Thanksgiving free-for-all – November 25, 2021

This comment section is open for any discussion (work or non-work) you’d like to have with other readers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

{ 551 comments… read them below }

  1. Marion Ravenwood*

    Happy Thanksgiving to all AMA readers celebrating! (I’m British, so Thanksgiving isn’t much of a thing here, but I did make a batch of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies last night to mark the occasion and they are excellent.)

    Also I am loving the cats as turkeys/pilgrims :)

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        It could always be “Ask (a) Manager Anything”. Alison’s gotten some real doozies over the years.

    1. londonedit*

      Happy Thanksgiving from London to all here who are celebrating, and hello to everyone whose Thursday is a normal work day!

      1. Erika22*

        Fellow Londoner (and American expat)! I was never keen on Thanksgiving so it’s nice to not have to deal with it (though I miss the days off work!) “Celebrating” tonight by going to the pub – not that a reason is needed!

    2. Hazel*

      Happy Thanksgiving to all those who are celebrating!

      I’m an Irish person living in Ireland and it’s really not a thing here but hope everyone who is celebrating enjoys their long weekend! :)

    3. Lady Danbury*

      Happy Thanksgiving from Bermuda! It’s a regular work day here but the great thing about not having your own Thanksgiving holiday is that you can coopt every and anyone else’s holiday. We’re doing a full turkey takeout dinner tonight, which we also did for Canadian Thanksgiving. My only contribution will be making a mini ham and sangria.

    4. Gipsy Danger*

      Happy Thanksgiving from Canada! We have Thanksgiving but it’s in October and has nothing to do with pilgrims.

    5. Lynn Crow*

      Um, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies sound amazing! Any chance of sharing the recipe?

      And happy Thanksgiving to all those celebrating from this Canadian who had hers last month! ;)

    6. Sophie*

      Happy Thanksgiving wishes from Tasmania to all who celebrate it! It’s currently spring in the Southern Hemisphere, so mangoes are out right now instead of pumpkins. Mango spice latte anyone? (Is that a thing?)

    7. Helenteds*

      I am American but I am on vacation in London this week. My airbnb hosts are wishing me happy thanksgiving but I haven’t done anything to celebrate it.

  2. Anon pour ce poste*

    My niece is in her first year of college and told the family chat something that made my head explode.

    Niece: My ethics class has a video assignment where we have to talk about a time when we were RACIST.
    Me: !!!!!?????
    Niece: Yeah, and it’s worth 20%. And we also have to watch each others’ videos and comment on them.
    Me: !!!!!?????
    Niece: Well, to be fair, the assignment doesn’t say racist, it says “biased against another culture”

    For the record, I DO agree that students should be taught about bias in the workplace (and in life). But I don’t agree with how this professor is teaching it.
    – One poorly worded assignment and suddenly a student has recorded evidence of a time they were racist.
    – Some students WILL be racist, and will probably lie on the video about how they’ve changed, yada yada.
    – My family is a minority in our country and there’s a lot of racism against us at the best of times. Now my niece might be forced to watch videos about why people are/have been racist against us. We know racists/ignorant people hate us – we don’t need video evidence.

    I sent my niece the information about how to contact the Ombudsman’s office to file a complaint (if she wants – she was pretty upset about this). I just can’t get over what a fail this assignment is by the professor.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yeah, this is self-criticism straight from Mao.

      This kind of thing is not helpful to anyone. It’s just a power-trip by the professor.

    2. Wrench Turner*

      Even if it “came from a good place” it’s using a bulldozer because it’s easy and not a garden spade which is more helpful but requires real work. Self-reflection is important and can be very helpful. This assignment is absolutely not.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Yeah. Beyond the questionable content (thinking through the biases we hold is important! Sharing them in class is… just a way to circulate stereotypes?), I’m also wondering about the pedagogical value of this assignment. How is a video worth 20% of their grade? WHY are they making a video (not that a written assignment would be better, but it provides more room for nuance, at least?).

        1. I.*

          Using videos along with written assignments is actually good pedagogy; they cater to different learning styles and strengths. (Someone with dyslexia probably has an easier time of it speaking than turning in the same thing in written format.)

          1. fueled by coffee*

            Oh, I’m not saying videos can’t be useful! Just that this feels like a strange assignment in general, and especially in video format.

    3. Overeducated*

      Yikes. I am extremely pro-introspection and sign up proactively for trainings where we think about this stuff at work, but this really doesn’t sound like a good “sharing” activity. Recording a question like this for others to watch just has so much potential for being hurtful to people who are most frequently on the receiving end of microaggressions and discrimination. Seems like it should be between the student and professor at most.

      I would have her contact the professor first with this point, if they don’t seem like a jerk. Not “I’m not racist” (the point about bias is you don’t have to fully buy into a racist ideology to have it) or “video evidence could come back to bite us” (too defensive). But “hey this is an activity with potential to really be hurtful within the class.” I hope the professor is open ro that feedback.

      1. Overeducated*

        PS rereading my comment I’m sorry if it comes across like I’m explaining to you a point you made very clearly in your post. Just agreeing.

      2. MoreFriesPlz*

        I don’t think “this could come back to bite us.” is too defensive at all. This could very legitimately cause huge problems. Someone could post a classmates answer online. It could go viral. It could ruin any political aspirations at any level for decades. If you want to encourage actual reflection asking people to do something where more honesty will likely have worse consequences is not a great idea.

            1. Bad Ideas*

              People have gone viral for one tweet, 10 years ago and lost their jobs. Yes, these videos could absolutely ruin people in the future.

              1. Despachito*

                Just for the record – am I the only one who is horrified that it is possible for ONE tweet to ruin a person’s life? And of the fact that people are thinking – and they are possibly right – that they should censor recording of a HOMEWORK (i.e. not “I have to curb down my apparently racist thinking” but “I should not record anything suggesting that I might have had racist thoughts, before I knew better, because it could be used against me” )?

                Please don’ take me wrong – I hate racism, sexism, ableism, ageism and all -isms that tar all people belonging to a group with the same brush. If someone is openly racist, I’d avoid him, and I think racist behaviour should be strictly banned from the workplace.

                But: if a one single stupid tweet is able to ruin a person’s life for years, it seems wildly disproportionate and downright frightening.

                1. banoffee pie*

                  For sure it can happen. It’s unusual but possible. There was a case of a woman who was photographed giving the finger outside the war cemetery in Arlington (towards the camera, not into the cemetery). It went viral for some reason and she was fired from her job, lost health insurance, death threats, the works. There’s a whole non-fiction book about people this has happened to, Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.

                  I would not blame the niece for not wanting stuff like this on camera; if it comes out, it can ruin people. Even if people say ‘come on, we’ve all been racist at least once’, it still is going to look absolutely awful on camera, and there’s still evidence you’ve done it and no evidence on people not in this class, which hardly seems fair. To be clear, I’m very anti-racism but everyone has probably said something biased at least once and has unconscious biases etc, just seems a bit much to force some people to implicate themselves and record it and not everyone. Maybe make the professor go first?? It could easily come out if any of the students ever want to run for office or anything.

              2. Calliope*

                I mean, not really, no. Are you talking about high profile directors of Disney movies who then got rehired later? Because that’s a bunch of very bad taste tweets. Not a mild college assignment. Don’t get me wrong – I think folks go overboard attacking old tweets often. But this kind of stuff doesn’t actually happen the way people are saying in this thread.

                1. Despachito*

                  I was thinking of a woman on a plane who sent one (poor taste) joke when taking off, and when she landed some six hours later, she was jobless. Her joke became viral in no time and cost her her job.

                  This seems disproportionate to me, and if I hear that it is not happening often, the better..
                  I don’t know about the Disney directors, I will have to find out. I mean, I don’t wonder that if someone is having disgusting comments on a regular basis, it will cost him his job. I was just horrified that it might take just one brain fart of an otherwise possibly decent person.

                2. Oui oui oui all the way home*

                  It appears Despachito was talking about Justine Sacco. However, there are others. Jon Ronson wrote an article in the New York Times about people who have experienced this. An excerpt:

                  “… for the past two years, I’ve been interviewing individuals like Justine Sacco: everyday people pilloried brutally, most often for posting some poorly considered joke on social media. Whenever possible, I have met them in person, to truly grasp the emotional toll at the other end of our screens. The people I met were mostly unemployed, fired for their transgressions, and they seemed broken somehow — deeply confused and traumatized.”

                3. Despachito*

                  Calliope, please read the article linked by OuiOuiOui.

                  It is even worse I thought. A few stupid tweets ruined a persons’s life FOR YEARS, because she became the target of bullying from strangers, multiplied by the power of the Internet.

                  It is the same crowd mentality experienced in the tough Communist regime where people from the streets were pleading for the death of innocent people, fully convinced (with the massive “help” of the Communist propaganda) that the victim deserves it. Even worse, because these under the oppressive regime were at real risk themselves, but today’s internet bullies risk nothing and do it all just for some perverted pleasure. This is apparently an inherent thing present in us irrespective of the regime, and we should be aware – and wary- of it.

                  I am convinced that both the above groups were genuinely thinking they are doing the right thing- being a traitor (in the first case) or a biased racist is a wrong thing, isn’t it?

                  The thing is, this should definitely be also part of our thoughts when we are giving lectures that a certain way of thinking is wrong – it is very easy to feel “I am the just one, I am the one who owns the truth” and tip our own scales to the wrong side.

            2. Trawna*

              Quoting this site: “Before you comment: Please be kind, stay on-topic, and follow the site’s commenting rules.”

    4. Squidhead*

      Ugh. This seems like a similar (and maybe more productive?) dialog could be had by having the students watch some stock videos of biased behavior and then dissecting the video. Think: a video showing someone assuming that a person of a different race doesn’t speak the local language and then it turns out they both speak the same language fluently. If students wanted to include their own self-reflection about a time they did or experienced a similar thing, they could. Or they could focus on the anonymous people in the video and use scholarly references to identify certain behaviors and assumptions.

      Even analyzing a short clip like I described might be upsetting for some students or bring up really vitriolic commentary… which isn’t to say that it should never be done but the original assignment makes me think the professor is unprepared to moderate/grade this. Peace and strength to your neice!

      1. londonedit*

        I’ve had unconscious bias training at work before and that’s pretty much how the opening exercise went. One of the things we were shown was a video of people being asked that classic ‘A father and his son are both in a terrible car crash and are rushed to the hospital. When the boy arrives in the operating theatre, the surgeon is horrified and says “I can’t operate – that’s my son”. How can this be?’ question. Of course everyone in the video ties themselves in knots trying to come up with plausible explanations – maybe the man wasn’t his father, maybe it’s a same-sex relationship, basically anything apart from ‘the surgeon is a woman’. There’s another video where children in a primary school class are asked to draw pictures of a firefighter, a pilot, a doctor etc etc and most of them draw men – then an actual firefighter, doctor and pilot come in and they’re all women. I’m sure there are similar resources available that use race as the bias too. Then as a group we were asked to discuss the video we’d seen, where these people’s biases might have come from, whether we might have experienced similar biases, etc. That seems much more useful than ‘video yourself admitting to having been racist’.

        1. Sophie*

          I had a lovely experience with the surgeon question at an old job of mine. I was in a very physically demanding, heavily male dominated industry, and for the training I was seated at a table with no other women. The bloke next to me frowned in thought when the question was asked. I could see the cogs turning. Then suddenly he looked at me and gave me a huge conspiratorial smile. “She’s ‘is Mum!” he announced to the table. The others at the table made noises to the effect of ‘Obviously’ and ‘Psht what a silly question’ and settled smugly back in their seats. That grin was the only visible show of emotion, but I could tell they were all happy and proud to get it right and make me feel seen. It was nice. (It was also the complete opposite of them going around the table and sharing all of the negative stereotypes about women they could think of, ugh).

    5. Circuses are coordinated*

      Eeek…as others said, you can see what the professor intends with the exercise but this isn’t the way to do it. Something else to consider – Having recorded videos that other students view easily has privacy / social media consequences. It’s one thing if only the class sees these and discusses, but a situation where another student records one of the videos and posts it online could occur. Without context, a video relating ‘a time where I was racist’ on social media? We can all imagine various scenarios of how that plays out. Pointing out the potential for this might help end the assignment.

      1. RagingADHD*

        “a situation where another student records one of the videos and posts it online could occur.”

        Will occur. Will.

        Maybe not this class, but sooner or later either

        a) some student with ill intent is going to have a beef with another, or be bullying/harassing them, and use their “confession” to publicly humiliate them, or

        b) some student with a self-deluded good intent is going to do an “expose” on why this exercise is wrong, and the example they use is going to get their classmate doxxed, harassed, and persecuted, even though that wasn’t their intention.

        It’s not an if. It’s a when.

        1. MoreFriesPlz*

          3) some student with perfectly fine intent is going to be legitimately and rightfully annoyed because one of their classmates is a racist asshole, and tells a story about being a racist asshole. Someone from the group they’re discriminating against, or just someone who gets mad, is going to use their best 18 year old judgement and out the classmate.

          1. MoreFriesPlz*

            I just realized you used letters and I used numbers and found it kinda hilarious. Anyways, totally agree w you and I’m sure there’s a million more awful scenarios…

          2. RagingADHD*

            That’s why I said “have a beef”. Some beefs are legitimate, but I still don’t think repurposing what is supposed to be introspection amd education into public shaming is right or productive.

        2. Despachito*

          This should IMMEDIATELY end in the termination of the student or whoever made the material public, plus legal consequences.

      2. Observer*

        but a situation where another student records one of the videos and posts it online could occur.

        As @RagingADHD said, this is not “COULD”. It’s WILL. Not if, but when.

        The fact that the professor doesn’t seem to be aware of the issues presented here tells me that they are the absolute worst person to be talking about ethics. Because all ethics are intrinsically tied to the circumstances.

        You can’t talk about the ethics of doxxing, for instance, if you don’t understand what doxxing actually IS, how it happens and the actual impacts. You can’t talk about the ethics of privacy without understanding the ways in which it can be breached. And you can’t talk about the ethic around prejudice and *Ism’s without understanding how it actually manifests and its actual impacts on victims. It’s apparent that this profession lacks the basics in all three areas. And all three (not just the bigotry part) are implicated in this assignment.

        1. RagingADHD*

          And the students who are aware of the inherent risks in this format are going to focus more on damage control than on introspection, making it impossible to have a sincere and thoughtful discussion on a serious topic.

          1. Despachito*

            And the damage control would be the only logical solution (ask me how I know – my childhood trauma of a child in a then-Communist country is “this is how we speak at home but don’t repeat it at school, or else we will have problems at work”, while in retrospection, we were too afraid to be rebels, and the things spoken at home were very mild ones).

        2. Despachito*

          I think doxxing is a very shady and dangerous area. I cannot think of any example where I would consider it right.

          1. Observer*

            All the more reason not to set up a situation where that’s likely to happen!

            My point though, was not to get into if / when doxxing is ok. It was to make the point that you simply cannot discuss it even to say “it’s bad, don’t do that” if you don’t understand what it is and how it happens.

            And it seems that the professor doesn’t seem to understand.

            1. Despachito*

              I do not understand – why do you think is inacceptable to say that doxxing (or posting whatever is done during the class on the internet) is bad and would be cause of disciplinary problems and likely immediate termination of the student?

              Isn’t it crystal clear that THIS IS NOT DONE?

    6. Just a Thought*

      What if the response to the prompt was “I’ve never been biased against another culture”? Or maybe come up with a time you assumed a positive thing about another culture? I think that would force the professor to expose the real intent behind the assignment, which is probably something like “you are all a bunch of racists, even if you think you are not”. If anything, he would have to accuse the student of lying, or of being a racist. I wonder if he’d be willing to put that in writing….

      1. Xenia*

        Maybe even “talk about a time where you realized you had a bias and what you did to correct it” but even then that would be really bad as a permanent video assignment and better as an in-class socratic circle style sharing exercise, because chances are someone will copy just the first part and then we’re back to public internet shaming territory

    7. a tester, not a developer*

      My son’s high school history class handled the same idea in a much better way (IMO). They had to say a stereotype they had heard about any group (could be ethnicity, gender, whatever). But a) it didn’t have to be something they believed, and b) it didn’t have to be negative – which led to an interesting discussion about the ‘model minority myth’. And it wasn’t recorded.

      My kid apparently piped up with “all Poles are shifty”. We asked where that came from – he said that his aunt says that (and taught him to say it in Polish?). He said lots of people talked about stereotypes about their own ethnicity, like he did. Which is when I realized that he didn’t understand that he does not share genetic heritage with relatives by marriage… *headshake*

    8. JSPA*

      Some level of categorizing people into “us” vs “other” is practically a psychological default–not a moral failing. It helps to be able to look at those passing moments–bring them into the light–so that they’re less likely to recur. (Another way to look at it is, “outsiders are only outsiders to us until we bring them inside, in our minds.”)

      These sorts of assignments strive to strip away the idea that the world is split into “racists” who are the only people who ever pre-judge based on categorization and appearances, vs “good people,” who would never do such a thing. Yes, of course there are also intentional racists, who lean into their sense of psychological division! But wishing to lean out is not synonymous with always having succeeded. And yes, there is the separate issue of systemic racism, which means that individual reactions lead to very different outcomes, depending where one sits, in the framework of power.

      I can think of a couple of genetic conditions that lead people to be nearly universally trusting of others. Absent such circumstances, I find it hard to imagine that someone can’t come up with an instance where, in retrospect, their actions were tinged with some sort of generalized expectation based on a person’s “category,” rather than individual interaction.

      This assignment, as given, isn’t about systemic racism, or about being racist! It’s not necessarily even about being wrong. It’s about developing the skills to notice and work through moments of bias / moments of mis-categorization / moments of over-generalization / moments of category-based confusion. That’s a legitimate life skill.

      Often, it’s a question of overlapping categories. Intersectionality is a thing, now, but there were decades where people just had massive confusion responses if a person was black or hispanic or asian, yet also, lesbian or jewish or vegan. “Those things can’t go together” thinking isn’t hateful, per se–you can be delighted to find that those things do, in fact, co-exist! But it’s biased all the same. “My perception of your culture does not allow for your existence, and I’m not handling my confusion well in real time” is an expression of underlying bias. Not something evil, but something we all could learn to deal with, better, by discussing how it happens, how often it happens, and how to deal with it.

      1. RagingADHD*

        That would be a wonderfully nuanced class discussion. I don’t think the way this is structured is going to lead there without a lot of collateral damage.

      2. Observer*

        None of this is really relevant to the assignment. Yes, you are right that it’s massively helpful to find a way to get past the idea that the world is divided into “evil racists” and “pure anti-racists”. And it MAY be possible that this exercise is originally rooted in that idea. Or it may not – it is definitely true that there are at least as many exercises like this that ARE intended to point fingers, to make people feel guilty for their complicity, etc.

        But that’s not even the point. THIS exercise, as constituted does not really accomplish what you say it’s meant to do. And at the same time, the risk of harm here is ENORMOUS. Between the recording, which totally unnecessary, to the very real risk of re-victimization, to the high likelihood of people not really doing the kind of thinking that has to be at the heart of a useful exercise (which just hardens the biases), there is too much downside and almost no upside.

        1. Srsly*

          “It is definitely true that there are at least as many exercises like this that ARE intended to point fingers, to make people feel guilty for their complicity, etc.”

          Observer, this is a really odd comment, and the adamant tone with which you state it is bizarre. What is your evidence for this statement? Are you, or have you been, a professor, well-heeled enough in pedagogy and possessing a sweeping overview of assignments in the field, that you can reach such a conclusion? Caps don’t make an argument.

        2. Calliope*

          I don’t know why you say it’s not the point of this assignment when it sounds like exactly the point. And I would love to here an actual example of someone whose life was harmed because of an assignment like this.

          1. Observer*

            It might be the point of the assignment, but that was explicitly not what I was addressing. What I was addressing is the fact is that it’s highly unlikely to accomplish this (some of the issues have already been covered). And it is highly likely to cause issues.

            Others have pointed out far better ways to accomplish the same thing more effectively and more safely.

        1. JSPA*

          Hey, this doesn’t even begin to make up for the significant number of times I’ve put my foot in it, one way or another, despite deep wells of good will.

          Cutting people slack in the name of good will can be helpful, so far as it goes…but it can only go so far. At some point, we need to get un-embarrassed enough at the awkwardness to pull out the assumptions and look at them.

          An assignment is very much what one makes of it! These are UNIVERSITY students. Literally, adults. It is very much on them to take charge of the assignment and the discussion, so that it can be a useful experience. I frankly don’t see a teacher putting the kibosh on a presentation or discussion for being compassionate, incisive, insightful, forgiving and nuanced.

          1. Calliope*

            Yeah, that’s the other thing. They’re literal adults. They can choose what they want to share and how they want to share it and also take concerns to the teacher if they need to.

      3. Despachito*

        I like this.

        I think prejudices indeed are not limited to just race/sex, and that it is very useful to be aware of them and to be able to recognize a situation when we ourselves fall prey to one of them.

        However, I still feel a certain controversy in being able to speak openly about prejudices – I think it is often not socially acceptable to admit you have them (if someone openly admitted they are racist – and I do not mean here the noisy, aggressive kind of racist but rather a person who knows s/he has some biases, admits they are possibly wrong, and wants to be honest about it ) they would be likely ostracized.

        Again – I certainly do not intend to defend aggressive racists who never doubt anything – these SHOULD be ostracized by decent people. What I mean are people who are willing to learn and grow but at the moment are coming from a less ideal place and have yet some time to go.

    9. AGD*

      Many of my students have been on the receiving end of mistreatment/bias/systemic racism waaaaaaaaaaay more than they’ve ever perpetuated it, and who needs to relive that? This basically sounds like “you are guilty, explain why”. It puts students on the defensive, which is bad: self-reflection is far more likely, in my experience, to come from watching someone else do it wrong and then quietly thinking about whether they might have messed up in the past. The students who would stand to benefit the most from something like this are the ones who are either clueless (and thus unlikely to believe that they’ve done anything like this) or overtly bigoted (and thus unlikely to believe anything needs to change). The ones who would respond to this the most thoughtfully have almost certainly already thought about it a lot, I imagine.

    10. Gladiolus*

      My gut response to nonsense is malicious compliance, so I’d choose one of the satirical stereotypes from The Onion movie. Puerto Ricans can dangle from steel beams for hours at a time! The Dutch enjoy speaking with telemarketers!

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

      So I can understand where the assignment is coming from. Have done biased trainings for work. But this is a little to much.

      It’s one thing to have the teacher have them do some sort of self reflection but a whole video that is worth a big chunk of their grade? At most it should be maybe a short essay or paper, and certainly not anything that other students read

    12. Despachito*

      I think it is terribly wrong to make it so personal.

      This kind of thing does not belong to school any more than it belongs to workplace.

      Nobody should be forced to strip naked (metaphorically) in front of the school or work public and reveal their own beliefs and flaws. Does nobody see the potential how this can go terribly wrong? We do see it pretty clearly in the workplace though – then why not schools? Students are even more vulnerable than adults.

      1. Silver*

        Idk the fact that the niece’s first report was that the professor demanded proof of racism, which she then begrudgingly narrowed down to a discussion of bias, makes me suspect there’s a ton of additional context missing here. These sorts of anecdotal, typed in an indignant rage stories are how a lot of the wokeness moral panics begin, and they almost always fall apart when someone does just a small amount of digging.

        1. Despachito*

          Fair enough, I understand where you are coming from.

          But on the other hand, the rules of this site are that we should believe the OP unless proven otherwise, and the details in OP’s post were quite specific (so not a vague “proof of racism” but “tell me how YOU PERSONALLY were biased against other cultures” and the requirement to record it).

    13. Anon pour ce poste*

      To clarify some things, I condensed the original chat for amusement’s sake. The actual assignment was to, “reflect on a time you were biased against another culture.” Students had to explain the situation, how they self-corrected, yada yada. There’s another part of the assignment where they have to discuss how to correct bias in their field of study – so it’s not just a video of students talking about when they were racist.

      Some people above are talking about how university/18 year old students should be smart enough to figure this out. In our country, college isn’t the same as university, and many kids in their first year of college are 17 year olds.

      I appreciate the validation that this isn’t the right way to teach about bias. :)

  3. Wrench Turner*

    I am quite thankful for the years of amusing and horrifying reading and readers found on this weird site. Even as a dirty wrench turner, there’s always a lot of useful advice I’ve been able to pass up and down my own job. I hope you are all safe and well-fed wherever you are.

    We just got back the first landscaping estimate (of 3) for our major renovation project: $57k. Drastic cuts need to be made because we still need 2x roofs, windows, 2x HVAC and water heater systems and to actually finish the 2nd bathroom. Ouch, but! I would rather have dreamed big and trim to fit than miss an opportunity to dream at all.

    1. Forrest Rhodes*

      As one who often needs the help/advice/services of a good wrench turner, I want you to know you’re appreciated, Wrench Turner. You and your colleagues are high on my list of Things I’m Thankful For!
      Happy Turkey Day to you.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Note: Not calling you a “thing” here, and gratitude more than offense is intended … maybe I should’ve said People and Stuff I’m Thankful For.

  4. Cat's Meow*

    Warning: pet loss mentioned.

    As if the pandemic wasn’t enough to be going through, we have now lost 2/3 of our cats in just over a year. Our remaining furry companion is 15, and fortunately in excellent health according to her recent exam and blood tests. We love her to pieces, but it. is. so. quiet. with ‘only’ one cat. We have been a multi-cat household for the past 17 years so it is a big change. I’d really love to get a kitten or two but I’m guessing that is a bad idea with such a senior girl and we need to wait until we are (sadly) down to zero cats before adopting any more. Does anyone have any advice or experience?

    1. Wrench Turner*

      A family member has always had at least 2 cats for as long as I can remember and had pretty good success rotating in new cats over the years. I don’t know if there was ever such a big age difference as they’ve always preferred more established cats and introducing them gradually. Maybe that makes a difference? I’m sorry for your small friends. It’s never easy.

    2. sswj*

      Fellow cat-addict here, and I’m so sorry :(

      I think you would probably be fine getting 2 kittens/young cats. They could keep each other entertained and your old girl could snooze in peace. It would be best if you had a setup where they were separated when you weren’t able to supervise, at least for a while.

      I currently have 12 cats because 1) I’d have them all if I could, but ya gotta draw the line somewhere LOL, and 2) I realized that a bunch of my crew were very much a similar age and that I was going to have a very sad couple of years, so I kept a couple of fosters. Then another showed up in my cat yard in not-great shape so I had to keep her. Then found an abandoned infant. I did lose a couple of my elderlies and was down to a manageable 11 … until a coworker who also fosters brought a litter by work on her way home from a vet visit. There was this teeny blue-cream calico girl … Sigh …

      I was a bit worried how the kitten would fit in, but she’s great. She was young enough not to take offence when slapped down by the Seniors, so no wars that way. And I have a couple of younger cats who are having a ball with her. She’s keeping them active and they all leave the grumpy/frailer Oldies alone. It’s been great, actually.

      So my vote is yes, get a pair. Maybe not siblings, and maybe a kitten and a teen? Not sure, it depends on your old girl and your house set-up. But see what’s out there. Or, you could foster and see how that goes too; sort of a test run.
      Good luck, and skritches to your sweet old lady :)

      1. tangerineRose*

        My plan for when this sadly happens is to get a young adult bonded pair of cats who get along with other cats. Maybe 2 to 3 years old. I figure that people aren’t as interested in adopting adults and bonded pairs, so that part is good. Plus I get to skip the cute (but annoying) kitten stage. I’m hoping the younger cats play together but also keep the older cat company.

        1. Oui oui oui all the way home*

          This is such a lovely solution! I made a mistake of adopting a kitten for my older (12 year-old) cat. The kitten had been at the humane society for months and no one was apparently willing to adopt him because of a potential medical issue (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease or FLUTD for short).

          My older guy had been through the same thing, and I was managing it well, so I figured I could do the same for a 6 month-old kitten. Well, I’m happy to say that both of them are doing great physically — a year later neither of them have had the FLUTD flare up, and they are likely to remain free of it.

          However… I am counting something (years? days? minutes?) until the kitten is older. I will say he is a spirited playful handful. I will leave it at that as I don’t want to ever discourage anyone else from adopting special needs kitties.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      I think kittens are better than older cats, actually, because there’s less chance of disputes over who’s going to be the boss cat. And if you get two, they will likely entertain and be rambunctious with each other and let your senior lady lay back and play auntie when she feels like it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. The elders will put their paw down and say “enough”. And the youngins will obey. We kind of have to let pets correct each other. My rule of thumb was as long as no blood is shed. This meant they could kind of tell each other off in snarls or make a weak swipe with a paw. It was interesting to me, that THEY were better at keeping each other in line than I could have been.
        It’s okay if they tell another one “stop it!!”.

        1. Crop Tiger*

          Not entirely true, unfortunately. We adopted a mostly blind,all the birth defects kitten, and she runs roughshod over the other cats. The older cats, who range from five to 16 years older than her, won’t smack her down. Cats are individuals, and that needs to be taken into consideration.

    4. Hazel*

      I’m so sorry for your loss – that must have been incredibly hard to lose 2 of your furries in one year.

      I’d agree with other commenters, a pair of kittens would be great. They’d keep each other entertained and wouldn’t get too offended if the older cat slaps them down. There also wouldn’t be any issues with territory either as it would have been established by the older cat.

      But maybe fostering would be the best way to go? You’ll get an idea of how your senior lady would interact with younger cats / kittens without worrying about long term effects if it doesn’t go well?

    5. Cat's Meow*

      Thanks very much. I’ve been working from home since last March and will continue to be home full time for a while longer, so I’m around to supervise. It also allowed me to have some good time with my two departed cats before they passed, which was a blessing. I will have some office time eventually but likely only one day per week. We live in a small apartment but could keep little fuzzies in the bedroom, which is where my desk is located, to enable a gradual introduction to our senior lady. I have seen the vet keep kittens in a playpen to start, which we could probably do, too. She does have a lofted space in the living room that she can access if she needs to escape (kittens wouldn’t be allowed).

      We are traveling for Christmas so it wouldn’t be practical to adopt until after we return, but it’s helpful to get advice. I hadn’t thought of fostering; that is something to consider.

    6. JMR*

      We adopted kittens when we had an older cat, for the same reasons, and we had the same reservations. Our vet advised us that if the older cat is ill, or has mobility issues, it would be a bad idea, but as long as the older cat has a space of their own and is able to leave when the kittens are irritating them, our vet thought it would be fine. And it was!

      As a side note, our vet also told us that he disagreed with common advice to leave the the older cat and the newer cat(a) on opposite sides of a closed door for a while to let them get used to each other. In his opinion, since the cats would still be able to smell each other but not see each other, this would just stress them out – knowing something new and weird was out there but not knowing what it was. He advised us to let the kittens out into the living room as soon as we got home with them, which we did. The older cat ran to the end of the hall and glared at them from there, but then got bored and went to do his own thing while the kittens explored. It was fine.

      1. Empress Matilda*

        We do this when my sister brings her dog over – we just make sure our cats can get upstairs and the dog can’t. Cat #1 is completely disinterested, and just finds a dog-free place to hang out elsewhere in the house. Cat #2 has to be involved in everything, so he stays and glares at the dog and makes sure she knows who’s in charge. Occasionally the dog gets a bit too close, so the cat gives her a halfhearted swipe, and then they go back to doing their own thing.

    7. Abogado Avocado*

      Many condolences to you. Anyone who can write so meaningfully about losing two of their fur children has to have been a wonderful cat mom. I am sure your kittehs knew it and were comforted to have you there.

      I have two cats, a 17-year-old neutered male and an 8-year-old neutered female. We brought the younger one in as a kitten when the older cat’s companion passed. The older cat was in mourning for his companion and he loved having a kitten to pal around with. It’s really put some life into his years. So, I highly recommend it if you think your older kitteh would benefit.

      In the meantime, I am sending warm thoughts and sympathies — and my cats are sending breathy purrs — as you grapple with your losses.

    8. Xenia*

      Yes. We have a senior cat (going on 19 and still peppery!) and adopted a pair of kittens. Our senior cat has always been a loner and does not like other cats. She was really not amused by the new cats and still doesn’t like them but they’ve settled down to mutual ignoring of each other.

      If your cat is already used to having other cats around, it would probably be a lot easier to introduce new cats into the household. I agree with other posters that it would be a good idea to get a pair but can confirm that it’s doable and you don’t have to wait until you’re cat-less,

    9. Empress Matilda*

      Aw. I have no advice, but I’m so sorry for the loss of your kitties! Please give your senior girl a scritch from me. <3

    10. the cat's ass*

      I’m so sorry about the loss of your kitties. As if the last two years weren’t bad enough!
      We were down to our one 13 year old cheerfully demented boy and then got a kitten in July 2020. Oldster was ‘meh’ about the whole thing, so we got a kitten for the kitten in July 2021. So we have a 13 year old,an 18 moth old and a 6 month old. The two younger ones romp around together and generally get along well, and the old guy is perfectly happy to watch with the occasional swat if the action gets on top of him. I’m really enjoying having three cats. It had been a long time since we had kittens, so while there was a learning curve, it’s been great.

    11. JSPA*

      Friends have had good experiences fostering, if you have a secluded room in which to foster, and the time to devote. Some older cats will get all purry and maternal if they hear kittens through the door, and will chirrup to them. And different litters / different individuals will elicit different responses.

      You do have to be VERY careful about bringing diseases in. Many shelters are so slammed that it’s, “kittens in the door, kittens out the door to a foster, same-day.” That doesn’t leave much time for diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, and they’re often too young to vaccinate.

      1. tangerineRose*

        You may want to check around different shelters. I found a place that makes sure the cats get spayed/neutered and basic check-ups, even treats them for fleas and ear mites, etc. if needed before letting people adopt the kitties. Even then, they recommend quarantining new cats first because sometimes it’s not yet clear if a kitty caught a cold or something.

    12. Gladiolus*

      I’ve ended up with one old and one young cat three pet life cycles in a row now. (We don’t seek out cats to adopt, they just…show up at our house. The latest one understands door knobs and literally let herself in.)

      It’s always been a mixed bag. There is obvious bullying, but other times the baby seems to keep the elder young. My opinion on whether it’s a good idea changes daily.

    13. Can't Sit Still*

      I got my senior cat a kitten. The kitten was quiet and shy, but he blossomed under the senior kitty, who treated him in a grandfatherly way. I have tons of adorable pictures and videos of a wide-eyed kitten with a scarred street cat. When my senior kitty passed, I realized my now young adult cat needed company. (Since I can only have 2 pets at a time, it’s trickier to get the right fit!) I ended up with a sweet older kitten found with two obviously unrelated kittens who simply walks away when annoyed, which is ideal when bringing a cat into a new household, particularly with a shy cat at home.

      The benefit to keeping cats consecutively is that you keep your household’s feline culture and dialect intact, as your older cat will pass on the house rules and kitty pidgin to talk to you to the youngsters. For example, my youngest cat never met Senior Kitty, who was hyperthyroid, but he drinks lots of water, because Older Cat does, because Senior Kitty did. If you have had all 3 cats for a long time, you may not realize how much is specific to your cats alone!

      The benefit to waiting and starting fresh is that you DON’T keep your household’s culture and dialect intact, which you may want if your current cat has particularly aggravating habits. Older Cat doesn’t meow before, because deaf Senior Kitty didn’t, but Younger Cat does meow occasionally, so now Older Cat does, too.

      1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

        Can’t sit still – you had a deaf cat that didn’t miaow?? Mine yells like a banshee and when I rush into the room to see what disaster has happened she will look up as if to say “did you want something? I am washing my foot”.

    14. SarahKay*

      I’m so sorry for your loss, especially in what was already a grim year.
      Growing up we had a similar experience, with just one older neutered tom left after his brother and sister died, and that actually worked out very well. We’d added two kittens a couple of months later and, with hindsight, they had been taken from mum too early so they didn’t know how to wash themselves. Tom took them on and taught them cleaning and hunting. He would also let them suckle at the fur on his tummy – and because he had none of the mother-cat instincts to make them stop as they reached a certain age, along with being generally a very chill cat, he continued to let them do that for the rest of his life. For years after we’d come through to find all three curled up in a sleepy furry bundle… with little sticking out patches of wet fur on Tom’s tummy.

    15. Cheshire Cat*

      I’m so sorry, losing a beloved pet is never easy.

      I concur with everyone else’s advice — getting a pair of kittens or teen cats should be fine. Your remaining cat is probably missing her former companions, just as you are, and having feline company again may help her.

    16. Blomma*

      I’m so sorry for your losses. We said goodbye to our 19 y.o. cat this year (a family member since kitten hood) so now we have my 14 y.o. cat and our 12 y.o. little dog. If you’re going to get another cat, I agree that a pair of kittens is probably the best option. You might ask your vet for advice too. We asked ours and she said, given our cat and dogs’ very…strong and opinionated personalities, adding more pets to the mix is probably not a good idea.

    17. The Crass Menagerie*

      If you get a kitten, do get two so they can burn their excess energy off on each other. We’re a multi-pet household and our default now is to adopt in pairs if at all possible. Current cats ages range from 14 years to 3 months. Older cats do spend a couple of weeks with a WTH attitude, but at least for our lot, that’s only a couple of weeks. We’ve adopted cats semi-regularly for over 30 years.

      It’ll work depending on your older cat’s general demeanor, but be sure that if you go the adopt kittens/ younger cats route you also make sure to lavish love and attention on your elder.

    18. Faith the twilight slayer*

      I am totally late to the party but: I have read that if the lone cat is older, it’s best to either get a cat around the same age or to get two babies. Older cats wouldn’t have the energy to raise and play with one kitten, and it’s detrimental to the relaxation of the older cat as well as the development of the kitten. But they’re totally happy watching kittens play with each other and then teaching them how to cat. Or, your cat could be happy alone. I lost my boy early last year, but his sister was always a bit of a loner throughout their entire life. She and I are now two princesses in one castle and she seems very content to live the slow life.

    19. Purple cat*

      I’m grateful for this thread and everyone’s feedback. We had to unexpectedly put our 6-yr old cat down and it’s clear our 16-yr old cat is not happy about being the lone cat in the house (his older sister passed a few years ago). We were leaning towards adding a new pair of “young” cats. Will probably be our Christmas gift to the kids.

    20. Sparkly Librarian*

      My much-beloved tortie was 15 when her longtime companion cat died a couple years ago (he was nearly 18). I mourned for a full month before being willing to consider the possibility of a new cat, but soon found that my personal preference was for two cats, and the “empty cat-slot” was hard. I worried that my kitty, having had a friend to cuddle with all her life, would be lonely, too.

      But that was a decision for me, and it wasn’t the right one for my elderly kitty. We got a young adult (neutered) male — advertised as a cuddler and very happy to be petted although not tested with other cats — and he bullies her relentlessly. It’s been a very stressful two and a half years, with mandatory separation periods (only recently have they been together unsupervised, and I break up fights on the regular) and RFID-tagged food bowls to prevent big orange boy from eating all her food. She’s still hanging in there, but I wish we’d made a different choice. When either of them passes (and the younger guy got a slow-terminal diagnosis this summer, so it really could be either), we’ve agreed to be a one-cat household until there are zero again. (And THEN perhaps a bonded pair.)

  5. Foreign Octopus*

    I’m toying with the idea of retraining as, while I love teaching, the pay in my current job isn’t enough to have a comfortable life in the long run. I’m thinking about learning programming skills as I know that even if I don’t go into a career with it, it’s still super useful to learn as everything becomes more technological, yet I don’t have a background in it at all as I’ve always been a humanities person.

    If anyone has any experience or advice they’d like to share, I’d be grateful to hear it.

    (And Happy Thanksgiving to those celebrating.)

    1. JustForThis*

      Harvard’s CS50, available for free via edx, is truly excellent. It including assignments which can be submitted online and are then automatically graded. I’d guess that giving this course a try might give you an idea whether this is something in which you could be interested, without committing any resources apart from time. Link in next comment.

    2. RagingADHD*

      If you are interested in tech stuff, there are growing fields in the various disciplines that affect how humans interact with tech – user experience, design systems, etc. You might be able to leverage some of your existing knowledge of teaching.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Actually, that does sound really interesting and definitely something I’ll take a look at. Thanks for letting me know :D

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Do you know if it’s something that makes your brain happy at all? From what I’ve seen programming is very intellectually satisfying for some, but quite the reverse for others.

      I’d probably start with a self taught online course in a programming language to see if something you’d like, that way you can test if you’d like programming before committing. I can give you some of the ones I tried, if you are interested?

      1. CJM*


        I was a programmer for three decades. I didn’t major in it; I majored in math and minored in German. (Since childhood, my two favorite subjects have been math and foreign languages.) Programming was a great way to channel both interests. Some of my colleagues seemed miserable writing software, but I loved the work.

        My younger daughter, who’s otherwise pretty similar to me, detests programming. It’s not for everyone.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          I think it really depends on the person, you’re right, and maybe what you were expected to do from a young age. I know a few programmers who are my students who hate it because they were pushed into it by their parents as it paid well and know they’re looking to mosey on out of the industry: one of them wants to open a bakery, the other wants to become a teacher, so I suppose it really does depend.

          I love that you were minoring in German as well (have you been able to keep your language skills up since then?) as I’m a language nerd myself though Spanish is my second language. Maths though…that’s definitely difficult for me. I haven’t studied it since I was 16 and have very negative emotions attached to it because of bad teaching, however I think it’s something I can learn if I have the right incentive.

          1. CJM*

            I haven’t kept up my German, although I learned French first (just the basics) and was able to brush up on that 14 years ago and speak it well enough in Paris to place bakery and restaurant orders and to ask natives for directions.

            It’s not math skills like calculus that you need in order to program (or at least I never had to use advanced math while programming). It’s skills like logical thinking, problem solving, and attention to detail. If you’re good at those skills and enjoy using them, programming may be a good fit for you. Good communication skills are a bonus that many programmers lack. That helps you turn analyst specifications into code that works, which can involve a fair bit of back and forth, and it helps you comment your code so other programmers can read it and maintain it.

            I think you’d learn if you like programming if you take a basic course. Early in my first programming class, I was blown away by the synthesis of logic and (programming) language. I clearly recall studying one short block of code for a few hours until I understood every nuance of its construction.

            So … you probably don’t need math if you have the other skills I mentioned. Your language background is a bonus! I hear you on bad math experiences. I didn’t have those, but physics is another story.

            1. banoffee pie*

              I’ve always wondered if it’s anything like languages, because I’m good at them but intimidated by maths (but not that bad according to teachers/grades). I had to leave the computer science class at 14, they kicked out all the girls and I’ve been wondering ever since if I could have learned to code. One of those ‘what if ‘ type things. But I don’t think my brain works the right way, anyway, I’m mostly into languages, writing, music etc. I think these online courses would be way too hard for me, I think MIT has some free courses but I couldn’t understand the introduction (!) I would need to do a GCSE first (GCSEs are the exams before SATS, when you’re 16)

              1. CJM*

                It’s worth a try! I’m female too and received mixed messages as a kid about my math skills. But I listened to the encouraging voices and stuck with it. I’m sorry you were kicked out of a computer science class. That’s terrible.

                I wouldn’t start with an MIT course; that sounds intimidating. Something simple to introduce the topic and show you what a few lines of code look like might be a good starting point. It really is like learning another foreign language, and you’d learn it similarly: building block by building block. And it’s like writing too! There are choices on how to express and organize your code, and you can aim for elegance and clarity.

                1. banoffee pie*

                  I’m more upset on behalf of the girls who might have had a chance of making a career of it; I don’t think I’d be good enough but would like to try as a hobby. It’s the principle of the thing too.

                  Yes definitely not gonna try the MIT one! I’d start really small…I’d be a total beginner. I need duolingo for computers haha. Thank you for the advice :)

                2. Been There*

                  I always compare learning how to code with learning a language, and I found learning to code easier than learning a language. Code doesn’t have the strange grammatical exceptions that a language does because it didn’t grow naturally like a language.

        2. Tau*

          High five as a fellow mathematician-turned-software-developer! Although I already speak German natively so my personal foreign language of choice is Spanish :)

          And yeah, it’s not for everyone but I do suspect more people would enjoy programming than think they would and that a lot of people are turned away from STEM early on, so it’s definitely worth trying out IMO.

          1. CJM*

            High five back atcha! :)

            Sometimes I wonder how many of us share these interests and went into programming — or would enjoy it if they tried it. And it tends to pay well.

      2. Foreign Octopus*

        Do you know if it’s something that makes your brain happy at all?

        The idea of it definitely makes me happy and I know I want to learn more about it whether or not I turn it into a job regardless but I only have very, very, very basic knowledge of html that, funnily enough, I actually learnt about so that I could italicise and bold my comments on this website. I enjoy doing that and will definitely explore before I commit myself too much for it.

        If you don’t mind sharing the courses you’ve tried, I’d absolutely appreciate it, thank you.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          I’m pretty sure the first one was learn python dot org. (I didn’t bring my laptop with me, so I can’t double check.). What I liked about it…
          -Written not video. Videos take WAY too long IMO
          -it has exercises for you to do in the webpage, and it actually runs your script so you can play around a bit. (I still recommend getting python on a computer so you can really play around.)

    4. ID*

      Instructional design might be a field to look into. Some coding knowledge can take you a long way in this field as you’re able to better program learning management systems, build their frontend, or build better lessons with certain tools. Connects nicely with your background in teaching, and instructional designers are especially in demand in the tech field.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I’ve never heard of instructional design before and I’ll look into it as I really do love the teaching, I just wish it paid more!

    5. JH123*

      Jose Portilla’s python courses on Udemy are amazing. They are always on sale, so you should be able to buy them for $10-$20. It is a low cost way to see whether you actually enjoy programming!

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Thank you for letting me know!

        Although, when you said they’re always on sale my mind immediately flashed to DFS, a company that sells sofas in the UK, and has had a sale running for the last twenty-odd years!

        1. banoffee pie*

          yeah I wonder if anyone has ever been unlucky/daft enough to buy a DFS sofa when it wasn’t on sale? haha

    6. J.B.*

      Educational technology is huge right now. There are lots of potential career paths within it, if you really want to code there are ways to train. I think it’s first worth thinking about whether that excites you (some of the free courses mentioned are a decent start). If you’re more interested in design or business analysis it might be easier to come in from the side of subject matter expert and work your way towards it.

      It will likely be easier to get a job closer to entry level, I have lots of experience in engineering and had a tough time being hired into tech.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        […]I have lots of experience in engineering and had a tough time being hired into tech.

        This is interesting to me as a number of my current students are programmers or work in tech and they say there are so many jobs going at the moment that there’s such a high demand for new people, so the fact that you, with your engineering experience, had difficult is useful to hear.

    7. Product Person*

      Yes. I have advice that apparently nobody offers and according to the people to followed it, made a huge difference.

      Before starting any retraining, decide first what you want to do. How? Speak to sw engineers, data engineers, web developers, HR data analysts, Salesforce engineers, whatever role you feel might be attractive to you. You can find people in Linkedin who will be willing to answer some questions. Get a good sense about various jobs that leverage programming there, and then after you know what kind of role you’d like, go to or LinkedIn and check what skills are most requested. Focus on learning those skills.

      Two examples: an immigrant contacted me right before starting a Python class. She asked me what I thought, and I warned her that for the goal she had (data analyst), that particular course would be a waste of time, because it was Python for web applications, not Pyhton for data analysis. She later thanked me profusely because by taking a different course she dramatically reduced the time needed to find her first data analyst role.

      Contrast with another person who wrote me after taking the wrong Python class and spending money on an advanced Excel course, both of which led to zero marketable skills for a data engineer role in his local market. He was dismayed when I told him he’d have to start from scratch and learn Python for data analysis and SQL.

      Not all training will give you the knowledge and skills that will make you an attractive candidate for the type of role you’ll enjoy. Spend time first learning what you want and what capabilities you need to be noticed in that niche, and you’ll save a ton of time, money, and headaches when you make a transition. Good luck!

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        This is all very useful advice!

        I can absolutely see the benefits of doing what you suggest. I’d vaguely thought about scrolling through job descriptions as an idea of what language to learn first but, honestly, I didn’t know there are different variations of Python, so thank you for helping me avoid that trap!

        I’m going to screenshot your comment and keep it on my computer so I can keep referring to it, so thank you for taking the time to offer it to me!

        1. David*

          I don’t know if I’d say different “variations” of Python, exactly… it’s more like different applications. If you think of it in terms of natural languages, suppose Python is like English (or your favorite language, it doesn’t really matter), and learning the basic skills of programming (loops, functions, objects, etc.) is like learning spelling and grammar. Once you’ve gotten through the basics, then you have to learn to write, and there are different styles of writing: stories, poetry, letters, news articles, technical documentation, and so on. As you study writing in more and more depth, you might wind up specializing in some of these and not in others. By analogy, there are different kinds of applications you can work on with Python code: web development, data analysis, machine learning, consumer apps, software development tools, and so on; and as you study in more depth, you might wind up specializing in some of them and not in others. But it’s still the same fundamental language underneath.

          Though I do want to point out two particularly notable ways in which this analogy falls short. First, while many of these applications you can work on in any programming language you want, others are effectively locked to specific languages. Like, if you want to develop web apps (like the user-visible parts of online stores and email websites and so on), you basically have to do it in Javascript. Or if you want to develop Android apps, I think you pretty much have to do it in Java. This is kind of different from the situation with natural languages, where you can write stories/poetry/news articles/etc. pretty much the same regardless of whether it’s in English, French, Japanese, Swahili, etc. So depending on what kind of programming (if any) you wind up liking, you might have to bias your choice of programming language.

          The second thing – which actually gives you an easier time with the first one – is that most of the really popular programming languages are a lot more similar than natural languages, so if you learn Python to start out with, you’ll have a much easier time switching to Javascript or Java or whatever than you would have switching from, say, English to French. In fact, it’s very very common that even moderately experienced professional software developers are comfortable working with several different programming languages and will switch between them depending on the needs of the task they’re working on. So don’t worry that your choice of which programming language to learn first is going to box you in; you can always pick up new ones later without too much difficulty. (It can get to a point where you can kind of read and even modify code in a programming language you’ve never seen before, just by drawing comparisons to the ones you have seen.) And for what it’s worth, Python is definitely what I’d recommend for a first programming language. It lets you not worry about a lot of the hard technical details until you’re ready, but you can still do a whole lot of stuff with it, and it supports different styles of programming that you can transfer to other languages you may learn in the future.

          By the way, if I may add on a personal suggestion: I think the best thing you can do to help yourself learn programming is to have some program you really want to create. It’s certainly not something you have to figure out before starting to take a class; maybe at some point during the class you’ll work on a project that you find particularly interesting and you find yourself wanting to add some feature to it, or maybe there will be something you have to do in your everyday life that you’ll realize would be a lot faster or easier or more fun if you had a program to do it instead. It could be something really simple, like a program that rolls some dice and shows you the results, or one that searches some files for a string of text. Whatever it is, the main thing that matters is that you care about bringing this program to life, which gives you motivation to go out and look up how to create the pieces you need to do so.

          1. Tau*

            Or if you want to develop Android apps, I think you pretty much have to do it in Java.

            I’d say Kotlin is the standard these days, but most likely one of the two. Certainly a JVM language, and although I’ve _heard_ of people doing Android development in Scala I don’t think the support is really there.

            Agreed in general. I can think of some decent other options for a first language, but Python is definitely up there. At some point you want to learn a statically-typed one, but maybe not straight away. Javascript is pretty much mandatory if you want to do things with the web but it’s also… quirky, shall we say… and probably not ideal to start with, especially since it means you’ll have to battle HTML and gd CSS if you want to do anything graphical. Go might be another option although I’ll honestly admit I’m not its biggest fan, and I’m not sure what the UI tooling support is like.

    8. ExpatReader*

      I would encourage you to look into instructional design/learning design. I’m a former teacher. I now work with academics at a world-leading university to create professional continuing ed courses. My pedagogical background gets used every day and I can speak to university professors with authority because I’ve had a lot of success in my teaching career too. On the flip side, I’m pretty handy with technology and my dev team likes working with me a lot because I understand how their front and backend works, so I’m able to ensure my content works before they get it.

      It doesn’t pay quite as well as a mid to late career software developer, but the pay and hours are way better than teaching and it’s extremely satisfying as well.

      1. ExpatReader*

        Sorry, should have said, ONLINE professional continuing ed courses. My job title is learning designer and I got hired specifically because I had classroom experience.

      2. MCL*

        I posted similar above. This is a good choice for someone with a teaching background, and already knows fundamentals of pedagogy. If coding doesn’t end up working well.

      1. David*

        That site used to have a reputation of promoting some bad habits. I’ve heard it’s gotten a bit better in recent years, but I haven’t used it in a long time so I don’t really know. I’m sure it’s fine for the basics, though.

    9. TechGirlSupervisor*

      If you are looking into “Do I think I’ll like this?”, I would highly recommend looking into the Hour of Code lesson plans. I’ve done volunteer work at my children’s school essentially using their lesson plans to teach elementary school children the basics of computer programming (I’m a senior software developer). I like that it is not language dependent, it’s teaching the basics regardless of the language. They have courses aimed at elementary to high school students. They have online and offline versions, it’s a great resource.

  6. ID*

    Instructional design might be a field to look into. Some coding knowledge can take you a long way in this field as you’re able to better program learning management systems, build their frontend, or build better lessons with certain tools. Connects nicely with your background in teaching, and instructional designers are especially in demand in the tech field.

  7. Goose*

    Before going to bed in my grandmothers guest room last night, I noticed the comforter was covered in a white sand like substance. Google is no help. Do I have bedbugs now?

    1. Squidhead*

      Google says bed bug eggs are usually in crevices. This might be incompletely rinsed laundry detergent powder, since quilts are hard to wash? Here’s hoping!

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Yes, I’ve seen undissolved laundry detergent on clothing. It’s white and sandy. Maybe the water’s not hot enough or there’s not enough water. Overloading a washer with a comforter could do the same thing.

        1. Maybe*

          Agree with overloading a washer, the detergent can get stuck in fabric folds if there is not enough room to circulate water.

    2. londonedit*

      Am I right in thinking a comforter is what we’d call a duvet (big lofted warm quilt that has a removable cover)? What’s the cover made from – is there a pattern or anything? I’m wondering whether if there was some sort of printed pattern on the fabric, whatever that was made from might have disintegrated in the sun or something. Otherwise my guess would be some sort of washing powder that wasn’t properly rinsed out of the cover.

      1. Usurper Cranberries*

        A comforter is similar to a duvet, except there’s no separate cover – picture a duvet where, instead of being lofted filling sewn into a plain fabric and then covered by a patterned cover, it’s lofted filling sewn into a patterned covering fabric. No additional cover required (which makes washing them a massive pain…)

        1. Koalafied*

          Such a pain, that top sheets are very popular with them. Because you will avoid washing it until you spill something that actually stinks or makes a huge stain, but you want to sleep with your skin against something freshly/regularly washed.

    3. RagingADHD*

      No, I’m not aware of any household pests that leave white sand-like residue. It’s mostly either dry black specks or with some kinds of larva, a sort of amber gel. Pantry moths make a dusty crumbly tan “frass”, but that looks more like breadcrumbs and would be near a food source.

      What you’re describing sounds like a material breaking down. Is the comforter rather old and have synthetic fiberfill? IDK if it would break down that way, but I’ve seen old cushions release a pale yellow sandy substance from the foam disintegrating.

      But my first thought would be along the lines of ceiling material or detergent, as others mentioned.

      Are you also seeing it on the floor or other furniture?

      1. Pikachu*

        My outdoor chair cushions are doing this. I also used to have a set of “insulated” blackout curtains that had thin foam on the back. It all disintegrated into dust.

    4. JSPA*

      If you wash a comforter in a home washing machine because you don’t want to deal with the laundromat, they can recapture some of the soap and scum from the surface of the water, rather than rinsing right. That’d be my first guess, given Covid, and given more people are opting out of spending long periods sharing air, where it can be avoided.

  8. Mystic*

    Just made green beans for Thanksgiving. It’s the first time I’ve ever actually cooked for other people. Here’s hoping it’ll be good

  9. Anona*

    What are you thankful or grateful for?

    I’m thankful for my family, and my relationship with my husband, which is so much better today than it was this time last year.

    1. StellaBella*

      Friends, family, improving health (broke shoulder in Sept), my kitty, my work, my car, pie, and snow coming on Saturday. Also justice for Ahmaud.

    2. SarahKay*

      My fabulous manager, Alison and Ask A Manager, and the fact that it’s turning really cold here in the UK so I put my brushed cotton duvet cover on the bed yesterday and it is the warmest snuggliest thing ever.

    3. Thankful for my dentists!*

      Honestly…over the past 14 months I have had major oral surgery twice, plus another dental surgery, a root canal, and a boatload of other dental appointments and work. I have severe dental anxiety, as in require nitrous oxide to get through most appointments and sedatives to get through the especially scary ones. I am so, so thankful for the kindness I have received from all the dentists and dental assistants that I have interacted with. None of them have made me feel bad for my anxiety and all have been very gentle when I’ve been fragile.

      1. The teeth, they are unhappy*

        This is what I need. I don’t suppose you live in the SF Bay Area? I need names of good and kind dental folk for a lot of major work.

        1. Thankful for my dentists!*

          Sadly, no, I’m in the Puget Sound region. I hope you find good people to work with, as it makes an enormous difference! My various appointments and procedures didn’t always go smoothly (quite frankly I had one of my most traumatic medical experiences ever this year, which added to the anxiety) but it’s never been due to the dental staff treating me badly or dismissing my anxiety.

    4. Nicki Name*

      I’m thankful that my household is all alive and well, and for the online communities that have been keeping me sane these last couple years.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m thankful to be able to celebrate with family in person this year! We’re skipping the big extended family gathering (I have young kids and not sure if everyone else is vaxxed yet) but doing smaller dinners with both sets of parents/siblings today and tomorrow.

      Also super grateful that I’m getting my booster shot this weekend and my older kid is getting her second dose.

    6. 653-CXK*

      I’m extremely grateful and thankful that I’ve recovered from COVID and cellulitis, and will be getting my booster shot in late December.
      (More to follow in the reply below to save space.)

      1. 653-CXK*

        Back in mid-September, I was admitted to the hospital for cellulitis in my legs. While I was there being treated for that, I got a little bonus while I was being treated…COVID.

        I thought with the two vaccines I received, I would avoid COVID, but no luck – I think I either had it a few days before or got it in the hospital. It was more like a very bad cold than anything else – lost my smell but kept my taste, coughing was crazy, and I got “light” pneumonia, acute kidney injury, and atrial flutter. Once I got treated with remdesivir, I recovered quickly, and after 17 days, I was discharged from the hospital. (I’ve even lost ~40 pounds in the deal.)

        I spent almost all of October and a couple of weeks in November recovering. The first few days were hard, but what helped me the most was to keep a diary to highlight the milestones I passed. My coughing went away, as did the cellulitis, thanks to the help of visiting nurses who visited 1-3x a week. (I was released from VNA services yesterday. The VNA case manager worked above and beyond and was an immense help.) I also celebrated my 50th birthday a couple of weeks ago, which added to my determination to get better.

        I saw my doctor Monday and with the exception of a couple of labs that were slightly under, my labs were normal. You bet your bottom dollar I will be getting my COVID booster shot (but since everyone claimed slots ahead of time, I’m getting mine in late December.)

        I am extremely grateful and thankful to be alive and to have recovered fully.

    7. allathian*

      I’m thankful for my family, and grateful that both of us are employed in jobs that can be done remotely, none of our loved ones have been sick (or worse) with Covid, and that all of us are vaccinated. My parents and in-laws are due for their booster shots next week, with a bit of luck I’ll get mine in late January (6 months between the 2nd shot and booster). I’m grateful that I’ve been able to survive the pandemic with only minor worries, I got a bit too comfortable just staying at home during the worst of it, which was never as bad as venturing out again was, but I’m glad I did. (I’m just sorry that Covid numbers are getting much worse in Europe again, and we’re facing another round of potential lockdowns.)

      I’m thankful that my preteen son is such a lovely, thoughtful, and accepting person. They made holiday decorations at school last week, and he made a row of snowmen out of cardboard you can display on the mantelshelf, a windowsill, etc. The snowmen have different hats on; there’s a normal “Uncle Scrooge” top hat, a Santa hat, a hat that looks like a snow-covered mountain, a red fez (!), a leprechaun hat (green with a yellow band and a shamrock badge), and a rainbow Pride hat. They’ve had a diversity & inclusion project this fall, and it seems to be bearing fruit. I’m so glad my son seems to be so accepting of the diversity of humanity. Accepting is putting it mildly, he just takes it for granted, and thinks racism and discrimination are, I quote, “weird ideas”.

      I’m also thankful to be a part of the wonderful AAM community. Thank you, Alison, for making this such a wonderful place to hang out.

  10. Elizabeth West*

    Happy colonizer day! :P

    Today is my dad’s 85th birthday. I was also really hoping to be out of here before today (not that I don’t want to see my fam, just, ya know.) I had an extra copy each of Tunerville and Confluence and decided to give Dad those for his birthday. I didn’t give any copies to Mom, but she did get to read them already. Dad wouldn’t unless he’s given them, since he doesn’t have any way to get them off Amazon.

    Wondering how to stave off any remarks from entitled sibling about free books. They got a digital copy of Tunerville for a beta read but not the other (I didn’t ask them for a beta for the sequel). I was thinking if they said anything I’d just point out that me buying author copies doesn’t help my sales and hello, I don’t actually have a job right now.

    I did give sibling a copy of the story collection, one with the misprinted cover. I won’t give that one to Dad because I added some straight-up horror fiction to the final edition. That is not his thing, lol.

    1. fueled by coffee*

      Re free books: “Actually, what would really help me is if you requested that your local library order copies!”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yessssss—oh, but libraries won’t order self-published books, will they?

        Alternatively, or in addition to, I could say, “Please go on Amazon and leave reviews if you liked them, especially for the collection and Confluence. They’re naked and afraid!”

        1. RagingADHD*

          Yes, they will. They don’t routinely, but there are various ways to pursue it, and if there’s a patron request they are more likely to.

          The easiest “in” is to enable ebook distribution to Hoopla and Overdrive/Libby.

        2. Loredena*

          I think they can, if they can be made available on overdrive. I’ve seen mention of it by some of the independents I read

    2. RagingADHD*

      How about, “It’s not your birthday.”

      For my sib, if they wanted to read it I’d email them the file and ask that if they like it, would they please recommend it or buy a copy to give someone else. But sibling relationships are different, so that might not fly.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Yikes. There must be a lot of bad blood if the 59 cents or whatever you’re netting off Kindle Unlimited is a bone of contention.

          I’m sorry you’re dealing with that, particularly with your dad’s birthday and the holiday. That can’t be fun.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Not bad blood per se, but there is massive entitlement inherent in asking artists for free stuff. We’re not obligated to give away our work just because someone is family. She hasn’t said anything about it; perhaps I shall escape unscathed. I’m just glad I made it through dinner.

            It sounds like you’re closer to your sib than I am to mine. I’m the odd one out in my family.

            1. Kiwiapple*

              I’m confused, has your sibling straight up asked you for freebies or do they do it on the regular to other artists and creatives?

            2. RagingADHD*

              I give away a lot of free digital copies anyway, and some print to people I know in person. I don’t know the current figures, but I definitely get more sales the more I give.

            1. banoffee pie*

              I’ll check out your book on amazon :)

              My mum won’t read my book (not finished yet) and here’s why…quote I’ll ‘see her face while she’s reading it and decide she doesn’t like it and get annoyed’. Convoluted, eh? Basically she doesn’t want to annoy me but her opinion would actually be pretty useful because she does read a lot. Oh well, it’ll just have to be beta readers I find on the internet ;)

              1. Elizabeth West*

                LOL, Mom is mad at me because well, you know, a middle book leading into a third book might maaaaaybe have a bit of uncertainty at the end…. :’D


    3. londonedit*

      Heck, I work for a publishing company and we don’t get free books. We get a fairly decent discount on the company website, but that’s it. Our authors get around 10 free copies depending on their contract but they have to buy their own at a discount after that.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I bought two author copies of each (now I only have one each) so I could take pictures of them for marketing purposes (I’m indie). All I have to pay is printing costs and shipping—it’s about $4.75 for the paperback that I sell at $14.99 but Amazon gets a huge cut of that.

        As soon as I get a decent job, I’m going to try and find another distributor so I can put them on more platforms. That might get me some sales from people who avoid Kerblam!—I mean, Amazon.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I think most people assume an author has lots of free copies available, so going with, “Oh, I don’t have any copies but you can buy one, here’s the link,” should be your first step.

  11. Abogado Avocado*

    Alison, you could have a second job (I know, like you need one!) designing Thanksgiving greeting cards for all of us with fur children. Your cat graphics above are precious and make me wish I’d thought to do the same for my kitty boys. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. A Girl Named Fred*

    Hi everyone, happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate! Quick gut check on proceeding with a design test, please?

    So, a few weeks back I applied for a bit of a stretch job. I don’t have exact experience, but the ad specified that they think the skills of the position can be taught, as long as XYZ soft skills are met, etc. I sent off my resume and cover letter – the next day, LinkedIn told me that they had viewed my application, but I heard nothing so I mentally moved on.

    WELL. I had a funeral on Tuesday so I hadn’t checked my email for a few days. Finally caught up yesterday and I received a test for the position! They sent it on Monday with an unspecified due date. Since I saw it Thanksgiving Eve, my plan is to work on it today and send it tomorrow with a note apologizing for not acknowledging the first email. Something like, “Thank you for this opportunity! I apologize for my delay in acknowledging I had received it – my response time is usually quicker, but I had a funeral earlier this week and by the time I saw the email it was almost Thanksgiving so I didn’t want to add unnecessary emails to your inbox over the holiday. With that said, here’s my test,” etc etc.

    Is that a good way to proceed and an okay message to send? I normally wouldn’t work on anything on Thanksgiving, but we’re missing our planned celebration anyway and I’d rather get it sent ASAP since 1) I didn’t see it until Wednesday and 2) it sounds like they had a LOT of applications.

    Thank you for any advice and also, any spare good vibes toward this interview process would be so, SO appreciated!!

    1. Empress Matilda*

      That sounds good. You could also send the “so sorry, just seeing this now, working on it right away” note today if you want, and then send the test itself tomorrow. But if you’re confident you’ll be able to send the test before tomorrow morning, you should be fine doing it your way.

      Sorry for your loss, and good luck on the design test!

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        Appreciate your thoughts! Thank you for the condolences and for the luck – this has definitely been an emotional rollercoaster of a week!!

    2. RagingADHD*

      I’m sorry for your loss.

      I would give the acknowledgment email right away, and pare out a lot of the detail about funeral, response time, etc. I’d just say I was away from my desk for the holiday week.

      Best of luck!

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        This is sort of what my partner recommended. He thinks the funeral detail is too much info (as they have limited info on who I am right now, do I really want to get that personal, etc.) Maybe I’m just feeling weird saying I wasn’t at my desk for the holiday because I’m not working right now, so if it wasn’t for the funeral I would have been available ASAP. But it’d be totally legitimate to be out/slowed responses for the holiday. Definitely something to consider.

        Thank you for the condolences, your thoughts, and the luck!

    3. JSPA*

      If it has no due date, perhaps just say, “due to travel, received [date], completed and returned [date].” That indicates you have not been working on it for days and days, that you responded with alacrity, and cuts out the apologetic tone, which weakens the message and sounds like an excuse (where no excuse is needed).

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        Oh, I definitely like the idea to specify when I received it so they know I didn’t toil over it for forever. And thank you for the reminder that I haven’t “done anything wrong” by not responding immediately. It’s highly likely they expected delays with the holiday week; I’m just used to being more on top of my email so I let that worry run away with me. I appreciate the perspective!

    4. Colette*

      I would definitely pare down that response. “Thank you for this opportunity! I apologize for my late response – I had a funeral earlier this week and was not reading email.”

      Definitely don’t say you didn’t want to add unnecessary emails to their inbox. That isn’t something you should be managing, and it implies you delayed longer.

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        I like that phrasing, thank you! I know I can get wordy, so it’s been helpful to see how others would phrase this and what they’d leave out. I didn’t think about the point in your second paragraph, but it’s a good one! Thanks for your response!

        1. Sue*

          I wouldn’t even be apologetic, just complete it and send it in. It’s a holiday week and you don’t want to come across as defensive or over-explainy. I’m sure it’s fine to just forge ahead.

    5. meagain*

      I think definitely leave out the part about the funeral. And not adding unnecessary emails to your inbox – that sounds like an excuse and kinda comes off as weird, like you think they can’t manage their own inbox.

      I would send it first thing tomorrow. I think because this is fell on a holiday week, you don’t need to apologize for a delay. Just send it tomorrow morning. Chances are the person reviewing these has been doing their own holiday prep/planning/travel/life and has their own inbox to catch up on.

  13. Gnome*

    A couple weeks ago I wrote in a Friday thread about not wanting to work a project (totally optional for me) if I had to be near some really toxic people. In case anyone is wondering, it did come up, but not as I expected…

    I got an email from the project lead, let’s call him Bobby, that said, “Gnome, I ask that you take a few hours with Cindy after Jan and Marcia walk her through project X and get her up to speed on the Y component. Let me know if I need to run this by Greg.” (Greg is my new boss and a SVP reporting to the CEO directly, while Bobby is lowest level management about four levels lower).

    I had just wrapped up my involvement in the prior project because my new position needs me full time and had said as much.

    So my desire to help went down to zero despite the fact that project X is my favorite work to date. I knew if Bobby was willing to task me publicly – Cindy, Jan, and Marcia were on the email and also tasked – and assume he just had to ‘run it by’ Greg that Greg would ok it, just a couple weeks after I said I couldn’t help any more… That it would not go well if I got actually assigned to help.

    I knew the project would come up, but I didn’t know the toxicity if the folks on that floor had gotten to Bobby. That part of the company is very bossy, among other things. I’d expected something like, “I’d appreciate it if you could help with this,” not “go do this.”

    I told him that I was still needed 100 percent on my new work (and discreetly let Greg and his deputy know I’m not interested, whatever Bobby says).

    1. Perilous*

      Good job dodging that bullet!

      And I love the coworker names! I assume the CEO is Carol, the chief architect is Mike, and Alice heads up the facilities/maintenance department.

      Cousin Oliver is clearly the nepotism hire who thinks he is the only thing holding the company together.

    2. Zona the Great*

      Wow. That would take me a long time to respond to because he’s got a lot of nerve. No, no need to reach out to Greg, Bobby; I’m not available for any part of Project X. I’d copy Greg. Shit, depending on the situation, I might even throw in, “please reconsider how you communicate such requests of me going forward as this read as a directive”.

  14. Empress Matilda*

    I’m thinking of changing industries – I’ve been in the government/ NFP sector for 20+ years, and it’s time to do something new. The work I do is high-level policy and administration, so theoretically I could work pretty much anywhere, although I obviously have some preferences and requirements. If anyone has ideas based on the list below, I’d love to hear them. Or if I’m looking for a unicorn and I will need to compromise on some of these, I’d love to hear that too!

    Here’s what I want:
    ~workplace culture that is more modern, more flexible, and less bureaucratic than government
    ~”standard” workdays (M-F daytime, no evenings or weekends), preferably on site or some combination of on site and WFH
    ~focus on social good, rather than pure capitalism. I could work for a for-profit organization as long as I support the product or service, but I’m never going to work for a bank or for Amaz*n.
    ~visible commitment to DEI
    ~ stable salary, as I’m the main breadwinner for my household and I can’t afford to take financial risks

    1. Colette*

      Your second and last points are the riskiest, IMO. In my experience, many private-sector jobs have an expectation of overtime/evenings and weekend work, at least on occasion. And private-sector jobs are more likely to do layoffs than government. Now, some of this will vary depending on what type of role you’re looking for, and some you can protect yourself from by focusing on saving a hefty emergency fund.

      1. Empress Matilda*

        …saving a hefty emergency fund
        Not very likely, I’m afraid! :) But otherwise, you said pretty much exactly what I’m thinking – if I want M-F hours and a stable salary, I might have to stay in government after all. Which is not necessarily the worst thing in the world, but I’d love to know what other options I might have. Thanks for your input!

    2. What do you know how to do?*

      It kind of depends on your expertise. “Policy” covers a wide range of sins (I say this as a policy person myself). Like, if your expertise is in environmental policy you could go in-house at a big corporation and manage their sustainability initiatives, or you could join a consulting firm and take their environment files, or you could work on compliance files for an industry advocacy organization etc. If your expertise is in, say, municipal transit strategies, you have a more limited range in the corporate world but you could scale up in the infrastructure sphere.

      Basically one approach could be to think about your core expertise and how to scale it up or down, as well as where it’s laterally applicable in other contexts.

    3. OtterB*

      Is the “standard” workdays absolute? I work for a not-for-profit that is higher ed adjacent and includes a couple of policy staff. Their normal workdays (all of our normal workdays) are the usual M-F. But there are occasional workshops or meetings, maybe 3-4 a year, that require evening or weekend work. So not likely to creep into expectations of being available all the time, but also not 100% normal workdays.

    4. I don’t post often*

      Your capitalism point is interesting to me. I work for a bank. Specifically I work for a bank sub that invests TONs on money into LIHTC and NMTC projects. Sure, the bank gets tax credits and other “perks” of the investments. Meanwhile, I have standard 9-5 M-F hours. I have a job doing meaningful work. I have great benefits, and because of the specialization, I have relatively good job security.
      If you are in policy, you probably know the meanings of LIHTC, NMTC, and SBIC. Sure, one could argue that banks make these investments solely for the tax credits, but I’m telling you the people that work in these banking departments and the people that work in these industries in general truly believe in the mission.
      You might also be surprised to learn that there are many people that find themselves working at a bank for one reason or another, not planning to stay there. But then… the good hours, the good benefits, the good job security counter balance what can be boring work and they end of staying long term. I count myself in that bucket. I came from Capitol Hill, had to take the first job available. I was chomping at the bit to get back to what I considered meaningful interesting important work….. 12 years later it turns out I enjoying having $ to pay the mortgage and have a lot of $$ to donate to organizations I believe in.

    5. It's fun to give away other peoples' money!*

      Charitable foundation. There are huge ones (Ford Foundation, Gates, etc) and little tiny ones and everything in between.

  15. Bibliovore*

    Help! I am supposed to be critiquing a pr video produced by our communications department that is specifically for my department.
    I had an 1.5 hour zoom meeting going over my concerns and am on deadline. (we don’t own those images that you are using, that is misinformation, the image you used does not illustrate the words coming out of the person’s mouth etc etc.get rid of the ken burns effect, label the speaker and the materials)
    Turns out the Communications Director (who is responsible for this took no notes and the work is of a free lancer who I do not have access to. )
    I have spent two days gathering hi rez images.
    The video is three minutes.
    I now have to go through the video.
    Give him the time-stamp,
    write delete X
    replace with z.
    What would be the clearest tool to communicate the information.
    I am thinking an google xcel sheet but also that story boarding would allow me to timestamp /show image and give notes.
    Is there a “free” or word document storyboard template?
    Should I just do an excel sheet and let it go?

    1. Bibliovore*

      PS. please do not freak that I am working on Thanksgiving. This was my husband’s holiday not mine and pissing and moaning is better than grieving and sad.

      1. Filosofickle*

        No judgment here! It can be taken too far, but staying busy is a great coping strategy. Especially during triggering times.

    2. Pikachu*

      We did a lot of promo videos in my previous job. We used It allows you to leave specific feedback at timestamps.

    3. GiantPanda*

      Maybe create subtitles?
      Don’t know what software is available, but .srt files can basically be written in any text editor.

    4. Texan in exile on her phone*

      May I just say I am very annoyed with your comms director not only for not taking notes but also for not doing a preliminary review to check for these issues before asking for your feedback. You should have to check only for accuracy, not for copyright, etc, issues. :(

      1. Bibliovore*

        Yep, but anger is not my friend now. I will be ccing my supervisor so that she is aware of these issues and the time suck.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Look up “Add comments to videos (Acrobat Pro)”. I don’t work with video myself, so I don’t know anything else except it exists.
      I didn’t see this yesterday so it may be too late. If nothing else, maybe it could help your team in future projects.

  16. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    I think I may have screwed myself – or been screwed over? – with my annual pay rise. Earlier this year, my current boss told me I’d get my annual raise in October. Then, in Oct, I accepted a new job, same role but different department, starting next year. My pay rise was meant to kick in this month, according to my current boss. This didn’t happen, and I asked her just now – she said that as pay rises came from the department, and as I’d resigned, I’d be withdrawn from them, and my pay would be up to what I’d discussed with my New Boss. But New Boss and I never really discussed pay in depth, as we (or just I?) was under the impression that it would be the same as my current role, pay rise included. (Annual pay rises are standard in our company).

    I feel like the BIGGEST IDIOT, and also slightly betrayed, as now what can I do but go talk to New Boss and say, uh, so can we discuss pay? Even after I have already accepted the job? Which means I have no leverage at all. Why is New Boss going to give me a pay rise when I’ve not started with him??

    I know there are bigger problems in the world, so forgive me the self pity, it’s just that I’m on the lowest band of pay for my position under the understanding that I’d get this rise this year. I’ve worked SO HARD for Current Boss and am bending over backwards doing work to hand over for her, and she’s just let me believe this (I was told November for pay rises all last month) then shrugged and said it wasn’t the case.

    1. Colette*

      Talk to your new boss and say “I’ve just found out that OldBoss rescinded my raise to X because I accepted this new job. I was expecting to make X in this new job, can we talk about this?”

    2. WellRed*

      What is the company policy regarding pay raises? Also, how is she viewing this as a resignation? Is that how your company typically views Transfers? I’d reach out to HR before you do anything. Maybe current boss has gone rogue.

    3. ATX*

      I feel like this is pretty standard, and is no fault of anyone. You chose to move departments, who presumably had a different budget. You accepted the salary/offer as is.

      I see zero betrayal, and it’s likely new boss had no idea.

    4. Lizy*

      Do you know what your pay raise would have been, if you had not accepted NewJob? Would you be ok with that rate? If so, I’d go to New Boss and just say “hey so I think there’s some confusion with my pay, due to the timing of NewJob. I was under the impression that pay would be X+raise, but then OldBoss indicated the pay would actually be based on whatever you and I had discussed. Since we hadn’t discussed, and the raise didn’t hit, I wanted to see if you could help figure this out”.

      Or if you don’t know what raise was going to be, use similar language and just leave out exact amounts.

      Honestly it sounds like a simple misunderstanding, and I don’t think you sound like an idiot at all.

  17. Lirael*

    This got pretty long so I’m putting it as a reply for those who don’t want to read the whole thing. TLDR: thought my son might be ADHD but turns out he might be autistic, would love help on how to help him through the process.

    1. Lirael*

      So I posted on the weekend open thread that my son might be ADHD. Unexpectedly we got an initial appointment through this week (long story) and to cut an extremely long story very short they said he certainly shows signs of neurodiversity and that he might be autistic as well as ADHD.

      This had never crossed my mind before – he’s not the stereotypically autistic kid, but as soon as she said it it’s like the wheels all started turning in my head and loads of disparate things all lined themselves up and. Well. If he’s autistic, so many things make so much more sense.

      My main problem now is going to be keeping an open mind because it will be quite a while before we get an actual answer. It would be very easy for me to just presume he’s definitely autistic but he might not be.

      I think the things that would be helpful are:
      If there’s anyone out there who has supported a neurodivergent kid through the wait for an actual diagnosis, what helped?

      …. HOW do I keep my mind open to other possibilities when my brain is basically just throwing evidence at me left right and centre that he’s really autistic?

      Just for the record, he’s a fabulous kid, I love him even more for his neurodivergence, and if nothing else this is helping me remember that I need to parent him how he is… not that I have done a lot of trying to push him to be Other, but eg I’ve made him climb down from things when he was scared and now I think he’s also dyspraxic so I’m trying not to be consumed with guilt for this.

      1. Suprisingly ADHD*

        One thing that might help you keep an open mind, is to remember that there’s a lot of overlap between the symptoms of ADHD and Autism. It’s possible to have both, they’re not mutually exclusive.

        I’d also like to recommend two resources I use myself. (Children and Adults with ADHD) has useful information about diagnosing and helping a child with ADHD, tools and coping strategies to try, and directories of trusted professionals. (Autistic Self Advocacy Network) is run by people who are autistic. The information and tools they provide are very useful.

        I don’t recommend Autism Speaks, the people who run it are not autistic and they support a lot of harmful “treatments” designed to make the kid seem “normal” that have been proven to be harmful in the long term.

        1. Lirael*

          Yeah, I’m pretty sure he is autistic with ADHD and dyspraxia as extras. Thank you for the recommendations, I’ll have a look at them at the weekend. I’d heard that about autism speaks :( I don’t want him to change who he is; I just want to make sure we both have the tools to make life as smooth as possible without him trying to be something he’s not.

      2. Generalist*

        I’m a parent of a neurodivergent kid and am neurodivergent myself…But neither of us were flagged by teachers or doctors because we’re both high achievers and tend to be compliant with systems and rules until we have a meltdown…which we then blame on ourselves.

        I’d encourage you to think of this as waiting not for the answer, or the “actual” or “real diagnosis, but as waiting for the perspective of one other person–a credentialed person who has been given authority by a particular system of entitlement and services, but still just another person. If the diagnosis provided serves your family reasonably well, that’s great. If not, it’s not gospel. Either way, the categories and labels currently available in our society are *tools* that ideally could help you parent and help your son learn…but if they don’t help, they aren’t the right tools. Trust your own sense of what your kid needs, and see if your kid can articulate what helps him learn and connect with other people.

        Wishing you good information, support and services!

        1. Lirael*

          Today’s realisation has been that when he gets really upset about stuff, it makes FAR more sense if I look at this through an “autistic meltdown” lens. Over time I’ve kind of stumbled to the right way of supporting him and if he’s autistic what I do now is the right thing (although I can tweak it now to make it even better).

          Thank you so, so much.

      3. Generalist*

        I wrote a fairly long reply but it doesn’t seem to have posted, which is really annoying. I’m going to switch devices and see if I can replicate it to a reasonable extent.

        1. Lirael*

          For some reason this post and reply both got caught in the spam filter so hopefully it’ll turn up. Thank you <3

          1. Generalist*

            Have now posted three times and none are appearing. I don’t know if some word(s) I’ve used are triggering a spam filter.

      4. molybdenum26*

        You didn’t mention how old your son is, but the earliest you can start intervention, the better. My son was diagnosed with ADHD and then high functioning autism when he was 5 and then 6. We had to wait about 3 months before getting his final test. The thing is… the only thing it changed was to start getting him resources through insurance. Until that time, we did plenty of actions at home.

        I would suggest trying to determine where he needs the most help and then come up with your own action plan to start working on. My son was TERRIBLE with games that he would lose and would have an extremely hard time switching tasks. So we practiced. And practiced. And practiced. There were lots of evening spent playing games and it was a combination of awful and wonderful because it pulled us all closer together.

        We would also switch tasks often to give him the practice he needed to learn how to switch easier. It’s been 7 years and he has made so much progress. There will always be things that he’s “weird” about, but we just tell him that being weird is a side effect of being awesome and really, who isn’t at least little weird?

        Good luck with all of this. It will be an emotional roller coastal no matter what!

        1. Lirael*

          He’s 10. And he also gets extremely upset losing games! That’s really helpful, I can definitely play games with him and it will indeed be wonderful and awful.

          He’s proud of his weird, which is great :)

      5. RagingADHD*

        Hugs! Listen, every parent with every kid has moments when they realize they coulda/shoulda handled things differently. Comes with the territory. No kid comes with a manual, and they’re all different. We’re all just making more or less educated guesses.

        I think it might help to reconcile your “penny dropping” moments with keeping an open mind by looking at the whole question of “is he or isn’t he” from a different angle.

        Your son is himself. Nothing is different. Neurodivergent traits are just the same human traits everyone has, but at an intensity, frequency, or under circumstances that cause problems.

        Autistic and ADHD are just handy ways of referring to certain collections of feelings and behavior that often go together. They can help you better understand and alleviate any difficulties he may have.

        Whether he “is” or “isn’t” one or the other can sometimes come down to the timing & circumstances of the assessment, and who is doing it. There are plenty of people who would qualify for dx at one point of life, or by one country’s standatds, that wouldn’t be dx in another place or at another time. That’s why it’s a spectrum — there’s a lot of gray area.

        Assessment and diagnosis give you different options and suggestions to base your educated parenting guesses on.

        ND folks don’t always benefit from the same treatments. NT people often find some behavioral interventions helpful, even though they were developed for ND folks.
        You’re getting access to a new toolbox. Some of them will help and some won’t, and the tools matter more than the label. The thing that’s going to help him the most is that you’re paying attention and trying to meet his individual needs.

        Best wishes to you and your son!

        1. Lirael*

          Thank you for the hugs!

          I’m going to copy your post so I can keep it in mind. You’re spot on. Luckily I managed to stumble across a way of parenting that works for us both. He’s a very happy kid and I’m very lucky to have him.

        2. Probably definitely AutiHD*

          Seconding everything RagingADHD said!

          From my experience of living with and professional help for this stuff:
          Diagnosis is just there to give a framework to all your experiences and behaviour, and then point you to stuff that might help you. And to justify giving you the resources you need.

          The whole list of standard traits are there to jog your memory and make you realize a load of things you did and experienced were actually part of that framework (lots of pennies dropping and lightbulb moments).

          The treatment plans are just a starting point based on what worked for many other people. You adapt them for your own situation, try them out, and see what works. Then you keep refining them, or you throw those out and try something new. And most of them are about giving you tools to deal with the things you struggle with.

          Oh, and it’s a never ending process, but in a good way. There is always another layer of realizations and more refining of your toolset. But at some point you conclude that it’s good enough for what you want out of life, and you put that time and effort somewhere else.
          And if you start struggeling or run into new problems, then you just go back and work at it some more until it’s good again.

          TLDR: Treatment depends a lot on the person and what they need, diagnoses are just there to help you figure out what you need and what might work, and it’s kind of a mess but if it works who cares.
          All this mental stuff is messy and confusing, raising children is hard, messy and confusing. But if you mean well, treat them as a person, and help them where they need to go, you can’t really do anything wrong. At worst you spin your wheels trying stuff that doesn’t work, and then you just know to look somewhere else.

          Speaking of learning: I need to learn to write more succinctly. Or I live with it, and I’ll be fine either way.

          1. Lirael*

            I think this was as long as it needed to be :) thank you, it’s so good to hear all this. Everything just seems so much more understandable now! I just want to do the best i can for him <3

      6. Anon for This*

        My autistic son graduated from Marshall University (WV) which has a wonderful support program for University students with autism. His education has been a challenge, but there are tools available.

        You need the diagnosis – you can’t get help without it. You will need to work with your child’s school on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The Dr. who diagnoses your son may be able to give you some pointers on what supports he needs. Not knowing your child’s challenges, I can’t say what is appropriate, but I strongly recommend that you keep him in mainstream classes if at all possible. As one of my son’s middle school teachers said, life doesn’t come with an IEP. He needs to learn how to adapt to the neurotypical world. Some schools are more accommodating than others – don’t hesitate to challenge them if they aren’t providing the assistance he needs.

        As Raging ADHD already said, your son is himself. He is who he is. Don’t try to “fix” him, support him in his interactions with the world. Don’t let others tell you he just needs X. (When my son was little this ranged from “a good spanking” to essential oils and everything in between!) There are lots of good books on autism available – more now than when my son was diagnosed years ago. Temple Grandin’s book talks about the strategies her mother used when she was young and no one had heard of autism.

        He may need a therapist. Again, when my son was little one of his special ed teachers told me that a lot of kids don’t realize how different they are, but mine did and would need help dealing with it. She was right.

        He participated in a “social skills group” as part of his treatment. This was run by a social worker where a group of other, similarly challenged boys got together on a regular basis to work on things like making conversation, eye contact, dealing with crowds, ordering food in a restaurant. I also found a summer sleep-away camp that catered to kids like him that gave him a lot of self-confidence. He may prefer to isolate, but he needs positive interaction with peers.

        I agree with Surprisingly ADHD that is a good resource. I’m not familiar with, but agree that you should avoid Autism Speaks. They are not helpful.

        Raising a child with challenges is hard work, so be sure to take care of yourself as well. You don’t say if you have other children, but if you do, please make sure they understand the challenges, and make sure they get some special attention – it can be hard on them, too.

  18. Cj*

    I posted a question last weekend about the Mayo Clinic inviting me to participate in a study for DNA tests for hereditary high cholesterol, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer. I was concerned future insurability and employability.

    A couple of people said that GINA would protect me. However, I just researched this further, and GINA doesn’t apply to long-term care, disability, or life insurance, or to employers with fewer than 15 employees.

    I’m starting a new job on Monday with only eight employees, and they don’t have company provided life or disability insurance so I’m really glad checked into this further.

    3 weeks ago I was working for a larger company that provided life and disability insurance, so you never know what can happen, and I’m not taking that chance.

    Several people also mentioned that the ACA would protect me because it doesn’t allow for the exclusion of pre-existing conditions. That would be the case for high cholesterol, because I was diagnosed with it long ago. But if I have the genetic markers for breast or ovarian cancer, I don’t see how those would be considered pre-existing conditions since I don’t actually have those cancers now.

    1. Undine*

      Could you ask the clinic about your concerns? They presumably have some expertise in the area. If they say “Nooo problem, everything is fiiiine,” keep digging, but they may actually be able to give you a nuanced response.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      You haven’t asked a question but here goes: Do what’s best for you, please! That includes preserving your peace of mind.
      Maybe DNA results could be used against us, especially concerning jobs and health care. I’m sure the Mayo Clinic will be fine without your participation, if you so choose.

    3. Bluebell*

      I didn’t see your thread last weekend, but I’ll chime in about what I am learning about DNA testing and Mayo. I am working with mayo on a genetic related treatment for something, so they asked me to do genetic testing. They did a half hour info session with me before they sent me the testing kit. What I was told was that DNA information cannot be used against you for health insurance, But can be used for long term care insurance. Though I’ve already been turned down for life insurance, I decided to try applying for long-term care insurance before my testing was done. No surprise, I got rejected for that, as my health conditions are quite complicated. Since this is about treatment, and not just a study, I am going ahead with my testing. I would call Mayo back and ask for some clarification, or if they can point you in the right direction for your answers you need. And don’t feel pressured to participate in a study, especially as Mayo is doing all sorts of studies in so many different areas. Good luck!

    4. retired3*

      Work in research adjacent field…If it is research, there is a consent form. Get the consent form. It will give you contact information for questions. Ask the questions of the contacts. This includes not only the research staff but an independent Ethics Board or Institutional Review Board. Just remember that any information can be disclosed or hacked. Nothing is for certain. Is there whole genome sequencing? Does that make a difference? The research staff is not supposed to enroll you unless you get adequate answers to their questions. Do any of the staff have a financial interest in the study? Need to get published, money from big pharma? This should all be in the consent form.

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      Canadian kids get the Monday off, and some school boards will give the Friday off as a PA day depending on the area. That’s all, though. It’s not the Christmas-level holiday it seems to be in the States.

      1. awesome3*

        Thanks. Do they get a “fall break?” Or is it onot three day weekends or regular school until December?

        1. Valancy Snaith*

          I can’t speak for outside Ontario, but usually here school starts in late August, there’s a Labour Day 3- or 4-day weekend, a Thanksgiving 3- or 4-day weekend, some kind of 3-day weekend in November, and then two weeks of Christmas break. At the university level, we always got a reading week in the fall around midterms, which coincided with Thanksgiving in October.

          1. Ontario Teacher*

            Interesting. I live in Ontario (just outside of Toronto) and throughout my childhood and now working as a teacher school has always started the Tuesday after Labour Day Monday. Neither of the three school boards I have worked for have ever started earlier nor did the one I went to school at. Is starting in August a recent thing?

            1. Valancy Snaith*

              My bad. I am childless and only know of it from the nonstop barrage of “school starting” at the end of August.

            2. Colette*

              I grew up in Saskatchewan, and we started in August. They’ve only recently changed to starting in September.

            3. Usurper Cranberries*

              I grew up in Alberta and I believe we usually started the week before Labour Day (which means we could have started e.g. August 28). I don’t think I experienced starting class the day after Labour Day until I hit university.

        2. EmKay*

          We get spring break the first week of March or so, and schools are closed for 2-3 weeks for winter break from just before Christmas to just after New Year’s.

        3. Colette*

          Some places do – my nieces and nephew in Saskatchewan typically get a few days around Remembrance Day (Nov 11), which is a statuatory holiday there. I can’t remember if they get the full week off or if they have to go to school for a couple of days.

    2. EmKay*

      Canadian Thanksgiving was Monday, October 11. Kids and adults not-in-the-service-industry got that day off :)

  19. OyHiOh*

    I just need to celebrate a little bit.

    Before the pandemic CARES Act money came through, the organization I work for consisted of an executive director and one federal planning grant. CARES allowed my ED to hire people and set the organization on a road to recovery and stability. In the last six weeks, we’ve received a million dollar federal grant targeted at small business resiliency, and we’re on the glide path to receiving a phase 1 grant that would set us up for eligibility to apply for a phase 2 that would literally change the economic future of a quarter of our state, if we receive it. There are so many if’s we’re waiting on, but the fact that we’ve gone from a functionally dead organization to one that’s seen as a legitimate player in our corner of the US in eighteen months is exciting. I’m just thankful I found the job listing and my ED gave me a chance – I wasn’t the poster kid for my role but I’ve grown well in it – and that we’re starting to do good things in our region.

  20. SadPanda*

    Do you guys think two good references will outweigh a potentially bad one? Im down to the final two for a job that will get me away from my toxic boss but I’m required to give current sup and two past as references. I’m hoping current sup doesn’t torch this for me.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        Definite red flag. Any reasonable employer would know that most employees wouldn’t want their current management to know that they’re job searching.

    1. MsM*

      Is there a peer/higher-up you currently work with and trust that you can offer alongside Boss, and say you think they may be able to provide a more rounded assessment?

    2. BRR*

      If you know why current supervisor would give a bad reference, give the place you’re applying to a heads up and if you can, have another reference form your current work place that can speak positively/counter your current boss.

      1. SadPanda*

        I’m debating asking my grand boss because I’ve worked with him for longer, plus he’s leaving for a new job soon so he won’t be as personally affected by my leaving. I’ve had a very frank discussion with him about boss and while he’s been very circumspect while taking my concerns seriously, word on the grapevine is that there have been a LOT of complaints about boss in her 5 months as a supervisor.

      2. SadPanda*

        Problem is I don’t know if she would give me a bad one. If she gave me a neutral reference, that would be fine. The other two will more than even it out.

    3. Dwight Schrute*

      Oh please tell us you haven’t given them the references yet! I would let them know you can’t have your current sup as a reference because they don’t know you’re job searching and it would put you in the position of being pushed out. Maybe offer to have a trusted peer serve as a reference or offer another non current office reference

  21. Cheezmouser*

    Dilemma: should husband take rare opportunity for promotion even though it will mean long work hours and less time with family?

    Backstory: my husband works in a super niche industry where it is very, very difficult to move up from Teapot Assistant to Junior Teapot Designer supporting a Senior Teapot Designer. You could easily work your entire career as a Teapot Assistant and not move up. In fact, that’s what happens to 98% of Teapot Assistants.

    However, yesterday husband overheard managers saying that they need a new Junior Teapot Designer. Husband is the most experienced Teapot Assistant (15+ years) and has even designed some teapots freelance. There’s a possibility that they might offer it to him. The caveat is that Junior Teapot Designers work 12-15 hour days, 6 days a week. There are hard deadlines for delivery, so you stay as long as required to get the job done.

    Normally I would say the tradeoff isn’t worth it. We have two small children, and they wouldn’t see their daddy anymore. I also work full-time in a demanding career, so I would need to be badass at work and then basically be a single mom in the evenings. We don’t need the extra money.

    But the only reason they need a Junior Teapot Designer now is because they laid all of them off during the pandemic. Once the position is filled, it could be years before there’s a vacancy.

    We’re debating whether he should take it if it’s offered to him. What would you do? Would you sacrifice family time with your children–time you wouldn’t get back–for a rare opportunity to move up–something you also might not get back?

    1. Gladiolus*

      I’d take it because quitting if it becomes unbearable is still an option. Saying no is a permanent decision.

      1. Cheezmouser*

        Very true. Frankly this is the main reason why these positions open up. The workload is unsustainable but most people will stick it out for as long as they can because they know that if they resign, they are essentially dropping out of the field. But you never know, maybe hubby gets lucky and becomes one of the 2% that makes it to Senior Teapot Designer. Or we make enough money that he drops out but we’re fine cuz I’m still bringing in income. (My income covers all our monthly expenses)

    2. PX*

      Does he actually *want* the position? I dont see anything in the post about wanting it, just that its difficult to get and likely wont be an option again. What are the actual benefits of it?

      1. Cheezmouser*

        Yes and no. It’s like if you’re 7 feet tall and athletic and someone offers you an NBA contract, it seems kinda silly to say no, even though that lifestyle is a little crazy. Right now you’re the (decently paid) water boy.

        He has all the makings of a great Teapot Designer, he’s trained under some of the top Senior Designers in the field as an assistant, and this may be his chance to make the leap. The work is way more interesting than being an assistant (he’s kinda bored now). So he wants it because he’d be good at it and it’s a lot more interesting than what he is doing now. He’d make six figures as a Junior Designer and much more as a Senior, if he ever makes it.

        He doesn’t want to sacrifice his family for it though, and that’s pretty much the price. There’s a reason why most Senior Teapot Designers are divorced.

        1. Nooooo!*

          Oh god. Taking something because you “don’t turn down something like this” is a bad idea. I did it, and became a lawyer for 30 years when I really didn’t want to be one. Family kept telling me it would be something to fall back on if I ever needed it. I took the LSAT hoping to do badly so I wouldn’t have to go. Bzzzzzzt. Got a top score. OK, can’t waste that, have to apply to school. Waited to the last possible minute, hoping no one would accept me. Bzzzzzt. Got into a really good school. Well, you can’t turn that down, can you? So I quit a job I loved to go to law school. I wish I hadn’t done all this just because “you don’t pass up opportunities like this.” I didn’t WANT to be a lawyer. Unless your husband really really wants this job, and you need the money, help him resist this.

    3. WellRed*

      What will taking this job mean, career wise, in the long term? A short sacrifice to move ahead, or 15 years of six day workweeks?

      1. Cheezmouser*

        Unknown. He could be stuck as a Junior Designer forever. He could fail as a Junior Designer and get let go or demoted back to an assistant. His Senior Designer could move to another company in a year, and he could suddenly find himself forced into a Senior Designer role as the company scrambles to hold onto clients. He could become a Senior Designer but not have enough clients to sustain his role and be relegated back to Junior Designer or let go. Or he could become one of the leading Senior Designers in the field, earning industry recognition and boatloads of money. Any of these are possibilities. (That last one is probably the least likely.)

        But the first step is to become a Junior Designer.

      2. Clisby*

        That’s my question. My father did something like this when I was young (maybe 9?) – 12 hour days, 6 days a week. He was an engineer in a manufacturing plant. However, he knew going in this was only for a year; these insane hours were for some special project, and once it was over, he was back to normal 7-4 hours for the most part, and it did lead to a good promotion. I don’t think he’d have been willing to do that if there was no end in sight.

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

      Consider if they’d lay the position off again next time the company goes through hard times. It seems like they view it as optional, nice to have.

    5. Juneybug*

      Hard pass as time with kids is more important than career advancement (considering you are doing well financially).

    6. Lady Danbury*

      Based on the facts presented, I absolutely would NOT take the job. Working long hours 6 days a week is not conducive to any sort of personal life, let alone being a partner and parent of small kids. His relationships with you, the kids, other family, friends, etc will absolutely suffer if he takes the job. At the end of the day, life is about far more than work and the benefits of moving up don’t outweigh the drawbacks, imo.

      1. Colette*

        Especially with 12-15 hour days! That means he sleeps, gets up, goes to work, comes home, and sleeps, 6 days a week. You’d essentially be a single parent, and you’d be doing all of the work around the house.

      2. Cheezmouser*

        The only potential saving grace is that the work is somewhat seasonal (think tax season for accountants) so he’ll probably be working crazy for maybe 6 months out of the year. The remaining months are maybe 8-10 hour days or maybe even a month where he can go on vacation. Still not great but better than constant insanity.

        1. Fellow Traveller*

          I work in a feast or famine industry and I don’t hate it. We make sure we have solid childcare lined up for my busy periods, I meal plan like crazy, and generally we are in survival mode. Then when I have little or no work, I love having the time to spend on my own projects or going on random weekday trips with the kids or meeting the Husband for lunch. I love my job, and I’m really grateful that my Husband and I are able to make it work.

          1. Cheezmouser*

            This gives me hope! Can you tell me more about how childcare might work during high season? Do you need to outsource some of the housework? Do you just cook once a week and then get takeout? How does all that impact your husband? How can you divvy up responsibilities without one partner burning out? I appreciate any tips or insights. I already feel like I’m in survival mode and he’s only an assistant right now. I’m afraid what it’ll be like for me as the primary caregiver if he gets this job.

            1. Fellow Traveller*

              So our kids are in school/daycare full time anyway, but when I’m working often one of my parents will come to town to help out. If not, we will hire an evening sitter who comes over from after school until dinner time. Our kids are 9, 4, and 2, so they are all pretty self sufficient (or neglected, take your pick).
              Dinner is a combination of cooking on Sundays, convenience food (box mac and cheese, frozen tortellini, potstickers, rotisserie chicken, bagged salad, etc.), super fast and simple things, freezer food, and yes, take out. Sometimes if my shift is 10a-10pm, I will put something in the InstantPot before i go to work, or prep something so that when Husband gets home he just has to put it in the oven.
              We have cleaners every other week, and generally pretty low standards for cleaning.
              Here’s the thing, I think, though – both parents have to be committed to being there 100% all the time. For example, even though I work really hard hours when I’m busy, it’s not like during my lighter periods, I step back and say, “I need to rest because I just got off a stint of 12 hour days.” On my days off from work, I usually take the kids and give my husband an afternoon to himself.
              When I’m not working, I’m the primary parent. When I am working, my husband is the primary parent. If your husband is going to take this job, then he needs to step up and be the primary parent when his workload is lighter so that you can get a break. Knowing where the rest stops are is super important. I’m not saying there everything is hunky dory and we love this lifestyle, but we get by and, like I said, I really love my job.
              I know you are getting a lot of people saying this job opportunity probably isn’t worth it for the sacrifice – and you and your husband need to decide for yourself. But if it’s an opportunity that he really wants, and that he will regret not trying for, then I think that is a valid reason enough to see what happens. On a certain level if he gets the job, you guys just have to figure out the logistics of getting enough support so you don’t get burnt out and resentful and keep moving forward.
              Also – I wonder if it’s the kind of industry/company where change can come from within. I was the only parent at my work for the longest time. And at first I thought I had to keep up with everyone else, work the insane hours, etc., but over the years I’ve been able to make a case to my employer that there are certain things I no longer want to do for work/life balance reasons and I still can produce the same quality of work, so I think the needle is slowly moving on what they expect from employees. I do feel like if people with families and children don’t take on big ambitious jobs and try to change the culture, then the culture will never change. When I was pregnant with our second child, I turned down being the lead on a big project because I wasn’t sure that I could handle it with a newborn, and I’ve regretted it ever since because I think I sent a message to the company that hiring someone with a family means their work won’t be the same quality. I’m probably reading too much into it, but I do think that I shouldn’t have ruled myself out so pre-emptively.

              1. Cheezmouser*

                “ But if it’s an opportunity that he really wants, and that he will regret not trying for, then I think that is a valid reason enough to see what happens.”

                I think this is the key. I think he will regret it, and so would I, if he turns down an opportunity. The childcare and household help will be key. We don’t have either right now so that’s why I’m dying.

                I’m pretty much doing the same as you described when it comes to meal planning. Sometimes (usually towards the beginning of the week) we have fresh roast chicken and veggies. By Friday it’s frozen waffles and chicken nuggets but the kids don’t complain so I’ve learned to set aside the mom guilt. My husband’s work provides lunch and dinner for staff every day so at least he’s taken care of.

                And yes, he’s good about getting me a break when he is home, so it heartens me to hear that we’re doing that part right.

                I don’t think he can change things. It’s engrained in the culture and he’s just a cog in the machine. If he balks at anything then they’ll just find someone else, and there’s a long line of people eager for a shot. It’s unfortunate but I think common for a glamorous industry

    7. Lizy*

      Is he happy where he’s at? If so, then I wouldn’t take it. You never know what may happen in the coming years!

      OR – if it’s an option – what if he went to his boss and said he heard so-and-so saying they need a new junior. He’s interested, but hesitant because of how much time he’d lose with family. And… see what they say.

    8. I heart Paul Buchman*

      This is a values question, which you can’t answer for someone else.
      For us, we have both taken a career hit to prioritise our family and marriage. I don’t regret that. So, I would pass on the job.

      1. Cheezmouser*

        Yes, exactly. I keep hoping there is a way to have the cake and eat it too but that’s highly unlikely.

    9. Your Local Password Resetter*

      It doesn’t sound like he actually wants the position. But it seems like he should want it, so you’re both doubting your own judgement.

      He’d like to do the work, and more recognition and money are always nice. But you don’t actually need the money, he wouldn’t have a more secure or enjoyable job (14 hour days will make you hate even the most interesting work). And in return the lack of work/life balance would wreck his family life and probably his health and sanity in the long run.
      Oh, and most people drop out in the end and lose their career progress in the field.

      Unless I’m missing something big, this promotion would be a massive poison pill. Unless he can somehow negotiate a sane workload, but it sounds like this is deeply ingrained in the industry.

      1. Cheezmouser*

        Yep, all this is right on the money. There’s a reason why most Teapot Designers are single/divorced and out of shape. You pretty much dedicate your life to the job. It’s how the industry has always operated and there’s no sign of change. I suppose he could ask for a more reasonable workload but he already knows the answer, there are logistical reasons why the industry is structured this way, and it will come off as naive.

        1. Your Local Password Resetter*

          There is your answer then!
          Your husband would have to sacrifice a great deal for this job, and decided that it isn’t worth it. And that’s a very sensible way of making career decisions.

        2. anonforthisoneforreasons*

          Yeah, my DH works at a place where it’s totally normal to work more than 8 hours a day and working normal or shorter days isn’t really done/doable.

          But what DID work was working less days a week. So when his friend was close to burnout, he told him to not request less hours, cause it didn’t work, and instead request every Wednesday off to decompress (with the appropriate salary cut, of course) – friend is very happy with this arrangement.
          I don’t know your husband’s industry but maybe something like that is worth a shot?

    10. Ingemma*

      It sounds like you have two decent options a head of you, but they have almost opposite trade offs.

      Personally, if I were your husband I would have a very hard time turning down the promotion. But … I also know that instinct is part of the reason I find it hard to hold down a relationship so…

      It sounds like you are both already looking at this as a team, but it’s also worth considering what this would mean for your career. I’m not sure what your childcare divide looks like right now – but it sounds like as well as you having the kids every evening without as much support from your husband you’d also be the default day time parent. Would this increase the amount of sick time you have to take off for the kids? Would you have to turn down more stretch assignments to make sure you were able to take them to soccer? (Ideally these things wouldn’t impact your career … but a lot of places they do!) If it would impact your career, how do you think you would feel about that?

      Also I think it’s worth considering your kids personalities! Some kids (of a range of ages) would be very thrown by this, and some would take it more in stride!

      It also might be helpful to think about what the pay increase would mean for your family – could you pay to outsource more household chores as a result? That won’t make up for having dad out of the house all the time, but might increase the viability of the whole thing a little bit for you and your husband!

    11. Claire*

      I wouldn’t. Working 72-90 hour weeks doesn’t seem worth it, especially with kids. My husband worked for a company where he had to do 50-60 hour weeks and it was very rough on our family.

    12. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      A local radio personality used to frequently say, “No one ever said on their deathbed that they wished they’d spent more time in the office.”

    13. RagingADHD*

      I would consider where this job would take him long term, and whether you have a good support network nearby.

      A couple of years of grind to achieve a much-desired path, with plenty of help from family and friends? Take it for sure.

      No clear path or endgame, and/or little to no support unless you burn all the extra money paying for childcare? Definitely not.

      The tricky cases would be if there’s a great endgame but no support, or great support but no endgame.

      1. anonforthisoneforreasons*

        For childcare, if you can afford it, an au pair could be a solution so you’ll not be a single parent full-time.

    14. Comet*

      If you don’t need the money I would skip it. He would be giving up too much, and so would you and your kids.

    15. marvin the paranoid android*

      For 12-15 hours days, six days a week, indefinitely? I don’t think any job is worth it. I’d apply the Captain Awkward test: Can you and your husband imagine putting up with this for six months? Three years? Five years?

      And not only would he be sacrificing family time, with those kinds of hours, he’d likely be sacrificing his health and well-being, not to mention putting a huge strain on you. I used to work in a glamour industry with a scarcity mindset about jobs, and there’s a reason I left. Just because it’s rare doesn’t mean it’s valuable.

  22. Gladiolus*

    Weirdest web search I’ve had to do lately: finger condoms. My eldest cat switched from hyperthyroid pills to ear cream because of her outrageous gag reflex, and I’m hypothyroid so it’s very important that the cream not touch my skin. Turns out the ones at the compounding pharmacy are a FORTUNE, so I’m comparison shopping online.

    What’s the goofiest thing in your search history?

    1. Wishing You Well*

      Oy vey! Hubby is always asking me to web search answers to his shower thoughts!
      There are some I WON’T look up ‘cuz I don’t want the FBI knocking on my door asking about my search history! :P

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Haha, there are a couple of things that I’ve made my husband google for me because I don’t want them in my search history. I think the last one was something about how wide a shotgun blast disperses at thus-and-such range, before that I was trying to figure out why pressure cookers would be used as bomb casings. (Once it was explained, it was pretty obvious, but I was thinking about it from a wrong angle and confusing myself.)

      2. RagingADHD*

        As a mystery writer, just make sure you throw a few searches in there from time to time related to story structure, publishing, or writing memes.

        I may be on a watchlist, but nobody’s come to the door yet.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I just looked and the weirdest thing on there right now is that I have to google how to spell “Cthulhu” because I can never remember, lol. I am sorry, Oh Ancient One. Please do not eat me.

      1. Proginoskes*

        Nyarlathotep is the real killer (almost certainly in more ways than one). I always end up just using his epithet The Crawling Chaos, mostly because it describes my house and my life so well *laughs*.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      “make a mouse friend” (it’s a craft kit I’m planning to get for my kid, not an attempt to bond with rodents!)

        1. CalypsoSummer*

          My cat loved Pill Pockets. She’d chew them up and then spit out the pills.

          The only thing way I could get her meds down her was to pry her jaw open, drop a pill in, and then hold her mouth shut until she swallowed — which she did not like worth a darn — but she learned that if she cooperated and swallowed nicely, I’d toss a few treats across the kitchen floor, one at a time, and she could chase them. She really enjoyed that, so she put up with the pills in order to play Chase the Treats.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Did you find anything decent? I’ve been looking for a rat (with the idea of making a “Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs” for a Harry Potter loving niece!)

    4. JSPA*

      You can rub the stuff on gently with the end of the tube. It sits a bit thicker than if you massage it in, but unless the cat’s getting a whopping dose, it soaks in pretty well all the same.

      They also make pills.

      My one cat was bad enough with pills that I did the radiation (only to have her turn so seriously hypothyroid after 2 years, that now she’s on thyroxine pills twice a day–so, money and misery for no long-term gain). I did her ears for a few month first.

      Now, the second cat is hyperthyroid. I’ve been alternating left ear, right ear, and pill…cleaning both ears well on “pill,” so gunk doesn’t build up. He turns out to be easier to pill than to ear-smear, so I may go all pill, with him.

      Doing ear smear directly with a regular mini-syringe, you have to be very gentle, as the tip is a bit rough / hard. But they also make a special smooth, curved tip version (like a mini carmex tube, almost, but flatter) that works excellently for direct application. I worked in a lab, used finger cots there, and still found them more of a mess than they were worth, while trying to deal with a wiggly cat who either wants to be elsewhere, or wants to lick me while I rub his ears.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I always wonder, if you put paste meds on the back of a second cat would medication-needed cat groom it off?

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

      We were just talking about this at work. Sometimes a client will bring setting up on their sessions and the counselor will need to look it up for clinical purposes. We were wondering what the oddest thing someone had to look up (BDSM was one)
      I said, some I’m working on a novel, that (on my personal computer) I’ve been looking up info on different law enforcement agencies, childhood development, and info on college shootings. (I work at a college so this would be a ref flag)

      1. banoffee pie*

        I’ll have to start looking up some dodgy stuff soon for writing my thriller, including guns maybe, which they’re very down on here in the UK. I’m a bit scared to start. But I think my character has got about as far as he can with lifting his shirt and showing people he has a gun, he might actualy have to get it out of the holster sometime soon ;)

    6. Jane*

      My cat has ear cream, too, for a couple of Rx (thyroid and BP). I don’t use gloves, and the Rx’s haven’t touched my skin, but now I’m wondering… should I be using gloves?

    7. EvilQueenRegina*

      Well, I had my mobile phone sat next to me while taking work calls Tuesday, and at one point I’d said “X is unavailable, did you want to leave a message for her?” A few minutes later I glanced down at my phone and found it was displaying searches for things like Interflora, which I had had no reason to look at. Turns out Google Assistant had picked up me saying “message for her” and started looking at romantic gifts for girlfriends.

    8. Hattie McDoogal*

      Earlier this week I was listening to Michael Pollan’s book ‘This is Your Mind on Plants’ which has a long section about growing opium poppies. He says at some point that lots of people have opium poppies growing in their gardens without even knowing it, so I did an image search for “opium poppies” just to see if they were at all distinctive. Did I mention I was at work while I did this??

      Also a work-related one from a few years back: I was eating lunch at my desk and my boss’ dog was underfoot. I dropped some quinoa from my salad on the floor and the dog immediately hoovered it up and I was worried he would get sick so I googled “can dogs eat quinoa”, then realized how silly it sounded and called out to my office mate something like “lol google probably thinks I’m super bougie now”.

      1. Onthetrain*

        A friend works freelance in theatre, sourcing props for operas and plays. He sometimes has to have bizarre conversations with IT departments about Yes, I do need to search for suppliers of Nazi armbands and swastika flags, or Yes, I do have a legitimate reason for purchasing 3 oversized dildos.

    9. SarahKay*

      Not mine, but a friend working in the UK defence industry needed to look for a very specific product made of rubber. It turns out that googling “Speciality rubber” … does not get the sort of results he needed, and does attract very unwanted attention from their IT.

    10. XB*

      I didn’t think weird, but took me down an unexpected rabbit trail. I follow several Reddit threads. When I set up my account, added the NSFW filter. Liking stories about karma, one day I searched on that word. Oops, there is a user by that name that posts very explicit videos. Not having entered that part of Reddit, I didn’t really understand HOW MUCH of that there was that people just willingly put up for free. I became very curious about the motivation and learned that many people feel it’s empowering to share such material. Not my cup of tea, but oh well!

  23. Can't Sit Still*

    Thanksgiving misadventures:
    I didn’t check my vegetarian roast last night, and it needs to thaw for 24 hours. I guess I’m having it tomorrow instead! The pumpkin pie needs to thaw overnight, so I guess I can have some of that tonight. It’s just me, so I was only planning on the roast and the pie for today. I feel silly, because both of them can be in the refrigerator for up to 7 days before serving, so I could have taken them out any time this past week.

    An oldie but goody: My dad’s family had a family tradition of hiking before a holiday dinner and my grandmother was a notoriously poor cook who didn’t believe in appetizers. These things collided one year when she forgot to start the roast before the hike, so when we came back three hours later, the raw roast was sitting in the oven. She burst into tears, and then, started shrieking when my aunts started trying to serve up some hors d’oeuvres to stave off hunger for my young cousins.

    Lastly, the banana bread debacle from earlier reminded me of my mother’s and aunt’s lifelong feud over who could make the best pumpkin pie. My mother was an excellent baker and cook, but unfortunately, my aunt was not. My mother’s pies would have been ready for social media if it had existed then. My aunt’s pies were crumbly, burned and tasteless, and somehow not even the burned flavor made it into the pie. My uncle, a dutiful Marine, would sit there morosely, eating a slice of my aunt’s pie drowned in whipped cream, while everyone else devoured my mother’s pies.

    1. Colette*

      Generally, you can thaw things faster by immersing them in warm water – don’t do it for hours, of course, but things genearlly thaw faster in water. (Not the pumpkin pie, though!)

      1. SarahKay*

        Put the pumpkin pie in a waterproof plastic bag (be very sure it’s waterproof) and immerse it that way. Or pop it on a suitably sized baking tin and put that in just enough water not to come over the lip of the tin.

    2. Virginia Plain*

      Aww what a dutiful uncle! I have a mental image of him, for some reason in full uniform with white gloves and hat, sitting ramrod straight with fork drawn, ready to do battle in the Great Pie War of Courtesy where no mom is left behind. Perhaps muttering to himself, “you survived Vietnam, you can get through this…”

  24. houseplant champion*

    Happy Thanksgiving! I don’t celebrate so I am home alone, cleaning my kitchen! It feels so wonderful to toss out all the ancient and long expired foodstuffs they are cluttering my shelves. Everything is being organized into baskets. I might even buy a can organizer!

  25. pinkdolphins14*

    Happy day! Long time reader and lurker. I finally have something to ask in comments today!
    Does anyone have any stories or experiences to share about teaching English as a foreign language abroad or getting a job in a different country? I’m a U.S. citizen interested in working in Central or South America, but i am interested in everyone’s experiences. Both the positives and the negatives!

    1. Flower necklace*

      I taught English in Japan for four years. I taught for a company that provided English lessons after school. It was a good job, nice pay, and a good fit for a young college grad. The most important thing is that I learned how to interact with kids in an engaging way, and it made me want to pursue teaching as a long-term career.

      My only regret is that, in hindsight, I wouldn’t have stayed quite so long and would have come home sooner to get my teaching license.

        1. Flower necklace*

          Just because I didn’t need all four years to become good at interacting with kids. I stayed the last year or two out of anxiety and uncertainty about the future more than anything else.

          If I’d left a few years earlier, I would have gotten my license sooner, joined the public school system sooner, and be getting paid a little bit more now.

    2. Hanani*

      I taught English in Germany after college. It was a really wonderful experience, but I had no teaching experience and was functionally a walking-talking example that “people really do speak English!” I was never left alone in a classroom, I was always supporting a teacher. I learned that I didn’t want to teach children, but that I loved teaching, and now work in higher ed.

      It was really helpful that I spoke German, and my colleagues were very friendly. I didn’t meet many people outside my colleagues, in large part because I’m an introvert and shy about meeting new people. I’d do a lot better with that now, years later.

      1. Usurper Cranberries*

        I did a very similar thing after undergrad, but in France — I was essentially there to support the regular teacher and help give the students experience speaking with an Actual Live English Speaking Person. I also learned that I do not enjoy teaching children (went into library sciences afterwards and am now an archivist).

        1. pinkdolphins14*

          Thank you Usurper Cranberries! Also (not on topic) but librarians are some of my favorite people!

    3. Texan in exile on her phone*

      I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile in the business development program. I helped a group of indigenous women improve their business making and selling traditional textiles. Most interesting job I have ever had.

      1. pinkdolphins14*

        Texan in exile, that sounds incredibly interesting! I had not thought about peace corps but now I will look into that!

    4. Educator3*

      I used to work for a nonprofit that, among other things, placed teachers internationally. Two thoughts:

      1) If you want to teach English, get a TEFL certification. Teaching is a skill—a really complex and multifaceted skill—and if you want to do right by your future students, learning the basics before you travel is key. Especially important if you are going to a country with a long history of westerners coming in and just assuming that their presence alone will somehow magically help locals.

      2) Travel through an organization that provides comprehensive insurance and 24-7 emergency support. We literally saved the lives of teachers during medical emergencies, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks. Simply being a U.S. citizen does not mean that the State Department will be able to get you out in a crisis. Really research placement organizations and the kind of support they provide.

    5. Syddoa*

      Hello! I taught English in Indonesia for a few years and it ended up leading to an amazing job at a remote, international nonprofit. Highly recommend it if you’re looking for travel and a change!

    6. Hattie McDoogal*

      I taught English (technically I taught science at an English-language immersion school) in Thailand and to be honest it was not a great experience. I made a lot of mistakes that if I had to do over again I would change, and I think change my experience for the better, but ultimately I’m just a lousy teacher (so I disliked my job) and I was very lonely (so I disliked my social life).

      Seconding the advice to get a TEFL certification – I did and it was invaluable. Also would advise to do a lot of research (talk to other foreign teachers if possible) about the school system in the country you’re looking at. For me it would have been very good to know when and how the schools hire new teachers (Thai schools do not have the same summer breaks as North American schools!) and what kind of housing I could expect. I was pretty broke by the time I started working so just rented a cheap place near my school and I ended up hating it a lot. I think I would have been much happier if I had been able to find, say, some other foreign teachers who wanted to share a house.

    7. fueled by coffee*

      If you are planning to work through a company/agency that sends English teachers abroad, do your research.

      One red flag: if the company hires people with no teaching experience based on their US/UK/Australian/Canadian citizenship, but won’t hire someone from, say, India/Hong Kong/Singapore even if they’re a native English speaker, they’re making some racist assumptions about who makes a good English teacher.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Realizing this might come across as implying that people of color don’t live in the US/UK etc. What I mean is that these companies often assume that “good English” comes from majority-white countries.

        1. pinkdolphins14*

          Thank you fueled by coffee. I will use this as one of my red flags while I do my research on placement agencies. It is a very helpful suggestion!

  26. Expelliarmus*

    For all of those who don’t celebrate Thanksgiving with traditional food, what do you eat? My family likes to make the usual mashed potatoes, but our main course is bean and cheese enchiladas, and this year we’re adding vegetable skewers and a chocolate tart to the menu!

    1. Perilous*

      My usual holiday fare is homemade pizza, and today is no exception. Handmade crust, three cheeses, yves pepperphoni*, onion, and a drizzle of olive oil. Is very yummy.

      *Yves makes an excellent vegetarian pepperoni (pepperphoni is my personal coinage). I also adore their fake salami. So much better than that more famous, and basically inedible brand most stores carry.

    2. Catherine*

      When I lived in America it was Graciasgiving in my friend group (most of my closest friends in America are Latinx) and we had chiles rellenos, enchiladas, Mexican-style rice, fresh tortilla chips, and loads of guac.

    3. Grilledcheeser*

      I do a Chandler Bing meal as I don’t like this holiday! Tomato soup, grilled cheese, funyuns!

  27. Grey*

    I want a cat but the wife insists on a purebred since certain breeds have certain temperaments.

    Where is the best place to search for a cat breeder? I’m not having luck with a simple Google search.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You can find purebreds in shelters and rescue groups; please don’t support breeders while millions of cats are euthanized every year for lack of homes! Also, while it’s true that some breeds are more inclined to certain personality traits, it’s not a sure thing at the individual cat level at all. If you want a certain temperament, you’re better off working with a rescue group who knows their specific cats and can recommend individual cats with the personality you want (often because the cats are in temporary foster homes, and those homes are getting to know them).

      1. Grey*

        This would be my first choice, as it has been before I met my wife. But it seems to be a deal-breaker for her. She’s disabled, at home 24/7 and is nervous around cats to begin with.

        1. Ann Non*

          I am someone who is nervous around animals in general, and I have to say this sounds terrible for your wife. Is she going to be home alone with the cat most of the time? I would hate to live in a home that I don’t feel safe in because I had to share it with an animal I am afraid of. This is not the kind of thing that you “get used to”.

        2. PollyQ*

          Maybe don’t get any cat at all? A purebred will not guarantee a desireable temperament, and it seems like a bad bet to get an animal that your wife will be iffy about, and then have her spend every minute of her life in the home with that animal.

        3. Observer*

          Are you sure you should be getting a cat at all?

          If you do get a cat, make sure your wife gets to meet it and that it has the disposition you need before you make a final decision. That’s regardless of where you get the cat. It’s not going to be a good think for your wife to be stuck at home with a cat she’s not comfortable with.

        4. Clisby*

          As a long-time cat owner, I don’t think this is a great idea. First, getting a purebred cat is no guarantee of its temperament. Second, I can’t imagine being nervous around cats, but I am definitely nervous around dogs, and especially if I were disabled and at home 24/7 there’s no way I’d put up with having a dog around me.

        5. ShinyPenny*

          How does your wife (and you) feel about house rabbits? Or guinea pigs?
          They stay on the floor, they do fine in an enclosure when not actively interacting with you (aka they stay where you put them), they can also be cuddly. A lot less potential for being intimidating.
          If your wife is home alone a lot, and is kinda scared of cats, it just seems kinda awful to add a cat.

          1. Might Be Spam*

            House rabbits can be a lot of fun. We taught our Dust Bunny some tricks and he would run to the door when my husband came home. He had a water fountain surrounded by safe plants and a raised “cave” under a sofa table.

        6. Not So NewReader*

          My husband did not grow up with pets, he had NO clue. I would not describe him as nervous but he asked an awful lot of basic questions. For example, a pet was sneezing one day, and he hollered, “Some thing is WRONG! Come here, quick!” The pet was sneezing. And we chatted about how us humans get colds, allergies and sometimes just an irritant in our noses, likewise animals have the same things happen to them.

          Lack of knowledge, lack of knowing what to do can be a real encumbrance. Will your wife be home all day
          alone with the cat? This could be a formidable challenge if you are not there to help her bridge knowledge gaps, jump in and help the animal or help her to acclimate to the animal.

          In order for me to have pets, I had to put in serious time helping my husband to understand and showing him things about the animals. This is an act of fairness for the spouse and the animal. Two beings who do not know each other and do not understand each other are off to a rocky start.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        This! I got a cat with a temperament I wanted by going to a cat rescue and playing with them until one “clicked.” We’ve had him 11 years and were just talking the other day about how much we lucked out with his sweet personality

        1. Flower necklace*

          I picked my cat based on how we clicked, too. Or, rather, he chose me. He licked me when I was looking at him in his cage. That was all it took to tell me that he would be an exceptionally sweet and loving cat.

          1. Maxie's Mommy*

            Mine chose me. I was bent over looking at shelter kittens, and felt someone playing with my rear pockets. He had streeeetched so hard to get my attention, and when I turned around and looked at him, I knew (his nutrition had been poor and his coat was awful) he was the sweetest guy—and he is!!

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              I was standing in the lobby of the humane society shelter waiting for my husband to pick out a couple of cats (I’m not a huge cat person) when all of a sudden I couldn’t move my head. After a minute, I asked one of the workers, “Can you let the guy in the green shirt in the next room know that his cat has his wife by the head out here?” She’d reached out of her kennel and grabbed me by the bun with both paws and was NOT letting go. And the reason she was in the front lobby was because her sister was in sick bay with an eye infection, so she was being quarantined until they could confirm she hadn’t gotten it either. So we ended up with both of them.

      3. Helvetica*

        Agreed! I’ve volunteered at a shelter and when people said they wanted a white cat or an orange cat or anything very specific, I’d not argue but also tell them to really get to know the cat. When it was time for me to get my own cat, I visited multiple times to hang out and play with them so their personalities would actually emerge. I lucked out in that I wanted a black cat and got one who matched the temperament I was going for but that is not a guarantee.
        Also – don’t get a kitten. Kittens’ temperaments are unreliable and while they are cute, they might end up being the total opposite of that. I firmly believe that dogs can be brought up to a temperament you’d like but cats just do their own thing.

      4. Crop Tiger*

        I only kind of agree with this advice. The idea that you should get an animal that you don’t really want because some breeders are unethical just means that you have an animal you don’t really want… and it will know it. If you find a shelter cat you like? Wonderful! If you click with a $3000 Abyssinian? Also wonderful! All my cats are rescues. But please don’t get a cat you don’t really want. Just research the heck out of the breeder.

    2. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Just an FYI regarding purebreds; they have more health problems (cardiovascular disease, severe intestinal issues, bad teeth and joints) than mixed breed cats due to inbreeding.

      Good luck in your search.

    3. beep beep*

      Okay, so: first, if you’re looking for a specific breed, check your local Facebook groups for breeds you’re looking into, or for cat fancier groups in general; I believe that’d be your best bet.

      Alison is right that you can find purebreds at rescues! It depends on your area, of course, but surrenders/seized animals do exist.

      L. Ron is also correct that many pure breeds have quality of life issues due to inbreeding, but responsible breeders do also exist.

      Basically, do your research on what a healthy cat looks like- not just the breed standard, which may perpetuate health problems inherently for the sake of appearances- but consult a vet or experienced shelter worker if you have misgivings. They should be able to tell you if the animal you’re looking at has the sort of temperament you’re looking for.

      Good luck!

    4. sswj*

      For a very well bred cat, meaning that they have done all the health screenings and produce top quality (as in show quality) cats, you can expect to pay well upwards of $1000, easily. This may or may not guarantee temperament, it will pretty well guarantee look and hopefully health as well. The two biggest registries are CFA (Cat Fancier’s Association) and TICA (The International Cat Association). There you can get info on breeds and contacts, but again no guarantees that any breeder will be an ethical one. There are breeds that go for a cute look (Scottish Fold, for one) but the genetics that produce that look also come with a lethal side – certain combinations mean birth defects so sever the kittens cannot survive. If you do go the purebred route, please do your research, is what I’m saying.

      Frankly I think talking to fosters, placement organizations, etc really is a better bet. It doesn’t have to be a big shelter, there are many individuals out there who pick up strays, get them altered and healthy, and then place them in homes. I know of a couple such who would be willing to arrange meet n’ greet type things so your wife could visit with the cat, ask questions etc. If you happen to live in the Maryland area I know someone who would be perfect!

      There is nothing wrong with buying a well bred cat, but if all you want is a kind companion, a purebred cat may not really be the way to go.

    5. Generic Name*

      If you want a certain temperament, screen cats based on personality rather than looks (or breed!). I wanted friendly and affectionate cats so I looked for cats who weren’t hiding in the shelter or who hissed at me. As a result, one of my cats is the most outgoing and tolerant cat I’ve ever known, and the other one is super sweet and affectionate.

    6. Invisible Fish*

      Please, please, please don’t go to a breeder. Please. My husband and I rescue cats and kittens – he’s a feral cat colony manager – and there are SO MANY cats who need homes. Please don’t do this. Give the obscene amount of money you’d pay a breeder to a rescue organization. Meet their rescued cats. Bring one home to meet your wife. If it doesn’t work out, the rescue family will take it right back and keep on loving it until its forever family shows up.

    7. CatGal*

      Hey there, Grey! Hope you don’t mind my 2 cents… I work in a shelter, but I’m gonna try not to be too biased.

      I wholeheartedly agree with Alison about the benefits of a shelter/rescue knowing their individual cats and being able to match you up with the personality you want. However, there are also breed-specific rescues out there, most of which have a goal to keep the breed out of shelters and with a foster family. If you’re looking into breeders, I’d highly recommend also looking for one of these groups. If you Google “[cat breed] rescue [country/region]” you might have some luck. If you go the shelter/rescue group route, it’s likely your wife would also be able to meet any cats you may be interested in, so she’d be able to gauge her comfort level with each individual cat too. Because she’s not very sure around cats, this could really help her feel confident that she’d be comfortable with your new companion. You might be able to do this with some breeders, but while they may have litters planned or currently gestating, they may not have any that are already born. Also, many breeders have waiting lists, so if there’s a “blue lynx point” or a “buff male” in the litter, it may already be claimed by someone.

      Before looking at breeders, I’d do some research into the common potential health concerns associated with the type of purebred you’re looking for. If you find a few breeders, I’d also recommend checking to see if they have a retirement program, or an option to purchase an adult cat that they’re planning to retire from their breeding program. I’ve encountered several breeders who do this after a certain number of years/litters, and these cats often make great family pets (and do not have the spontaneous bursts of rambunctiousness that kittens are prone to), plus they are usually spayed to ensure the cat remains retired in its new home. :)

      Good luck!

    8. WS*

      I wanted a specific breed because that’s what I grew up with and there was a rescue Facebook group for this breed – the two I adopted were lovely adult cats with wonderful temperaments who had to be rehomed. I would strongly recommend this over a kitten, as I have also had kittens of this breed and it’s much more of a gamble what personality you’re going to get.

      1. pancakes*

        I’ve never had a Facebook account but had much success using RescueMe dot org to set up an alert for Scottish Fold cats in my area, and eventually adopted one. I wanted one just because I think they’re really cute, and I’d never go to a breeder.

  28. Akcipitrokulo*

    Big thanks to people who recommended “Light from uncommon stars” in previous weekend free for alls!

    I read the sample, got whole book and love it so much!

    Runaway teenage trans girl who is a self-taught violist, demonic pacts and aliens taking refuge in a doughnut shop… and so beautifully written. Contemplations of art, family, motherhood… and wondeeful story.

  29. Candy*

    Suggestions or handling a half open/half cash bar at an office party?

    At our company holiday party we’ll be providing each guest (approx. 200 people) one free drink, then cash bar after that. Logistically, what’s the best way to manage this?

    – The party is happening in a large open space within our offices. The space doesn’t have one main door people will be coming into the party through, so there isn’t a checkpoint where we can station an attendant to hand out a drink ticket as guests enter.
    – We will be hiring a bartender who won’t know anyone so we can’t go by the honour system.
    – I don’t want to email people a ticket to print out as they RSVP, as most people won’t RSVP anyway and there’s the possibility of people printing multiple tickets for themself.

    The best idea I have is to hire a second bartender with a list of everyone invited (whether they RSVP’d or not) who could cross off names after their first drink and then collect money for any subsequent drinks. It seems to me like this might clog up the flow or ordering a lot (there will be music and talking and masks on for those not actively drinking & eating so the possibility of it being frustrating for the bartender when someone says their name is high), but for a two hour event happening during the work day (3-5pm), probably a lot of people won’t be drinking anyway?

    Does anyone have any suggestions?

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Get managers to hand out tickets to their team members day of/day before party & email in who has them. Anyone who missed getting from manager can collect on night.

      1. Your Local Password Resetter*

        This seems like the most foolproof and simple way to do it.

        You can’t really go down the list at the party, so do it earlier when you can.

      2. German Girl*

        Get managers to pass tickets to all their people at the event itself. You’ll just have to take care of the ones who’s managers have excused themselves.

    2. Lady Danbury*

      You could have a separate ticket check in table near the bar. An attendant would hand out tickets and checks names off the list. You could also have 2 attendants who split the list (for example A-L and M-Z) based on last name, to help alleviate bottlenecks at the ticket table. This alleviates ticket congestion at the bar and reduces the expense of a second bartender, since anyone can hand out the tickets.

      It would be helpful to explain the process beforehand via email so that everyone knows what to expect, both in terms of the ticket process but also that there will be a cash bar (especially if it’s literally cash only).

      1. WellRed*

        I see you are worried people will print their own. Buy a cheap roll if tear off tickets, like they have at fairs or raffles. Seriously. Don’t make the Bartender check a list. Don’t overthink this.

    3. Alex*

      Is there someone organizing the party who *does* know people and can hand out tickets? Like “See Jane for your drink ticket!” This is what they have done at my past office parties.

    4. CalypsoSummer*

      Choose one main door that people will come through to get into the party, and have someone at that door taking names or admission tickets, and handing out the drink tickets. Close and lock the other doors, and let people know ahead of time which door will be open — maybe put up some festive arrows, saying “Party THIS way”?

      Hiring a bartender to tend to a list of names is going to be a real pain — it will cause problems because of the difficulties s/he will have hearing the name, what with the masks and the music and the talking and the general party-noises, and the paper with the names is very likely to get creased and wet and difficult to read.

      But if there’s only one door in, you won’t have to worry about all that. And I hope everyone has a good time, and that all goes smoothly.

      1. Skeeder Jones*

        Big no recommendation on locking doors. They can be closed but shouldn’t be locked as legally, there must be a certain number of options for egress in an emergency.

    5. Fellow Traveller*

      I think the idea above for having them handed out beforehand is the simplest. At our office, we often have tickets to soecial events for employees and usually we will:
      – have the person at the front desk have the tickets and list so employees have to go to them to get their ticket. We have two offices, so there is one person per office designated to hand out tickets.
      – we have also sometimes pass out tickets with paystubs. Tickets (in our case they were tickets to a show) are paper clipped to paystubs and employees get them on pay day.

      1. HolidayAmoeba*

        I don’t think I’ve picked up a paystub at work in nigh on 15 years. And I am in my late 30s for reference. Pretty much everyplace I’ve worked has them available online and will only give them out to people who get paper checks. And even then, fewer and fewer places offer paper checks anymore.

    6. Silence*

      Have managers pass out tickets before
      Or have the bartender stamp people’s hand when they get their free drink and pay once they have the stamp

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Ask your caterer/bartender provider. There may be some high-tech solution with QR codes by now.

  30. Puppy!*

    When it rains…
    So the puppy is a year and 3 months.
    She has a good temperament, plays well with others (there is an exception) healthy (recent check up) has daily play dates with other dogs her own age. Sits, stays, recall, etc.
    We have an ancient (around 14 or 15 year old) bijon rescue that she mostly ignored until the past two weeks.
    The old lady is NOT socialized (she does not play) but just ignored the puppy. The puppy was taught “leave it” or “leave her” when expressing interest in the old lady. They have coexisted peacefully over the last 6 months. They are never left alone together.
    I do not know what triggered the situation but the puppy attacked the old lady and drew blood.
    I rushed the old lady to animal medical center. She is fine. just a breaking of her skin on her thigh.
    The old lady is staying with relatives now. (who she adores and the feeling is mutual)
    I am sad but I think it is for the best but I am super sad.
    Is there a way to have them live together?
    I have a call in to a behaviorist and my therapist is recommending “boot camp”
    Your thoughts?

    1. ShinyPenny*

      So sorry this is happening.
      It IS a possible dog thing– not necessarily “your fault.”
      Younger dog hits teen-ager stage, begins attacking same-gender old dog. It doesn’t make sense in human terms, but it must make sense in dog terms because it’s a thing that has always happened intermittently and unpredictably.
      My neighbors just had to rehome their beloved 15 month old black lab because he began attacking their 12 year old male. (They’d had both dogs from puppies.) Money was no object (trainers, etc) but they could not find a different safe solution.
      Happened with our female German Shepherds when I was a kid: 18 month old almost killed the 9 year old. Younger dog had to be rehomed. My folks were not skilled dog trainers (ahem), so I hoped my neighbors could find a better option 50 years later with more economic freedom and all the new training knowledge, but sadly they couldn’t.
      It’s always the older dog that risks terrible injury, so even if it seems like progress is made, I think it would require (unrealistically?) extreme physical management forever.

    2. Puppy!*

      Ok. To recap.
      I am not discarding the older dog. The older dog is staying with family where she can be safely cared for. She has been spending her days being doted on and watching YouTube videos. These are people she has known since she was rescued ( foster fail ) they take her when I traveled.
      I do NOT want this to be permanent but will not endanger her.
      There is team puppy who take care of the younger dog, walks playtime etc.
      She is always walked on leash, and closely observed when playing with her friends in the fenced yard.
      Has anyone had a successful outcome to this kind of situation ?
      I refer to her as Puppy as her name not her developmental stage.

    3. ShinyPenny*

      I thought you’d get a bunch of comments with training ideas– sorry it seems like it went the other direction. (My response to them bounced down to the bottom as new posting. Summary: You are clearly doing your best!)
      A behaviorist sounds like a great place to start. I’m sure they’ll have a ton of useful training ideas after they get to see how you all interact.
      Do you have access to a veterinarian who is also a behaviorist? (They are rare and precious.) No one I know who has had this problem erupt, has been within treatment distance of a behavioral vet, but there might be behavioral medications that could help that a regular vet wouldn’t generally need to be familiar with. (Like, I’ve wondered if oxytocin is ever used in these kind of situations that seem like hormone-mediated aggression. Or if there’s an antidepressant known to help???) I just checked and you can do a search on the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists website to see if there is one near you, if you care to. Wailani Sung DVM DACVB was instrumental in making my dog’s life bearable for him. (She moved out of state, so my neighbors weren’t able to consult with her about their labradors.)
      It sounds like you are taking the right steps to get help, and keeping both dogs safe as you do so. That’s all you can do. Good luck!

    4. Pam Adams*

      I have two sibling Jack Russell terriers. Over the years, they have become unsafe to keep together, so they live separately in the house. Baby gates are helpful in keeping them separate.

    5. Dwight Schrute*

      Talk to a trainer! Have them do an evaluation on both dogs, they should ask questions to try to get to the root cause and you can work on training and management to help the situation. I would not do bootcamp or board and train because that’s not going to
      Help the situation with your other dog. Try to find in person private lessons or in home lessons where someone can come and evaluate and see the circumstances surrounding the fight. Good luck! And, I’ll throw in my last two cents- try to find a positive reinforcement trainer rather than someone who uses e collars or prongs, as there is the risk of behavioral fallout and regression in dogs with dog issues and the use of those tools.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Uh so I have something that may or may not fit your situation.

      Younger dogs will nip an older dog on the upper lip. This gesture means, “I accept you as the boss, the leader.”
      We kind of have to let them do that as they are establishing their hierarchy/pecking order which is essential in dog groups.

      But what is unique here is that the younger ONLY nips the elder’s upper lip. There is no further aggressive act. When a pup did it to my dog, my dog did not react at all. It was like “oh, okay”.

      The take away on this, is that us humans have to watch and make sure we follow their sense of hierarchy. I had a female dog at one point and I would babysit her bro off and on. They shared one food dish. She was totally fine with waiting for him to finish eating before she ate. (I always added more food when she took her turn.) I could not however disrupt their process of how they handled meals. As a human being of course this process left me shaking my head. But they understood each other and this was their process.

      (FWIW, they really loved each other- to the point that passers-by would comment on how sweet they were to each other when they were outside together.)

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        This is not true, dogs do not establish a social hierarchy and the alpha theory has been disproved over the years.

        1. Annabelle Lee*

          You’ve obviously never watched dogs sorting out who the boss is. Nor spoken with any trainers.

          1. Dog and cat fosterer*

            The alpha stuff was disproved though. It was an artifact of forcing wolves or dogs together. Also, dogs lick at the air to be submissive, they don’t bite. And dogs don’t always behave well together, expecting them to just ‘figure it out’ often doesn’t work.

  31. Robin Ellacott*

    Happy Thanksgiving from Vancouver, Canada! It’s been a whole hell of a few years, but I hope everyone has something they feel thankful for, and all the love and support they need.

  32. Fibbing Friend*

    How do you deal with a friend who is lying/hiding something from you? I understand why she’s hiding it (she doesn’t know that I know she’s having an affair with a married man) but it’s making me question anything she tells me and what else she’s lying about. How do I separate lies for what she thinks is a “good” reason from whatever else she might say to me?

    1. Undine*

      Interestingly, you also are lying to her, by not telling her you know about the affair. Her lies may be more active, but yours are there. You are, no doubt, doing this for a good reason…

      If it’s a really big deal to you, can you level with her and tell her the truth? Then see how it plays out?

    2. Zona the Great*

      Well, it might help to remember that no one owes you personal information about themselves. Keeping it from you could be because she’s ashamed or because it’s more fun/thrilling to keep the secret, or because she’s simply chosen to keep it to herself.

    3. Colette*

      I had a friend who did stuff like that, and we’re no longer friends.

      It wasn’t that she didn’t tell me everything about herself, it’s that she didn’t tell me stuff that random other people knew, so I was always finding out things about her life from other people. Eventually I decided that was enough.

      But all you can do is say “Hey, I know about you and Fred, and I’m hurt you didn’t tell me yourself.” And then she can change, or not, and you can decide if you’re OK with it, or not.

    4. Observer*

      There is a difference between not telling you something and actively lying.

      The former – it depends on a lot of things, including how you see the ethic and reflection on character of her actions. If she’s actively lying to you though, that’s a different thing and speaks more to her basic trustworthiness in your relationship.

    5. Alex*

      I have a friend who is going through a bit of shame spiraling about something and has lied to me about it. But the lie isn’t really about *me*, it’s about her shame spiral. This seems like it could be much like that.

      What I’m doing is trying to be as supportive to her as I can to do what I can to make her feel safe sharing stuff with me, and also remind myself that I’m not entitled to every aspect of her life.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I’m not sure that you can separate them.

      Your friend doesn’t owe you info about her life, but if she’s covering it up with active lies, then a) you two aren’t close enough for her to be transparent with you, so you may need to readjust your expectations of the friendship, and

      b) She lies. So you need to readjust your expectatioms about relying on what she tells you.

      It is sad to have to take a step back from someone you trusted and felt close to, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be friends at all, or that you can’t be closer again in the future. It does mean you need to be realistic about where your friendship stands at the moment.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        All of this. To me, there’s a huge difference between not sharing personal info and actively lying to me. With the former, it might cause me to reevaluate how close we truly are if she doesn’t trust me with certain info, especially if I know she was sharing with others. If it’s the latter, then I would reevaluate how much I can trust her bc if she’s actively lying about this, then it’s likely that she’s actively lying about other things too. Regardless of her reasoning, it’s hard to fully trust someone if you know that have/are lying to you. Especially if they’re a convincing liar!

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      She’s not lying OR hiding it from you, she’s just choosing not to share an aspect of her personal life which isn’t your business/doesn’t affect you to begin with. It’s fine if you don’t want to be friends with people who don’t tell you about their affairs, but you’re not entitled to that information and it doesn’t necessarily make them a bad or untrustworthy friend. I could understand if this made you question her morals/integrity overall, but it sounds like you’re more upset about the part where you’re excluded from the secret.

    8. Anon for this*

      I would call her out and stop being friends with her, as someone who’s been on the receiving end of an affair.

      She’s making a truly effed up, awful decision.

    9. ShinyPenny*

      Here’s a different, but related, question: What would you change about yourself and the way you interact with people, if you decided you wanted to become known as a safe audience for friends to share difficult truths with? Truths that they might be struggling with, or feel ashamed of?
      (It’s just a thought experiment. You might decide you are prioritizing your choices in exactly the way you need to.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Good response, Shiny Penny.
        OP, you can make this into an exercise to know yourself better and learn how much you want to put into relationships with your friends and family.

        The starting point I would consider here is how do her lies impact you and your life? Does she promise to do things together and then not show up, leaving you disappointed?
        A good response to this is to lessen the number of activities you do together and see how that goes.

        Another thing that I have thought about is that it is indeed important to be understanding of people. But at some point I can be so understanding of people that I forget ME. Don’t forget YOU. (“You have been standing on my foot for over a year and it is really starting to hurt. Stop hurting my foot!”)
        It might be helpful here to ask yourself, if there was no affair in this mix and the same behaviors were happening, what would you do? Would you keep this friend or would you move on?
        Here it is important to expect friendships to be a two way street. It cannot be you giving and giving but getting nothing back.

        Last. I see the comments about people do not have to share everything in their lives. And I so very much agree. It’s good to think of everything friends do as a gift, because technically speaking no one has to do anything for anyone. However, friendships are based on an opening up, letting others in, and she’s not doing that. The reason does not matter. I have a friend who will suddenly buy a house or other major life event and tell me about it weeks or months later. People let us into their lives to the degree they want to.
        The problem comes in when we prefer/enjoy closer relationships than what they are offering.
        I will always think of my sudden-house-buying friend as a dear person, for many reasons. Inclusiveness is NOT one of those reasons. I have to look around and find inclusiveness elsewhere. It’s okay and I am good here because of the reasons that make this person a dear person. This friend will always be some where in the outer rings of my friendship circles.

        Think about why you keep hanging in with this friend. Why are you there? Why do you keep trying?
        Then think about how much longer are you willing to do this.

  33. Anon for this*

    I’m giving notice at my job soon. I’m currently interviewing for a new one, but I’m being picky about my next move, and I will likely not have an accepted offer once I give notice. I’m looking forward to having a bit of breathing space before my next position and am not worried about gaps or lack of pay.

    However, I am worried about what to say at my current job to the inevitable question of “where are you going?” which is always, always asked when one leaves a position in my industry. I don’t want to say anything along the lines of ‘I’m just quitting’ – it’s an extremely busy time at my job and that answer won’t go over well, I don’t want to burn a bridge by giving the impression that I’m just throwing in the towel and abandoning my team when the workload is high. But, I also can’t lie about having a new position (my current job will probably called for references or to confirm the info on my resume), and I don’t want to blame my health or family issues or anything of the sort.

    I was thinking along the lines of “I’m lucky to have options and am in various stages of recruitment with multiple companies, but don’t have a firm announcement to make yet.” Something that implies that, while my next position is not yet official, it is inevitable and I’m just cutting the cord a little early.

    I’d appreciate any advice on alternate wording, alternate strategies, or any downsides to my current answer that I haven’t considered.

    Thanks to anyone who can help, and happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate it!

    1. Bluebell*

      I like your suggested phrasing. I remember someone telling me “I have a couple of irons in the fire.” Another person said “it’s being finalized but I’m hoping to tell people soon.”

    2. Trawna*

      Another approach is keeping this position, then when you get a new one ask for a start date four-six weeks out, give two weeks notice at your current job, and enjoy the two-four weeks off.

  34. L. Ron Jeremy*

    This morning I hear a low volume hum coming from my water heater. Not able to detect where in the water heater the sound is coming from, but it is a constant, unchanging hum that hasn’t changed for the past 12 hours. Spouse confirms the sound, so it’s not in my head.

    I don’t detect a gas smell. Very strange. Google search says sounds from the water heater are due to water being heated inside, but have a rumbling sound. This sound is not that.

    It is 11 years old and was flushed out by plumber about 6 years ago.

    Any ideas?

    1. Zona the Great*

      Is it possible you have a leak elsewhere in your water lines? I hear humming when there’s water running somewhere. This is how I discovered a leak in my irrigation system.

      1. L. Ron Jeremy*

        Thanks for the advice, I’ll check it out.

        I don’t think it’s a water leak because it’s a sound that would come from a signal generator: a pure, unchanging single tone.

    2. Doctor is In*

      11 years may be end of life for a water heater based on my experience. Time for a plumber? Most jurisdictions require a plumber for water heater replacement.

    3. ShinyPenny*

      Do you have a stethoscope? I used mine to narrow down more precisely which area of the boiler was making the weird noise. More data better! And always fun to use the stethoscope in household repairs.
      Not that it’s relevant, but I once spent 3 days trying various interventions to get the smoke alarm to stop making its “Low Battery!!!” beeps. Finally took most of an afternoon to get through to a service tech at the manufacturer (the company had been bought out about 6 times)– who said, “Whelp, that’s a low-battery alert for a carbon monoxide detector, not a smoke alarm at all! Lol!” Hmmm. No wonder replacing the battery in the smoke alarm never fixed the problem. When I remembered/found the CO detector in the bookshelf (that had been 2 feet from me as I struggled with the smoke detector) I finally got to sleep peacefully again.
      Those weird tones can be really hard to locate! But an 11 year old water heater does seem like a good suspect.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      If you liked that plumber, call them again and tell them what the hot water heater is doing. Often times they can tell what is up just by the description we give them. It sounds like a motor is failing or signal to the heater is failing.

      Do you have hot-hot water now?

  35. Roxie*

    I’m annoyed at how my boss is enabling my slacker co-workers and putting it all on me. It’s actually been keeping me up at night the past few nights.

    I need some scripts on what to say without saying “this isn’t my problem. It’s YOUR job to coach these people and hold them accountable. Stop making bringing me into this.”

    Scenarios that happened this week –
    *Both of these are not one-time issues

    #1) We have an analyst (from a different team) that is supposed to do tasks my team assigns to them. This issue is that the analyst never does the tasks I assign, if he does finish it, it will take him weeks or months, and every time he’s just “yes I’ll do it tomorrow” but he never does. Every time I talk to my boss he’ll agree that the analyst doesn’t do what he’s supposed, but my boss acts like he has no say in that analyst doing his job! He’s just like, “yeah I’ve talked to his boss before about it”, but there are never any consequences for this analyst not completing tasks. Instead, my boss keeps telling me to assign the analyst more tasks! Even if this could be a coaching opportunity, why on earth should I have to manage it, when my boss never holds the analyst accountable for not doing his job?

    #2) My peer (who my boss is also managing) is terrible at her job. What will end up happening is that instead of telling her to do x,y,z, my boss (or I) will have to step up and do her job. What happened this time was that she sent me a vague and unclear 1-sentence email with no actionable direction for me, so I responded back with a 1-sentence answer. Then my boss dug into what I think was the issue (which my co-worker never talked about in the first email), and asked me why I gave a 1-sentence response. I told him how unclear her email was, and I don’t think he understood what I was saying. He kept stressing how I shouldn’t have responded with a 1-sentence email, and then gave a bunch of excuses on what my co-worker could have (at this point he hadn’t talked with her about it) intended with her email. My co-worker sent the original email, why on earth didn’t he talk with her first on what she needed, then talked to me?

    1. Colette*

      For #1, it is literally not your boss’s job to hold the analyst accountable – it’s the analyst’s boss’s job. And your boss has escalated to her. So your role here is not to coach, it is to bring the issue to your boss. “Hi boss, as per process I’ve assigned Task to Analyst, but it’s overdue. I’ve followed up but haven’t gotten a response. How should I handle this?”

      For #2, the details matter. Maybe he did talk with her first – you wouldn’t know that. Was your 1-sentence response a legitimate attempt to answer the question? Did you ask for clarification? It’s possible you both didn’t communicate well.

      1. Despachito*

        But definitely it IS the boss’ s job to do something about the analyst – he may not be able to admonish him directly, but it does hamper the work of his department!

        I think Roxie is fully within her rights to tell her boss “I cannot complete Task X because I need the output of the analyst and he has not given me that”, and let the boss deal with it, sort of “this is not my problem, this is YOUR problem, I cannot move on unless I have the output”, and it is probably the only possible thing to do but I can understand how this must be frustrating.

        1. Colette*

          But he does that through mentioning it to his counterpart who manages him, which he has done. It’s Roxie’s job to let him know when it’s a problem, so he can do that.

            1. Colette*

              Right, because that’s all she has the authority to do. If Roxie lets her know every time it’s an issue, she can bring it to the other manager every time, which will increase the pressure on the other manager – or she can take it to her manager. But she can’t, herself, make the other person do her job.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      In #1 think I’d start cc:ing the analyst’s boss when making an assignment. If the analyst cuts them off when they reply (e.g., yes, I’ll do it tomorrow) respond with an acknowledgement and again cc: the analyst’s boss. (or, of this seems too much, start cc:ing the boss on follow-up messages when the deadline is missed.)

      In #2, don’t step up when the colleague doesn’t do something. You say either you or the boss steps in, so let the boss do it. If the boss has to do the person’s work, they will deal with it.

      In a case with a vague and unclear e-mail, respond back indicating you don’t understand, and cc: your boss. (As we all seem to have learned as kids, the aggressor never seems to get punished, those defending themselves do!)

    3. Juneybug*

      Few different suggestions –
      1. Could you provide your boss with a list of items that are pending on the analyst? Update and provide this list weekly? Not in “I am tattling on the analyst but in an calm manner of here is where we are at with project X” status update.
      2. Could you have a shared list of projects/action items and their status?
      3. Could you have a template of questions when your coworkers emails you so you can get clarity? Such as which project does this belong to? What actions need to happen? Which actions are you doing? Which actions you are asking me to do? Who needs to approve these actions?
      Good luck! This doesn’t sound fun at all.

  36. Elia*

    Pretty late in the day, but Happy American Thanksgiving, everyone! :)

    Wondering if anyone has any tips for the terrible combo of chronic pain and desk jobs? I started an in-office, 9-to-5 desk job about six months ago and I’m in a lot more pain than I was before. I try to get up, walk around on lunch, do stretches (would love any recommendations!!), but this clearly isn’t great for me. Anyone who’s coped with this have any suggestions to make it better? Other than this, I love my job, but ouch!

    1. Colette*

      Are you at a large organization? They tend to have people who will do ergonomic assessments, which might help.

      I haven’t coped with this myself, but think about what would make it better. (A sit/stand desk so you can stand part of the day? A better chair? Recognition that you need to walk around the floor every hour?)

      1. Elia*

        It’s a really small firm, so no dice :(

        Good point! I was working from home for the year and a half before this, and my jobs before that all involved a lot more physical labour/movement, so I’ve never really had to consider this before, which is probably part of the problem. No one here really gets up from their desks, for example, but that (probably) doesn’t mean I can’t!

        1. Observer*

          Find the chair you want and ask them to buy it for you. It can make a WORLD of a difference. And, yes, get up every hour if you need to. If your employer is reasonably functional and you get your work done, no one will care.

    2. Marketing Middle Manager*

      Check out “Move Your DNA” by Katy Bowman. I know you said you get up, stretch, etc. but a year ago I would have told you I do the same thing. Then I sprained 2 muscles in my back and it’s taken me nearly 6 months to recover, learn what went wrong, and rebalance muscle strength and stability. Along the way, I picked up this book on a different AAM commenter’s suggestion and it blew my mind. Basically, she argues that it’s not just how much exercise time you accrue in a day, it also matters how frequently you move and change positions.

      My doctor and physical therapist made it more specific and said I should try to stand/move for 10 minutes out of every hour. I don’t quite reach that level yet but I do try to stand/move in short bursts throughout the day and it has made my back feel so much better. I’ve also learned that standing doesn’t have to literally mean standing, it’s actually good to fidget with your feet, prop one foot up, stretch your calves against something, etc.

      So that, plus a vertical mouse + ergonomic keyboard for my wrists, and now I have very little pain from my desk job overall.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      As a first start, get a phone/headset that let’s you stand and pace when on a call. You’ll want your video off. And maybe tell your manager you’ll be starting to do this as a preventive health measure because you can tell your muscles are getting too tight. It can’t hurt to ask if there’s a budget for you to get a sit / stand desk in the next year.

  37. Anon for this*

    Online dating is tough when you’re over 40. I have had a week of the sads as someone I really liked ghosted (although he might say it was me who ghosted – anyway, we didn’t message each other in a while)then blocked me. We had exchanged numbers and many, many messages but not met due to distance, although there were plans. It happens. But, he hasn’t deleted me from the dating app yet, and I know he’s been logged into it. I don’t think this is a healthy situation and I’m planning to delete him from the app myself, but I feel like I want to reach out once more before I do. The desire to explain yourself is so pervasive. I know that if he really wanted to hear what I had to say, he’d have asked me instead of ghosting.

    It’s hard to keep telling yourself you’re worth better, and you’re clearing the space for Mr Right, when all you can think of is the soft underbelly you showed someone, and how they would send you cat pictures and share inside jokes, and you dared to have hopes.

    I’m an energetic optimist by nature but I’m just so tired. I wish I didn’t need to connect. But I do.

    1. Lcsa99*

      I am so sorry. It’s so hard being single. But a relationship worth having shouldn’t be that much work. You will find someone who actually wants to talk to you. You just have to be patient. I KNOW its hard but it’s worth it to move on.

    2. Sam I Am*

      You’re out there doing it and that’s awesome. You’ll have stuff like this happen, and it’s ok. Sort of like Alison says on the site here, assume they’re not the one until you have an offer on the table, if you know what I mean. I don’t have advice on quick recovery, but I do in the meeting up phase. Don’t have a bunch of interactions online before you meet up. If you have a match, chat a couple times and set a meeting, something quick like coffee or a walk through the village to look at decorations, something that puts you in the presence of each other but not for hours on end. You’ll see if you click before you get emotionally invested, you’ll be able to read them in person far better than giving texts or dm’s your own inflection.
      You’re doing great getting out there, trim back the early process and meet face to face sooner, before you care a whole lot more. You got this.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        Absolutely this. I met my bf on tinder, so it’s definitely possible to meet people online. My best matches were always with people who were eager to meet up pretty quickly. That turned it into a dating situation (going on dates, not dating as in a relationship), as opposed to just penpals. I’d never say that dating is easy but the rewards can definitely be worth it!

        Side note, I wouldn’t advise reaching out to someone who blocked you. That’s a pretty solid boundary that he doesn’t want to speak to you further, for whatever reason. Not having closure sucks but unfortunately nobody owes you closure.

    3. Batgirl*

      Take breaks when you need to take breaks. Dating, while sometimes very exciting, and at other times highly amusing, most often is just a soul sucking activity because it basically involves sorting through a big pile of “not it” without knowing how big the pile is. Of course, being ghosted is draining on all of us, because just when you thought you were getting to the end of the pile, and actually starting to have some hopes, you realize it’s simply another case of “not it”. Remember that the aim of the game is to move quickly through the process of elimination, and being ghosted is one of the quickest helps with that process, though it doesn’t feel like it! My advice: Take a break from the pile sorting, reconnect with the things that make you glad and happy about your life now. Just be a single person for a little bit who doesn’t have to run their decisions past anyone and gather up your best people, or pursue something you don’t make time for every week (dating is SUCH a time suck). When you go back to the pile go with the attitude that you aren’t going to give up being single for anything less than awesome. Distance will also help with seemed-awesome-but-ghosted-dude. Been there! It sucks.

  38. Jennifer Juniper*

    A tisket, a tasket, it’s a kitty in a basket!

    Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating.

    Alison, thank you for your kitty clip art.

  39. A Non, B Non*

    Warning: pet death.

    Anyone have any insights for me…
    A bit over a year ago (during covid) our beloved cat died due to a congenital heart condition. He was under treatment, but this was a known possibility. After a few months, we wanted to get a new cat. Our remaining cat was clearly lonely, since the shelter was closed due to covid, I went online and searched local (DC area) shelters. I reached out to three, including two we had adopted from previously (our dog and the cat who had just died). I reached out about specific cats saying I was interested in adopting them. I NEVER hear back. At all. From at least three rescues. One I heard back from about one cat (had just been adopted) and when i asked about a different one, got no response.

    Anyone know why that might happen?? It strikes me as odd… Especially since two of them had already vetted my whole family!

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      I’m sorry that you’ve lost one cat and the surviving one is now lonely.

      I don’t have any insights into the business of feline adoption. I do know that other areas of life have become weird in the Time of Covid. It’s possible that the shelter people are overworked and understaffed or off-balance due to disruptions in their personal lives, or both. I would try reaching out again, and also try other shelters and rescue organizations.

      If you haven’t already seen it today, you might check earlier in today’s thread where there’s an extensive discussion about adopting pets from shelters and rescues.

      1. A Non, B Non*

        Jean (just Jean),

        Sorry, I must have accidentally deleted a section! We did end up getting a cat, so that’s all fine, but it was still weird. Sorry for the confusion.

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

        Yes I would say what Jean says. They were probably understaffed and overworked. Many rescues rely on mostly volunteers,even for things like adoption applications. During covid places like rescues had to mostly close down. Your communications probably just got lost in the shuffle. I wouldn’t hold it against them

    2. PollyQ*

      Many shelters “sold out” of pets during the COVID lockdown, and may also have been shut or working limited hours themselves. If they didn’t have any, or many, pets available to place, they may have felt that answering phone calls wasn’t a good use of their time. (Although I would say they should’ve called you back out of basic professionalism & good manners anyway.)

    3. CatGal*

      So sorry for your loss. I hope your lonely cat and new cat are becoming good pals.

      I work in a shelter and can confirm a lot of rescue groups (at least in the Midwest) were/are struggling with being understaffed and overworked. At least for my organization, a lot of our time is spent caring for the animals we currently house, which has become an all-hands-on-deck situation. (The current ratio is, without exaggeration, about 50 animals to 1 kennel technician.) The result is longer processing times for paperwork, and, especially for animals who receive a lot of interest, there’s room for a lot of internal miscommunication while we’re stretched thin.

      While I’d expect a delay in correspondence, I agree it’s strange that you didn’t receive any response at all! I don’t live in the DC area, so I’m not sure what the shelter setup is like there, but it’s possible that the rescues are run by volunteers who may not be able to devote as much of their time when they need to focus on personal/financial difficulties. If they are foster-based and there isn’t a rush to move animals from their foster homes, I guess it may not be a high priority to adopt them out? Very odd. Glad you found a new companion anyway!

  40. TurkeyLurker*

    Should I jump from a professional, back-of-house archivist/records management position in a museum to a vendor-side job? I’m probably going to get an offer for a big, corporate GLAM-area services vendor (a customer account manager/sales job) and I’m so wanting to leave my current employe, but I’m scared of the sales/customer retention aspect and I’m afraid I’ll hate it. Anyone in galleries/libraries/museums/archives who has tried out the vendor side? Did you like it, or hate it?

    1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Is it the place you’re in you want to leave, or what you do, no matter where you’re doing it? Or in regular language, do you hate your particular archives or do you hate being an archivist? If it’s door #1, you might be better working in another institution. If it’s door #2, the new opportunity might be a great thing!

  41. Alexis*

    Just looking for some input here…. so, i visited my coworker’s public social media and realized she is a trans exclusionary radical feminist. She’s never said anything that raised any flags for me at work, and her posts do not make any statements about trans people explicitly (think directly associated hashtags/slogans), but I am concerned because we work with young people, some of whom happen to be trans. What’s my responsibility in this situation?

    1. Maya Elena*

      I think it’s going down a dangerous road of policing thought crime. Even people with unsavory views are much better at compartmentalizing their views than we tend to give them credit for, and reporting your coworker and threatening her job preemptively, before there was actual proof that she was actually putting youth at risk through her deeds, is premature and unfair.

      1. Alexis*

        nowhere did i say i was reporting my coworker to anyone or that i was threatening anyone’s job- i don’t know why you would jump to that conclusion.

      2. Colette*

        I disagree. Someone who reveals they are biased against a group of people they work with doesn’t need to be given a chance to act on those biases. Bias is often difficult to prove; it’s still real, and it affects peoples’ lives.

      3. Littorally*

        Would you entrust your children to someone who hates them and wants them to suffer, on the grounds that you can’t “police thought crime”?

    2. Reproductive justice worker*

      Do you work with young people in a position where you actually do have reporting responsibilities, i.e. as a teacher or a social worker? If so, if you notice that your coworker’s beliefs are leading her to behave inappropriately toward people to whom she has a duty of care, you would follow the usual procedure for that.

      If not, you could open a dialogue with your coworker if you want, but honestly the best thing you can do is probably just create a safe environment as much as possible for the trans youth yourself.

      I do want to note that people can have all kinds of personal beliefs that don’t impact their duties. I think life begins at conception. None of the clients I have assisted in obtaining an abortion or supported through the process know that. It’s my personal belief, it doesn’t belong at work, and it certainly doesn’t need to be what the people to whom I have a duty of care believe.

      Don’t look at your coworker’s social media any more. You’ll feel better.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        Agree with all of this. Try to be more vigilant about your coworker’s interactions with trans clients and take action if you notice anything problematic, if necessary.

        This is also an opportunity to ensure that there are adequate feedback/reporting processes for all vulnerable youth that you serve, not just trans. If a client feels uncomfortable or has a negative interaction with your organization, is their a formal process in place? Are their concerns taking seriously?

    3. mreasy*

      If she is going to be in a position where she works directly with or makes decisions affecting trans people, your company needs to know this. Even if she’s able to turn it off entirely at work, which I think is unlikely, a client/donor/community member may find her posts, which could affect their support for or ability to feel confident in working with your organization.

  42. ShinyPenny*

    Does your co-worker work face to face with individual kids alone? Or have power over individual cases? That would seem more urgent. But it’s not clear from your post what evidence you are seeing, so it’s hard to say how alarming a different set of eyes would find it.
    Can you talk freely to your boss about the general topic? Can you just ask her what the protocol is, if you become concerned an employee might be biased against trans kids, or kids of any other group? Like, “hey what are non-supervisory [assuming this] employees supposed to do with indirect evidence/ is there a rule about who to relay info to? What should trigger reporting?” In the context of providing services to kids, it seems like something that might have come up before.
    Maya Elena’s point about Thought Police is valid. But I’m personally not sold on how much biased people actually do compartmentalize their behavior, especially when there’s a significant power differential. Which is always a factor between kids and adults.

    1. Alexis*

      Thank you, that’s a good idea, just a bit more challenging because I never see my boss in person. We do work face to face with groups of children without supervision. ftr, I don’t think nonspecific social media posts are grounds for firing and if we didnt work with kids i’d be inclined to wait and see if it popped up in the workplace. I’d also react differently if i was seeing general ignorance instead of what seems to be a specific political stance. to be a bit more specific, for example, she’s produced work for an org which lobbies against trans conversion therapy bans, and follows and mentions similar openly trans exclusionary orgs and public figures.

      1. mreasy*

        I don’t think it’s being the “thought police” to tell someone in a supervisory role. Your colleague is publicly endorsing the views of hate groups. Her beliefs are one thing, but this is expressing them in a public forum where they could be found by anyone who works with the org. It’s a liability, at the very least – and at the worst, she could be treating trans kids differently/worse than others.

        1. pancakes*

          Right. If these were mere thoughts her coworker wouldn’t know about them. They’re not thoughts, they’re public statements.

      2. ShinyPenny*

        Isn’t it interesting how people who support orgs with some really toxic platforms, so often say (if you ask, which you wouldn’t do here of course) some version of “Oh I just ignore that part– it’s this other Awesome part of their platform that I really support” except the part they are fully comfortable ignoring is a direct assault on someone else’s personhood and safety? Some people I really love do this, and… it’s logically inconsistent with being lovable. #Thankgivingproblems, I guess. Sigh.
        Anyway. The info you describe seems like a problem to me, too, in your context.
        Could you collect a couple other org/policy issues you’d like clarification on? Overtime? Vacation policies? Then ask your boss for a phone call to discuss “a few questions”– maybe it would normalize the process. “This is the meeting we have periodically to clarify Things about our org.” Instead of, “OMG Coworker.”
        I agree the kids deserve to be safe and cared for. Hope it goes well

  43. Ahh*

    I love baking but can’t always eat what I make due to a medical issue. Hence I usually bring extra goodies into office every now and then. Earlier in the year a coworker offered to hire me to do some baking for her over the holidays. Sinc I bring in a variety of treats during the year for everyone to taste test coworker said she would let me know with us agreeing she could pick up her order just before thanksgiving. I was flattered as I have just started trying to sell baked goods. I have different versions of recipes for the same treat. For example over they years I’ve. Collected five different chocolate chip cookie recipes – each unique in their own way. None of my recipes are a “family secret recipe” . I do guard my collection of recipes but will share when asked. I usually cook from scratch. I found a cookbook over the summer on how to spruce up store bought box mixes for cakes, cookies, breads etc. I love it! It’s great when I need something in a rush, I can add my own flare and has given me some great ideas to adjust other recipes. I’ve brought some of these spruced up items into the office. One of them was an item coworker wanted to hire me to make. When coworker came to get pick up her order she was I was baking a cake from scratch. Actually I was finishing up my from scratch recipes for the weekend. She also saw a ton of box mixes I have and questioned it. I explained to her everything and pointed out one of the items she bought was a spruced up item. Big mistake. She flipped out screaming at me that I should have given her the recipe as she could make a boxed item from home rather than pay me. Ugh. I always looked at a baked item if you enjoy the results the recipe doesn’t matter. Coworker bought an item she liked. While she was upset she begrudgingly paid for the order when I told her I didn’t have time to remake this item for her and offered for to just not take the item. This is a very new side gig for me that I like since I take orders only when I have time. I do t feel I should have to share a recipe with clients. Is there something different I should be doing I the future?

    1. Gilty Pleasures*

      I think it would be perfectly reasonable to assume that if I am hiring someone to bake for me, they are making something from scratch and not just putting a twist on a boxed mix. I wouldn’t personally want to hire someone just to do that. So I think you probably need to make it clear when you agree to make something for money that this is the deal, and let them choose if they feel it’s worth paying someone for it. When you agree on what they are ordering and how much it will cost, you can add that in – “I have a box mix recipe with some additions for $X or I can do a from-scratch recipe for $Y”, for example. Or whatever wording works for your set-up.

      Just be upfront and clear about the service you are offering and exactly what they are getting for their money.

    2. londonedit*

      Hmm. I’m not sure I’d be hugely pleased if I was paying someone to bake something for me and then I discovered they were using a packet mix. I know you’re ‘sprucing them up’ but if I’m paying someone to bake a cake for me, then I’d expect them to be doing it from scratch. Box mixes aren’t really a thing where I’m from (you buy a cake from the supermarket or you make it yourself from scratch) so I think people would be doubly shocked here, but at any rate I’d be disappointed and I do agree with your coworker in that my initial reaction would be ‘if it’s just from a packet then I could have done it myself’. I think if you want to include the spruced-up packet cakes in your repertoire, you should make it clear that’s what they are – you could frame it as ‘I take everyone’s favourite boxed mix and make it ten times better’, or whatever, to make it clear that you’re not just making the cake on the front of the box, but I think people will want to know and will want to be able to choose whether to buy a cake you’re making from scratch or from a box.

      1. Ahh*

        Will do. I was clearly wrong. Out of 10 items 1 was a boxed item, everything else was from scratch. I do adjust my prices accordingly too. I was in noway trying to be malicious. I was simply looking at it as a recipe. I admit I was a little stressed with another order when She came to pick up her own. I will work on customer service skills. I will call coworker today and offer her a refund or to remake from scratch. Thank you for your input!

        1. londonedit*

          I don’t think you need to make a big deal of it, but I think there is probably room to say ‘Thinking about it, I realised I got it a bit wrong when it comes to the box mixes – I should have made it clear that’s what you were getting. Can I offer to make you something else from scratch?’

      2. MMB*

        Even professional chefs use boxed ingredients, mixes, and spice blends. (I know this from being in the industry.) She’s paying for your time, labor, and ability to make something she can’t and to make it well. She was 100% out of line.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Agree. Everything you get at grocery store bakeries are premade mixes.

          I really don’t guess this unless you were bragging that everything was from scratch. But it doesn’t sound like you were.

          On the few times I have asked someone to bake for me it was because it HAD to come out tasty and it HAD to come out done on time. Having those two certainties is worth money.

          If you keep baking for people you will encounter this from time to time. “You said x but y happened.” And you never said x or y did not happen. Cross her off your customer list and move on.

        2. ahhh*

          Thank you for saying this. I never intended to mislead anyone. In fact some of these spruced up recipes take just as much time and effort as baking from scratch. I was literally looking at a box mix as an ingredient.

          *For those who ask, I do price accordingly.

      3. Lady Danbury*

        This 100%. There’s no need to share your recipes but if I purchase “homemade” baked goods then I expect them to be baked from scratch. I know that when I bake from scratch I use better quality ingredients and less preservatives than using a mix, so I’d expect the same from purchased baked goods. And yes, I’m aware that some professionals use shortcuts, which is why I’m selective about purchasing from professionals as well.

        If you don’t want to differentiate then leave the spruced up mixes for personal consumption and only sell your baked goods made from scratch. It sounds like your repertoire of recipes is wide enough that you could drop the box mix based recipes and still have a good selection for potential customers.

    3. WellRed*

      Whoops! Lesson learned. I think your refund offer is good. While I don’t advocate for hiding anything (especially ingredients), I think in general, there’s no need to let customers in “the kitchen” either. If you hadn’t been busy and flustered you might have smoothed this over easier at the time. And while I think you had zero responsibility to share the recipe with her, I think you may need to reconsider those box cakes if you want to hang out this shingle.

    4. Batgirl*

      I actually think your coworker’s reaction was a bit out of line. I’m not really into box mixes either – but that’s mainly because I don’t think there’s much of a difference! My mum always said it was a scandalous cost just to avoid measuring out some baking powder. So a chocolate cake mix pre mixes the cocoa powder and flour? Cool, I can do that myself anyway though. For the same reason, I wouldn’t flip out if a cake I’d bought had had some steps pre done because of the mix used. Would it matter to her if you had made your own cake mixes for your pantry? Do you have to churn your own butter? Who cares when or how the ingredients got mixed? One caveat is that I might rethink the cost, if I thought I was paying someone for the entirety of the cake making time, or if I thought the ingredients were inferior but I wouldn’t make a scene after buying purely on taste and realizing I hadn’t really checked the other details out, or asked. I might not buy from you again and for that reason I think you’re best being upfront. Though, I’m really with Bridget Jones’ dad on that front; you can’t go far wrong telling the truth. I suspect in this case a lot of the reaction was that she felt like she caught you out and maybe she also felt a bit foolish for thinking it was the same as a cake from scratch. I definitely think there isn’t much difference anyway, and think she overreacted, but it always pays to tell people exactly what they’re paying for.

    5. Sooda Nym*

      I think your customer/co-worker over-reacted, but in the spirit of customer relations, it’s probably good to offer a refund on that item. Like you, I’d consider a cake mix more of an “ingredient” than a “cheat” but I do sort of come from the land of boxed mixes (I live close enough to Betty Crocker’s test kitchen that I toured it as a child). Professional bakeries buy mixes and pre-made ingredients all the time (did you know that jelly donut filling comes in 5-gallon buckets?)

      You mentioned not wanting to share your recipes, but have you considered developing a list of ingredients (no measurements, no instructions) for each of your items-for-sale that you can share while customers are making their decisions. This would help avoid allergy or food-intolerance issues, and would also be a low-key way to let them know one of the items they are considering contains a mix, since it would just be included on the list with all of the other items. People would have an opportunity to make a decision about whether or not the price is worth it to them knowing it contains a mix.

      1. Katie*

        In the spirit of customer relations, maybe you could offer the recipe, instead of a refund. It might prompt your coworker to realize that the cake mix was one of many ingredients, and that assembling the cake is not the easy job she may be envisioning, or that even with a recipe, she wouldn’t have created as pretty or tasty a cake as you made. (I also hope once the Thanksgiving stress lessens, she realized screaming at you was out of line, and apologizes.)

        1. Batgirl*

          Yeah I honestly think you’re right that there’s some assumptions born of ignorance here really. Box mix doesn’t automatically equal an incredible piece of baking, or mean that it can’t be upscaled from the box mix instructions. I so agree with you on the screaming too.

    6. Despachito*

      Frankly, I do not see any mistake on your part (perhaps apart from letting the coworker seeing your kitchen, and then the problematic thing of doing paid work for coworkers).

      You did not mislead your coworker by saying everything is made from scratch. Heck, you were honest with her. Moreover, she had a taste of the items before and she liked them.

      It was HER who was awfully rude (even if you really made a horrible mistake, which you didn’t, a decent person would never scream at you). I’d be pretty pissed, probably refund her the money, cut the losses and never sell her anything again. What a boor.

  44. Bimbo Jones*

    It’s late in the day (I’m 60) but I finally think I’ve found why my work career has been, for the most part, lukewarm.
    I think I have Adult ADD. From time to time in the past I’ve taken those “See If You Have ADD” surveys but they never quite hit the mark. I’d have some symptoms but not the main ones they seem to be looking for. In the last year or so, though, I have taken newer surveys and hit the bullseye. I seem to have the “distractibility” type of ADD.

    I took an early retirement from my Administrative Assistant role last April and not having to work the past seven months I’ve had a lot of time to think and reflect on my work life. And, damn, I really do fit the profile! Easily distracted, bored, unable to concentrate on long assignments, inability to listen (my boss would tell me six things and I’d go back to my desk and think “What did she say?”), disorganized, impulsive.

    I’m going to speak to my doctor, but meanwhile since I’m a little shy of full retirement, I am looking for a job. I think I am going to try a different line of work that provides more variety. I think I’ve been torturing myself sitting in an office all these years.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Hey there! (waves hand wildly) I was in my late 50s when I realized, and my therapist confirmed, that I met the profile for ADD.

      Welcome to the club. First, have a seat with the rest of us slackjawed so-called under-achievers who mutter to ourselves “So that’s why my career never went anywhere impressive.” Some of us feel like we’re sitting in a stalled vehicle while everyone else zooms past.

      Second, review your entire life, not just your work career. There’s more to life than professional achievements, even though it’s both necessary and impressive for some people to rise to CEO/Senator/Chief Expert in XYZ, or cure terrible diseases, lead a team through a winning season, etc. I suspect you’ll find other areas in which you’ve made a significant contribution. Maybe you developed expertise in some area of life (hiking, bread-baking, gardening, animal rescue…) and shared it with others (leading classes or nature walks, sharing meals, matching animals with their new foster or forever families, registering new voters…). Or perhaps you’re the parent, aunt, neighbor, teacher, coworker, or friend who always has time to talk and listen when someone is unhappy or lonely. Or you’ve remained an active musician/artist/writer even if “it doesn’t pay (money).” Or some combination of all of the above.

      There are books, experts, and organizations out there with oodles of information. CHADD, Russell Barkley, and Kathleen Nadeau come to mind, as do the books “Late, Lost and Unprepared” and another one for which I forget the title. (I also keep misplacing the book. Ha, ha.) Wikipedia has a list of books by Dr. Barkley. Kathleen Nadeau has also written extensively; you can find her works described online.

      Good luck living with your new information! It’s not all bad. We’re supposedly quite good at being creative and hyper-focusing on topics of interest.

      1. Bimbo Jones*

        Thank you! I knew I wasn’t crazy. Or the only one out there coming to this realization.

        I will follow up on your suggestions. I am actually kind of excited (or may energized is a better word). It’s like seeing my entire life from a different angle, but not in a negative way.

        1. Berkeleyfarm*

          I am around your age, and just got diagnosed. I wish it was earlier, but NOW is always a good time.

          WFH/pandemic weirdness has chipped at a lot of the defenses I have built up.

          I am in IT operations so in a lot of ways the job plays to that. Wishing you all the best.

  45. Uncertain*

    I am trying to decide whether to give my boss a heads up that I am planning to leave the organization. I am a director reporting to the executive director in a nonprofit with about 30 staff (mix of full and part time). My team is the largest in the organization with 8 people reporting directly or indirectly to me. I am planning to leave for a variety of reasons but the most immediate is that my commute is about an hour each way and I would like a job with the flexibility to work from home 2+ days per week. There are plenty of things I don’t see eye to eye on with my boss but she is a reasonable person and has been good to me when I have needed flexibility. I don’t think she would push me out early, but it could get a bit awkward. I am applying for a job that if I was hired for, would likely mean I would give notice the day she returns from Christmas vacation and January will be a very busy month. Final interviews for the job will be after she has already gone on vacation in December. I think I am well qualified for the job in question but I also think there’s a chance there’s an internal candidate, so obviously, I have no idea if I’ll get it. So, I could be resigning in a month or it could be several months. Thoughts?

    1. Uncertain*

      PS. If I resign with 2-3 weeks notice, I believe she will feel very overwhelmed and blindsided. I think her unofficial #2 has told her that I am a flight risk and want more flexibility but I still think she will take it as a big surprise. I have already thought about how to make a good transition and I am working on transition documents, etc. The organization has grown and changed a lot in the 2.5 years I’ve worked there so there will be some challenges when I leave but I’m doing my best to mitigate that. Just trying to decide if giving her a heads up should be part of it.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        I wouldn’t advise giving a heads up until you’re sure about when you’ll be leaving. Continue to work on the transition documents, as that’s more than many people leave. Also think about what sort of knowledge transfer you can start to do now with your team. You can frame it as best practices, which it is! There shouldn’t be any tasks within an organization that only one person understands/knows how to do.

  46. SofiaDeo*

    You don’t “owe” the job anything other than appropriate notice, and appropriate transitioning during your notice period. But be aware, if your job doesn’t currently entail preparing transition documents, this is likely where unofficial #2’s comments re:you being a flight risk are coming from. Lady Danbury has it right!

  47. Berkeleyfarm*

    I was telling a roundabout story (ADHD inattentive, most of my stories are shaggy dog stories) last night of a reception I ran at my old church where I had boiled and peeled ~3 dozen eggs for devilled eggs, and almost wasn’t able to stuff them in the church kitchen because there was caribou that needed cooking. (It was a post-ordination party and the ordinand and most guests were Alaskans. The ‘bou had been air-shipped special. Someone did eventually show up to cook it and I was happy to pull out pans and utensils for them.)

    Mom said “couldn’t you have looked up how to cook it?” Me: “sure, but I didn’t know it was coming, and that was pre having a computer in my pocket”. Then she told me the story of my young cousin starting out “kitchening” by stuffing eggs for Thanksgiving, and having trouble, and Mom suggesting a tiny cookie scoop (which she figured was in the kitchen of an avid baker). YESTERDAY I LEARNED. I see more devilled eggs in my event futures.

    I did tell my mom some of the Bad Potluck Behavior stories and she enjoyed them. She had a few of her own from being a church and club lady. I don’t know if I told the “case of the missing pineapple” one in the potluck thread, but she retold it to me.

    The whole caribou memory got sparked for me because I follow European royal families and had to look up some items on the menu I saw for the Spanish state visit to Sweden … my menu French is not bad but I had to look up what “renne” was. (Reindeer)

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