are lots of things I do when I’m not in front of the computer which is client-related work that I often forget to bill – answering a quick email, taking a quick call, etc. That stuff doesn’t always get captured the day it happens, but if I remember I’ll round up my time entry on the next opportunity so that time isn’t totally lost.

    6. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve solved a few work problems in my dreams, and I’ve woken up thinking about work to the point where I couldn’t go back to sleep because the work stuff was too pressing. I don’t even have a stressful job! It’s just how my brain works out problems and I have a thin dream/waking barrier so I remember most of every dream.

      I didn’t charge that time specifically but if what I came up with in my dreams/sleep saved me time during the day, I was a bit more relaxed about my daily working schedule that day.

    7. marvin the paranoid android*

      I wish I could charge overtime for all of the weird work-related dreams I’ve had over the years. Sadly, unlike the OP, none of mine turned out to be productive, unless my office is infested by giant robot spiders at some point.

    8. NotAnotherManager!*

      It’s really about how you write the billable time description. It sounds like OP’s employer isn’t that concerned about the detail in time descriptions, but there’s certainly a way to write that up that doesn’t reveal it was a dream-idea. The real issue is how much time to associate with the description – surely not the whole nap.

    9. Avril Ludgateau*

      I think LW2’s big mistake was telling everybody about the dream, instead of just saying “I spent an hour on the weekend really racking my brain, and I came up with what I think is a brilliant solution.”

      By telling everybody that the idea came to her in a wild dream, she inadvertently took herself out of the equation (by crediting her subconscious mind instead of her active mind) and cast doubt onto how much time was actually spent arriving at the solution.

      My advice to LW2 would be to hush about time spent dreaming and instead focus on the time spent thinking, strategizing, planning… Even if the original idea popped up in a dream, the dream needed to be translated to a workable proposal. That is the time you can bill for, IMHO.

  7. Daffy Duck*

    One of the best things about growing old is my children have grown up and fundraisers are a thing of the past. Almost all fundraisers make pennies per product for the children’s club and the parents are expected to either sell at work (teaching the children nothing but that someone else will do the work for you) or hours shepherding them while canvassing the neighborhood for orders and then again delivery. I’ve been cookie mom, popcorn planner, truffle transport, and cookie courier and just about every time the group ‘top seller’ who gets feted didn’t do anything more than hand forms to mom and grandma to take to work. Then you get the hard feelings if you buy cookies from Susie’s mom and don’t spend the same amount with Mary’s mom.
    I would much rather write a $10, $20, or $50 check directly to cover club expenses than ever fundraise for children’s groups again. Second choice is a car wash at the local bank where the teens and pre-teens do the majority of the work.
    OP please forgive and forget about who and how much you supported each fundraiser that came into your office. Do not feel obligated to buy from anyone and don’t expect anyone to buy from you. It isn’t worth the office drama.

    1. Boof*

      Yeah I highly suspect one would struggle to make at least min wage in revenue generated per hour spent fundraising for most of these things; I never bother! My time is incredibly precious I’m not going to spend it on a side hustle that makes way less than my actual job, and I try to teach my kids (now that they are getting old enough) that they should really take a look at time/payoff (+/- enjoyment factor if there is one) rather than just diving in to the hustle because someone told them to.

      Anyway OP1 I’d say just don’t buy into other fundraisers if you wouldn’t be happy if they never reciprocated. Same as don’t loan people money unless you’re ok if they never pay you back.

      1. Daffy Duck*

        The money doesn’t even come close to minimum wage. The companies that provide the products tend to do very well, however. There is a non-monetary benefit in group sales activities when the children are actually doing the work (socializing with other kids, learning to plan, delegating jobs, etc.).
        One year our PTO said they would skip the annual fundraisers if they received enough donations to cover new playground equipment – the line went all the way down the hall, turned the corner, and halfway down the next hall. They got more money that one night than was made with fundraisers the previous year (it was a fairly well-off school, but I suspect keeping the whole donation instead of sending most of it to commercial fundraising companies was the key).

        1. Speaks to Dragonflies*

          OP 1, I think you have to let this go. It sucks and I’m betting it feels like a screw job, but there’s nothing that I see can be done without borking your standing at work. Just act as though it never happened. Depending on you and your co-workers levels on the job, some weird power dynamics could come into play. I would suggest not supporting co-workerkids cause next year and sinking any funds that would have gone to it into your own kids. If co-workerkids org is one you want to support, maybe a direct donation would be better?
          It kinda makes me wonder why organizations bother with selling cookies/popcorn/wrapping paper/whatever other than the kids working together. Seems like the kids could do something more in line with the goals of the group and achieve the same benefits to the kids and, depending on the activity, something towards the community. To me, it seems the cost of whatever the funds are being raised for should be included in the dues and fees the organization charges. Then there wouldnt be situations like OP 1 is in, where the implied quid pro quo didnt get past the quid.

    2. allathian*

      Yeah, I’ve never liked these, either. I was happy enough to volunteer for my son’s daycare PTA, because the kids got to do all sorts of extra stuff with the money we raised. My son’s in 6th grade, and this fall, thanks to the covid situation here being a bit better than in many other places, they got to go on an overnight school trip that they and we’d raised money for. At least thanks to the covid pandemic, the parents in my son’s class never had to bake for school events because they were all canceled. (Granted, I’m very privileged to feel this way, because I don’t know anyone in person who’s had covid, never mind been seriously sick with it or worse. I would feel very differently if anyone I knew even peripherally in person had been seriously affected by it.)

      They sold cookies, but they also did sponsored walks, and sponsored litter picking. My son’s a pretty pronounced introvert, and I’d never ask him to sell stuff in the neighborhood door-to-door. He’s also a scout, and they’re currently selling advent calendars, but because he doesn’t really care about the merit badges all that much, we just took a few of them to sell. He’s keeping one, his grandparents and aunts bought one each, and we’re each taking one to the office.

    3. mc*

      Yeah, mom of twins here! Who are now grown up.

      Before I had kids, I “supported” those kids who came to my door and whose parents sold stuff at my office by buying all that crap. However after I had kids, I was so busy, and $ was so tight, and the last thing I needed was junk food or crap they were selling. So my policy on fundraisers was just “nope!” and “we do not participate”.

      My kids survived, and they certainly weren’t the only kids in their class who didn’t “sell” anything. If you want to support schools just write them a check – very little of the money raised from fundraisers actually goes to the school.

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      Girl Scout cookies bring about ten percent of gross to the troop. I don’t know how much goes to the GS council or higher levels, and how much goes to the bakery (much less how much of that is profit). We might imagine anything other than the troop to be skimming, but my local council is very good. They have their expenses, and I don’t resent them getting their cut. That being said, there is something to be said for a system to donate a buck or two to the troop and skip the cookies.

      As for the kids, I think that canvassing the neighborhood is pretty much a thing of the past. I haven’t seen it done, by my kids or others’. Cookie sales booths in front of the supermarket are, however, very much a thing. We are very into forcing the kids to make the sales pitch and complete the transaction, and even more, to stick it out for the two or four hours, even after they would really rather be somewhere else. So there are some life skills being learned.

      1. Camp staff*

        In my Girl Scout council, for a $4 box of cookies, my troop gets $0.57, the baker gets $0.99, and the rest is split between various levels of scouting (national, regional, and local). So the troop profits in a variety of ways, as well as the sales and marketing experience they get. We still go door to door, and we also do booths and online sales. Cookie sales I don’t mind doing, but I always just pay the schools directly and opt out of their fundraising.

      2. Colette*

        Interesting! I’m a Girl Guide leader in Canada. Cookies are $5, we get around $1/box (and more goes to the national and provincial organizations). We do canvass the negihbourhood, but also sell at grocery stores. We typically sell around 3 cartons (36 boxes) an hour, and make close to $40/hour. (Thanksgiving Saturday, we sold 6 cartons/hour; some weeks are obviously slower.)

        1. TechWriter*

          As a Girl Guide, the BEST places to sell was outside the liquour store. I think people felt guilty spending on booze. Grocery stores and banks were also pretty good. It was WAY better than going door-to-door.

          1. generic_username*

            Nothing will ever beat when I was a kid living on an overseas military base and sold girl scout cookies. We would drive up to the parking lot outside of the single soldiers barracks, and they would literally unload our van for us. We normally sold out within 1-2 hours

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        There are a number of factors that go into determining how much you make on cookies. Our profit per box is closer to 20-25%, depending on what incentives the girls have earned by sales volume or participation in other council events. The baker’s cost is about 25%, and the remaining goes to national, council, and local efforts, including volunteer training and camp maintenance.

        If you search for “how the cookie crumbles”, each council should outline the breakdown of where the sale price of each box of cookies goes.

        My kid, who’s introverted, loves booth sales because she gets to do it with her more extroverted friend. The friend reels them in, my kid process the sale – she weirdly enjoy getting to use the Square swipe thing. I don’t take her sheet to work (that’s not the point of the cookie program), but the cookies do sometimes sell themselves. Anything she doesn’t sell personally requires a handwritten thank-you note with an indication of what the money she earns will go toward – camping trip, her highest award project, etc.

      4. Dancing Otter*

        One of our local troops sets up outside the blood donor center. Get some cookies on the way out, when you need the sugar, right? Good marketing plan.

        The fact that they’re next door to a diet center (think Jenny Craig or similar) couldn’t have anything to do with their high sales volume, do you suppose?

    5. anonymous73*

      Yes I hate fundraisers, but they’re a necessary evil. My kid is in the marching band and my husband and I are on the board of the HS band booster organization. We raise money for things like uniforms and transportation because the school won’t pay for it and we get very little support from alumni. That said, we try to hold fundraisers that don’t include selling products for way more money than they’re worth. We have restaurant nights (where a percentage of money made for that day comes to us), sell extra spirit wear (at prices that are below the norm), have car washes, etc. We use social media to promote things, never pressure people to buy, and will gladly accept donations in lieu of participating in fundraisers.

    6. Combinatorialist*

      I think most people feel this way! In high school, our big marching band fundraiser was a “Rockathon” where we went around collecting pledges to spend all night in a rocking chair. I didn’t participate for 3 years but then my 4th year, I was a drum major and so needed to set a good example.

      I thought it was ridiculous and no one was going to give me money. However, I went door to door and by myself raised hundreds of dollars — all going directly to the band. For most people, it was easier to hand me a $20 than explain why they weren’t going to. And they didn’t have to pick a flavor of overpriced popcorn, coordinate delivery from me, or ever have to see me again. I think I would be have been MUCH less successful trying to sell something.

      1. generic_username*

        And they didn’t have to pick a flavor of overpriced popcorn, coordinate delivery from me, or ever have to see me again.

        This is such an underrated point. Like, people will literally give you money to leave them alone. I used to work a lot of car washes/bake sales when I was a teen, and my job was normally to stand by the door of the Walmart asking people to buy something/get their car washed. And normally I’d say something like, “we’re here with _____ marching band and we’re raising money for transportation/new uniforms/etc…. Would you like to take a look at our bake sale? Or would you happen to have a dollar or two to spare?” and SO MANY people just gave me cash without even really stopping walking.

    7. Esmeralda*

      Yeah. When my son was small, he got excited about the prize for being top seller. I took him around the neighborhood, he sent emails from my account to family members, I took the sales list to the office and put it in the mailroom with everone else’s. He did ok. The winner had parents who got lots of coworkers to buy. My son was very discouraged — Mom, [kid] didn’t sell anything, his mom and dad did it for him. Yep, I said, that’s how it works. Mom, I don’t want to sell anything any more.

      And that was the end of selling. I had one meeting a couple years later with the principal and an over enthusiastic teacher who made a huge deal of the sale and contest, which made quite a few kids feel bad (especially the kids who were poor). [insert eye roll emoji]

      Just don’t buy anything if you don’t want to, OP. I buy girl scout cookies because we actually want them. That’s it.

      I understand there’s an implicit quid pro quo, but many folks don’t follow through. Reduce your anger by opting out of the madness completely.

    8. pieforbreakfast*

      I used to work for a local shop that got asked annually to donate to the neighborhood school’s fundraising auction, which we usually gave something for. Then came a year with no request, when I ran into the point person a few months later she said that people didn’t step up to do the the work to put on the auction so instead the PTA asked for cash donations. And got more money then they ever did at an auction.

  8. august*

    Dreaming about work sucks a lot for me. It feels like I worked twice as much for the same workload and it’s mentally exhausting because rest ended up as not feeling rested at all. Worse it, this usually happens when I am dumped with work.

    With that said, I wouldn’t think to charge clients of it. It’s not time I specifically set for working and just because my brain thought it funny to make me think about work when I shouldn’t have been doesn’t count as work work, if that makes sense.

    1. Willis*

      One of my most disappointing feelings is when I’m slammed at work, dream about finishing something that’s been on my to-do list, and then wake up to realize I have to do it all over now that I’m awake. I also do some of my best brainstorming in the shower. But…I don’t try to bill for either of those!!

      1. august*

        I hate those too!!! Just when you’ve thought you’ve made a dent in your task but nooooo it’s double the mental effort. And the worst thing is I feel I just worked those hours of sleep so my body thinks I have been working for 16 hours and gonna work another 8 more (not counting overtime ugh).

        A good point by a commenter above that if I were on the client side, I’d be miffed if someone billed me for dream hours.

    2. allathian*

      I don’t dream about being at work unless I’m exceptionally stressed or I’ve just switched to a new job. I do remember that when I worked retail as a student, I spent many a night counting money in my sleep…

      1. BeenThere*

        I take the time back, if work has invaded my dreams and I’ve solved the problem then a little bit of reading a fiction novel in the afternoon to refresh my brain is my reward.

      2. Mangled metaphor*

        Yes, I’m sort of impressed by everyone saying how they dream in SQL or solve problems in their sleep. I’m still retraining myself in better sleep habits and that would be set back to square one if I were routinely dreaming about work in any meaningful manner.

        (That said, I did dream that Right Said Fred were auditing our Finance department last week, in full leather and fishnet vests. We have casual Fridays, but not THAT casual! While amusing, it’s also the first time I’ve even been able to remember my dream in several months – stress badly affects my sleep and I couldn’t problem solve during REM if I tried. I’m not sure how good a solution I’d end up with…)

      3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I haven’t worked in almost ten years and I still have dreams about projects involving my job!

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Does dreaming you’ve shown up to work sans clothing count as dreaming about work?

      (The weird bit? That doesn’t bother me in the dream. Now not having a mask on the other hand…)

      1. never mind who I am*

        Only if you wake up and you really ARE at work.
        You can also get partial credit for that test you forgot about if you can at least get to the right classroom.

  9. Expiring Cat Memes*

    #2: Yeah, I wish I could charge that 6 hours I spent tossing and turning while dream-cleaning my coworkers’ perpetually reappearing SharePoint filing messes, but thinking about it unconsciously isn’t the same as being at work and working. Same as I can’t charge my time showering for coming up with an idea in the shower. Same as I don’t have to apologise in real life for forgetting to wear pants to work in a dream. Same as I don’t really have to live in fear of all the work elevators now going sideways and across town at lightning speed.

    Just because your dream was able to provide a useful insight on this occasion doesn’t make it any different. You charge the time for what you did after you woke up and started working on that thought.

    1. Lucy Skywalker*

      Same as I don’t have to wash my hands after waking up from a dream where I touched something dirty (which, actually has happened to me more than once)!

  10. JC*

    I think the reference giver might keep in mind that it can be hard to find references, especially if someone’s been in and out of the workforce for all kinds of reasons, and maybe they could ask him to right a summary of their work, some ways they describe their working style, etc as a way to jog their memory. Obviously they don’t have to do any of this, but taking a phone call periodically isn’t a big strain and it can really help someone out.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      My understanding is that she doesn’t object to the time it takes and is happy to do it, but is concerned that her reference isn’t helping and could be hurting because she can no longer remember specifics to talk about.

    2. Threeve*

      I think it’s okay to ask him if there’s anything he wants to emphasize–a project, a trait, a particular expertise, etc.

      It may jog your memory–“oh, that’s right! He was super organized, he was the one who perfected that filing system.” Or it may make you feel more comfortable speaking in broader generalities–what you know about him as an employee vs what you remember about his specific accomplishments.

  11. Midwesterner*

    #2 – please don’t conflate work time with dream time. Please.
    Many years ago I worked for a woman who had a chronic degenerative medical condition which, in its latter phases, involves cognitive impairment. While she was breezily upfront about the physical aspects of the condition, she was (understandably) terrified of the cognitive aspects. I was also her first and only direct report, so she had no history for how to maintain boundaries with direct reports. And didn’t—would routinely call me at 11 pm on Friday nights to ask a question about one of my files, or bounce an idea off me. Work was also pretty much her entire life, so if I tried to deflect to say “um, it’s 11 pm on a Friday, can this wait until Monday morning?” she would pout. And she freely said she dreamt about work all the time. Anyway. One day she called me into her office and told me, sorrowfully, that she felt she had no choice but to write me up on formal discipline because I had willfully disregarded the investigative plan we had agreed on. I was dumbstruck. I told her, Um, no, we talked about this and we agreed I would do ABC. She countered and said, yes, but then we had another discussion where we agreed you’d do EFG. Except….that never happened in real life. We never had that second discussion. As near as I could figure, she had dreamt the second discussion, was utterly convinced it had truly occurred (and believe me, I spent lots of time trying to gently, then not-so-gently say that no, we never had that conversation) and was completely unwilling to consider that she had confused waking work time with her dreams. I left within a week, after discovering she had told all our colleagues that I was insubordinate, ignored our agreed plan, and was trying to blame it on her.

    I know this is way off topic from you, but it brought it all back and just—-No. Work and dreams should never mix.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Oh man, that is so hard. I once worked for a woman who would “remind” me of things, I would get confused, she would say, “Oh, I guess I didn’t say that out loud.” Her boss forgot everything he ever offered to do on a project– got me slapped with the “insubordinate” label too. Horribly frustrating and incredibly stressful.

      I hope you’re in a healthier position now.

    2. Thursdaysgeek*

      I’ve had dreams that ended up in memory, as if they had really happened, but never about work. That I know, anyway. (And memories that ended up as dreams – there is some crossover there.)

    3. Starbuck*

      That sounds awful, but this isn’t relevant or helpful for OP. There’s no evidence to suggest they’re going to have issues like your former manager did.

      Lots of people have given great practical suggestions for how they can bill for ideas that come from inspiration outside of typical work contexts. There’s nothing wrong with OP’s attempt to get paid somehow for what turned out to be really productive work (other than they may have blown it for this specific instance).

      1. Gerry Keay*

        I mean I think it shows the potential long-term impact of normalizing dream time as work time. Just… too much room for weirdness and misinterpretation and bad faith execution.

  12. Boof*

    OP2 – bill for the time you spent actively working on the idea; both before and after dream! Afraid the dream part doesn’t count, like it wouldn’t count if you were going for a drive/walk/shopping/whatever and suddenly had an epiphany (writing down the epiphany, sure! The research you did pre-epiphany yes! The drive/shopping trip/etc leading up to it… no)

    1. linger*

      Absolutely charge for every minute of time spent consciously formalising and writing up the plan.

    2. Velawciraptor*

      In my first job in a law firm, the managing partner told us to sleep with a notepad by the bed. That way, when you woke up from dreaming about work, you could document the ideas/strategies you came up with.

      You can’t charge for the dream, but you can charge for the time you spent jotting down notes and shaping up the idea to present to the client, was his logic.

  13. AS87*

    I get why OP1 is frustrated but making a big deal out of it will only make it worse and possibly deter other coworkers from helping out with fundraisers and maybe even being near OP at all. If I witnessed something like that, I would probably stop donating to OP’s fundraisers. I’d also be mildly angry at OP because actual work tasks were derailed by a spat over fundraisers.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, in the LW’s shoes I’d simply decline to participate in the next fundraiser, and if the coworker had the gall to ask “why not, you participated last year and the year before that?” I’d simply say “I know I did, but you didn’t reciprocate even when you said you would” and leave it at that. I don’t think that’s making a big deal out of it, and if the coworker simply forgot the last time, it would at least serve as a reminder for the next.

        1. Annie Moose*

          Please don’t. It’s making a mountain out of a molehill. Just say you don’t have the budget or politely deflect or whatever.

          1. Threeve*

            Yeah, I get that it’s obnoxious of him to not follow through on his promise, but this isn’t like owing somebody money for lunch. And even if the discussion and transactions have taken place at work, it’s not a work activity and shouldn’t be treated like one. Stop supporting his kids’ fundraisers if you want to, but don’t get into why.

        2. Olivia Mansfield*

          At that point, it would be expressing a grudge on a 2-year trajectory which would just be way to intense and petty for the office. Year-before-last I bought from you; last year I sprung the retroactive strings-attached on you and you didn’t reciprocate; this year you can suck it because I’m not buying from you. Still too much intensity and drama around it.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            Agreed. If he’s just sending an email, just don’t answer it. If he brings it up, the right script is, ‘Thanks for checking in! I’m not up for it this year. I hope it goes well! How are your kids doing otherwise?”

      1. RagingADHD*

        That is absolutely making a big deal about it.

        Who keeps score over something so minor for multiple years? That’s quite a grudge to nurse over a really petty thing.

  14. ala*

    op4, could you just, write down a specific description of details while you still remember? If that’s the only problem.

    1. Anne of Green Gables*

      I was going to suggest something similar, though I’m not sure it will help this LW much.

      I was once a volunteer coordinator at a library with a hefty and active summer teen volunteer program. I would frequently be asked to write recommendation letters for colleges. I kept a document with details on each volunteer and things I noticed or projects they worked on and their roles in them, so I had notes to use when the letter requests came in later. It helped a lot, I never would have remembered some of the details, especially with 10 volunteers per summer and a time lag from when they volunteered to when I wrote the letters.

      1. Starbuck*

        Yeah, I’ve got a similar file because we go through seasonal staff and it helps me tremendously to have at least some bullet points to jog my memory when a reference call comes; I’m just not very good on the phone on the spot but I want to be able to sound like I know what I’m talking about so that it’s a positive reference.

  15. tamarack and fireweed*

    The dream time question is laying open something that I sometimes think isn’t discussed enough. For me, the definition of a creative job implies that you can’t completely switch “work” on or off at will. Well, you can for the non- or less creative parts (sort out your invoicing, file your projects, answer routine email inquiries, set up management tasks…). But as a researcher I sometimes literally have the best ideas in the shower, and I am sure the same is true for anyone with tasks that require gnawing on a problem for a long time. That could be arranging a piece of music or figuring out the best way to approach a tricky bit of woodworking. It doesn’t matter if it’s an intellectual problem or a manual one.

    So no, even if I was tracking billable hours I couldn’t invoice for shower or dream time. However, I have come to the conclusion that progress with the creative bits can happen at any time (and not happen during any slot set away for the purpose), and I just have to set an appropriate rhythm to my workday, provide for adequate breaks, and trust that work effort comes out in the wash. (I do think not talking about it contributes to the notorious overwork and stressful constantly-on state that is endemic in my corner of academia.)

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      I agree with everything you write here. My conclusion is that the billable hours model doesn’t work for creative work. The pretense inevitably leads to, um, more creativity. There is no way it could not.

    2. Anonymous Hippo*

      I’m not even in a creative field (accounting) and I spend an inordinate amount of time not during work thinking about work stuff. Now I’m salaried and don’t have a billable hour situation going on, but the way I’ve decided to handle it is I am militant about my actual work hours. You get my body for 40, but not a moment more, because my mind is trapped lol.

    3. RagingADHD*

      OTOH, as someone who bills hourly for creative work, ideas are worthless as long as they are in your head.

      It’s the same concept as the person who says, “I have the best idea for a book/movie/TV Show, you write it and we’ll split the royalties 50-50!” And ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, the idea isn’t that unique because most ideas aren’t actually that unique. It’s the expression and application that’s unique.

      Everyone has amazing ideas all day long, and people frequently have the same idea spontaneously. Getting it out of your head and into a useable form is the hard part.

      You bill for the hard part, and for doing the hard part well.

      1. miro*

        “Getting it out of your head and into a useable form is the hard part.” This (whole comment, really) is a really good point. I’ve never thought of it that way before.

      2. tamarack and fireweed*

        Oh, yes, totally.

        But even the follow-through is largely creative – the drafting and writing and all sorts of creative decision-making. I said “idea” but I also mean ideas about a turn of phrase, or about how to plot a result. Not just the underlying research question or story idea.

  16. Dark Macadamia*

    Something I didn’t realize before becoming the parent of a school-age kid is that some of those fundraisers don’t even benefit the kids participating! I don’t mind buying ugly gift wrap if the money goes toward a new playground or a camping trip, but sometimes it’s like… a random charity that is basically using the kids to pressure people into donating. I’d rather choose to support organizations based on their values/impact than because I feel obligated to help some kid “win” a water bottle! I know this might not be what happened this time, but I can see your coworker agreeing to support your kid when they assumed it was the “help us buy soccer jerseys” type and then quietly declining if it turned out to be the “fund cancer research but not through your preferred program” type. There are plenty of popular/well-known charities that I don’t support, and I wouldn’t give them money just because a coworker had bought some cookies from my kid in the past.

    1. allathian*

      My son’s school does sponsored walks for Unicef, and while I know that some people have issues with that organization, I still sponsor my son when he does the walks, although I don’t ask my coworkers to sponsor him. Teaching kids to do something to help others in a way that doesn’t directly benefit them helps them develop empathy.

      1. londonedit*

        We used to do all sorts of charity things at school. There’s a very long-running children’s TV programme here called Blue Peter and every year they’d have an appeal for a particular charity – viewers would be asked to hold their own ‘bring and buy’ sale or collect aluminium cans or whatever, and we were all so into that at primary school. Then there were the sponsored walks around the local wildlife park for the WWF, and dressing-up days at school for Comic Relief and Children in Need, which are major UK-wide charity events. I think in the UK, certainly when I was growing up, it was less ‘raise money for this sports team’ and more ‘raise money for this charity appeal’.

        1. londonedit*

          And also, reading more of the comments, we don’t have the selling thing that people are talking about. If children are raising money for charity, it’s via sponsorship (or something like a bring and buy sale or maybe a homemade cake sale). People just donate a bit of money, they’re not expected to fork out and buy things.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Definitely! But I’d rather help my kids choose causes that are important to them than just go with the one their teacher hyped them up for during an assembly, and when it’s framed as a contest or there’s a prize you’re not really teaching much beyond “more donations=more keychains” anyway. And if a parent is asking coworkers to donate, the kid is even further removed from the concept of doing their part because they’re just passively waiting for their parent to raise money rather than actually putting effort and thought into the cause.

        1. Starbuck*

          Totally. Finding a local volunteer opportunity seems like a better option, or a more direct fundraiser. I hated, hated, hated the door-to-door sales-y stuff. It’s a task that I am fundamentally ill-suited for, even more so when I was a child, and being forced to participate did not help foster a positive attitude towards charity! Fortunately other things in my life did, but being forced to to sales work (or have parents do it on my behalf) did not.

    2. The Rural Juror*

      That’s a good point. Most of the fundraisers my parents let my brother and I participate in were for specific clubs and they knew the money was meant to buy uniforms and equipment, or pay for travel costs. So it really was being used directly by the kids. It’s perfectly acceptable to choose to abstain from certain fundraising activities if you don’ t know or don’t like how the money might be used (or if the kids even get much of it).

  17. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP2: having come up with perfectly functional and actually relevant SQL for a difficult job in my sleep once, I can understand!

    (I dream entire swathes of text)

    But, I only get to get paid for the time the next day I spent actually typing it out, testing it and implementing it.

    Basically it’s my awake mind that got the job, went through the interviews etc. not my dreaming state so that’s the one that can get paid. Least I hope I wasn’t lucid dreaming my interview…. :)

    1. allathian*

      Oh, cool! I dream entire swathes of text, too, although admittedly not in code. Sometimes it’s with a full symphony orchestra accompaniment. It’s just a shame that my awake mind can’t carry a tune in a bucket and I don’t play any instruments, so nobody else can hear my midnight compositions…

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I get the dreams where I can sing, I’m reading off a script and absolutely rocking it. Then I wake up and remember I sound like a Wookie with constipation when I *actually* try to sing.

        Think it was QI or similar show that mentioned that people cannot read text in their dreams because that part of your brain is switched off. Did make me wonder if my unique brain chemistry was to blame for that.

        1. UKDancer*

          I don’t believe people can’t read text in their dreams. I regularly dream that I am writing an amazing book and I am definitely able to read the text I am writing with my quill pen in my head. Sadly when I wake up I can never remember what the book is about but I know if I ever could it would be the next bestseller.

          1. Cindy Parker*

            That sounds like an awesome dream. I once dreamt a Columbo episode including subtitles (as I was used to seeing on tv). English speech, non-English subtitles.

          2. Starbuck*

            Maybe some people can, but I definitely cannot. I have all those weird things happen that people talk about – the text swims away, the characters are gibberish, heck even the way my perspective while dreaming functions means I can’t actively read because I have no conscious control of the dream. I am what I’ve decided to call a completely credulous dreamer – I remember lots of wacky dream scenarios I’ve been in, usually every morning I can remember at least something that happened, but never in my life can I remember ever being aware that I was in a dream while it was happening.

        2. hodie-hi*

          I once dreamed I was lying on my tummy on my bed, reading an amazing book. When I woke I was so annoyed that the book was gone that I accused my sisters of stealing it right out from under me.

          Yes, I was a massive bookworm growing up.

    2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Same. I have solved 95% of of my complex coding and research issues while sleeping, running, showering, and pooping.

    3. Filosofickle*

      When I was in high school, I was particularly stumped by an advanced calculus problem that I’d labored over for hours. That night while dreaming, I solved it. Woke up, wrote it down, went back to bed. It was correct! I still have no idea how my mind was able to hold so many lines of complex calculus in my mind but apparently I can do that. Weird.

      At least that was interesting. Now, 90% of my dreams are anxiety based. It’s not refreshing to spend my nights looking for a missing car or getting lost in hotel corridors.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      I totally write and rewrite and puzzle out code in my sleep. Also mathematical proofs. And physics equations. In high school on more than one occasion I went to sleep stuck on a problem set and woke up having figured it out.
      I still wouldn’t bill for that sort of thing at work, but I’m saying you’re totally not alone.

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

    OP2 (dream) – the irony here though is that although she can’t charge the nap time to a client, the dream may have indirectly cut the legit billable hours the company will be able to charge as well (because a problem is now ‘solved’ that otherwise many more billable hours would have been spent in solving).

    1. I need cheesecake*

      Surely the entire point of consulting is to solve problems and cut the time people need to spend solving them. No good consultant would think this was anything but a good outcome.

    2. Stitch*

      I personally hate the billables model and thibk it’s massively inefficient. But you can get into big big trouble for not tracking and justifying hours appropriately.

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

        Yeah I understand this (I have to track billable time myself actually and it is a nightmare)! What I meant was more that they’ve already burned a week (billable, presumably) on this problem, which the dream has now provided a solution for. If not for the dream they could easily have ended up burning another week or more on it…

  19. Nope*

    I am so, so tired of kids’ fundraisers are work. Its one of the top 5 reasons I’m never working in an office again. Yes, I have kids. I said what I said.

    1. John Smith*

      Same. Thankfully, people now use online donations which can be done anonymously so one never knows whether someone has donated or not. Or so I thought.

      A colleague who spends more time fundraising/organising office parties etc than on actual work sent an email out to everyone complaining she had received fewer individual donations than the number of people who work in the office and that this simply was not on!

      She then went round asking individuals how much they put in. I replied zero, then referred her to the organisation’s policy on respecting other people. She’s not asked me again, though still sends emails with an “apology” for including “certain individuals like John Smith who won’t contribute.”.

      I’m currently waiting for a date for the meeting with HR.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Oh if she’s ever been in the UK I’ve worked with her! It did have one good side effect – I got to practise that steel-eyed ‘no’ that’s oh so useful. Got labelled as the office ‘grumpy (not nice word)’ but, eh, I’ve been called worse.

        1. John Smith*

          Apparently I have a stare that makes people back off. I wasn’t aware of this, but I really must find out what it looks like and practice it.

      2. londonedit*

        Similarly I’m a member of a running club, and every year a lot of people get places to run the London Marathon via charities (there are three ways you can get a London Marathon place: qualifying by running a particularly fast time for your age category, beating the odds in the public ballot, or with a charity place) which means they have to commit to raising a certain amount in sponsorship (can be as little as a few hundred pounds, can be a couple of thousand depending on the charity). So from January onwards (back in the days pre-Covid when the marathon was in April) the club Facebook page gets absolutely clogged up with people advertising their fundraising pages. It’s impossible to donate to everyone so I just pick two or three friends and give a small amount to each, but there’s a lot of pressure to donate! At least with the online fundraising you can just ignore it and (with any luck) no one will be personally offended if you don’t donate to their particular efforts.

      3. anonymous73*

        Oh I would have had a ball with that one! I had a colleague who used to sell girl scout cookies for her niece (not even her own kid). I usually bought from her because…cookies….but one year someone else beat her to asking me. She asked why I hadn’t bought any from her and I told her that I had already gotten them from someone else. She got all upset and personally offended. I reminded her of our company policy that she wasn’t allowed to solicit for fundraisers and she dropped it. But I would have had no problem having a chat with HR if she didn’t let it go.

    2. Late Night Lentil*

      Same. But this is because of the predatory nature of these fundraising companies, and the low quality product they are hawking.

      It would be different if they just went to Costco and bought a bunch of regular candy bars and sold them off at a reasonable price for a reasonable profit. But no, I have to pay ten dollars for a tiny bar of chocolate that tastes like it was made at the height of the Cold War.

      A few years ago, a Little League team was selling expensive crap outside a local store in an effort to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. I told them I really wasn’t interested in their chocolate, but did want them to go to Cooperstown, so I just gave them a $20 donation. I feel this was far better for all of us. They’d probably have to sell twenty candy bars just to make that much.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, I mentioned above but this selling thing is not familiar to me and I’d be seriously turned off by that! When I was a child it was literally going round to friends/family/neighbours and asking them to sign up to sponsor you to do something (for things like Comic Relief it would be something silly like wearing your clothes backwards for a day or maybe a sponsored silence, and there were also organised sponsored walks) – sometimes people would give you the cash there and then, other times you’d then go round and collect the money after the event. Or at school we’d have a jumble sale or a cake sale for charity, and parents would come to the school for the event and buy the cakes or buy something at the jumble sale and the money would go into the charity pot. Nowadays rather than physical sponsorship forms you’d have an online link but it’s the same principle. It’s giving money in exchange for someone earning it by *doing* something, even if it’s a silly something, not just buying some random chocolate or cookies or whatever.

        1. JustaTech*

          Long ago my girl scout troop (after I’d left) was trying to raise money for a trip to one of the international Girl Scout events (a huge deal for gal who otherwise would probably never leave the country).

          Rather than try the usual stuff they decided to lean into our semi-rural location and held a Cow Chip Bingo.

          What’s a Cow Chip Bingo? It involves a paddock (small fenced field) divided into squares, which folks then purchase (like a bingo card), and a well-fed cow. You wait for the cow to do their bovine thing, and whoever’s square gets the most “cow chip” on it wins the prize, and the Girl Scouts take the rest.

      2. Lizcase*

        The best fundraiser I bought from was these fantastic mint chocolate squares that were cheaper than I could buy them in the local store. Coworker was floored when I asked for 40. Then made sure to hit me up first the next year. I can’t stand the crap chocolate that normally is sold for fundraisers. I have given the kids selling them in front of the grocery stores money and declined to take the chocolate. It’s that bad.

    3. Anononon*

      How is this helpful for OP when she’s specifically asking about an interaction involving someone else participating in a fundraiser?

    4. fhqwhgads*

      My last few jobs have all had explicit anti-solicitation policies, which included school fundraiser type things. I’m getting the impression this is uncommon, but it seems if more employers did this it’d be a good way to quash the whole “bring the sign up sheet to the office” culture.

  20. I need cheesecake*

    #1 Livid seems like a pretty strong reaction, and you’re allowing this person to rent a lot of space in your head – in a world where there is much to be angry, frustrated and/or upset about.

    That doesn’t mean you don’t get to have feelings. But when you have a really strong reaction to something that, objectively, just isn’t that big of a deal, it’s worth reflecting on what’s really going on.

    Do your feelings really belong entirely to this situation? It’s really common to have a strong reaction that’s actually not about what it seems to be, or which partly involves reliving something from the past. If the answer feels like yes, then honestly it would help you to question why you’re reacting so strongly and if it’s truly worth it.

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      Was coming here to say this—does this coworker maybe have a habit of making you feel ignored or disrespected? Is it dredging up feelings of another time when you felt like someone should have come through for you and didn’t? Tapping into weird feelings about money or social obligation?

      I’m betting a box of cookies that this is not at all about the cookies.

    2. OverpricedPopcornUgh*

      OP here. If I’m being completely honest, I’m going through a hard time right now in various aspects of my life. I do see a therapist and take steps to better my mental health, but I wanted to leave that out of my original post so as not to come across as making excuses or “pulling” a card.

    3. ecnaseener*

      In all fairness, LW already pointed out in the letter that it’s probably the sleep deprivation.

    4. OverpricedPopcornUgh*

      OP here. I had a reply to this but I guess it got blocked? I basically stated that I am going through a hard time with a few aspects of my life but did not want to include it in my original post for various reasons.

      1. LizB*

        (Comments here will sometimes get stuck in the automatic moderation filter, especially the first comment or two that someone makes on the site – they’ll show up when Alison spots them and releases them.)

      2. ThatGirl*

        Based solely on your letter and your replies in the comments, I’d take a guess that this particular work situation was simply a focal point for frustration, anger, sadness, etc that is really about other things (e.g. the hard things happening elsewhere in your life). I get it, it happens to all of us; we’re only human. I hope things get better, but I do agree that it’s time to let this go, and simply decline to buy anything next time.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          Very much this.

          In OP’s shoes I can see having this reaction and having it really be about the resentment I felt that a service I was already paying a lot for was asking me to impose on all the people in my life to raise money for something that didn’t feel like a compelling place for charitable giving, angst about whether it would hurt my standing with staff and other parents at the daycare if I didn’t raise enough, angst over the idea of having to go through this 20 more times over the next decade and a half as my child grew up, etc. Even knowing the difficult economics of a nonprofit daycare, it would all really bother me. And if I had assumed I could send the link around at work and at least get a few orders, having that not materialize might make me really upset.

          But it wouldn’t really be about the coworker’s behavior, even if that’s what made me upset on the surface.

      3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        A load bearing stress point. When everything is just stressful sometimes the mind will focus on one thing, one little annoyance, and convince itself that if THAT can be resolved then the whole overall situation will be stable and stay upright.

        As a veteran of having my brain latch onto the weirdest things during high stress situations I can sympathise. It’s very easy to fall into that pattern.

        I’d say put this one in the brain files under ‘stuff I’m ignoring now and will likely look back on in a few months and wonder why was I so bothered’. I hope things settle down for you.

    5. Pocket Mouse*

      I was wondering this too. OP/OverpricedPopcornUgh, just want to say that variation is the most natural thing in the world. There is no one true set of parenting rules for interactions that you have to do trial and error on until you get them “right”. In the event the fundraiser situation triggered a feeling of doing parenting wrong, or a feeling of failure: you’re not failing. Truly. An interaction didn’t end in the result you hoped for, and that sucks, but you know what sucks way more? Letting that experience be a referendum on literally anything at all- your ability to adhere to (nonexistent) parenting “rules”, your relationship with the coworker, your relationship to fundraisers, *anything*.

      My advice is to decide what you want your approach for fundraisers (yours and others’) to be in the long term, and let that be a principle for how you approach fundraiser requests going forward, including with this coworker. (“You know, after participating in a fundraiser for my own kid, I decided…”) If you want to be able to let it go—and wow, it is taking up WAY too much space in your brain right now—then however you move forward has to be about fundraisers generally and not this coworker specifically. Let the past interaction inform your approach going forward, then let it go. You mention having a tough time in a couple aspects of life; I hope you’re able to talk to a trusted person about keeping a healthy perspective in those aspects and in anything they may touch.

  21. Covid Cassandra*

    OP2 – if you have stray thoughts about laundry or personal issues while you are working on a particular client, do you knock that time off your record?

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Yes, I do. But that’s why I only work as a non-hourly employee, so it doesn’t count. Just like taking restroom breaks, chatting up the new admin and discussing sports with colleagues.

    2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      If I do my laundry while still thinking about a job where I’m billing hourly (rare but it happens), I won’t bother to knock that time off, no. Because it’ll only take ten minutes to fold my laundry, when I bill full hours only. And after all I’m still thinking, and often will drop a half-folded shirt to go and write something down.
      There are also plenty of times that I’ll carry on working until ten past the hour, but then I’ll round the bill down. So it’s swings and roundabouts.

      This summer I was asked to do a translation using a particular interface. I kicked up a fuss and tried to insist on being given a file to work on in Word, because the interfaces dreamt up by software programmers are never translator-friendly (no way of counting the number of words to be translated, when this is our standard billing unit, no spell check, no way of knowing how much is left to translate, sometimes you can’t even go back and change your mind about a particular term). So I told the client I’d have to bill the number of hours I worked since I didn’t know how long the text would be. He was fine with that.

      Then it turned out that the interface was even crappier than others and I had to phone the programmer on several occasions to find out how to get round various problems. Most phone calls took a good hour of my time. I ended up billing ten hours, whereas the time I spent actually translating was probably closer to two. None of that was my fault, and the ten hours I spent wrestling with the interface were ten hours I could have spent on other clients – I did have to refuse some other work that week.

  22. Lizzie (with a deaf cat)*

    Hi OP 1, am sorry you are being sleep deprived by monsters under the bed, I feel sure that when you can get some proper sleep you will feel more relaxed about your coworker’s failure to contribute to the fundraiser. Sleep deprivation will make you irritable as quick as a wink! (Maybe you can get 40 winks together eventually)
    Am pretty sure that it’s Captain Awkward who has a fantastic story of how as a child she unwittingly raised many thousands of dollars, year after year, selling girl guide biscuits in an unorthodox manner…

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Oh that’s brilliant–both the story and the Twitter thread that followed.
      (Searched on “captain awkward cookie sale” and it came right up. Add “True story I hated selling Girl Scout Cookies” if it doesn’t.) I would love to see a Captain Awkward Childhood movie come to life. I’m picturing something like My Big Fat Greek Wedding …but less restaurant and more fandom.

  23. for the love of all that's billable*

    LW2, I received an invoice in which we were billed two hours (at attorney rate) for “lying awake worrying about the case”. Believe me when I say that invoice should never have been issued, was hotly disputed, and was reversed with desperate apologies. We also kept it in mind when sending them future work – NB, far less work than otherwise.

    By all means bill an appropriate chunk of time in the 0.5 hours range and mark it “considering options for llama worming”, but if you actually state that it was sleeping you will not be thought cute and may cause unintentional harm to your reputation.

    1. Sleepless*

      That cracked me up too! One of the dozens of work memes I have saved is one that says “I often lie awake at night worrying about your dog. There is no extra charge for this.”

    2. generic_username*

      Omg, that’s amazing. I wonder if that was a joke and it accidentally stayed on the invoice.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I specifically had to tell people not to insert sarcasm into their placeholder time entries because too many of then ended up being released and either really ticking off a billing partner or, worse, getting to the client. One particularly noteworthy one said something to the effect of, “Rewrote memo for the third time because [billing partner] is completely unable to settle on a strategy or comprehend basics of case.”

        1. for the love of all that's billable*

          I suspect this was similar.

          To clarify, we were attorneys instructing other, specialist attorneys. So you’re more like colleagues than clients in many ways. But it’s decidedly not internal billing, so this was thought horribly unprofessional.

        2. EvilQueenRegina*

          There was a recent incident in the UK where someone thought they were approving or declining planning applications in a test system so was just writing random rubbish, which then went live, and people’s applications were approved with conditions like “incy wincy spider”. Apparently the fake approvals legally stood and have to go through a process to be overturned.

  24. LifeBeforeCorona*

    LW1 For the toddler afraid of monsters. Fill a spray bottle with water and a hint of lavender or perfume that they associate with you. Label the bottle MONSTER BE GONE with fancy stickers. Every time they think they can hear the monsters, they can spray the bottle or spray their room before bedtime. It sounds silly but it worked.

    1. They’re not really there*

      Counterpoint: I never subscribed to this method with my kids because for me this was sending the message that the monsters were, in fact, real. There are plenty of techniques that are basically CBT for kids to help kids manage anxiety and fears.

      1. Eat My Squirrel*

        They get over it. You’re not setting them up for lifelong mental health problems by acknowledging their fears and giving them some aromatherapy. Do you also tell them that Santa isn’t real? Do you put money under their pillow from the tooth fairy? IMHO, monsters are the most realistic of all the little fairy tale lies we tell our children. There ARE monsters in the world. They are just usually humans.

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          It’s hard to argue logic with a tired scared 3 year old. Monsters in the closet aren’t real, we know that but they don’t. If a bottle of spray gets them back in their bed and sleeping then spray that monster away.

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yeah. Once I awoke to see my 3yo daughter standing in the doorway. She’d had a nightmare. I said “come and have a cuddle with Mummy then”, but she said “no, I’m afraid of the monster”. Turned out she was frightened of the snoring monster in bed with me, her father!

        3. Starbuck*

          Yeah, this is a totally reasonable tactic to help ease the fears of a toddler. Once they develop more reasoning capabilities you can try that, but doing a ‘monster check’ and then a ‘monster repellent spray’ is whimsical but fine.

      2. Jay*

        Kids believe a lot of things are real that are not, and eventually they figure it out. We had a bottle of monster spray. We also told her that monsters were afraid of teddy bears and they were REALLY afraid of little girls, so she could say “I’m a little girl and I have a BEAR and I’m NOT AFRAID.” She did that a few time – we could hear it from our room – and went back to sleep afterwards.

      3. Me*

        They ARE real to them. Telling them they’re not doesn’t magically make small children rational beings.

      4. Tobias Funke*

        This method allows the child to feel as if they have some control over their environment and their safety.

      5. Fresh Cut Grass*

        I am an entire adult who sometimes gets astoundingly frightened of really bizarre stuff, and no amount of logic can get me out of that state. There’s no logic involved in a lot of these fears; it’s just…primal. I’ve tried all the therapy techniques you can throw at a person to get out of that state, and they don’t do anything to calm me down or feel safer.

        What *does* help me when I start getting scared like that? An assortment of crystals and a bird skull I found on the beach. My logical brain thinks these objects are a bit stupid to keep around. But my crazy brain fully believes they work. And crazy brain is the part that controls arbitrary fears. Crazy brain *knows* that the danger is real, and logic brain cannot take over until she gets calmed down.

    2. Eat My Squirrel*

      Came here to say this. My parents used my dad’s cologne watered down and called it monster spray. Oddly I never realized it smelled like him. lol. Did the same thing with my daughter when she was little. Works like a charm.

      1. Me*

        Can you put the mattress directly on the floor? It eliminates monster hiding places. And if there’s a closet do some type of lock on the outside your kid can lock before bedtime?

        1. ScruffyInternHerder*

          I remember helping “lock” the monsters in my closet as a child. I also remember that I had a baseball bat next to my bed (I believe it was a plastic bat, not a real one) just in case the monsters escaped. Mom figured the plastic bat less likely to cause damage than me sneaking one of my real bats/hockey sticks/etc. into my room.

      2. Eat My Squirrel*

        One of my friends made a big show about going into the closet and “fighting” with a monster, then shoving it into a duffel bag, whacking the bag a few times for good measure, and carrying it away. He said his kid bought it hook line and sinker and thought he’d gotten rid of the monster.

        I was thinking about this and I’d probably even add a little more magic to it by sprinkling some “fairy dust” into the duffel, waiting a minute, then pulling out a big stuffed animal that is the monster transformed into her faithful protector…

      3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Have you tried making the bed with extra layers of Mummy-love to ward off the monster?

        Or just letting her sleep with you for a bit? I know co-sleeping is controversial but it saved my sanity.

      4. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I am not a parent nor will ever be, so feel free to ignore this.

        I have some pretty bad paranoia issues that can sometimes actualise in the old childhood fear of a monster under the bed (I should never watch scary movies) or behind the door or whatever and I’m in my late 40s.

        What my husband has done is get some sweetgrass braids, tie them round the bedposts etc. He’s managed to convince me that no force of evil can come within 20 metres of the smell of sweetgrass.

        With the exception of the cat farting on the bed :p

        1. UKDancer*

          Interesting. I have a friend who had really bad nightmares and sometimes night terrors due to taking a particular medication. I got them a dreamcatcher and they put it on their bed and said when they woke up they visualised the bad dreams and night monsters being caught in the dreamcatcher and found it actually helped them quite a lot in themselves to feel better when they woke from a nightmare.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            I…now have to try that.

            Dunno if it’s the same med but the night terrors and seriously disturbing nightmares? Oh yes. Seriously, I’m going to try what you mentioned, and thank you.

    3. Stitch*

      I have a 2 year old as well and you might consider a nightlight she can control herself. I have a little owl he can turn on and off. I also tell him “mommy is in the next room” or “mommy is going to make a cup of tea”.

      The 2.5 sleep regression is, sadly, extremely normal.

  25. mc*

    If you want your reference to “stay fresh”, take the time to write a detailed letter of recommendation for your former employee. Then you can use your letter to refresh your memory in case someone calls, or you can mail a copy of the letter if a written recommendation is needed.

  26. John Smith*

    #5. Not a medical implant, but I recall going to a conference a few years back where one of the delegates set off the metal detector we all had to pass through. Without waiting he said “Oh that’s just my Scouse Rolex” (a nickname in the UK for electronic tags) and then pulled his trouser leg up to show security staff. I’m guessing the person he had a lengthy and heated-looking conversation with was his boss, but we never saw him in the conference room afterwards.

    1. mreasy*

      So he was kicked out of the conference (and maybe job?) for having a criminal history? That seems counterproductive.

      1. londonedit*

        Most likely for not telling his employer about a recent criminal conviction that meant he had to wear a tag. I can’t imagine many employers being thrilled about that!

  27. JohannaCabal*

    LW1’s situation is reason No. 438 that kids’ fundraisers should be banned from the workplace (and I’m a GS thin mint cookie addict too).

    Also, most of the money from these fundraisers do not go toward the school or group; particularly, school fundraisers. The company running it takes a huge cut. Plus, they get the kids all hyped about winning junk prizes.

    The Sopranos have nothing on school fundraising companies!

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      The only fundraising item that I recall fondly was the pail of frozen cookie dough. I ate it by the spoonfuls for months.

  28. Roscoe*

    #1 just seems petty to me. And like, I get it. He said he’d do it and didn’t, but this seems like far more anger than normal. Sometimes, this happens. I’m very confident I’ve bought a round of drinks for coworkers who said “I’ll get the next one”, and they never did. And yeah, maybe it will make me annoyed about it later and I’ll reconsider buying a round. But being livid over this seems a tad much. Don’t buy from him again if you want, but if I heard you confronted someone about something like this, and you were my coworker, it would make you look far worse in my eyes

    1. OverpricedPopcornUgh*

      OP here. Thanks for your input. I will not be buying from him again, or soliciting in my office again. I don’t appreciate your use of the word “petty” when I came to Allison with what I felt was a legitimate issue. But thanks just the same.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        I don’t think it’s petty and it’s a legitimate issue because it’s so pervasive. There is a lot of pressure to buy from co-workers’ kids. When my kid was in school, they were only allowed to ask their grandparents for donations. We had an aggressive grandma who brought in cartons of GS cookies and went from desk to desk with a change jar and boxes. A simple no thanks should be adequate but fundraising seems to have become a cutthroat business.

      2. SansSheriff*

        Thanks for coming to engage with us here, Overpriced. As Alison often acknowledges (and I’ve experienced myself; not my favorite!), the comment section tends toward rough re: LWs.

        1. CmdrShepard*

          While I agree that is sometimes the case, I don’t think saying a certain thought/behavior is petty is the height of unkindness or being mean. The original commenter even said they are prone to similar petty thoughts, as I think most people have at one point or another.

          I would be highly surprised if anyone could truly/truthfully claim to never having petty thoughts/actions. Having a petty thought/action does not make a person some irredeemable monster it just makes that person human. It is interesting that OP has taken such great offense at the use of the word petty in this situation.

      3. Anononon*

        While I generally enjoy this comment section, sometimes topics pop up that a subset REALLY don’t like, and people can get pretty…personal. (E.g. dogs in offices, live-in employees, office parties, etc.). Unfortunately, fundraising is apparently one of these topics, so a lot of people are going off on their general hatred of them and not your specific question. I’m sorry for that.

      4. Roscoe*

        I mean, you used the word livid. I don’t think “petty” is out of bounds here.

        But I do appreciate that you seem to be participating in the conversation.

        1. OverpricedPopcornUgh*

          OP here. That makes more sense. I took your comment to mean that the entire situation/fact that I posted in the first place was petty. Sorry.

    2. Red Sweedish Fish*

      hard agree, this seems so over the top to be this bent out of shape over not buying from your kids fundraiser. I hate fundraiser season at the office. I once worked with a group of women whose children were grown once and they didn’t allow fundraisers in the pod it was fabulous.

  29. Amsonia*

    LW4, James may not have a choice about listing you as a reference on applications, for example if he’s applying for jobs with public schools. Something very similar happened to me recently. When I contacted my long-ago employee to suggest my reference might not be the most helpful, they told me they hadn’t listed me as a reference, only as a former supervisor. The application systems for public school jobs around here require you to list all former supervisors’ contact info, and then the system contacts those supervisors with the same email reference request (“James Smith has listed you as a reference…”) that listed references receive.

    1. Generic Name*

      Oooh, good point. Federal job applications also require one to list all of their former supervisors. I know that my first boss retired years ago, and he might not even be alive anymore.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yup – I had to list all my former supervisors back to college. By the college one in contact information I just put “Deceased.” Fortunately there was no suggestion of getting a ouiji board to contact him.

    2. Lenora Rose*

      Even if he does, it’s possible that in that time you have moved from being his most recent reference to his oldest.

      I have even used references over 10 years old, but always as the 3rd or as a fill-in, because 3 references from one job felt like too much.

  30. Rez123*

    #1 Fundraising does not stop when your kids frow up. Me and my Office-roomate have a deal. I buy a season ticket to his football team (20e) and he buys two christmas calendars from my scouts (20e). It’s super no pressure and I think he is more worried that I will actaully show up to the game one day :D
    In our Office people put a note in breakroom saying “My kids class is selling x, price x. If interested, please contact parent by day x”. That’s it. I think this is a good way to do it.

    1. Lexie*

      I used to work in an office where people left the order form in the break room. It wouldn’t even be mentioned.

  31. Lauren F.*

    Hi, just wanted to comment on the metal detector question. I work for the Federal government, and our buildings all have metal detectors and scanners for our bags. Alison’s advice is spot-on–just treat it casually, like anyone else with an implant or device. When you’re ready to turn your device off, I would say something like “You guys go ahead, I’ve got to turn off my implant before I go through the scanner.” Hopefully your colleagues aren’t too nosy, but I admit I would be curious about the device, so it might be a good idea to prepare a short explanation to give them, especially since there will be beeping. That said, I would like to reassure you that people set off those scanners all the time, due to belts, jewelry, hip replacements, or just because they forgot to take their keys out of their pocket. So please don’t feel sensitive about your situation–everyone will get used to it pretty quickly.

    1. Pocket Mouse*

      Especially if there’s beeping to turn it back on. I was going to suggest turning it off a bit prior to going through security (like in the parking lot) as a discreet tactic but I admit I’d be more unsettled to see someone fiddling with a remote and hear unexplained beeping immediately *after* going through security. A brief prepared explanation and ready response to nosy questions would serve you well!

  32. anonymous73*

    #1 – I understand why you’re mad but do not let this become “a thing”. Do not confront him about it, and don’t hold it against him. When he asks you about his kid’s fundraiser in the future, just tell him no thanks. It’s not worth starting a war at work with a co-worker over something this trivial that has nothing to do with work. Several jobs ago we had a woman who sold girl scout cookies for her niece. I usually bought from her each year because she was the first one who offered. One year another friend asked first so I bought them from her and the woman from my job got all worked up about me not buying them from her niece. I was honest with her because she was being pushy, but a simple no thanks should be enough. Fundraisers are necessary for schools and extra curriculars, but don’t become one of those people who hounds others until they relent and feel like they’re forced to support your child.

  33. foolofgrace*

    Re: the fundraiser: I agree that you should let it go. If, however, the deadline for participation is coming up, you could use that as an “in” to remind your coworker of his offer to help. And then let it go. Personally I would not support him next year and that’s that.

  34. Jean*

    THE DREAM QUESTION, I’M SCREAMING. That’s probably my favorite AAM question ever. That LW has to be an Aquarius.

    1. Random Internet Stranger*

      Holy shit, as an Aquarius, this is my favorite comment. LOL

      For the record, I am salaried, but I dream/day dream about work constantly (I love my work, but this is still mildly intrusive and annoying) and I always think about how this factors into my total work time. I’m supposed to work 37 hours per week, so if I spend too much time on a Sunday thinking/dreaming/day dreaming about work… that totally counts toward my hours and I can peace out early on Friday, right???

      Favorite AAM question ever. Thanks, OP!

  35. twocents*

    #1 is exactly why my work doesn’t allow people to circulate fundraisers.

    For the record, I don’t think he was obligated to purchase. Make a decision on whether you buy overpriced cookies or whatever on the basis of whether you WANT those things, not on whether you can wrangle the others into buying your kid’s overpriced crap later.

    1. OverpricedPopcornUgh*

      OP here. I never said he was obligated. It’s that he agreed to, then did not follow through. Naturally, I am upset. I will not be pursuing this, as I have stated in the comments above. Thank you.

      1. CmdrShepard*

        Do you normally get really upset when people say they will do something but don’t follow through?

        I have encountered people who take statements “I will do X.” as an unbreakable promise/vow to do X no matter what. If the person fails to do X they get really upset see it as rude, personally disrespectful to the person they said it to.

        But I have also encountered people (I admit I am one of those) when they say “I will do X.” it means “I want to do X or I intend to do X if I can” but it is by no means a promise/vow. The person similar won’t take a statement of “I will do X.” as a guarantee.

        As Alison pointed out there are various reasons that things might fall by the wayside. The coworker was on a busy project when you reminded them, or was away from their desk etc…

      2. Cobscookie*

        “Naturally, I am upset.” OP, note that a lot of people here don’t seem to think this is something to be upset about. I hope you don’t feel attacked by that POV. But try to consider how many comments suggest that what happened in this “fundraising drama” is not really drama but just the way things roll in life, and not a corner worth defending–or even spending much brain time on. Except to the extent that you treat it as a way to learn to not project your personal expectations (which may or may not be relevant) onto other people.

  36. Eldritch Office Worker*

    From the headline I thought #2 was going to be a fun version of “how do I get hired as an ideas guy” – like how do I get hired as a dream guru.

    …then again maybe OP could get hired as a dream guru and have a full time napping job!

  37. Minerva*

    #1 Fundraisers at the office should always be low pressure. The most anyone should do is *maybe* reach out if you know a co-worker gets particularly excited by Girl Scout cookies and the like. My office generally handles this by leaving these sorts of “order forms” in the common break area so people can sign themselves up, or if selling chocolate bars and the like it’s generally on the honor system to take a bar, leave a dollar. If your office can’t pull off that sort of low pressure sale, then it’s best to let things go and just not order in the future. Only bring it up if he tries to guilt you later.

    #2 Yeah, I don’t know how you bill for that, especially since you made it clear that you were asleep at the time. It does stink that your brain was working on it MOST “time off”

    #5 Seconding Allison here. Breezy and “I rather not discuss in detail” is the way to go.

    1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

      #5: As a woman with a chronic medical problem (it’s not an “issue”, it’s a PROBLEM! ;) who dislikes discussing it, I find it helpful to answer unwarranted questions with a breezy “Oh, it’s a lot of really boring medical stuff. Say, did you catch “————” on Netflix?” (Or fill in a suitable change-of-subject question of your own.) This signals, loud and clear, that my medical problems are (A) boring and (B) not up for discussion. It works very well!

    1. Lenora Rose*

      It shouldn’t be, but child care is an area where without subsidies, you’ve got low-wage workers struggling to take care of children on a shoestring while parents complain about the huge fees they pay (Because it can simultaneously be true that the fees are ones that parents struggle to pay monthly AND they don’t cover the actual costs or allow for a raise).

  38. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    LW #2, I would frame it this way to myself: You don’t bill for the dream. You bill an hour or two for documenting the dream afterwards, refining the idea, and prepping it to present to your team or client.

  39. TennisFan*

    OP1, I get where you’re coming from and if I were you, I’d be frustrated as well. I have a pet peeve myself over people being rude in these type of relatively low-stakes social situations. But I rarely have the stomach to confront people, and mostly end up stewing, which isn’t very pleasant for me or my partner. What I’ve learned is that it actually feels good to let the anger go, and not let the situation control me. It doesn’t mean you and this coworker have to become best friends, and definitely don’t buy again from him if you don’t want to, but remaining cordial with him and not bringing this up could actually feel empowering. Of course, no worries if you don’t agree/don’t relate to this, just my two cents!

  40. MuseumChick*

    Growing up, my parents refused to sell my Girl Scout cookies in their offices or do any other fundraising. As a kid It was frustrating but as an adult I completely see why they refused. I wish all offices would ban it! OP 1, your co-worker is not obligated to do anything here. Maybe he forget or maybe something come up where money is tight or any other number of things. My suggestion is that going forward you do not not support any fundraising in the office either for your child(ren) or anyone else.

    1. Anon for This*

      I did bring in the Girl Scout cookie form, only because people would actually ask who had a scout when cookie time came around. That was the only fundraising I did at the office. I was astounded at the number of people who tried to get us to buy gift wrap, candles, pies, etc.

    2. Filosofickle*

      My Dad would not take any fundraisers to his office. As a manager he thought there was no way to share it that wasn’t going to make people feel pressured. And my mom didn’t have an office. That was a real disadvantage to me — fellow scouts whose parents helped them always sold way more cookies. (Especially the one whose dad was a doctor.) But yeah as a grown up I totally get it! And, it was my job not theirs.

  41. Hiring Mgr*

    It sounds like a better solution for #1 might be to have the kids themselves come into the office to sell the stuff, that way OP won’t have to get involved in any quid pro quo and can just deal directly with the child. Then when it’s your kid’s turn just do the same

    1. ecnaseener*

      LW1 has said the child is a toddler, too young to do the selling. (They’re commenting as OverpricedPopcornUgh)

    2. Minerva*

      I am not a fan of that, makes it even more weirdly high pressure because then you feel like you’re being mean to a kid who’s asking you to buy something.

      One thing I do like, that is oddly charming, is the “after the fact” in person delivery. My co-worker will bring in her girls to deliver the Girl Scout Cookies AFTER they have been ordered. Now they also “just happen to have a few extra back in the car” for anyone who forgot to order, but they aren’t actively soliciting at that point.

    3. Zephy*

      Please do not set a precedent of parading your kids through your office to hawk their shitty wrapping paper or whatever directly to your coworkers.

      I shudder to think what other dysfunctional BS would fly in an office that would allow that.

      1. Jean*

        Thank you. What an odd suggestion. I can see encouraging the kids to do their own selling, but with neighbors/extended family, not parent’s coworkers WHILE THEY ARE WORKING. I would complain to HR if someone brought their kid in here hawking stuff for a fundraiser.

    4. Me*

      NOOOOOOOOO! I can’t no this enough.

      A coworker did that. It really puts people on the spot to have to say no to a child’s face especially your coworkers who you have to see every day.

      I’m sure you mean well but it is well and truly a terrible suggestion.

  42. Tedious Cat*

    The official rule at my office is that you may put your fundraising brochure in the breakroom with an explanatory note and you are expected to leave it at that. Absent high-powered sales techniques, I’ve probably supported more fundraisers than I would have otherwise.

    That said, maybe it’s just the small town in me but OP’s coworker sounds like a douche who, if called out, would either blame his spouse who’s in charge of all that stuff, or go on about how the Boy Scouts are way more important than daycare. Distance yourself now before he starts looking to you to pay for the kid’s Eagle Scout project.

  43. Falling Diphthong*

    A lot of discussion of #1 has focused on social reciprocity models, and only doing things out of joy with no thought of the recipient of a favor in future doing the exact same favor for you. Captain Awkward tackled this a few months back at the link below through that ever hot-button frame of cat-sitting. It’s a useful deep dive, addressing how sometimes people have different tolerances for being inconvenienced, and people get to say no, but also how maybe you shouldn’t tell yourself that the friend who is “happy to catsit for you” is truly overcome with joy at the opportunity to spend time with the divine Mitzy and of course you don’t need to spell out that, in future, if she has a cat there is no way you’re traveling across town to feed him.


  44. Khatul Madame*

    LW3 – I know it’s hard to compete with cookies and metal detectors, but I want to comment on your letter.
    The good news – this message is a sign that you are still in the running. They would not have reached out if they were not interested in you. Do not take “internal processes” BS literally, just know that there always are delays.
    That said, as with all job search, keep looking until you have a firm offer in hand/mailbox.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Well, they wouldn’t have reached out if they had already decided to reject LW, but I would be cautious about assuming it means anything positive. “Still in the running” implies LW made it through a round of rejections, but there might not have been a round yet.

      Good luck LW3!!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I agree–something is holding things up, and they want to alert a certain group of applicants (from “everyone; we haven’t looked at applications” through “those we are still interested in after screening”) not to just assume the job is gone.

      Basically it’s not negative. It’s also not wildly positive.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah they’re basically saying “lest you think we’re ghosting you, we’re actually just dealing with other shit for a bit”.

    3. Bumblebee*

      Yes, this phrase is totally something I would have come up with to mean, “There’s a black hole around HR operations here and we just have to wait it out.”

    4. Backup Your Backup*

      Tough crowd with the cookies and metal detectors. I did take it as somewhat of a positive that they reached out. These days, most don’t even do that. I guess we’ll just have to see how things play out.

  45. Dr. Rebecca*

    For the implant–the only thing I would add is to talk to the head of security and have them let all the guards know about your device, because with as twitchy as people are right now you really don’t want people to…misinterpret you messing about with remotes and wires near a security station.

    1. SweetestCin*

      I would agree. We have a particularly nosy and opinionated security guard here (I just cannot with him most days because he always has a snarky remark about masks and phone-check-ins, both of which are required…) and I can only imagine the drivel he’d spout or what he’d do with a misinterpretation.

    2. drpuma*

      Similarly – there may be something you’re not aware security can do to make it easier for you. If your office is at all like other places I’ve worked, the same handful of people are consistently on security and I imagine you’ll get to know them fairly quickly.

    3. HelloFromNY*

      Yes, I’m surprised Alison didn’t suggest this as well. Please alert security in advance. Remotes and beeping near a security check point could be very unnerving to some people. Security may also be required to follow some sort of special procedures on their end. Security guards are usually a group of reoccurring characters, so you will probably get to know them over time.

  46. Office Rat*

    References can be a nightmare for a variety of reasons. I had to really work the reference angle when I graduated from college because I transitioned female-to-male. My old jobs were filled with very unsupportive people that refused to even talk to me, let alone reference me. I had to bodge together some very dubious school student references and some ancient ones to get my first job in my field. It’s not something I’d normally do, but I am so eternally grateful for the folks that did ref me to my interviews.

    I can’t say that’s LW#4’s friend’s issue, but even an out of date reference can save your butt, I learned.

  47. JustForThis*

    #2: I just leave this here:

    “In the summer of the year 1797, the Author, then in ill health, had retired to a lonely farmhouse between Porlock and Linton, on the Exmoor confines of Somerset and Devonshire. In consequence of a slight indisposition, an anodyne had been prescribed, from the effects of which he fell asleep in his chair at the moment that he was reading the following sentence, or words of the same substance, in “Purchas’s Pilgrimage:” “Here the Khan Kubla commanded a palace to be built, and a stately garden thereunto. And thus ten miles of fertile ground were inclosed with a wall.” The author continued for about three hours in a profound sleep, at least of the external senses, during which time he has the most vivid confidence, that he could not have composed less than from two to three hundred lines; if that indeed can be called composition in which all the images rose up before him as things, with a parallel production of the correspondent expressions, without any sensation or consciousness of effort. On awaking he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved. At this moment he was unfortunately called out by a person on business from Porlock, and detained by him above an hour, and on his return to his room, found to his no small surprise and mortification, that though he still retained some vague and dim recollection of the general purpose of the vision, yet, with the exception of some eight or ten scattered lines and images, all the rest had passed away like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone has been cast, but, alas! without the after restoration of the latter […].”

    This is Coleridge’s preface to his stunning poem “Kubla Khan.”
    So even if you are apparently not allowed to bill for your dream vision, eternal fame may yet be in the books.

    1. marvin the paranoid android*

      I’m pretty sure in this case “an anodyne” is code for “copious amounts of opium.”

      1. JustForThis*

        Yes, definitely. Might make billing even more problematic ;)
        However, the poem, whichever way it came about, is amazingly wonderful.

  48. Frenzy*

    For #2, I’d document the idea, and charge time for any and all time spent documenting/fleshing it out/socializing and prepping for the pitch. But that’s it.

  49. Casper Lives*

    #1 ah, kids’ fundraisers in the office. I think my office banned them since they caused conflict with coworkers.

    There were small interpersonal conflicts like the OPs. Then the highly compensated executive sent out a fundraiser for his son’s travel hockey team. Most workers wouldn’t have been able to afford the sport and equipment at all.

  50. AvonLady Barksdale*

    LW #2: I used to work in consulting. I often thought about work problems while walking my dog. I came up with some great ideas. I would have loved charging clients for it– that’s at least an hour every day! But no.

    I can thank a dream for helping me locate a lost library item. Almost 20 years ago and I still recall it vividly. It’s a fun story but not useful beyond that.

  51. awesome3*

    #1 I think Girl Scout cookies are in their own category – a lot of people look forward to those every year. Not so much with most other fundraisers. People should never feel pressured to have to buy something from their coworker’s kid. I would stick to only buying things from fundraisers that you want from here on out, so you don’t have to feel this frustration in the future.

    1. Threeve*

      Girl Scout cookies are the only fundraiser I can think of that have actual scarcity. I can buy wrapping paper, popcorn and magazine subscriptions whenever I want to. But GS has the market cornered on Thin Mints.

      1. Starbuck*

        Actually, last year I saw them stocked in my local QFC. Not year round, but for longer than I saw kids out selling them. Maybe that was a temporary pandemic-specific thing though.

  52. Retired (but not really)*

    My neighbor’s grandkids just had a fundraiser and there was an option to donate directly to the school through the website. Which I chose. There wasn’t anything listed that I wanted to buy (and pay shipping in addition) or subscribe to. At least there was the option to donate.

  53. awesome3*

    #2 You’re amazing, and proof that sleep is useful even (and especially!) when you’re working hard on something important. The important part is what came from the dream, and what you did with it. And that’s what you charge them for.

    However, the other important part is that you’re going to become an AMA legend for your awesome dreaming skills.

  54. CatPerson*

    LW1, you might think about teaching your toddler by example that sometimes you just have to let things go.

    1. OverpricedPopcornUgh*

      OP here. We have established in previous comments that I am going to let this go, thank you!

      1. Empress Matilda*

        Just jumping in to suggest you let this comments section go for a while too! Lots of people post without reading the previous comments, so even though they’re repeating, they’re not necessarily piling on. It’s great that you’re here and responding, but maybe leave it for a couple of hours rather than trying to do it in real time?

        It’s up to you of course – do what makes you happy! I just wanted to suggest that it’s along the lines of things taking up too much space in our brains – sometimes it’s easier to recognize from the outside. :) Sending sleep vibes to your toddler and you.

  55. Forgot My Name Again*

    #4 – did you keep a record of what you said about him the first few times you were asked? Use that as a basis for a letter of recommendation, since it will have been fresher in your mind then.

  56. Goddess47*

    LW5 – Not everyone has implants that can be turned off/removed. I have a hip replacement that just is.

    So the security staff *should* already have a process to deal with implants on a routine basis. It may require wanding or a hand search, but should also be a ‘routine’ request. A statement of ‘I have X and cannot go through the machine’ should be low key and handled politely.

    If it’s a building you will be going in and out of regularly and want to be aware of what the options are, taking the time to ask what the process is would be a good time investment.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      There may also be a medical alternate process that can be requested – with forms filled out by the dr who put in the implant.

      I know 30ish years ago the hospital that my mom worked for would give official cards for implants, artificial joints, plates to help keep fractures together while they heal, etc. The point wasn’t to skip security processes, but to help explain what’s being picked up by the security scanners.

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

      Thanks for the input! I was thinking that there should be some sort of process for people with these types of implants. But as a person without an implant, I was not sure how this works. I think the LW should talk to their HR or the security to see what they need to do.

  57. MicroManagered*

    LW1, I think you will make it weird if you bring up the fundraiser thing now. Maybe yours was not something he wanted to purchase or he forgot? Who knows.

    Next time, don’t contribute to people’s kids’ fundraisers unless you want what they are selling. If you absolutely must say something to this person, next time he asks you to buy something, you could say something like “Sorry, I don’t contribute to these kinds of things at work anymore, because I’ve found that people don’t return the favor for mine.” But if you bring it up out of nowhere, I think it will come off weird.

  58. CupcakeCounter*

    I also think the product being sold matters too. While GS cookies and BS popcorn are overpriced, I will buy a box or 2 or one of those chocolate bars in a heartbeat over some kid’s school catalogue full of overpriced crap that breaks while taking it out of the package (to the extent that I just send a check to the school if that is what my kid’s fundraiser of the year is). If buying from your kid means reviewing a catalogue, signing some sheet, calculating taxes and figuring out total payment, trying to figure out where the hell my checkbook is since the school/you don’t take Venmo or hoping I have exact change…there is a good chance it isn’t going to happen. My effort in buying shouldn’t be more than you/your kid’s effort to sell.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I stared at this comment for so long before I realized BS meant boy scout lol I didn’t even know they sold popcorn

  59. That One Person*

    I WISH I could’ve charged for any dream time about my last job! They were usually stressful, and admittedly circumstances are different compared to your’s as it was just retail so nothing could be brought over from the dream, but man I did not like dreaming about it! I still get stress dreams involving that job ironically and none about my current job, which is also clocked yet has been mostly positive.

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

      Me too! I had dreams where I was taking work calls on my cell phone and trying to explain to the customer that I can’t see their Bill because they are calling me on my personal phone and there’s nothing I can do.

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

    #1 besides everything that Alison mentioned I would like to add that you don’t know what may have happened since he first agreed to purchase. He may have been able to before but then he got home and found out that his wife lost her job and now he’s the only one working, or something else has come up that is making unnecessary purchases really hard.

    I would also take a look at your kid’s stuff versus his kid’s stuff. Is your stuff way more expensive? I’ve noticed that the fundraiser stuff can really range in prices. Like some maybe $5 for a box of cookies but other stuff it’s like $15 for a box of candy.
    #2 It would be nice but it’s really silly to think you could charge for thinking of a solution in a dream. It would be no different than if you were driving and thought about it or in the shower, or any other task. The great thing about our brains is that when we move onto a new task are brains will still think of the problem and try to work it out, even if we aren’t trying to.
    Charging because you thought of it in a dream is really odd. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could get paid for when we dream about work!
    It can suck but he shouldn’t have to tell you that he can’t afford something. Just give him the benefit of the doubt.

    #4 I think you are still relevant but maybe you could have a brief chat with James and ask how he is wanting to use you for a reference. You say that there has been questions that you cant answer (questions about collaboration and teamwork). I wonder if there is confusion on what your role was with James as a volunteer. I think you could say something like “He volunteered only a few hours each week, so we didn’t see each other on a daily basis. And in the role he had there isn’t any team work or collaboration, so I can’t speak on those skills. But he was excellent at XYZ Skills.

  61. Me*

    OP1 – unpack it a little… does it bother you because you feel like it’s a slight to your child? It’s pretty normal for that protective instinct to make us blow things out of proportion a bit. But it’s not and really has nothing to do with your kid even though it’s their fundraiser.

    Work to take the emotion out of it. No one is obligated to participate. That includes you! You don’t have to buy fundraising crap you don’t want. I personally am not a fan of fundraising at work at all (I didn’t when my daughter was that age), but if you do, just leave it in the break room or post outside your office and let what happens happen. Want to bow out of all of it? Go for it! You don’t have to accept that it’s just part of office life. People bringing in the fundraisers might be but participation is 100% voluntary.

  62. Sara without an H*

    OP#3: I wouldn’t worry too much about it. It’s just polite business-speak for: “We’re still working our way through the bureaucracy, and we’ll be in touch as soon as we can.”

    As to what that says about the organization — well, maybe they’re heavily bureaucratic. Or maybe a key manager, who has to sign off on the position, is on vacation. Who knows? But it’s nothing to worry about.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I actually think it’s pretty polite for them to let the LW know that a decision hasn’t been made yet and that things are taking a bit longer than they may have told them.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        I thought that too. So often we hear people who think the organization has ghosted them. I think its refreshing

    2. Backup Your Backup*

      OP here. I did think it was somewhat positive that they responded. It’s better than being “ghosted”. It’s very early on in the process, so it’s definitely going to take some time.

  63. dear liza dear liza*

    I’m in higher ed so I get asked to write a lot of reference letters as well as asked to serve as reference checks. I stole from another colleague the idea to 1) ask people who wanted me to be or give a reference to provide 3 or so highlights they wanted me to mention, the more detailed the better and 2) provide such a list to references when I was applying for something. It might be work LW #4 reaching out to her former colleague and asking for such a list.

  64. Miami Beachbum*

    Girl Scout cookies are the only exception to fundraisers at work being a potentially bad idea, because these are a need and not a want, and how else will you get them except through a GS?

  65. MCMonkeyBean*

    OP4: It sounds like there are two potential issues you are worried about with your reference. One piece is about not working together much and the job not lending itself to teamwork. There’s nothing you can do about that.

    But for the piece about just not remembering as well–you can certainly decline to be a reference in the future, but if you *want* to continue to be a reference, why not ask James to send you a sort of refresher sheet? Have them write up a sort of self-evaluation with details of what they did during that time. Some of which you may not have been aware of and some of which may jog your own memory a bit. You shouldn’t of course just like repeat their own self-evaluation to the employers calling, but it may help you come up with your own ideas. And if you expect this may continue once or twice a year for the ongoing future you could even take 10-15 minutes to document what you do remember which would then make it faster and easier for you to collect your thoughts in the future.

    You definitely don’t *need* to do any of that! But it doesn’t seem like you don’t necessarily want to stop being a reference, just that you’re not sure if you have anything useful to say. So if you want to continue I think those are some ways to make sure you have something to say.

    1. Empress Matilda*

      I was thinking this too. Since the content of your reference will be the same each time, why not write it down? Definitely let James know about the risk of it getting stale, but there’s no reason you need to remember any of it on your own.

  66. SwampWitch*

    In all fairness, fundraisers drive me bananas so I totally understand OP’s frustration. For the longest time, they were the only kind of fundraising allowed in my office with the unspoken rule it had to be reciprocal. When people stopped buying other kid’s band candy, things got messy. Either way, better than MLM products being sold in the office.

  67. Random Internet Stranger*

    I am salaried and don’t have to worry about billing clients, but the dream question speaks to me. I think about work a lot (like a lot) and my best ideas often come to me in a dream, while driving, on a mountain, in the shower, etc. Anywhere but in the office. I always wonder how this factors into my total time spent “working”. Like, if I need to clock 37 hours per week, and I spend a weird amount of time randomly thinking about work, can I clock out early on Friday? Yes? Ok!

    Thanks, OP #2. I get you.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      I’d say as long as you’re physically awake when the idea comes to you, that time counts.

  68. Lizabeth*

    Back in the day when I worked at places that had a LOT of parents selling stuff* (crap basically) for their kids I had only one question for them – what are you fundraising for? NONE of them could tell me and I pasted on buying anything.

    *Girl Scout cookies are the exception – I will buy Thin Mints anytime, anywhere.

    1. Random Internet Stranger*

      Same. Terrible, off brand chocolate? N0. Wrapping paper? No, thanks. Girl Scout cookies. Yes and more yes. I love Girl Scout cookies.

      1. OyOy*

        My one regret (not really a regret) of my short time living in the US was that no one came to our door selling the fabled Girl Scout cookies. I would have happily tried them.

        In Canada, there’s only two kinds.

  69. learnedthehardway*

    OP#2 – I would bill for the time, but would list it as working hours. I bill clients, and sometimes, I bill for the value I bring as opposed to the time it takes. I’ve realized over time that I’m incredibly efficient and take less time than other people would. I don’t see any reason why I should be penalized for that, so I bill for the time it would take for an average person to do the work. Mind you, I stay quite reasonable and am shifting my billing away from time billing to project billing, partly because it’s easier to keep track of.

  70. bee*

    OP1 I don’t know if you’re still in the comments, but a thing that helps me is to assume the absolute most generous interpretation of why your coworker didn’t donate. You’ve jumped straight to “This is an Intentional Slight” but I think “money is tight” or “he just won’t use the product” or (most likely) “he forgot” are waaaaaay more likely. Even on the very slim chance it is a slight, treating it as if it isn’t is much healthier for your brain and for your continued interactions with the coworker.

    I have ADHD and have been spacey and forgetful for my entire life, and one of my least favorite things is when people take my genuine forgetfulness and read all sorts of negative intent into it that just doesn’t exist. If you don’t want to donate to his fundraiser next year, just politely say no and otherwise try not to hold it against him. I categorize stuff like this as the adult version of extra credit–lovely if people do it, but not something they’ll lose points for if they don’t.

    1. Empress Matilda*

      I was going to say the same about ADHD. Even I am amazed at how quickly – and how thoroughly – I can forget things sometimes! Which doesn’t change the actual advice, but definitely don’t assume it’s intentional if I do something like this.

    2. Lotus*

      ADHD is actually why I don’t order GS cookies (or anything) from coworkers. I’m going to forget I ordered them, and if they don’t accept the money upfront or directly request the money from me at the time of delivery, I will stiff them without realizing and I don’t want to risk that. I just buy from the next booth I encounter and that’s that.

  71. Caboose*

    LW5, if the device in your spine is the type of device I suspect it is (neurostimulator), I would opt to redirect any questions by discussing the *device*, rather than your body and/or your medical history. These things still sound weird and sci-fi to a lot of folks, so if people *do* get nosey, I suspect you’d be able to get them to stop talking about you by just…explaining how this cool futuristic spine implant works!

  72. Database Developer Dude*

    I know people hate being pressured into fundraisers, but there’s also no reason to go after an ant with an Uzi. Many places just ban them altogether, and as as customer, I want my Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies….no one has to pressure me to buy them.

    But in a previous job I had, I had to meet the seller in the parking lot, because the boss was adamant, because he didn’t believe me that I wasn’t being pressured.

    Thin Mints sell themselves…no one has to be pressured.

    1. Lotus*

      I mean, is work your only access to Girl
      scout cookies?? Don’t troops set up booths by your local grocery store?

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Doesn’t matter. The intent of these bans is to stop people from pressuring coworkers to buy stuff. Nobody has to be pressured to buy Girl Scout cookies.

    2. eastcoastkate*

      Oh my gosh meeting the seller in the parking lot is cracking me up- makes it seem so sketchy as opposed to just- GS cookies!

  73. Database Developer Dude*

    OP#2, I wouldn’t say anything about dream time, but if I’m thinking about a work problem while I’m commuting to work, I will definitely count that time as work time. As a software and database engineer, I have to figure out problems, and I see no difference between sitting at my desk thinking about how to solve the problem and sitting in my car thinking about how to solve the problem.

  74. Guin*

    For the love of God, do not shill your kid’s fundraising crap in the office. Everyone will hate you. And don’t make your kid participate in these shakedowns, either. Give the PTA a cash donation of whatever you can afford, and refuse to sell stuff for them.

  75. IDK*

    LW 1, when I don’t want to buy or don’t have funds, I tell them my kid is selling/just finished selling and I spent all my money on my kids fundraiser. Usually they will move on since they didn’t/don’t want to buy from my kid.

    I also don’t ask people directly. If my kids are selling something I think people might be interested in, I will send a broad email to my department or put the form on a communal table for people to view at their own leisure. Sometimes people buy, sometimes they don’t and that’s OK. I make it a point to not make anyone feel pressured so I don’t feel pressured to buy from their kid. However, I do remember who does buys even one time so I can reciprocate.

  76. Jaybeetee*

    LW1: You have a better gauge on whether this is possible than anyone else here, but I also wanted to gently point out the possibility that your colleague is broke.

    I still remember doing the door-to-door girl guide cookies thing with some other girls, and coming across one lady who apologetically said she couldn’t afford them right now. Because I was a socially clueless kid, I reacted with some visible surprise and afterwards got thoroughly scolded by the older girls I was with. That was my first lesson that people can live in houses and drive cars, but may still not be able to afford $3 for a box of cookies.

    As an adult, I’ve had situations where I worked a “respectable” job, but due to circumstances I was like, $499 in overdraft with a maxed credit card. It’s embarrassing when you don’t “look” poor. And there were probably times where I did a “yeah, I’ll buy it later” and hoped for people to forget, rather than admit I literally didn’t have $5 to spare.

    Because of that, I try to never make assumptions about money or purchases. Maybe this guy is having more trouble than you know, maybe he forgot, maybe he got his and doesn’t care about yours. I’m glad you said you don’t intend to pursue it with him, but it also might help to consider he might have things going on you don’t know about.

    1. Liz*

      Agree. I’ve adopted a slightly modified version of Hanlon’s Razor as my mantra: never attribute to malice what can be explained by oversight/incompetence/mistake/etc.

    2. Pennyworth*

      It took me far too long to learn never to make assumptions about any aspects of other peoples’ lives.

  77. Cindy*

    To letter writer one, not pertinent to the question, but about the fears of monsters. With my kids, we created something called monster spray – a spray bottle mixed with water and an appealing scent (citrus, whatever). We told our boys – this is anti-monster spray – we spray this around the bed and no monsters can get anywhere close. And they could spray it each night. Worked really really well. Good luck!

  78. ElleKay*

    Hey LW #4 I am 100% sure that I also “worked as an Americorps member for a nonprofit that provided in school literacy tutoring to elementary students.” with the very same organization that you’re referring to and, I would encourage you to remember that it’s very likely/solidly possible that James *doesn’t know these norms* and that it would be good of you to talk to him, like Alison suggests.
    In addition, you could (remind/tell) him that its polite to give you a heads up before he submits your name as a reference so that you know to expect a call and that he can tell you if there are particular things he’d like you to mention when you speak to that person!
    References are usually listed b/c the applicant expects them to talk about A and B but you might not if he doesn’t give you that heads up. (This is also an opportunity for you to say “I don’t remember a case of A, etc.” He might be able to remind you or he might see that you’re not the right recommendation for that)

  79. Former_Employee*

    I love GS cookies and was always happy when someone gave me an order form and then sometime later they delivered the cookies to me.

    1. New But Not New*

      A cultural icon, I sold them then my daughter sold them. Especially Thin Mints and Trefoils (the shortbread cookies), they were both around many moons ago when I was a GS.

    1. alsoAcyborg*

      I have a neruostimulator as well. #5 should ask to see if they can have a card (mine just has quick big text that states the company that created device and that I can’t go through metal detectors) if they don’t already ; but they should also double check with the representative for their device (the rep who knows it – not the doctor). Mine advised me to avoid going through metal detectors entirely, not just with it off. I go through a back scatter on the rare occasion I’ve had to fly with it.

      Depending on the rep’s answer, you may need to request an accommodation (pat down or some other form of security check)

  80. New But Not New*

    I would rather buy something that sponsor someone just to walk, dumbest idea ever to me. I just donate then too.

  81. justcuriousiguess*

    Question 2: you can absolutely bill for dreaming about a client. (Not now that you’ve told everyone- I agree w Alison on that), but in general- 100%

    Were you thinking about the client? Did they receive a benefit? Then of course you/your company should be compensated.

    Just don’t bill it as a dream. Depending on billing entry norms, enter something like: strategize re X problem and potential solutions, esp. feasibility of implementing Y. Then put it down for a reasonable amount of time to come up with whatever the solution was.

    Easy Peasy

  82. raida7*

    #4 Just make a file with the specifics you can offer and clear explanations on the types of work, like collaboration, that the job simply didn’t require.
    If someone calls, refer to your notes.
    If someone asks about collaboration, for example, you state from the script that “Our jobs as tutors was almost exclusively in a 1:1 capacity, I did not personally work collaboratively with James, or any other tutors. He certainly never created any issues by trying to force through changes that he’d come up with, and we did discuss a few ways we work that could be of help to others (reference to a one-off conversation about “I left the clipboard on the right and that worked well for me”)”

  83. Anony4839*

    Re #1: I would let it go and next time he asks you, say yes and pretend to forget like he did to you.

  84. Ernestyna*

    I am astonished with Alison’s reply to number five. Breezy “nothing to worry about” in a high-security building will end up with the LW not being let in, at best; and the employer might start doubting her judgement.

  85. quill*

    LW 2: Unfortunately, due to the length of REM sleep in the beginning of a nap, your dream solution probably took less than ten minutes.

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