coworkers crashed my networking party, new hire wants to print everything, and more

I’m on vacation. Here are some past letters that I’m making new again, rather than leaving them to wilt in the archives.

1. My former coworkers crashed my networking party

I can’t believe I am asking this, but is it okay to crash a networking event if you’re friendly with the host? After the first day of a large conference (1,000+ people) put on by a former employer, I held a small networking reception with a hosted bar for my largest client and was in charge of all details, including the guest list. We had physical invitations and people were greeted at the door where the invites were exchanged for drink tickets.

Three of my former colleagues arrived uninvited, and I let them in anyway, because I didn’t want to be rude and the vibe of the event was casual enough that it wouldn’t matter too much. When I went to make the rounds later though, I saw they had brought in four more uninvited guests from my former company who I had never met, had taken over a central part of the venue, and were loudly talking and drinking among themselves and ignoring the rest of the guests. I admit, I reacted with shock at the time and asked what they thought they were doing and said to the people I knew that they were taking advantage of our friendship. They just laughed and said they were fine so I walked away. The next day at the conference, one of them told my employee that they were upset and that I owed them an apology!

For some added context, they knew they weren’t invited and had borderline bullied one of my employees all day about getting an invite. I just set up my own consulting company, and this event was the first one I held for this client. The people who crashed are in very low-level, but visible positions in my industry and I will have to engage with them repeatedly over the years. So, do I owe them an apology? Or do I give one anyway to keep the peace? What I want to do is call their director (my old boss) so he can let them know it isn’t cool for half his department to crash my event simply because I used to work there. But maybe I’m in the wrong and should apologize?

Is it possible they didn’t realize the event was truly invitation-only? It’s common for receptions like that to be open to whoever shows up. The fact that they were angling for an invitation earlier that days makes that unlikely, but they still may have assumed it wouldn’t be a big deal since you knew them, it was for networking, etc. Plus, once they showed up and you let them in, that probably reinforced their thinking that it wasn’t a big deal.

They were rude, but I think you’ve just got to figure that if you really wanted the event to be rigidly invitation-only, you needed to turn them away — or at least to explicitly tell them that you couldn’t permit any additional uninvited guests. Once they and their four additional guests were already in there, you probably would have been better off letting it go — or, if you really found it unacceptable, to ask them to leave. It sounds like your outrage may have made it into a bigger deal than it needed to be.

I would not call your old director about this; that’s going to add to the drama and prolong it. If you have a professional need to have good relationships with the crashers, then yeah, I think you probably do need to at least attempt to smooth it over with them. That doesn’t necessarily mean apologizing, but it might help to at least say, “I realize I sent you mixed messages about the event — I had intended it to be invitation-only and primarily for my client, and I should have been clearer about that rather than getting frustrated when you brought in additional people.”


2. New hire wants to print everything and not use screens

I work for a digital creative agency, and we recently hired a contractor, Ann, who says she is unable to read anything on screens. She has to print everything — schedules, deliverable matrices, design outputs, emails — before she can review or give feedback. This is particularly challenging because half our internal team and our client are all located across several cities. We have to review all content, both internally and with our clients, via teleconference.

Ann has derailed pretty much every review meeting we’ve had, including with clients, because she has to check the screen against the materials she’s printed or because she has not had an opportunity to print the materials to be reviewed. She complains constantly about the fact that we’re creating and tracking all of our work digitally (five or six times in every meeting, plus another eight to 10 times throughout the rest of the day). And she has asked if she can schedule multiple trips across the country to work in person with people, because she has trouble doing the work via her laptop. While we have some budget for travel, it was not intended to be used as a prerequisite to complete our daily work, and I have concerns about her ability to be seen as trustworthy by the client if she shows up every other week complaining about having to work on a laptop, expecting them to work with her on a stack of disorganized papers instead.

This is not the only issue with her, but this is one I’ve never encountered before and am struggling to address. I want to make sure I’m being sensitive to any physical reasons she might not be able to the work and offer what accommodations I can (although from her comments to date, I think this is a preference, not a physical limitation), while also making it clear that part of the ability to succeed at this job is the ability to effectively telework with remote teams.

Be direct about what you expect and ask if there are any obstacles to her doing that. For example: “We do most of our work electronically here, especially since so many team members and the client are spread out across different cities. We don’t typically work with many print-outs. I know you’ve mentioned that you prefer printing things out, but that isn’t always practical or efficient with the way we work. While I know it’s not your preference, is working mainly digitally something you’re able to do?” The idea there is to spell out how you’d like her to operate and to give her a chance to tell you if there’s a medical issue behind this.

If there is a medical issue in play, at that point you could brainstorm with her about how to accommodate that while minimizing the impact on the work and the client. Be clear about what you can’t do (like flying her around the country to meet in person), and what she can’t do (like complaining to the client or complaining throughout the day about your office’s digital tracking systems).

But if it’s just a preference, it’s reasonable to say, “To succeed in this role, you need to get comfortable with working on screens. Is that something you can do?” … and then hold her to that.


3. Should I tell an employee I had a dream predicting his death?

I know this is a bizarre question. I just woke up from an incredibly vivid dream in which a fortune teller told me that one of my favorite/best employees was going to die on September 25, 2024. I’m not sure I even believe in psychic dreams, but it felt so vivid and certain that, were this just a friend or someone I worked closely with, I would tell them about my dream. But when I consider telling my employee about it, I just kind of imagine the letter that they could write you from their perspective: “Dear Alison, did my boss just low-key threaten my life?”

I shouldn’t tell my employee, right? I do actually kind of want to warn him.

PS: I promise to update on September 26, 2024 and let you know what’s up.

Do not tell your employee. I’m not sure you should tell anyone if you have this kind of dream about them, but definitely not in a business relationship.

There are really only three outcomes here: (1) He thinks it’s bizarre that you decided to relay this to him and now doubts your judgment more broadly. This is highly likely. (2) He’s unsettled but can’t do anything about it since if it’s a real prophecy, he can’t avoid it, right? (At least that was the lesson I learned from Sleeping Beauty and the spinning wheel.) (3) He thinks it’s silly, but is mildly bothered by having it in his head anyway and is annoyed you felt you needed to share this with him.

None of those outcomes are good. There’s nothing actionable here for anyone. Shake off the dream and move on!


4. Decorating contest drama

I’m writing about some recent drama regarding a contest my office did for the holidays. I am the marketing person who does all of the internal events/morale activities, etc. We decided to have a holiday decorating contest where folks decorated their cubes. First place wins $25 and second wins $15.

I made the rules from a blog I saw online, but had other people as judges since I wanted to participate. Everyone knew I was participating. Winners were announced to the company, and I ended up winning second place.

One of the women in my office who did not win is now very upset that I participated in the contest since I “made the rules.” She’s calling it a “conflict of interest” and sending me nasty emails, and even copying in the president! I thought she was joking since this is a friendly competition in AN OFFICE with adults (and also because it’s a prize of $15……), but she seems legitimately angry. Should I give her the $15 I won? Should I ask the president to tell her to relax? I mean … really??

Well … your coworker’s reaction sounds bizarrely disproportionate, but it’s true that it doesn’t look great for the person who came up with the contest rules to then win the contest. Marketing people and others in similar positions are often excluded from contests for that reason.

It might make sense to donate the prize to a (non-controversial) charity and say something to your coworker like, “I’m so sorry it came across as a conflict! I’d intentionally recused myself from judging so that I could enter, but I’ll recuse myself from future contests if I’m part of planning them.” I don’t see any reason to give her the money, though, unless she was the third place winner.


{ 357 comments… read them below }

  1. Anon for this*

    The employee for LW 2 sounds so frustrating! Especially since this is a digital media company, I could see printing out materials to review if the materials are intended to be printed such as pamphlets, there’s a need to make sure everything looks just as good on paper as on screen, but when the clients expect digital products from the outset, printing materials is actually harmful, because the reverse is also true: things don’t look the same printed as they do on screen.

    1. Wendy*

      This exactly! I suppose there’s a remote possibility she may be able to claim she needs this accommodation for a disability, but I think you’d have a strong case for saying the job requires reading on screens, period, and there’s no amount of printing that can fix that issue.

      1. Moonlight*

        I also feel like if it were for a disability… Urgh it’s so tough cause yeah as someone who’s neurodivergent, I don’t love telling people because I know I may be negatively judged (eg I had a job where every piece of feedback was clouded by “well, I know you have ____,…” and I was livid; I had literally only shared the info to explain a few habits in how I choose to handle my work, and not because it’s always the root culprit of anything that goes wrong, and the risk a boss will blame my neurodivergence on every shortcoming is why I no longer tell colleagues… so I get why this person may not be saying anything… but it also just seems bizarre not to if it’s clearly causing her to do out of place things and yeah idk. So I’m inclined, like everyone else, to think that this isn’t the issue. Maybe the person just needs some reading glasses with a blue light filter to better look at the screen. I also know people who do prefer to read stuff on paper, but clearly that’s disruptive here and even printing emails seems a bit strange, like I get it for 30 page long articles… mmmm idk ‍♀️ I hope op has/will talk to this person.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yeah if you are specifically and openly a digital media company, not working with digital media doesn’t meet the test of a reasonable accommodation. MAYBE if you had a role within the company that wasn’t client facing you could reduce your screen time, but that doesn’t sound like that case here.

        1. Artemesia*

          I can’t believe this was accommodated for the first week much less for this length of time. She can’t do the job. Either move her to another or fire her. My husband is visually impaired and screens make it possible for him to read and write; I do not believe there is a disability which makes it possible to only work from printed material. If it is a genuine physical disability she could assert and prove that but this really does sound like someone who is not adaptable and not suited for the job. Letting her get away with this AT ALL was a giant management mistake.

          1. TootsNYC*

            the light-emitting aspect of digital screens might be a problem. And there might be learning-disability conditions that make it harder to focus, etc.

            1. Uranus Wars*

              I agree with this but also think that if it’s the case she should be moved to a different role or her contract terminated. You don’t have to accommodate all disabilities if there is not one that allows them to do the job effectively.

            2. quill*

              Yeah, there are ways to change contrast / reduce glare / work on avoiding photosensitivity but the employee has to work with you to figure out what the problem is and how to address it. Either Ann does not know what the problem is exactly, Ann has decided that printing things out is better than other options like, I don’t know, talking to her optician, or Ann is stuck in her ways. The first two can be resolved.

            3. pancakes*

              Maybe, but if something of that nature is the problem she needs to ask for accommodation instead of complaining “five or six times in every meeting, plus another eight to 10 times throughout the rest of the day.”

            4. It's hot chocolate season*

              Nowadays there are pretty good e-ink tablets — they’re great because they don’t hurt your eyes like screens, and you can write on them in the same way you can on paper. They’re not a perfect solution (it won’t help people who like paper because they can keep track of physical objects much better than digital ones), but it getting one of these could be a reasonable accommodation.

            5. Autumnheart*

              You can’t be a digital creative working for a digital creative agency if you can’t read content on a screen. It’s a fundamental requirement of the job.

              Doesn’t mean Ann can’t do other creative work for some other type of job. Go work for a magazine or handle print creative and signage. But Ann was not the right person for this job, and I don’t think that “reasonable accommodation” can stretch to allowing someone who can’t perform the biggest part of the job–designing and proofing content that is specifically intended to be used on screens.

          2. Loulou*

            I mean, it’s a big world out there, I would assume at least one person is unable to read screens…probably more than one!

            No idea if there’s a potential accommodation that would actually be reasonable, but it doesn’t seem terribly farfetched to me for her to actually not be able to read screens and I feel like people here are being way more unkind than they have been in other “employee is behaving inappropriately but also I didn’t accommodate their disability” letters.

            1. Unaccountably*

              She might in fact be unable to read screens. I don’t think anyone thinks that’s far-fetched, though it’s definitely unusual. That does not, however, mean that it wasn’t a management mistake to hire someone for the position who is not capable of doing the work. You don’t get to be a pilot if you’re blind, and you don’t get to work for a digital media company in a digital-media-based job if you can’t read things that aren’t on hard copy. That’s not unkindness, it’s just how it goes.

              If this person can’t read screens, she shouldn’t have applied for the job knowing she couldn’t do it, and management shouldn’t have kept her on when it became clear that she couldn’t or wouldn’t. That’s not unkindness either. Jobs aren’t charities.

              1. Loulou*

                Okay, but I’m responding to a commenter saying they doubt any disability that prevents someone from using a screen exists. I find it unkind and un-AAM to hear “she says she’s unable to do X” and say “no way, that’s impossible, she just doesn’t want to!’

                1. Lenora Rose*

                  The letter ITSELF says that from conversations with her, it seems to be a preference and not a disability. Now, it also seems that the letter writer is reading between the lines rather than having asked flat-out, and the answer to that is to ask directly, “Is this a disability?”

                  But based on the principle that we take the letter writer’s perspective as accurate, if it IS only a preference, then saying “No way, she just doesn’t want to” is not unkind.

                2. Loulou*

                  The site rule is not “the letter writer’s perspective is always right!” It’s take them at their word. I’m happy to take them at their word that it SEEMS to be a preference in this case, but what I am pushing against is the idea that this couldn’t possibly be due to a disability. Like you said, they are assuming!

            1. LQ*

              There is a world of difference between a client needing an ADA accommodation to use a screen reader or other type of device and a vendor complaining TO A CLIENT multiple times 5-6 in a meeting? That they can’t do their job of reviewing or comparing or likely updating materials.

              The ADA or non screen use here actually all seems like a red herring.

              I worked with someone who did work in digital media who had very low vision and rarely used the screen at all and primarily used screen readers. I was the client, they never complained. They once or twice asked for the graphic name we needed edits to when I did a poor job of explaining which one needed to be changed.

              This is someone who is complaining to clients and doesn’t seem to be able to do their job. That’s the problem. You can work without a screen in digital media. You can’t complain and not work to come up with any solutions when you work with clients.

              1. PinaColada*

                I think the other aspect here is that, okay, if you need an ADA accommodation, that’s fine, but you still have to be able to do the job w the accommodation! Which she seems unable to do. If she’s not able to keep the papers organized so she can follow along; and if she’s not able to handle the client aspect (smoothing it out so it’s graceful instead of complaining) then she’s not fulfilling on the job even with the accommodation.

            2. TardyTardis*

              I have a terrible time with some screens unless ramped up to a higher refresh rate, because *yes I can really see the flicker*. Had that conversation with a tech a few times in my life, and still wish my current laptop monitor *had* a higher refresh rate.

          3. Lizcase*

            There are disabilities that can make it hard to work from screens (related to the light I believe, such as screens being a migraine trigger), but there are also options. Screen filters, tinted glasses, e-ink readers (which can usually be configured to emit no light), screen readers, dictation software, cutting out all screens but work (really hard to do!!!). It sounds like this person hasnt even tried.

          4. Kella*

            There are most definitely disabilities that make screens unusable or people can only use them for a short amount of time each day. The disabilities tend to be cognitive-based rather than vision-based– head injuries, migraines, stuff like that. If that is the case, they should have a discussion about accommodations rather than Ann constantly complaining constantly that the digital media company she got hired at uses digital media.

          5. The OTHER other*

            Came here to say this. And also take a hard look at your hiring/screening process. You are a digital content company and hired someone who cannot work with screens and complains constantly (including to customers!) about electronic workflows that have been standard for many years. It’s worth examining how that happened, and making sure it doesn’t happen again.

            But she should definitely be fired/have her contract terminated. Her endless complaints, especially to your customers, is damaging your business. Honestly she seems like the pointy-haired boss in the Dilbert cartoon asking for a “hard copy of the internet”. And that joke is at least 20 years old.

          6. Another ADDer*

            There are rare conditions that make it impossible for people to look at electronic screens. I once read an article about a guy who had such a condition, I forget what it’s called. He couldn’t use computers, smartphones, he couldn’t watch TV, any of that.

            More common is an inability to read electronic text under certain conditions. I have that problem: I can’t read electronic text AT ALL if it’s in a block any longer than 6-7 lines. I’ve very occasionally had to tell colleagues that when they sent a long email without breaking up the paragraphs.

            I also find websites with very dark or very bright color schemes completely inaccessible: I literally cannot look at them long enough to use them meaningfully. Fortunately, I’ve only encountered that in my personal life, not my working life, but most of the work I’ve done hasn’t required using digital screens for anything but clocking in and out and email communications.

            Possibly, Ann has a slightly more severe version of that difficulty.

        2. SheLooksFamiliar*

          My ex worked in sales for a global producer of networking equipment and was willfully ‘tech ignorant.’ He traveled a lot but refused to bring his laptop, claiming he couldn’t remember how to check email even after 1:1 coaching with IT.

          Instead, he would call the department admin, give her his email creds, and ask her to print and fax his emails to his hotel. His boss found out and went ballistic, saying it wasn’t fair to the admin, and was just plain old crappy behavior. I believe the words ‘You literally sell networking equipment, step up your game!’ were used.

          Nope. Ex dug in his heels, claiming he was too set in his ways. When layoffs began, guess who was one of the first to go?

          1. Galadriel's Garden*

            Omg. Coming from a former life as an admin, bless your ex’s boss for defending her time! That’s batpoo bananas. I know admins can be undervalued at best (and treated like a robot at worst) so while it’s…a lot of things that ex thought this was a reasonable ask, it’s also heartening to hear someone higher up straight up rejecting that kind of behavior.

            1. SheLooksFamiliar*

              My ex was charming when he wanted to be, and claimed this admin loved to help people. Maybe she did but I was giddy when his boss told him the admin wasn’t there to do things he could do for himself. The company literally created the equipment that made it possible to connect to a network, and there was no excuse for ex to lean on the admin.

              Boss was a good guy in many ways, this was just one of them.

      3. Nanani*

        This is exactly why I strongly suspect it’s not a disability.
        Most disabled people are not assholes and have experienced a lot of hassles getting their real needs met.
        Someone who actually can’t use screens, as opposed to having an eccentric preference, would self select out because the hassle – or impossibility – of getting accommodations would be clear to them from the start.

        Ann needs a reality check :/

        1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

          Right. If my disability involved not being able to read screens, I would seek out jobs that aren’t screen-intensive. As it happens, my disability involves using a wheelchair, so I work remotely. A friend became too disabled to use a keyboard 8 hours a day, so she switched careers into teaching. Perhaps this woman would be happier in printer sales?

      4. DizzyDame*

        I have a recently acquired chronic vestibular disorder that, when it flares, is exacerbated by screens. Basically my brain and balance aren’t syncing properly and movement on the screen is interpreted as physical movement. It’s disorienting, extremely nauseating, fatiguing, and can trigger migraine and vertigo. But, I wouldn’t be complaining about it, I’d be proactively working on it. There are special glasses and taking breaks. And, at least for me, watching people in zoom meetings is fine (the brain knows about tv). I’ve had to ask for accommodation for some online trainings if they’re heavy with flying texts and pop-ups and I’ll print long scholarly articles to avoid scrolling or those funky page flippers, but that’s about it. Others with the disorder may struggle more, but usually those are intense episodes that have a time limit-and at that point things like walking are also a problem.

        1. PT*

          I used to get migraines triggered by the refresh rate on CRT screens. CRT screens were the worst! I was so happy when I got my first LCD screen. No more subtle flickering.

          1. TardyTardis*

            I hear you on refresh rate (though I can still see the flicker on low refresh laptop monitors, but I’m too cheap to buy a new one. So far).

    2. AJoftheInternet*

      I had a client I was doing web-work for who printed out her webpage, wrote physical notes on it, then scanned and emailed the notes to me. It *did* help with communicating the what-where-hows, but it was pretty absurd. Next time I’ll just make an image of the thing and email that back and forth.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I suggest PDF capture — right-click /add note has been simple for even my least computer-savvy reviewers to master.

        1. Vermont Green*

          It may be that she likes certain basic skills, like pdf capture, splitting her screen, and even working with two screens. If you think she is worth keeping, you could offer her the opportunity to work with a coach on the skills she needs. Coaching would be a great task for an intern, at least one who is tactful.

          1. Observer*

            No, if what this woman needs is a coach, she needs a coach who actually knows that they are doing! An intern may be a “digital native” but that doesn’t make them useful as a coach. In fact, to the contrary. I would expect an interns without any training in tutoring / coaching / teaching to be an extremely poor coach. Where are they supposed to have the skills and the understanding of the deficits that she has?

            1. Anononon*

              Yup. Though it’s neither party’s fault, it can be so frustrating to show somehow how to use a certain technology when you just “know” how to do it, and they’re completely clueless.

              1. Cold Fish*

                Frustrating, YES!

                A few years ago I was tasked with training someone in my department (paperless dept btw). The guy was very nice but had NO computer skills, none, zilch, zero. There were honestly moments I thought I’d go screaming from the building if I had to walk him thru saving a pdf in a folder on the network ONE MORE TIME. Usually around the 6th time that day after weeks of showing him how to do it. Around the 2nd or 3rd day, I wrote up and printed a step by step with screen shots (Click on File in upper right corner [screenshot], Go down to Save As [screenshot]…..etc.) and I still had to coach him thru the process 4-5 times a day. I don’t think I have every been more frustrated in my life.

          2. TootsNYC*

            I’m with Observer: I don’t think someone as green as interns are to be able to do much more than share a few pointers.

          3. ceiswyn*

            Just because someone is a ‘digital native’ doesn’t mean they know their way around office software.

            Familiar with basic software and UI principles maybe, good with social media probably. But I remember trying to explain to a ‘digital native’ how to create a correctly formatted txt file to run using the command line, and I still get nightmares.

            1. Nanani*

              Isn’t the whole “digital native” an overblown extrapolation by media anyway?

              Like the assumption that all the kids know how to type and don’t need to be taught how to use word processors. That fell on its face once smartphones became widespread, and a lot of people who typed very fast in the short medium of tweets and text messages found they needed to learn a whole new skillset of using full keyboards and word processors effectively when they hit the school level that wanted longer essays.

              Point is – generation does not accurately track technical skills

              1. Antilles*

                It’s definitely an overblown extrapolation, because the reality is that the newest generation is often *less* innately familiar with computers than the prior one.
                Think about this: If you were born in the 80’s or 90’s, you grew up with PC’s as your primary means of computing, internet access, email, etc. You’d type all the time, learn keyboard shortcuts, and be familiar with all sorts of PC basics because they were such a key part of your life growing up.
                But if you were born in the 2000’s, you’ve had a smartphone all your life and that was your primary means of computing et al – so you’ve spent less time with actual desktop computers, physical keyboards, etc than the preceding generation. So things like file folder organization, typing, driver updates, and other PC-specific skills are less familiar.

                1. quill*

                  Yep, because computers are moving away from you being able to coherently extrapolate what you need to do to address an issue, so you’re learning less about the computer even if you’re using it more.

                  (Old lady time: I remember when the only computer I had access to was the family desktop and glitches meant you may not be able to play on the computer, so you learned to solve things yourself. Up to and including secretly learning dad’s password so that when you had to fix a game by reinstalling it you could do it yourself…)

                2. pancakes*

                  I read an interesting article about this a couple months ago, called “File Not Found: A generation that grew up with Google is forcing professors to rethink their lesson plans.” The central point is that “the concept of file folders and directories, essential to previous generations’ understanding of computers, is gibberish to many modern students.”

                3. LQ*

                  Strong agree. Past milenials (really gen x but…we’ve all forgotten about them) it’s all personal choice. People can choose to be “good” at computers or not. The assumption that “young people are good with technology” is as outdated as the notion that old people don’t know computers. It’s absurd, it was always absurd, and it’s just gotten more so as people need to understand less and less to “use” computers and smart phones.

                4. MeleMallory*

                  My son, who is currently in 1st grade, just started using computers at school. He’s already a wiz on my iPad and phone, but is now learning how to use a keyboard, etc. I’m so glad they’re starting young, because I don’t want him to get to middle/high school and not know how to type essays.

              2. After 33 years ...*

                +100%, based on observation of many university students. Phone use and word processor use require different skills.
                Also, in my experience the best users don’t necessarily make the best coaches / teachers. If you’re superb at something, it can be hard to relate to someone at a lower skill level.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I can see myself doing that–I find it so much easier to hand-write notes because I can use arrows and circles more easily.

        1. SomebodyElse*

          Unsolicited recommendation warning:

          You can get relatively inexpensive drawing tablets that are pretty good these days. I have an older one from about 7ish years ago that was ok but not great. Last year I took a chance and bought a new one for ~$25. It’s small but so much more usable. It’s really a gamechanger for all of the drawing functionality that’s now coming standard in software and online whiteboarding

    3. I take tea*

      2018, another world. I wonder how this employee have fared during working from home… I suppose they have a printer at home, at least.

      1. Ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        Right? I’m completely paperless since WFH and I love it! And I had already reduced my printing when I was in the office.

        I know some of my colleagues still print while at home but I have to believe it is much less than it was before.

        1. Pants*

          I haven’t had a printer at home in years and years. Probably well over a decade. It’s not an issue for me. There are PDF apps I can use to scan things if necessary (like ID for onboarding). If I simply must print something out, I do have a friend with a printer or I can take a thumb drive to the copy center nearby. Not having to find a place for a printer, keep it dust-free, buy ink, then buy ink again because it won’t print black if cyan is out (which is stupid) — that’s worth the maybe three times I’ve needed a printer at home in the last eon.


        2. my roflcopter goes soi soi soi*

          I do all my printing at home because the shared printer in my work area is old & funky and requires me to cut through other peoples’ workspace to access it. I print a lot compared to most colleagues though, mainly because I work with copyright permissions and have ‘lost’ digital copies of signed documents when cloud-based storage glitched out or was unavailable (like the AWS meltdown yesterday).

    4. Thistle Whistle*

      I had an ex-colleague who did everything he could offline.

      He took 3 months to do a task the rest of us could do in about 3 weeks. He needed to pull data out of one system and I put it into another – tedious and unpleasant but that was the job and he was getting g well paid to do it.. He didn’t believe in copy paste so he filled 3 hardback A4 notebooks with lists of journal numbers from one system then sat and hand entered them into the second system. Then printed out every journal and filed them in about 20 storage boxes.

      I had to do a similar task, used copy paste and “windows waved” between program screens to copy the data across programs. Then stored everything electronically. I did about half the amount he did in just over a week. No printing, no paper filing, no packing boxes lying about and tripping people up.

      He was a contractor who was shown lots of techniques to speed up his work and use the technology to its fullest extent. However in willful ignorance he still insisted on doing as much as he could offline, even where it made life really tedious for himself. He even admitted it was easier to do many tasks “within the computer” rather than on paper but he always fell back to his old paper based ways within hours as that was his preference.

      He was very surprised when his contract wasn’t made permanent. The bosses put up with it for a while whilst he was doing a couple of tedious and unloved tasks, but eventually their patience with the slowness gave out. He could do online work (slowly) but he seemed to enjoy making a performance out of his preference for “traditional” methods. He tried to claim it was due to his age, but we had many workers older than him who were very tech savvy, he just refused to accept that his way of doing things was too slow and not compatible to modern practices. The kicker: this guy was getting paid waaaaay more than the permanent staff in that department.

      I know where he ended up next and he didn’t last long at the company as it “wasn’t a good fit”. After that he struggled to find placements as he got a reputation of being a dinosaur and not adapting to technology. Last I heard to had no choice but to retire early as he couldn’t find work.

      1. DataGirl*

        At my work we have one system where we have to type certain number strings in, because the software has the field set to varchar and it in turns feeds the data to a database that has the field as integer. If you copy/paste, somehow it occasionally brings in hidden characters, then the data feed breaks because the database can’t interpret those characters. It’s really annoying and reduces efficiency and accuracy, but we have no control over how either the software or the database is programmed. That being said, we still just pull up two screens- one with data source, one with the software, and type straight into the computer, no need to write anything on paper.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I do this at my job with one of my tasks as well. Most of the keyboard shortcuts are disabled – so I copy paste with the technical portions. The facility name and address – yup, two windows and free typing are just as fast as copy paste (for me at least).

          1. La Triviata*

            When I’m trying to do this kind of thing, I’ll copy the information, paste it into Notepad, manually delete any extraneous characters and then cut from Notepad and paste into the other place. Might not work for everything, but it does wipe out formatting and a lot of unwanted stuff.

      2. Hello, I'd like to report my boss*

        > He didn’t believe in copy paste so he filled 3 hardback A4 notebooks with lists of journal numbers from one system then sat and hand entered them into the second system. Then printed out every journal and filed them in about 20 storage boxes.

        My jaw just dropped. It’s not just the speed, it’s the potential for errors! You can’t tell me he wrote and copied every digit accurately!

        I’m quite relieved he decided to retire, because his working methods were awful.

        Seriously, ‘Didn’t believe in copy paste’… what the hell. That’s like saying you don’t believe in computers full stop!

        1. wittyrepartee*

          I’ve had people insist that hand entry is important so you can check the data. No. Or, at least, not with me. But probably not for you either. The best system is to properly program a computer to do it. Argh.

          1. Koalafied*

            Ugh, I hate this when I’m adding my bank account as a payment method for a utility bill or linking accounts at two banks and they disable the ability to paste into the account number fields! A 16 digit account number typed one character at a time is 16 opportunities for dyslexia to strike and cause me to transpose or omit numbers. My computer’s clipboard never does that!

          2. Observer*

            Yeah, no it dies not work this way. Every hand entry is an opportunity to add errors. There are better and more effective ways to check for errors.

          3. Jackalope*

            So sometimes when I’m at work and doing tricky math calculations I’ll work them out on a Notepad document so I can see all of the steps and if needed see where I went wrong. So sometimes working things out “by hand” can still be useful but it’s still a lot faster to do on a computer (and then I can do things like copy and paste numbers to make sure I got them right).

        2. Thistle Whistle*

          Nice guy but a bit of a dinosaur in his ways. He sent out reams of paper, drove people mad with in person meetings that could have been emails and ended up commandeering a printer as he wanted everything hard copy.

          The company were OK with quirks but his excel skills were really poor and he wasn’t willing to learn. And in 2015 you needed excel skills in an Accounting team. He just wasn’t willing to pick up new techniques and skills.

          1. Thistle Whistle*

            Sad thing is that he’d had director level roles in the past but been laid off in a couple of reshuffles and each role since had been slightly lower than the last until he landed with us. His complaints about technology and and refusal to unskill got him a reputation for being awkward, so the recruitment agencies found it harder and harder to place him.

            It wasn’t an age thing, I’ve worked with some really tech savvy 70+ colleagues who are always happy to learn. He just didn’t want to get better with technology, and thevdays of accountants working on paper are long gone. I think he resented being a worker bee and not the boss.

        3. This is not my first time.*

          When I did my Master’s degree *cough* 20 years ago *cough* there was a woman in my cohort who didn’t know how to use copy/paste. She was 25 years old and taking a Masters’s in Multimedia Systems. She passed the course.

          1. Pants*

            Excuse me, I’d like to report a crime.

            Think she ever figured it out? I use a lot of keyboard shortcuts and it’s always a little weird to me when I meet people who only know how to use right-click to copy/paste.

          2. NorthOfTheWall*

            I have a similar story. 20 years ago I started my Masters in Library and Information Science. One woman who started with me didn’t even know how to turn a computer on. They tried to get her to the level of at least being able to type up papers. She didn’t last a month. I wonder about how she’s doing sometimes.

      3. ecnaseener*

        The kicker: this guy was getting paid waaaaay more than the permanent staff in that department.

        My understanding is that this is normal for contractors vs employees! His take-home pay after taxes was probably similar to that of the employees.

        1. Bob*

          Yes, you also have to factor in paying for 100% of your own benefits (health, dental, life insurance, etc). And also account for not getting paid holidays, sick time, vacations, jury duty, bereavement, etc.

          Some companies provide “total compensation” statements periodically to their employees which spell out the monetary value of all this. If you’ve never seen one it can be a bit shocking.

          1. Thistle Whistle*

            Here in the UK temporary staff get holiday pay, bereavement pay and sick payetc. Health cover isn’t standard because of the NHS. Also, most companies (including this one) extend all employee benefits to long term contractors as standard. Long term contractors must get treated as normal employees.

            Usually the only thing you don’t get is pension – unless the contract is directly with the company. If its directly with the company you usually get pension contributions too. If its through an agency or personal service company (IR35) then you don’t get contributions.

            1. Koalafied*

              Long term contractors must get treated as normal employees.

              Fascinating stuff – here because an employee is covered by a whole range of labor laws that don’t apply to independent contractors, it’s nearly the opposite: if you treat your contractors like employees it can undermine your justification for classifying them as contractors instead of employees! The company could end up getting legally penalized for misclassifying their workers. Often because of this companies are very careful to maintain clearly different treatment between workers of different classifications performing the same kind of work.

              1. Pants*

                Yup. There are compliance lawyers in our company who are there specifically to parse out what contractors should and should not have access to. This includes important meetings that would benefit us, but which we are not allowed to join. It’s frustrating, as I’m currently a contractor but my job is centered around internal employees.

            2. Anon GP*

              There are exceptions though. I’m a locum GP in the UK and I’m part of the NHS pension scheme, but I don’t get sick pay, holiday pay, maternity or bereavement leave (other than the statutory benefit). I get paid more but I have to sort my own income protection and illness cover. Also I’m paid gross and do my own income tax, whereas salaried colleagues have PAYE.

        2. anonymous73*

          Yes contractors do make significantly more than FTEs, but they don’t get benefits (at least through the company they report to), so while their pay may be higher, they also have additional expenses and don’t get paid when they don’t work. But that wouldn’t make their take home pay similar to the FTEs.

        3. PT*

          You’re assuming he’s an independent contractor (1099) and not an agency contractor (a W2 employee who works for some other company but is placed at your company.)

      4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        His mindset is one I will never understand. Even he admits that doing things on the computer was easier, but still did it offline. I could MAYBE see doing hard-copy offline verification of data entry quality if that was the method that made things easier to see errors, but writing things on paper and entering? Oh no. Soooooooo many more opportunities for errors.

      5. Dust Bunny*

        My mild-tempered sixtysomething former supervisor (retired recently) would have strangled this guy.

      6. Nea*

        He reminds me of the guy I’ve crossed paths with a couple of times in my career. In this case he did believe in copy paste – because he copied and pasted every single document to cross his path from whatever platform it was in to his personal favorite software. Which was not MS Word or Open Office or any of the standards.

        It’s a fairly niche piece of software – niche enough that he gets credit for being an expert in it (he wrote a book), and also niche enough that any company who wants to hire him has to buy it for him. Because he absolutely point blank REFUSES to work in any other word processor. Claims he can’t learn ’em.

          1. Nea*

            Last time I worked in an office with him, the boss was very impressed that he’d written a book.

            But then, the boss was a bit like LW2’s coworker – she wanted everything printed out, editors to mark it up in red, and then send it back to typesetters to fix. That whole office was straight out of the 19th Century.

          1. Nea*

            Congratulations, I’ve never heard of that one.

            Mind you, if it wasn’t for this guy I’d’ve never heard of Interleaf either.

      7. Nanani*

        On top of the extra time and hassle, that guy’s manual method is how you get a lot of unforced errors introduced by human typos. Bad practice all the way down.

      8. Cat Tree*

        When I was an intern about 15 years ago, we had this one occasional task that required taking the average of a long list of numbers. My supervisor typed them all into a calculator, then completely re-did it to check his work (and did it again if they didn’t match up). I transcribed the data into Excel and used the average function, then double-checked my work by comparing the transcribed values to the raw data. My supervisor thought this was some kind of sorcery and insisted that I was just being careless when I got it done much faster than he did. Being an intern, I had zero capital to spend on this. He was also an extreme micromanager so he refused to give me more work when he expected this to take all afternoon. We had short cube walls so I had to get really creative about looking busy while I was bored to tears. I did not apply for a permanent position there after graduation.

    5. Beth*

      I don’t see any reson to keep her as an employee or contractor or anything else. How did she even get hired in the first place?

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        She probably got hired without anyone realizing she had that weird quirk. Unless someone asked her in an interview if she was comfortable reading things on the computer screen or needed to print everything out, how would they know? And who would think to ask such a question?

        I find it a lot harder to understand why they’ve kept her on for however long it’s been, and why they are letting her keep doing this. Her manager, be it Op#3 or someone else, needs to put their foot down, imo.

    6. Amethystmoon*

      The employee in #2 reminds me of an older coworker who kept working until she was in her early 70’s. I once tried to teach her how to copy and paste. It did not go well. She finally retired this year because of COVID, but printed everything until the end.

      Note; I’m not saying all older people don’t know computers, I have a 93-year-old cousin who sent me a couple of emails this year.

    7. Hermione Danger*

      I think people are missing that the employee in LW2’s situation is a contractor. Aren’t the rules different for someone who’s not an employee? I don’t think you are required to make all of those accommodations for a contractor, and though IANAL, couldn’t some of this blur the lines in ways a company shouldn’t? Also, if she’s a contractor who is also a problem in other areas as well, just don’t use her any more.

    8. Heffalump*

      Her idea that the company should fly her all over the map certainly isn’t as egregious/abusive as the manager who complained about their employee’s “disrespect” over the paycheck snafu, but it’s just about as out of touch.

    9. CoveredinBees*

      I got a previous job because the person hired in the previous round of hiring refused to do “all that computer stuff” and would just have an assistant or colleague do those things for her. This was a two person department in a small non-profit. There were no assistants and the one colleague had a different (and already burdensome) workload of their own. There was no way around it, especially because a notable part of her job included online research, writing proposals, and exchanging emails with funders. Whenever I see basic computer skills listed on a job where that should have been a given , I wonder if she or someone else like her had necessitated including this.

      I find it easier to check my own writing for typos and to read academic papers when printed out, but that doesn’t impact my work or anyone else’s. It just meant I would burn through my print credits in college until I got my own printer.

      1. Blue Eagle*

        My Dad had a dream about when he would die. And then he died 5 years earlier – – – so dreams do not predict the future, even for your own self.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Yes! My then-best friend (not even an employer) called me a month before my wedding to tell me she had a dream that I would get pregnant with twins, become mentally unstable, and my husband would take them and leave me. I had no idea how to respond to that phone call, but when she realized I didn’t take her seriously, she didn’t show at the wedding. Been married four years, no kids yet, but damn if that didn’t short circuit a long friendship.

      1. Hacker For Hire*

        Your then-best-friend showed horrible judgement there. It’s good that you’re not in contact anymore.

        LW3: ” I do actually kind of want to warn him.” Warn him about what? I’s only a dream.

        1. DrunkAtAWedding*

          She’s probably heard those stories we’ve all heard about someone who had a bad feeling and told a relative not to get on a plane and then the plane crashed. Which is also why I think Alison’s logic doesn’t hold up, because she ignored that possibility. I don’t think the OP should tell him, I just don’t think those are the only three possible scenarios. The “I narrowly avoided death because someone had a weird feeling” must be at least as established as the “I couldn’t avoid the prophecy because fate” trope.

          1. Person from the Resume*

            “Logic doesn’t hold up” because Alison ignored the possibility that the dream was an legitimate premonition??? No. Premonitions aren’t real so you don’t consider the possibility that they are.

            1. alienor*

              I think when premonitions do come true, it’s because there was already something in the real world that the person’s subconscious turned into a “feeling.” If Uncle Ernie goes on a hunting trip with his friends every autumn, and his niece dreams that someone drops their gun and kills Ernie by accident and then it happens, it’s not because the niece saw the future, it’s because a lot of 60-year-old men drinking and then running around in the woods with shotguns is a situation where that might happen.

              1. quill*

                Not to mention subconscious social vibes that we get and ignore in the face of politeness. If you have a dream that Susan’s fiancee Eric will leave her at the altar, and he later calls off their engagement, it’s less likely that you’ve prognosticated but that you were picking up on his lack of committment to the relationship.

            2. Ellie*

              Sure, but even if you believe that they can be, there’s nothing actionable here. If she’d dreamed he died in a plane crash, he could potentially avoid taking a trip that day, but just a general premonition of death doesn’t leave you with a lot of options. You could decide to stay home and then choke on your morning toast.

              If you knew that the recipient was particularly open to premonitions and so forth, then maybe you could say something. But otherwise, you’re creating a lot of stress for no reward. And look, I’ve heard of people making real predictions that did turn out to be true, but for every one of those, there’s more that turned out to be nothing. Predicting out 3 years would be quite a feat.

          2. Colette*

            Lots of people have retroactive bad feelings, and lots of people dream about bad stuff that never happens. It’s not like the OP dreamed that the employee was going to fall into a vat of alligators and die on that date – in which case the employee could avoid alligator vats for one day and be OK. Just a general feeling that someone is going to die is not actionable. She could avoid the alligator vat tour that day and slip in the shower, for example.

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              I just dreamed that I was on a trip to Bosnia and had unwittingly booked myself into a really crappy casino hotel, I couldn’t find my rooms (apparently I booked 2 – rooms 109 and 133), was super embarrassed when my Bosnian friend came to meet me that I was saying in such an awful place, and even with his assistance we still couldn’t find either room. None of this dream is going to make me avoid visiting Bosnia when I get a chance.

              1. UKDancer*

                You definitely should visit Bosnia. It’s a beautiful country and Sarajevo is a lot of fun to visit. Do not let dreams put you off going as it’s worth a visit.

                1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

                  It is 100% on my list of “must see” places, especially because my friend lives there. Sadly the Panini has derailed travel plans. And I’m 99.99999999999% certain no casino hotel in the world could achieve the level of WTF?????????? my dream came up with (and if there was, I might just have to stay in it for the stories :) )

                2. Miss Muffet*

                  Agree! one of my fave destinations and “when i was in bosnia” is a great conversation piece!
                  I often have those can’t-find-my-room dreams – usually i’m back in the dorms (which of course look nothing like the actual dorms I lived in approx 100 years ago)… must mean we’re needing something that is out of reach or something like that!

                3. Botanist*

                  I can’t reply directly to Gumption but I think I’m going to have to call the pandemic the Panini now.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              You could stay home hiding under your bed and die when a meteor came through the roof. If only you hadn’t tried to escape fate…

            3. Artemesia*

              and since everyone IS going to die some premonitions will coincide with disaster. This doesn’t make them anything but woo. I would really wonder about the motives of someone who tells a bride about to marry or someone starting a job or whatever some ugly premonition designed to make them feel bad about what they are doing.

              1. Observer*

                I would really wonder about the motives of someone who tells a bride about to marry or someone starting a job or whatever some ugly premonition designed to make them feel bad about what they are doing.

                Definitely! In Teekane’s case, it seems to me that the former friend was trying to break up the marriage for some reason.

            4. Anonymous pineapple*

              I just finished reading The Immortal it’s, so option 5 would be that coworker inadvertently brings about her own death because she thinks she only has x time to live and makes reckless choices

          3. ecnaseener*

            I might agree with you if the dream was specific about how he would die, so he would know what to avoid if he was worried. What is anyone supposed to do with just “you’ll die on this day”? Try not to have a heart attack?

          4. Observer*

            My then-best friend (not even an employer) called me a month before my wedding to tell me she had a dream that I would get pregnant with twins, become mentally unstable, and my husband would take them and leave me. I had no idea how to respond to that phone call, but when she realized I didn’t take her seriously, she didn’t show at the wedding

            Are you SERIOUSLY claiming that this dream might actually be foretelling the future?!

            Regardless, though, Allison is right. Because the outcome of the OP telling their employee is STILL only one of the 3 that she outlined. See, even if the dream were truly a portent of things to come, what could the employee do about it? Nothing – there is NOTHING about how the employee could escape their death in this “prophecy”. Thus, there is simply NO chance that the employee thinks “Hm, maybe I should change my plans.” They are still going to react in one of the ways that Allison lays out.

            1. KayDeeAye*

              I don’t think that’s what Teekanee is saying at all! That’s what the “friend” believed, apparently, though I question how good a friend she actually was. Who but a bossy jerk would skip the wedding of a good friend for this reason?

              1. Observer*

                Oh gosh – I seem to have pasted in the wrong text or nested incorrectly.

                What I wanted to say to Teekenee is that I suspect that the ex-friend was trying to break up the marriage. What I have here was intended as a reply to the person who said that Allison’s reply was wrong because it didn’t take into consideration that the the OP’s dream might have been a legitimate premonition.

          5. Antilles*

            “She’s probably heard those stories we’ve all heard about someone who had a bad feeling and told a relative not to get on a plane and then the plane crashed. ”
            I feel like this is primarily selection bias though. For every plane crash (only one per four million flights!), there are thousands of times that someone was nervous and nothing happened. But you don’t remember all those times, you only remember the one time you were nervous and it ended up real.
            I’ll also note that almost every single one of these stories I’ve ever heard/read is retroactive – not “I warned him via text message ahead of time that AirlineX was due for a crash” where there’s a demonstrated and clear warning of danger. Instead, it’ll be a vague feeling that only gets brought up after-the-fact.

            1. alienor*

              Yeah, I hate flying and pretty much every time I have to do it, I spend the week beforehand feeling strongly that I’m about to die. If I skipped the flight every time that happened, I’d never go anywhere.

              1. Tuesday*

                Yeah if weird feelings were prophesies, I’d have planes crashing to the ground all over the place. I hate flying.

          6. pancakes*

            I’ve told one of those stories here, about my mom insisting that my stepdad avoid a certain intersection on their wedding day and take a slightly longer route instead. There was indeed a big accident resulting in at least one fatality there right around the time they would’ve been passing through. My mom also had an aunt who would dream about walking up to houses to see the numbers, remember them long enough to buy lottery tickets, and consistently win small-ish amounts (a few hundred dollars here and there, no massive jackpots). That said, I mostly don’t believe there’s anything to this stuff, and the dream here is so vague there’s nothing the guy could do about it, short of taking care not to exist on that day. Which would be beyond ridiculous.

            I agree with what alienor said, too. I don’t know the intersection my mom insisted on avoiding well enough to say for sure, but of course it’s possible she had a bad feeling about it because it’s unusually dangerous for some reason. The lotto numbers are a little weird, but I would expect someone who frequently buys tickets to win something now and then.

          7. Observer*

            She’s probably heard those stories we’ve all heard about someone who had a bad feeling and told a relative not to get on a plane and then the plane crashed. Which is also why I think Alison’s logic doesn’t hold up, because she ignored that possibility

            Are you SERIOUSLY claiming that this dream might actually be foretelling the future?!

            Regardless, though, Allison is right. Because the outcome of the OP telling their employee is STILL only one of the 3 that she outlined. See, even if the dream were truly a portent of things to come, what could the employee do about it? Nothing – there is NOTHING about how the employee could escape their death in this “prophecy”. Thus, there is simply NO chance that the employee thinks “Hm, maybe I should change my plans.” They are still going to react in one of the ways that Allison lays out.

          8. Cold Fish*

            Yeah, you could cheat fate but it just opens up a whole list of additional problems (I’ll age myself a little to bring up Final Destination and it’s sequels. I’d much rather die in a plane crash then some elaborate bathroom mishap.)

            Right before Thanksgiving I had a very vivid dream about a co-worker. Don’t remember the specifics now but nothing bad (like they won some money or something and couldn’t give me a ride to work.) So far, no changes in staffing here but it would be great if it came true. They are good people :)

      2. UKDancer*

        That shows really terrible judgement. I mean I dream weird things and sometimes my friends / colleagues feature in my dreams. But I don’t tend to tell them about it. I mean last week I dreamt that I was in a maze looking for one friend and when I found her she had turned into a monster and was eating Nigel Farage on toast. Dreams are often weird and don’t make sense.

        Sometimes mine are also very vivid (especially under lockdown when I had really odd and vivid dreams) and I wake up and have to reassure myself that it didn’t happen (especially I regularly dream of showing up to work naked without realising it and everyone looking at me). On those nights it can take 5 minutes to realise something was a dream and didn’t actually happen.

        The point is you keep them to yourself or write them down in a dream journal. You don’t tell people about featuring in them.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          LOL so true. Unless it’s to make them laugh at how weird dreams are. Like finally having a celebrity crush to show up in a dream but as your optometrist.

        2. bamcheeks*

          I really wonder how quickly LW wrote this letter! I have occasionally had really intense dreams which have taken me a long time to shake, but by a “long time” I mean 6-10 hours– I definitely know that thing of spending a morning thinking, “but I must DO SOMETHING about that dream”, but in my experience, by the evening of the same day, it feels much less urgent as the emotions connected to it fade and you start to realise the bizarre inconsistencies and that it was just a dream. By the second or third day, it’s impossible to remember why it felt so urgent. I wonder how LW felt by the time Alison answered it!

        3. Dust Bunny*

          I’ve dreamed all sorts of bizarre and sometimes terrifying things and so far exactly zero of them have come even partly true.

          This is one of those letters when I’m in awe that the LW even had to ask. NO! No, you should not do that!

        4. Meep*

          I wouldn’t call it “premonition” but I sometimes have vague but specific enough dreams about events before they happen and make note of it in a dream journal (I am a lucid and vivid dreamer mind you so I remember quite well). I don’t say it is premonition because as haughty and cocky as this sounds, I have a feeling I am just very good at reading people. Whenever that happens I wait to be ~certain~ before my friend and I can laugh it off. Like “so Susie, you are never going to believe this. I had a dream last night that you were going to spontaneously get an orange cat today.”

          If it is morbid, I keep my mouth shut and pray it doesn’t happen. (Thankfully, at most, it is typically a light “maiming” like a toe stub.)

      3. Kk181*

        My husband actually does have only prophetic dreams. If he dreams something, we pay attention to it. He has had a dream about hitting a large deer and he was able to prevent it when he was in that exact situation thr following day. He had a dream that someone driving a white car (same model as his best friend’s) slid on some ice and crashed in a freak snow storm. His best friend took his advice seriously and didn’t go out in the freak snow storm that happened the following week, but unfortunately another one of his friends had the same model car and did end up crashing fatally. That being said, he’s never dreamed a date like that either, so even among psychic dreaming people that would be considered strange.
        As for the question, we work in a family -owned business of 4 people. I would absolutely tell somebody especially if I dreamed enough of the situation surrounding their demise that they could feasibly prevent it.

        1. CorgisAndCats*

          You are welcome to tell your employees your dreams but be prepared for it to make them uncomfortable and, as Alison says above, make them question your judgement. My problem with your examples is that these are unfortunately extremely common occurrences. Deer run out on the road and sadly, people have horrible car accidents, especially in the winter. The problem with psychic dreams is how often dreams don’t end up happening but when one does happen to come true then there is a confirmation bias that psychic dreaming has occurred.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I have avoided hitting deer with no psychic warnings. I’ll go so far as to say the steps taken when a deer pops up to the side of the road are identical with and without psychic warnings.

            1. CorgisAndCats*

              I take extra precautions to avoid hitting possums. I absolutely love the little creatures (so ugly but so cool) so when driving at night I always go slowly and look for eyes flashing low to the ground. I don’t want to hit a deer either though. Let’s definitely keep taking steps to avoid any creatures!

              1. quill*

                If it is about cat sized but DEFINITELY is not a cat, slow way down! It may be the only marsupial of north america.

              2. AstralDebris*

                Aww I think possums are kind of adorable. Do you ever watch MEpearlA’s possum videos on Youtube? Endless entertainment.

          2. Dust Bunny*

            Also, since he’s probably seen that friend’s car a lot so it’s not really that surprising that it would show up in a dream. A lot of the stuff I dream about includes familiar things, because . . . of course? That’s the material your brain has to work with.

            1. Anononon*

              Exactly. I’m willing to buy that some people are a lot more subconsciously intuitive than they realize and pick up little indications of future events that are then focused on in dreams (such as, say, a news report playing in the background about a higher chance for snow over the next several weeks), but that’s not precognition. There’s also a ton of confirmation bias happening.

              This falls into the same category as fake psychics who are great at reading people and thus can get people to believe that they (the psychics) are indeed talking with Great Aunt Mildred.

              1. AstralDebris*

                Great Aunt Mildred, who has crossed from the great beyond to tell you that 1) her name starts with the letter M, 2) she died from something in the chest or head area, and 3) she thinks you should call your mother, unless your mother has passed on in which case she was actually saying that your mother is also here! ‘Mother’ starts with an M too, dontcha know.

                1. Anononon*

                  Oh, she died due to blood loss from a hand amputation? Well, the blood left her body due to her heart pumping in her chest.

          3. Meep*

            This is where I am at. I have (sadly) been able to “predict” when all of my childhood pets are going to pass within a day or so. I will also have dreams when a friend or family member is distraught alerting me to talk to them. I could say I am psychic or have a prophetic vision, but I have a feeling I am just plain intuitive.

            Her husband can be the same. For example, he could see the weather report, internalize there will be a snowstorm and then dream of Steve getting into a wreck because Steve is not a very careful driver even when there isn’t a snowstorm.

            Don’t get me wrong. I believe in premonitions, but I believe there is a scientific basis for them and some people are just more “in-tune” to their surroundings.

            1. quill*

              I always know when my mom calls to tell me someone we know died, but it’s something in her tone of voice when she says hello that I can’t describe. Likewise, I’ve had a few “oh, THIS is when it’s going to go badly” feelings about death regarding both animals and people, but I think this is probably because I have a fairly functional knowledge of when medical stuff is very risky. (And sometimes it hasn’t happened. My Grandma stuck around through three of these scares.)

        2. Birch*

          I understand that this means a lot to you, but you need to realize that not everybody subscribes to the same worldview. You can’t take this kind of thing as fact, as much as you personally believe in it. It’s like religion in that way–personal belief systems are personal, and need to not assume that others share them. If you really feel the need to intervene or give some advice to help prevent a bad situation, you should frame it more neutrally/obscure the source–that you had read something or heard something about people who drive white cars being more at risk during snowstorms, or that you had been reminded to watch out for deer because it’s deer season.

        3. Nanani*

          No he doesn’t.
          I can believe that he believes he does, but he doesn’t. Because prophetic dreams aren’t real.

          “Don’t go out in freak snowstorms” and “knowing how to deal with deer in the road” are normal common things for people who live in places that have snow and deer.

          Don’t tell people that aren’t your spouse your dreams about them, please.

          1. Loulou*

            This is such a huge and inappropriate leap from “don’t tell YOUR EMPLOYEE your dreams about them.” Do you not see that?

        4. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

          Grew up in a deeply superstitious family, and listened to the telling about one auntie having a dream that helped prevent a cousin’s death. That being said, I still wouldn’t say anything to the employee. Even if you assume the dream was prophetic vs a normal but unusually vivid dread 1) it only says when they die not how so no way to prevent it. And who really wants to know exactly when they might die? 2) Deep superstition in our family about not saying bad/negative things out loud for fear of causing them to happen. So if I dreamed you were going to die I’d stay mum for fear of giving the universe the idea. 3) Its just going to make the work place uncomfortable and HR is not paid enough $ to sort thru this kind of stuff. And LW probably doesn’t want to be know as Weird Prediction Dream Employee. Let it go LW but please do follow up the day after the predicted date.

          1. quill*

            You don’t want to be the equivalent of “Black Magic is just another occupational hazard” even when you intend to help.

        5. WantonSeedStitch*

          I have had exactly two dreams come true precisely as I dreamed them, during my teenage years. Both of them were incredibly mundane. I only remember one of them now. I dreamed I walked into my dojo for karate class, and one of my classmates who had previously studied jujutsu was practicing his old jujutsu moves with a guy I’d never seen before who was stocky with dark hair and a beard. That actually happened a few days later: the guy I’d never seen was a new student who’d just started that night, who had also previously studied jujutsu. As prophecies go, pretty boring!

        6. KayDeeAye*

          I’m sorry to disagree with you, Kk181, because I can tell that you mean this kindly, but you would be in the wrong. Leaving aside the whole question of whether such premonitions are valid or not (I say “not,” but this is something people have different opinions on), what you would basically be doing is giving really *personal* and *unsolicited* advice to an employee. Would you give an employee unsolicited advice about how to handle their spouse? How much they should pay for a car? Whether they should have children? Then why would you give them advice on whether they should get on a plane or whatever?

          Plus, there’s the fact that you are introducing a very personal belief into the workplace. Not a good idea no matter what that belief might be. If I had a boss tell me anything like this, I would be uncomfortable around them pretty much forever. No kidding!

          No matter your evidence or your motives, it’s intrusive. Don’t do it, please.

      4. tamarack & fireweed*

        Good lord.

        There are a few friends and co-workers who, I believe, know what a dream is, and to whom in idle chit-chat I might mention a recent phase of chaotic dreams, and even that they may have made an appearance. But given how often people turn out to go all weird about these things it’s good to remember to keep these things vague and edit out stuff that might disturb someone.

      5. Beth*

        Yeah . . . I’m remembering a former friend who chose to tell me her sudden psychic insight into the terrible things my father had done in his previous life that had caused the negative karma that resulted in his early death in this life. She would have done better to keep her insight to herself.

        1. UKDancer*

          I think in general one should keep psychic premonitions, insights and what you see about peoples’ auras to oneself. I did have a co-worker who said they struggled to work with me because of my unpleasant coloured aura. I am not sure what they expected me to do about it.

          I think by and large a good rule for work is only to tell people about things they can easily fix (spinach in the teeth, a post it note attached stuck to your arm accidentally). Don’t tell them about things they can do nothing about, it’s only likely to make things worse.

      6. Observer*

        My then-best friend (not even an employer) called me a month before my wedding to tell me she had a dream that I would get pregnant with twins, become mentally unstable, and my husband would take them and leave me. I had no idea how to respond to that phone call, but when she realized I didn’t take her seriously, she didn’t show at the wedding

        It sounds like she was trying to break you up for some reason.

      7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Now I have to give thanks for my best friend, who only told me “I had a lesbian dream about you”. Was awkward at the time, but if she’d still be alive, we’d both be single now and who knows? As this friend has been gone for close to 20 years, it is now one of the adorable memories of her that I cherish. But honestly, who takes dreams as seriously as your ex-friend and, oh, LW? For all we know, LW3’s bad dream was caused by something bad they’d eaten for dinner that night. Our dreams are not prophecies or messages from above, they are literal bodily functions that, while they may contain a message about our physical or mental health, have nothing at all to do with the people appearing in our dreams.

        “but when she realized I didn’t take her seriously, she didn’t show at the wedding”

        I’m so glad this person is no longer your friend. And relieved that the friendship ended over a dream when it could’ve been something more serious. She full-on showed herself as someone who cannot be relied on.

  2. Heidi*

    I really want to know what LW3 was planning to say. “Good morning. I had a dream about you. You should start using your accumulated PTO now.”

    Now, I can sort of understand wanting to tell someone about a vivid dream, but the only halfway decent way to do it would be to wait until long after the deadline had passed.

    1. Turingtested*

      I had a vivid dream last night that one of my coworkers revealed he left his last job after he challenged a new coworker to a “street fight” as a physical challenge, not an angry altercation. If you knew the guy it would be funny because he’s not the type to horse around.

      There’s no way in hell I’m telling him. Sure I think it’s funny but he might not. And he might be creeped out I’m dreaming of him.

      If it were something serious like his death I definitely wouldn’t say anything. Just too many chances for misunderstanding.

      1. OftenOblivious*

        I binge watched too much Walking Dead and then had I dream that I was killing zombies to clear a building in the zombie apocalypse. One of my coworkers was there in my “crew” and when I woke up in the morning, I was all, “Oh boy, I should tell Fergus.” After breakfast, I reminded myself that telling people you dreamed about them is often weird and quickly uncomfortable (good friends/family, sure). I think he probably would have been amused? But better off keeping it to myself.

        My zombie killing weapon was a large kitchen knife. Not sure why my brain didn’t pick a cool signature weapon for me. Oh well.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          A large kitchen knife is exactly the kind of weapon I usually have in dreams. Probably because I spend a lot more time holding a large kitchen knife than, say, a sword or axe or gun.

    2. tamarack & fireweed*

      Yeah indeed, this would be the weirdest thing. Initiating a conversation with a co-worker based on a dream would be wildly inappropriate and unprofessional. And then factor in potential superstition…

      The only way I could imagine this coming up in conversation would be in meandering chit-chat.

      – Gah, so much stress recently! My whole daily rhythm of eating/sleeping/working/resting is off!
      – Yeah me too! Especially sleeping. I’m really struggling with insomnia.
      – That sucks! Me, it’s dreams. I have the most outlandish dreams recently. Sometimes people even die in them. I guess that’s a way of my subconscious to warn me? And I know they have to do with our stress here because random people from work show up in them?
      – Really?! Who? And are they dying too?
      – [OK HERE YOU HAVE TO START EDITING AND NOT SAY “yeah, you!”] Oh, it’s all confused and fuzzy. I couldn’t really tell.

      But that would be unplanned. You don’t set up a one-on-one with a co-worker over a dream.

      1. tamarack & fireweed*

        (Also, even this conversation I would only have with a small number of co-workers I’m reasonably sure or re: being on the same wavelength and not weirded out. Not a report/intern/boss…)

      2. UKDancer*

        Yes. I did have a chat with some of my colleagues over a zoom tea in lockdown when someone mentioned they were having incredibly vivid / recurring dreams in lockdown of the sort they’ve never had before and a few of us said we were too.

        Mine tended to be that I was locked in my ex-boyfriend’s front room and couldn’t get out and couldn’t escape. I think this is probably my worry about lockdown and Covid manifesting. I’ve not had it when we’ve not been in lockdown.

        We didn’t go into detail on what anyone was dreaming about, we were just pleased to feel it was something others were experiencing.

      3. Not your typical admin*

        This! A good friend told me last week she dreamed I was pregnant. We each have 4 kids who happen to be the same ages, so in her dream that meant she was going to have to have another baby. We had a good laugh since I can’t have any more. I can’t imagine how weird I would feel if a coworker told me I was going to die.

      4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I have a lot of dreams where routine stuff gets derailed by really annoying, theoretically possible mishaps and they often involve coworkers trying to help (or occasionally hindering) trying to solve the problem. I only share these dreams when my brain coughs up some solution that is funny and ridiculously in character for the coworkers I am closest to who I know would also find it funny.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Hahaha! at the PTO comment.

      “Have you looked into the supplemental life insurance our company offers? You know our EAP can help you with your will free of charge!”

    4. Blue Eagle*

      I once had a dream where a co-worker and I were a team on the Amazing Race. Not sure whether or not she was an Amazing Race fan but I never told the dream to anyone at work and never made it on to the Amazing Race. Just because something happened, you don’t need to blab about it.


      I mean, I appreciated it when one of my colleagues some years back told me she had a dream where I was playing “Sweet Child O’ Mine” on the piano with my toes.

      But (a) it was grad school, so informality and weirdness were pretty par for the course, and (b) it would actually be so rad if that dream came true.

    6. Kiggles*

      I dreamed that a punched a colleague in the face a couple of days ago. She’s a good friend, so I sent her a message to tell her and apologise! She thought it was funny. It depends on your relationship with the person and ehatbyiunlnow about their sense of humour.

  3. Roxy*

    Re: LW3
    I once had a manager tell me about a dream I was in, and though it was 100% friendly and neutral and not sexual in any way, it still made me slightly uncomfortable because it felt so intimate. I didn’t particularly want to imagine myself in his dream. It’s been many many years and it still pops into my head.

    1. MistOrMister*

      I regularly end up dreaming about people I know. Never anything sexual. Sometimes I’ll tell them about it, sometimes not. I think it comes down to knowing your audience.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        I call that “central casting” – my brain needs a character in a dream, so it grabs someone I know in real life. I rarely tell anyone about it, since the dreams don’t tend to make sense even to me. (I will sometimes tell my husband if I dreamed something amusing about one of our cats. But only the amusing cat part – not the rest of the dream.)

    2. Sleepless*

      I hate hearing about people’s dreams! They’re so random and just not very interesting, and people do dream that people they know die pretty often. I can’t imagine telling anybody that. The only dream I’ve ever had that I told people was when a loud ambient noise filtered into my dream as a very similar noise we hear at work sometimes, and I thought my coworkers would think it was funny (they did).

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think there’s a fundamental disconnect where to the dreamer, it feels So. Real. They remember the dream like they remember real events. To outsiders, it’s weird that you keep harping on how you woke up and went into the next room and it was your old boss’s office and that means something, right?

        I think Roxy has a good point re intimacy.

    3. Purple Penguin*

      When I was in high school, maybe 15yo or so, my english teacher pulled me aside and said she dreamed I told her I was pregnant, was everything okay? I was a super-nerdy very-introvert, and while I was pleased to have maybe-boyfriend with whom I sometimes held hands, really it was all about having someone to sit with on the bus – so this was quietly hilarious and just went to show how out of touch this particular teacher was.

    4. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

      A year or two ago, I had a co-worker (with whom I was cordial, but definitely not close) tell me, “I had a dream where you and I were interviewing for the same job. We agreed to keep it confidential, but then you outed me at work!”

      I was stunned and didn’t know how to react. It really felt like she was accusing me of betraying a confidence, and I was hurt and insulted at the insinuation, even though it had no basis in reality.

      Spoiler alert – her social skills were poor in a number of areas, and she frequently displayed a lack of boundaries. Additionally, she seemed to have a penchant for monitoring me, which made me uncomfortable on a regular basis. She is no longer with the organization, and when she left, everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

  4. Zoe*

    Yeah #4 you can’t do that because optics. It’s not logical but there it is. Our randomizer spin wheel on Zoom meetings now. The person who literally just clicks the ‘spin’ button got chosen and she was like ‘oh I can’t take it’ and like 10 of us had to be like ‘a machine picked it’ before she would let herself win.

    1. Coffee Cup*

      Am I the only one who thinks the coworker has overreacted so much that it overrides any optics etc.? It’s just ridiculous to react that way, I find.

      1. anonymous73*

        I don’t think the toddler-like overreaction of the employee overrides the OP participating in the contest. If you’re in charge of any type of judged contest (even if you’re not a judge), it’s appropriate to not participate. Granted this is minor, but it’s a conflict of interest.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I do agree it’s ridiculous.
        but also, if you create the contest, you can’t compete, because of the optics.
        If nothing else, it looks like you picked the topic because you knew you could win (or be a contender).

        You can participate, but you can’t compete. And though you don’t get the satisfaction of winning, you DO get the satisfaction of everyone saying what great decorations you did.

    2. Snow Globe*

      I don’t know, I don’t think it is just optics. I’d be pretty surprised if the person who planned a contest (as part of their job) participated in it, then won a prize. The other person’s reaction was way, way over the top, but I bet a lot of people in the department were slightly miffed about it. It’s like if the company president wins the door prize – that’s just not something that should happen.

      1. Colette*

        Yeah, agreed. I think the OP could have participated in the decorating, but made it clear she wasn’t part of the contest, and that would have been fine. But winning a prize in a contest you made the rules for is … off.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yeah. It does seem like you could decorate your cube, garner a sprinkling of “Gosh, are you in the contest?” admiring comments, and go on, $15 poorer but with no sense that you set up the rules to favor the design you had already chosen.

          1. SomebodyElse*

            We used to do this kind of thing in the team I was one of 3 managers of. We participated, including being judged by the team. Typically the judging would be 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place (with prizes). If a manager placed in the top they would still get the mention as 2nd or whatever, but the prizes would be awarded to the top 3 non-managers. So in other words 4th place got the 3rd place prize.

            It seemed like a good compromise to have everyone participate but kept the prizes to the non-manager team-members.

        2. OftenOblivious*

          Yeah, coworker’s reaction was too extreme, but I think the OP would have been better off to participate, but not be part of the contest.

        3. KayDeeAye*

          I agree that the OP should donate the money this time (a food pantry maybe?) and in the future not participate in a contest they helped organize. I don’t think anybody cheated or anything, but it doesn’t look right, that’s for sure.

          I hope they figure out something besides giving the money to the whiny coworker. Because come on, her behavior is ridiculous and should not be encouraged.

      2. Artemesia*

        Or the CEO’s kids at the holiday party win the big tech prizes. Never have employee lotteries at year end parties in which the management ‘competes’ with ordinary workers for the good stuff. No one ever believes that somehow the canned hams went to the workers and the TVs, computers, and fancy ear phones just happened to be drawn for the C suite and their families.

        1. Who Am I*

          Reminds me of a local outdoor music festival I went to with friends about 25 years ago. There was a raffle and every single raffle winner was on the event committee. Every. Single. One. (But it wasn’t rigged – oh no! – they didn’t want anyone to think that! – they were all as shocked and surprised as the rest of us that they won!)

  5. LavaLamp(she/her)*

    I had a coworker tell me once she had a dream about me getting pregnant. In front of the whole office. I may have said that, that would be very difficult because I have medical issues that will make carrying a human more difficult for me.

    For the love of god; keep your dreams to yourself/your support network. I do not want to know what dreams people have had about my reproductive organs

    1. MistOrMister*

      I had a dream,that 2 coworkers and I (that I was friends with ouside of work) were in gym class on parachute day and I was flabbergasted to see them wearing matching flannel outfits and not having told me so I could as well. Then we had to partner up and obviously they chose each other. I told them about it in one on one conversation just because I thought it was so amusing. I definitely never share any questionable coworker dreams though.

      1. mreasy*

        I mean you had to tell them so they’d give you advance warning about the next pajama day! I actually had a dumb dream about two coworkers last night (we were arguing about drinking milk) which I do think I’ll share.

        1. MistOrMister*

          Yes, exactly! They needed to know not to leave me out next time around. I enjoy matching flannel as much as the next person! :)

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I told a coworker I had a dream that she solved a particularly thorny coding problem with swords a la a 1960-70s samurai movie battle. That one was too good not to share and at least it was work related.

        1. CalypsoSummer*

          I’ve occasionally fantasized about giving my misbehaving computer a good whack with a samurai sword — or a cinder block — or a 2-ton work truck — but I’ve never considered solving coding issues that way. Interesting technique!

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            I low key wish it was a way to solve coding issues. I’d love a reason to buy and use a sword

    2. BlueSwimmer*

      This happened to me at work, too, while I was struggling with infertility but in my early 40s and starting to realize a baby was never going to happen for me. My direct-report made a point to seek me out to tell me about the dream.
      She had just had a second baby and laughed like the thought of me with a baby was so amusing and outlandish. It wasn’t at all like she was telling me to have hope that it would happen (I kept my fertility struggles to myself) but like it was just so funny and unlikely that she had to share. It was so unnecessarily hurtful and I’ve never looked at her the same way since.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Oh I had one of her too. Told me in great detail how’d she had a vision dream of me being pregnant and happy and having a beautiful baby this year.

      Err no. While I still have the organs necessary to do that I do not have any will for kids. Told her that given most of my meds have a ‘do NOT get pregnant’ warning on them it would be an unsuccessful idea.

      She just smiled and said ‘we’ll see…’.

      1. Imaginary Friend*

        Gross. Some people need to learn how to apologize. (I mean, how hard is it to say, “Whoops, sorry, hey look it’s Sir Patrick Stewart!”)

  6. Ellen Ripley*

    For LW 4, perhaps a good option would be still decorating, but not being judged/in the running for winning a prize. I totally understand wanting to participate, but it does come across a little weird winning money for something you helped organize.

    1. Mangled metaphor*

      Especially if yours is the only cube _not_ decorated.
      It’s the judging that’s the issue.
      Using Alison’s example, our marketing department frequently “participate” in the events they organise – they can never win, but they have as much fun with the paper snowflakes and hand made baubles as the rest of us.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Yes, this seems like the obvious answer- if the decorating is something you enjoy, do it and have fun, but don’t take part in the competition (& if you get someone else to judge, who may not know whose desk is whose, make sure you check their list of winners before it gets announced, and if they pick you, take that out and go with the next pick)

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Right. Like, not the same thing, but when I was a student and then a counselor at a math camp in high school and college, we had a Mr and Miss [Camp] pageant. We’d select six pairs of campers by secret vote, who would then compete in the pageant. We also had one pair of counselors participating in the pageant, but the counselors earned no points for their performance and were not part of the contest. They were there strictly to provide entertainment, as LW4’s decorations would be.

    4. Pascall*

      This is what my boss and I did during our pumpkin decorating contest this year. We came up with the rules and gave out the supplies, as well as judged, but we still wanted to decorate a pumpkin! So we just did one separate from the contest. We couldn’t win the little prizes, which was fine, but was just as fun!

  7. Azure Jane Lunatic*

    If Ann’s thing with screens is a medical issue that can’t be resolved with simpler tactics like tuning the screen, using a daylight-aligned screen tinter like f.lux (unless it involves precise color work), trying different fonts and sizes — see if there’s an e-ink screen that’s not backlit at all that she could potentially use.

    1. Candi*

      I read about a medical condition that made it hard for the woman interviewed to see computer screens, but amber-tinted glasses helped. but she had trouble seeing book text as well, so that might not be it.

      There’s also a condition called computer vision syndrome that can occur after excessive electronic screen use. Her behavior may stem from fear of acquiring or already having it, in which case there should be reasonable accommodations that can be done.

      Make sure to make it clear that printing everything is not a reasonable accommodation in this context. That much ink and paper is expensive, and there’s the ongoing supply chain issues involving getting more.

      1. BubbleTea*

        Interesting idea – would fear of acquiring a condition fall under the ADA? Either the possible condition itself (presumably there would need to be a reason why it was more likely than average), or the fear as a disability? Obviously it doesn’t need to be covered by the ADA to try and find ways to mitigate eye strain, but it was an interesting tangent that came into my mind.

          1. Clorinda*

            I can see it . . . if you had a documented condition and you reasonably believed a particular work event would trigger an episode/make the condition worse. Otherwise definitely NO.

        1. Colette*

          I assume it would only apply if the fear itself qualified (i.e. an anxiety disorder might qualify) – but that doesn’t mean that the solution would be to only work on paper, as that might not be a reasonable accomodation.

        2. Covered in Bees*

          No. Fear of injury wouldn’t be something with the ADA. Acquiring it during employment (or being exposed to a setting where such injury was likely to occur) could get some coverage under OSHA or Workers Compensation. Unless, OSHA had existing guidelines on the topic, both would require an injury to occur first.

      2. DataGirl*

        I had to look up computer vision syndrome because I’ve never heard of it, and my eyesight has gotten much worse during the pandemic (possibly due to staring at screens 16+ hours a day).. the symptoms sound like normal office work issues: eyestrain, headache, neck and shoulder pain… nothing that would make working with screens impossible. More importantly, there are ways to counteract the symptoms, like having computer glasses, or the usual recommendations for people who sit all day- get up and walk around/look at something else every 20 minutes. So it doesn’t seem like a good reason to not use screens at all.

      3. Observer*

        Make sure to make it clear that printing everything is not a reasonable accommodation in this context.

        I agree.

        That much ink and paper is expensive, and there’s the ongoing supply chain issues involving getting more.

        But if this is your argument, you are going to fall flat. Even now, the supply chain is not THAT messed up, and this letter is pre-pandemic.

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

    OP2 (printing design work) – am I reading correctly that she has made these complaints in meetings with clients?! (“five or six times in every meeting” and has “derailed” client meetings)

    Regardless of if there’s a medical/accommodations need here – that behaviour with clients isn’t acceptable and is the piece to focus on first along with the “is there a medical aspect” piece.

    1. WellRed*

      This is the part that gets me. I hate it when coworkers derail mtg. As a client paying for this service I’d be reconsidering our contract.

    2. Anonym*

      Yes, exactly. There are two very separate issues – her need or preference to print, and her unprofessional behavior and unreasonable expectations. I think you focus on the latter pieces. The printing itself is sort of a red herring (or a deus ex machina… or a macguffin… I don’t know the right trope name for this) despite being linked to the other issues; that is, it does indeed exist, but it’s not actually the problem. (That’s a red herring isn’t it?)

      1. Covered in Bees*

        Red herring is the term you’re looking for, but I disagree that it’s not a problem. It seems like it is linked to her refusal or inability to use computer-based tools in a job that needs them. Requesting to fly to another office instead of using online collaboration tools is a big problem.

    3. Artemesia*

      I wouldn’t be asking her about medical reasons either. This just tells her to make something up. She needs to be told the job is digital and needs to be done on screen. IF there was a legitimate medical issue it might or might not be able to be accommodated, but you don’t start by suggesting it. I don’t believe that is the issue and as her boss would require her to have established that in order to not do the job properly.

      The whining and derailing meetings is in itself a fireable offense; I don’t understand why her manager didn’t shut that down the first time it happened.

      1. Observer*

        IF there was a legitimate medical issue it might or might not be able to be accommodated, but you don’t start by suggesting it.

        That’s not correct, at least for an employee. If an employer has reason to believe that someone might need an accommodation, and they ignore that, they can get into trouble because of that. In this case, the OP’s company has reason to believe that a medical condition that might be ADA covered is at play, because she’s been complaining about not being “able” to use screens.

        Having said that, ADA or not, she can’t derail meetings and complain to clients. And flying her all over the place and printing EVERYTHING out is not a viable path, so almost certainly not a reasonable accommodation under the law.

        1. e271828*

          The Ann in the story was contractor, not an employee. I don’t think a contractor is covered by any requirement for accommodations. They’re hired to do a specific task in a specific way, and Ann was not doing that work she was contracted to do.

    4. Elenna*

      Exactly. If needed, OP can discuss whether there are reasonable medical accommodations (computer glasses, brief screen breaks, etc.), but “print everything and fly everywhere” is not a reasonable accommodation, and “complain to clients” is most definitely not a reasonable accommodation either.

  9. The Dangerous Soup*

    I have a visual disability that isn’t all that severe and I definitely prefer to print documents for myself to review them. Working in a design field where we work mostly in a digital format, it’s not that I can’t see them on screen but it can be a lot easier to see then printed out. I’m able to check them more thoroughly. Most everyone else in my office is able to review documents fairly well on a screen but I have come across other coworkers in the past who also prefer print.

    I know that for myself, doing work on a laptop means that I will work a little slower and I also can’t read text that appears too small during presentations so I print my materials ahead of time if possible or move as close to the screen as I can. Obviously we don’t know if this employee has a disability of some sort but it reminds me of my experience. It’s something you learn to not mention during job interviews or to perspective employers at all until it’s necessary. Once you mention it, employers can get nervous or concerned about your performance. At work I’ve learned to ask for larger screens as well as multiple screens and that was something they were able to provide. I’m thankful to have found a office where my visual impairment hasn’t become an issue and I’ve gotten more comfortable telling people about it.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Yeah, but presumably you don’t also pitch fits about screen usage and derail client meetings complaining about it.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Yeah, the complaints in client meetings really make me unsympathetic to Ann here. Also the complaints about tracking everything digitally, which seems like the only feasible option for a company with people in multiple locations (which should be something she knew about before taking the job).

        Needing larger screens or to print certain kinds of materials for review or reference is fine and even a nearly-entirely-digital office should be able to accommodate that. Complaining in client meetings that project tracking is done in an online system? That’s pretty beyond the pale.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          Though, reading about it again, I wonder if Ann really needs external monitors and a docking station. It would surprise me if a digital media company didn’t already provide those pretty regularly, but OP keeps referencing working on a laptop. I work more slowly on just a laptop with a touchpad and no external monitors, too! If she’s not tech-savvy, I wonder if it just hasn’t occurred to Ann that these things might help? (Which would be truly odd, I’ll grant you – surely someone would think to ask for a big monitor before a plane ticket?)

          If she’s having trouble reading text and seeing detail in a tiny laptop image of a shared screen, and can’t really keep deliverables on screen to view alongside the remote meeting software, maybe a better tech setup would help? Video calls with only one monitor can be frustrating because you can’t pull up documents very easily without minimizing the call window, and screen share/video call presentations can have font size issues.

          It’s something to offer when you talk to her, anyway, though from the letter I’m not super optimistic that it would really fix all the problems with Ann’s workflow.

        2. CalypsoSummer*

          We have someone in our organization who’s legally blind, as in unable to drive, and she has large monitors at her desk so she can enlarge the materials for review, and she does a great job. Very well thought-of in her department.

      2. turquoisecow*

        Yeah, needing to print things out as an accommodation for yourself is fine – expecting everyone else to use the same workflow you do, and then complaining when they don’t, is far less fine.

    2. New Job So Much Better*

      Laptops are harder to see– why not have her hook regular monitors up — maybe 2 or 3 so she can see everything larger at one time?

      1. Anononon*

        Yeah. I know someone who has albinism, and his eyesight is pretty bad because of it. He’s also a programmer, so he uses super large monitors and makes it work.

      2. anonymous73*

        You’re assuming this hasn’t been presented as an option.

        I think there are 2 problems here. You have an employee who is stubborn and would rather complain MANY times a day (5 to 6 times in client meetings and 8 to 10 times throughout the rest of the day – that’s a ridiculous amount of complaining) instead of working with OP to come up with a solution. And you have OP who is struggling with how to approach the employee for fear of maybe offending her if she does have a disability. But if there is a legit reason the employee needs special accommodations, she needs to speak up! And OP needs to address the constant complaining, especially in client meetings. They’re going to lose business because of her behavior.

        1. Observer*

          You have an employee who is stubborn and would rather complain MANY times a day (5 to 6 times in client meetings and 8 to 10 times throughout the rest of the day – that’s a ridiculous amount of complaining)

          Yes. That just needs to stop. Period. No accommodations relevant to this piece of it.

          And I agree that the OP needs to speak up and speak clearly. But it’s not obvious that the OP has presented these options – they keep on referring to the laptop and make no mention of offering alternatives. It’s hard to imagine that the OP would not have mentioned it if this had been offered.

          So, definitely something to think about.

        2. e271828*

          Ann was a contractor, and I can’t imagine keeping a contractor who can’t do the contracted work around. She was presumably being paid contractor rates and was demanding additional out-of-budget travel and being generally obstructive. Terminating her contract would be the best way to protect the business.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, I loathe working on laptops but our regular work computers are Surfaces, so when I’m WFH my office gave me a monitor to hook up. It’s nowhere near as good as the two large monitors I have on my office desk but it’s much, much, better than just a laptop screen.

    3. Observer*

      At work I’ve learned to ask for larger screens as well as multiple screens and that was something they were able to provide.

      That’s a very sensible accommodation for any company that does primarily digital communications.

  10. Rosie*

    The dream letter is so interesting to me in how real the letter writer felt it was. I have very vivid dreams and I feel like I’ve got better at filling them away in my head as more like films, rather than premonitions or insights. I wonder if the letter writer still feels the person ought to know!

    1. Needs Caffeine*

      I often have dreams of worst case scenarios. I guess it’s my brains way of processing underlying anxiety about big desiscions. When you’re in them it can feel so real, but if my dreams were prophetic I’d have been pregnant like 6 times, stranded in Atlanta, my parents would both be dead, my house would have a CO2 leak and also burnt down, my dog would have been hit by a car, my college would have taken back my degree, and I’d have been fired from literally every job I’ve ever had. I don’t believe that every nightmare has such obvious correlations/stressors (I was worried about a relationship when I had those pregnancy dreams, I was stressed during the home buying process etc.). But I do think it’s worth asking the question.
      Sometimes the dream is just nonsense, but sometimes it turns out that what you were actually worried about was your workload or how the people you manage view you. And you can work on those things in a concrete fashion as opposed to deciding your coworker is going to for sure die in 2024.

      1. Sans Serif*

        I shudder to think of my life if all my nightmares came true. Or my husband’s life. Or my daughter’s. Yikes.

  11. Cameron Counts*

    OP1 explicitly states that the crashers had been pushing hard for invitations earlier that day. They knew it was an invitation only event, Alison.

    And OP1, this is all on you. And I don’t believe you’re actually considering apologizing – you seem to be hoping commenters will tell you how ridiculous that would be since this was the crashers’ fault. It isn’t.

    You created a policy but you didn’t enforce it when you needed to, which is what caused this incident to happen. Move on, learn from this, and next time stand firm on your rules when it counts.

    1. I take tea*

      Try to remember next time something like this happens: you are not rude for turning away non invited guests, they are rude for trying to gate crash. It’s like people refusing to understand a soft no and forcing others to be blunt. Just be friendly: sorry guys, not this time. I do understand that it’s not easy, I hate saying no as well, but take this as a learning lesson.

    2. londonedit*

      Alison does say it’s unlikely they didn’t know, to be fair.

      I think you’re being a little harsh on OP1 here, but I agree that their actions didn’t help matters. The crashers knew it was invitation-only, they badgered for an invitation, and when they didn’t get one they thought ‘Oh, come off it. We’ll just turn up, OP1 can’t ban us from coming in’. And sure enough, OP1 let them in even though they didn’t have an invitation. Which then made a mockery of the seemingly rigid stance on invitations. Was it right for them to crash the event and then bring in more friends and then be loud and ignore the other guests? Definitely not. But I do agree that OP1 should have either politely turned them away at the door (‘Sorry, you were told several times earlier that this event is invitation only; I can’t let you in’) or accepted that by letting them in the invitation policy was basically null and void and it was most likely just inviting trouble.

    3. Sue*

      I completely disagree. These people showed up uninvited to a hosted event. That was borderline rude but they then invited a group that didn’t even know OP to this HOSTED EVENT and then were disruptive. That totally crossed all lines into rude, pushy, entitled behavior. I don’t blame OP at all for being upset. There may have been better ways to handle it in the moment but this was not OP’s fault. Who would think to say, “you can come in but don’t invite others and please don’t cause a disturbance”? These crashers acted badly and are to blame for their own actions. I don’t agree with blaming victims for not protecting themselves enough. That is ok as preventative advice but usually offensive after the fact.

      1. londonedit*

        If they’d turned up unexpectedly, I’d wholeheartedly agree, but it sounds like OP1 knew they were badgering people for invitations all day and in the end rewarded that behaviour by letting them into the event anyway. Which in their minds probably meant ‘See, all this rubbish about invitations was just a lie, you don’t need an invitation at all’. Of course they were rude and of course they shouldn’t have gatecrashed and then brought yet more people into the event. But I don’t think it’s victim blaming to say that OP1 knew these people were being weirdly insistent about invitations and that a good option would have been to a) shut them down firmly as soon as they started badgering and b) shut them down even more firmly when they turned up anyway and tried to get in.

        1. Cameron Counts*

          Thank you. Yes if we call every situation like this “victim blaming” then no one ever has to be responsible for their actions. OP1 wrote in, not the crashers, so it is only his or her actions that we’re focusing on here.

          It’s pedantic to say “but… but the crashers shouldn’t have done what they did!” Of course they shouldn’t have but most of the posts here are about others saying or doing something they shouldn’t have. The focus now is on OP1 and what he/she could have done to get a better outcome – and more importantly, what he/she and others reading this should do in similar situations in the future.

          1. londonedit*

            And yes it’s difficult to say no, you don’t want to be rude, you don’t want to cause a scene, etc. I understand that. But if this situation crops up again, OP1 could say in the first instance ‘You need to stop asking Tabitha for invitations to tonight’s event. It’s for my client, it’s invitation only and I’m afraid I can’t spare any invitations for you’. Then if they show up anyway, ‘Sorry. You were clearly told this morning that this event is invitation only. I can’t let you in.’ Be polite but firm, and re-state the information. Don’t start wavering or making excuses because people will jump on that. Just no, you were told no earlier, the answer’s still no.

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              Yep. Personally I would have said, “Hey guys, this is invite only for clients. We wrap up it $time. If you still want to hang out with us, come back then” even though I’d have a pretty good idea that is wasn’t the charms of hanging out with former coworkers that the gatecrashers wanted.

            2. Ama*

              So I run some invitation only events that people regularly try to crash (they aren’t fun events, but the people who attend them are influential in our field and sales people from the for-profit side of our sector have an uncanny ability to find out about them and show up to try to get in). The key to stopping gate crashers is to have a detailed plan ahead of the event for how you are going to handle this that everyone on staff is aware of, our plan usually also includes the designation of a senior staffer that agrees to be brought in if someone is particularly insistent (we find this helps the junior staff that are usually on door/check in duty because they know they have backup if necessary).

              It kind of sounds like OP thought that telling people the event was invitation only would be enough (and it should be if people were reasonable), but the key in event planning is that you have to plan for the worst-case scenario and make sure everyone on staff understands that plan. I find it annoying to have to plan for our gate crashers, too, but I also know that if word got around that sales people were regularly invading our meetings and badgering people we wouldn’t get as many actual invitees to attend.

          2. Sure*

            I think it’s worth considering though what the outcome might have been if they’d been turned away. Turning them away risks escalating a conflict with people with whom she wants to have a good long-term professional relationship. Yes, they would be in the wrong for being put off by being blocked from an invite-only event, but still that’s a likely negative outcome, and it’s the same sort of negative outcome as did happen when she let them in. It sounds very reasonable that she might try a strategy of appeasement when presented with the potential conflict. If they had behaved themselves at the event like anyone would have expected, there would be no letter to write since everything would have turned out fine. She’s well within her rights to have turned them away, and that’s the “right” answer, but I really can’t see what she did do as the “wrong” answer. Both decisions had unknown outcomes, and she had to weigh the risks of each in the moment.

            1. Colette*

              Reasonable people won’t be upset about you enforcing a boundary. Maybe they’re not reasonable people, but the solution is not to give in to whatever they want, it’s to enforce your boundaries and let them be upset.

              No reasonable person will hear “she kicked us out because we didn’t have an invitation” and think the OP was at fault.

              1. Cameron Counts*

                Yep. I’ve organized small events and I’ve worked in support of some very large events, dealing directly with the event organizer. You won’t see successful, ongoing events behaving in this wispy-washy, lenient way or they wouldn’t continue to exist. Be an adult, and be a professional. It’s your job – do it and you won’t be writing anonymous letters to websites asking if you should apologize for being abused.

              2. EPLawyer*

                These were not reasonable people. They were angling for invites all day, didn’t get them. then showed up ANYWAY. Then brought more people in. THEN, at a NETWORKING event, only talked amongst themselves.

                Trying to turn them away would have resulted in loud complaints at the door, where the other guests would have heard. The gate crashers were boorish and rude.

                OP needs to make it clear to them that next time it will be invite only and they will not be let in the door.

                1. Colette*

                  Maybe they would have loudly complained, but … so what? Let them complain. Is the OP’s relationship with them more important than her relationship with the client she was throwing the event for?

                2. LunaLena*

                  I agree with EPLawyer, these were not reasonable people to begin with, so why would anyone think they would be reasonable and see it as “we didn’t have an invite so OP reasonably kicked us out”? I think it’s more likely they would spin it as “OP kicked us out of their NETWORKING party even though we’re part of their NETWORK because apparently we’re not good enough for them any more.” I can understand why OP thought appeasement was the better option in the moment (obviously with hindsight it was not); when people are that entitled they will go to Olympic-level mental gymnastics to paint themselves as the victims and badmouth whomever they deem the bad guy to everyone around. And not just at the event, probably to everyone they know who also knows the OP.

                3. pancakes*

                  They were loud at the party, though. They “had taken over a central part of the venue, and were loudly talking and drinking among themselves . . .” If I were one of the attendees I’d rather overhear a minute or so of boors at the door complaining about being turned away than have to listen to them there inside the venue for however long they wanted to stay.

                4. Colette*

                  @LunaLena – if they’re not reasonable people, then you definitely need to maintain your boundaries or you’ll be at their mercy forever. The thing is, the OP gave in out of fear of confrontation, and ended up in a worse situation.

                  And the odds are, if she’d said “look, I’d love to have you guys join us, but I’m throwing this event for a client and it would hurt my reputation with them if I invited people who have nothing to do with their account”, the coworkers would have been fine with it. Most people are not spoiled toddlers; if you explain what’s going on, they’ll listen, even if they don’t like it.

                5. LunaLena*

                  @Colette – “And the odds are, if she’d said “look, I’d love to have you guys join us, but I’m throwing this event for a client and it would hurt my reputation with them if I invited people who have nothing to do with their account”, the coworkers would have been fine with it.”

                  This is what I’m puzzled by: why would you put odds on them being fine with it? These are people who pushed for invites, showed up anyways, invited other uninvited friends, and were loud and boorish at the event. That doesn’t sound like people who would be fine with being told no. They already knew they were not invited, and they didn’t care. It was a party and they were going to have fun at it, bygods.

                  Again, in hindsight it was obviously a bad decision on the OP’s part. But I can understand their being put on the spot and hoping that if they gave an inch, the former coworkers wouldn’t take a mile. From what I can tell, the OP’s biggest mistake was not having a contingency plan in case uninvited people showed up, and that’s that kind of thing one generally learns from experience. So all they can really do at this point is to learn from this and know what to expect for next time.

                  My point being, I don’t think it’s as simple as “let them complain.”

            2. Office Lobster DJ*

              Totally agree! This group was relentless and obnoxious from the beginning. When they actually turned up, I can’t fault OP1 for not wanting to risk a scene or ungenerous impression in front of her brand-new clients, especially in what’s described as a fairly casual setting.

              For the future, it may also be worth considering how calling it a networking event (or social hour or mixer or whatever) could have influenced the crashers. Maybe they wouldn’t have been quite so persistent if it was just billed as “Reception for [client]?”

          3. H2*

            Honestly, I think the focus is really on what the OP should do next. It seems that mistakes were made by everyone here, and we could argue all day about whose mistakes were worse. The OP knows that she could have handled the situation better in the moment, and now she wants to know what to do moving forward with this situation. And at any rate that’s really the most constructive thing to focus on.

            I like Alison’s script here. I especially like how it allows the OP to take responsibility for her part in the situation without smoothing over the actions of her friends.

        2. Public Sector Manager*

          Reading this one again, it struck me that OP 1 was really being a bad manager. My old agency head would do this. They would set up a bunch of rules, waive the rules, then complain the rules weren’t being enforced. And my old agency head would have the temerity to refer to the agency as a person, and ask why the agency can’t be bothered to enforce the rules that the agency head created. Like the agency head had no control over the agency. It was mind numbing!

          I think OP 1 should have either (1) supported their own employees and enforced the invite only standards that the OP created (their employee was badgered all day about it) or (2) if OP 1 was going to exercise boss’s prerogative and let the old coworkers in, at least let the employee know they did nothing wrong and apologize to the employee for OP’s old coworkers badgering the employee all day.

          If OP 1 can’t confront boorish people being rude, is OP going to counsel a person who isn’t doing well at their job? Is OP going to put someone on a PIP? I think OP isn’t going to do any of these things because this issue is pretty straight forward to navigate–have rules and enforce them, or don’t have rules but don’t complain about the lack of enforcing the rules.

      2. anonymous73*

        This isn’t victim blaming, it’s fact. If OP didn’t want any uninvited guests she should have said no. Period. It’s called taking responsibility for decisions you’ve made.

        1. CalypsoSummer*

          OP did say no. Then the boors barged in anyway, bringing along some others.

          Would it have helped matters if OP had told them it was a private networking gathering and they had to leave, and the boors started yelling about, “What a b*! This is a party, isn’t it? I’M not leaving! Haw haw haw — hey, Jay, get me another drink, would you?” Would that have been an improvement?

          OP needs a better doorkeeper.

          1. Colette*

            The OP didn’t say no.

            They asked her employee; the employee said no:
            For some added context, they knew they weren’t invited and had borderline bullied one of my employees all day about getting an invite.

            And then they showed up anyway, and the OP let them in.
            Three of my former colleagues arrived uninvited, and I let them in anyway, because I didn’t want to be rude and the vibe of the event was casual enough that it wouldn’t matter too much.

            At no point, did she say no or tell them the event was for a client. Don’t get me wrong, her former coworkers were rude in multiple ways – but the OP didn’t tell them no.

          2. Nanani*

            No, LW1 says she let them in because she doesn’t want to be rude, and then they brought more people in that LW1 presumably did not see enter.

            The boors are in the wrong, but LW1 allowed them to be by not enforcing her own rule. She should not have let them in at all. It’s not victim blaming to point it out.

  12. Erika22*

    I wonder if Ann from #2 has had an easier or harder time working due to the pandemic. Easier if maybe they have a printer at home and can print materials for themselves without having to publicly do so in the office, or can have as big and hi-def a screen as they’d like, but likely harder since then all their meetings will be virtual and people will be sharing materials on calls. I wonder if she continued to work for the agency and if OP2 has an update, I’m just very curious how Ann fared!

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I’m not as extreme as Ann, but I do a lot of data proofreading in my job, generally by comparing third party documents line by line to our in-house version, and I find it much MUCH easier to work from hard copies. When my office sent everyone home at the beginning of the pandemic (when we all thought it was just going to be for a few weeks, sigh), they initially didn’t let us take our hard copy files home, so I tried to switch to proofing on screen, and I never did get comfortable with it. Went back to my paper methods as soon as it became obvious we were going to be stuck at home for a while and they let us have our files.

      1. nonprofit writer*

        I also prefer to proofread on paper–but then I input my corrections online for my clients (I’m a freelance writer/editor). I will never, ever catch as many errors on screen as I do on paper, but I don’t expect my clients to conform to my process. It’s my job to conform to theirs. I have one client for whom I’m the external writer and they also work with an external graphic designer, and sometimes I will send her marked-up scans of printed pages when that makes sense (sometimes this is easier when marking up suggested changes to a graphic). But that’s between us and she’s cool with it.

        Also if Ann is a contractor, wouldn’t she have her own printer in her home or personal office that she purchased and wrote off as a business expense?

        Honestly though, if she’s in meetings complaining to clients, there are bigger problems here.

        1. Observer*

          Honestly though, if she’s in meetings complaining to clients, there are bigger problems here.

          The OP does mention that there are other issues with her. I believe it, because the complaining and derailing of meetings is just poor behavior.

        2. quill*

          I proof documents on paper too… I find it easier when I can highlight and section up large numbers to check all the digits, also my co-reviewers sometimes need the notes.

          They’re all stored digitally though. Doc control is tight in my field.

      2. Observer*

        but I do a lot of data proofreading in my job, generally by comparing third party documents line by line to our in-house version, and I find it much MUCH easier to work from hard copies.

        That’s a totally different scenario. proofing, especially when you are doing line by line comparisons is often much easier done on paper, even for people who otherwise love their monitors.

  13. MistOrMister*

    Re OP2….I worker with a guy like Ann. He said he haf a condition which made using a screen too hard. Everything had to be printed. He was a nightmare to work with. I could have dealt with the printing thing but he was a micromanager and rude to boot. He wanted everything done to certain specifications, but if you asked for clarification on one of,his many insane rules, he couldn’t explain. He’d just tell you that you’d done the thing wrong and do what he wanted but dont expect him to explain. So you’d take your best shot at doing it over and he would return it saying its still wrong and getting mad at you. I absolutely loathed working with him. He eventually left, and I was thrilled. Needing to print out every single thing was just icing on the craptacular cake that was working with him.

  14. Roeslein*

    I also worked with a guy like Ann, besides the printing thing he also thought it was 1950 and junior women in the office should act as his secretary and type up notes he dictated / wrote on paper because he “couldn’t type them himself”. No idea why they put up with him. My own eyesight is not great so I understand such things happen, and if someone had a genuine medical issue that required them to use special / bigger screens or special glasses / lamps I’d be more than happy to work with them to find a solution (even if it was expensive), however it doesn’t sound like Ann is trying to find a solution here.

    1. londonedit*

      About 15 years ago I worked with a woman who would print out all of her emails. Not only that, but she would forward things to me and then I – as the most junior member of the department, though not actually her assistant – had to print them out for her and then walk over to the printer to collect them and bring them to her desk. It was slightly bizarre. She’d then make notes on the print-outs before typing up her reply.

      I do understand wanting to print things out – since last year I’ve had to get used to doing all of my editing on screen, whereas before that I used to find it useful to print out a manuscript and read it on paper. I tend to catch more errors that way. But doing it on screen is no big deal in the grand scheme of things (I don’t have any issues with my eyesight and once you get used to it, it’s fine, as well as being better for the environment). But it sounds like Ann is stuck in her ways when it comes to insisting on printing everything, and it’s hard to change people.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I relate quite a bit to your second paragraph. I even consider one benefit of returning to the office a couple of days a week to be that I can print certain kinds of documents more easily again. It’s not an eyesight issue (I tend to print long reports 2 pages per side, double-sided to save paper, which makes the print tiny), but for reviewing and editing long written documents or reading certain kinds of dense text, I still find it preferable to a computer. But that kind of document comes up at most a few times a month in my job, and I can do it all online if needed.

        And it would be bizarre and counterproductive for me to print emails, spreadsheets, things I only need to skim or glance through, etc. Ann’s insistence on printing absolutely everything is really over the top.

        1. Sans Serif*

          That is the one and only thing I miss about the office. The great printer I could use to easily print out things I want to edit, or use as reference material for something new I’m writing. When (if?) my office opens again, they aren’t making us go back in if we don’t want. I asked my boss if I could just use the office as an office supply store and stop in when I’m running out of stuff or need to print, and he was fine with that.

      2. nonprofit writer*

        Ohhhh… I had a boss in my first job who had us (her assistant and me–I wasn’t her personal assistant but I was the editorial assistant so had to be backup for all her ridiculous tasks) print out all her emails. Then she would scribble replies on the pages, and we had to then log in to her email and type up her reply to the person. She never used her own email. This was in 2000-2001 so slightly less bizarre than it would be now, but only slightly. We were privy to a lot of correspondence that we should not have seen–and also many of the people corresponding with her didn’t know that their emails and her replies were being read by us. Her assistant was kinda cranky and vindictive and would sometimes tell other members of our dept when the boss was talking about them behind their backs via email. It’s all very entertaining now but wow, THAT was a funny intro to the professional world for me.

    2. Nanani*

      I had a boss who liked to print emails, write his reply in bullet points, and have me draft a full response.

      Part of that is because of the language situation – I am a translator, so when an email came in English, which he can read quite well but is less comfortable writing in, he’d respond in his language but have me translate it into an English reply.

      The printing was an eccentricity – there’s zero reason he couldn’t draft his response in an email to me, or an attachment or something. The bullet points were boss privilege I guess.

      Luckily this didn’t happen super often, and was at least partly my job to deal with. Still weird.
      I do not miss his handwriting.

  15. Jaxgma*

    My first thought for LW2 was WHY did you hire someone who can’t look at screens to work at a digital media company? Why would she even apply to work there? It’s like being allergic to apples and deciding to work as an apple picker. Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations, but I don’t see anything reasonably possible here. She’s clearly an awful fit for the position, and the icing on the cake was the “this is not the only issue with her.” Ask her point-blank if she has a medical issue with screens and if so, get a doctors’ note. Otherwise, she would probably be much happier working elsewhere. Let her go.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      And since she’s a a contractor, it’s even easier. Just don’t renew the contract.

    2. OftenOblivious*

      At hiring time, I’m guessing “I like to print everything” didn’t come up. And I’m sure OP’s company had no reason to specifically ask if they were okay doing all their work digitally (it would not come up at my job and we’re 100% screen time).

      1. Artemesia*

        And it would have been obvious the first week and should have been nipped in the bud then. This is a digital media company and we do our work on-line; are there things you need to do this effectively? (like another monitor etc). Letting her whine through client meetings and work only on paper was a huge mistake. That should have been confronted the first week and the contract terminated if she couldn’t do the job.

    3. LunaLena*

      Ahaha, this post reminds me of the Discworld book where a vampire is constantly complaining about getting injured and/or killed on the job. His resume included positions like sunglasses tester, pencil sharpener in a pencil factory, holy water bottler, garlic stacker, etc. When asked why he took such jobs, I seem to remember he responded with “why can’t I work where I like?”

  16. MEH Squared*

    When I was in my twenties, I dreamed regularly of my friends dying in funny ways such as being hugged to death by a giant octopus. This was a circle of friends and I shared the dreams with them. It became an inside joke that you weren’t really a friend of mine if you didn’t die in one of my dreams.

    Then I dreamed that the husband of my best friend (outside the group) was murdered and the dream was very realistic and grim. I didn’t tell her until a decade-and-a-half later when I figured if it was a precog dream, the time had run out. And I downplayed it quite a a bit.

    In the first instance, I felt comfortable sharing the dreams because they were clearly absurd and would never happen. In the latter, I held back ,because even if it were true, what could she or he do about it? Nothing. There was no point in telling my friend and you, Op #3, should do nothing as well.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If I go to bed with my hair loose, it WILL end up draped over my neck at some point in the night and I WILL dream of being hugged to death by a giant octopus.

    2. EvilQueenRegina*

      When I was 12 years old, the annual fair was coming to town and my friend “Monica” told our other friend “Rachel” that she had a dream that Rachel would fall off the big wheel and die. Our other friend “Phoebe” then piped up that her sister had the same dream. Rachel was bothered enough by it to avoid that ride.

  17. Meg*

    I find that dreams are only interesting to the dreamer. To everyone else, its a crazypants poorly told story. Don’t tell your coworker!


      Yes, I agree. She should have enforced her own rules.
      I think having a different person at the door would help, rather than OP.
      As for apologizing to them, HELL NO. I would write to my former boss and in very neutral terms explained what happened, no apologies.
      These people are bullies and need to be reined in. And if they confront OP, reiterate that it was invitation only, and they further abused the situation by inviting total strangers.
      They are moochers and bullies who saw a chance for free entertainment and food/drinks. Screw them.

      1. Cold Fish*

        This is where I fall too. And if already on good terms with their boss, I probably would send an email or call boss to give them a heads up that their workers were rude and boorish at the conference because as a boss I would want to know as it reflects really poorly on the company.

        Everyone here seems to be caught up in the fact that OP should have “enforced their own rules” which is really just BS. The OP’s error was minor in comparison to the former coworkers behavior. Turning the former coworkers away at the door could have caused even more trouble for OP, and for all we know that still could be true however we will never know what would have happened if she did turn them away. The OP didn’t handle everything well but the only apology OP needs to make is “I’m sorry I did not turn you away at the door.”

  18. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP3: don’t tell your dreams to your staff/coworkers- even if you think you’re saving them from a dangerous situation. Because even if by some means you truly do have some gift of prophecy all they’re gonna hear is ‘I was dreaming of you dying’.

    Which is uncomfortable and unprofessional.

    I get incredibly vivid and sometimes lucid dreams. I even get some of it while I’m awake (thank you schizophrenia you absolute gobshite) but even when I can’t get a vivid dream about a coworker out of my head because it seems so real I do NOT say anything.

    Basically because the interior workings of my subconscious are of interest only to me. And a few medical professionals.

  19. MicroManagered*

    OP3 made me think of a former manager who once told me she had a dream I was interviewing for another job to try to fish out of me if I was interviewing (I was).

  20. RussianInTexas*

    LW: you can’t tell your employee about his impending death. By doing so you will alter the course of history, and who knows what kind of ill effects that will create. You may have doomed us all!

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Hahaha! Agree! OP3 (and the rest of us who read the letter) are just going to have to take this secret to our graves now.

  21. staceyizme*

    The recycled OP #1 from 2018 wasn’t off the mark to take exception to additional people showing up. The problem is that these “crashers” had no stake in behaving well and OP had no real recourse once they got off down the wrong path. Maybe he could have drawn them out one or two at a time to actually network? Either that or eject them since they were violating both the spirit and the letter of the law for the event by clustering with their buddies and being a large/ loud presence in the middle of things.

  22. Meep*

    I had an old PITA coworker who was fired from our company 2.5 years ago for not doing any work and creating a security hazard (basically he put encryption software on a company computer and didn’t tell ANYONE – not even when I asked him point-blank to set up our new security regime). A couple of nights ago, I dreamed he was fired from his current place of employment and had to stop myself from looking it up to confirm it was true, tbh.

    LW3 certainly hits today.

  23. staceyizme*

    Recycled OP #4 is interesting: it’s standard for a general principle of exclusion to apply to event organizers and hosts. I think that employees of sponsoring companies/ affiliates aren’t able to win sweepstakes or enter for prizes in other contests, too, for the same reason. So this is a Thing, socially and professionally. Even kids at their own birthday parties didn’t get prizes from “pin the tail on the donkey” or whatever the games were when I was a kid. Not sure that things have evolved to the point where having another party judge a contest that OP organized is enough to prevent a conflict of interest. Basically- OP picked the judges and that alone could be enough for people to think things were rigged. If the prizes were too small for others to complain about if they lost, then why was it necessary for OP to claim a prize if they won? They could have entered into the spirit of the contest by decorating (which they wanted to do) but kept things smooth by declining the prize and having it awarded to the next-in-line winner.

  24. Sunflower*

    I realize these letters are from years ago but…

    #3 No way should you tell them about the dream. What will it accomplish? No matter what happens on that date, they may waste the next few years worrying instead of fully enjoying life as they should.
    #4 I would use the gift card to buy treats for the office.

    1. quill*

      I agree. (On both counts)

      When I won a floor competition in a fairly ludicrous way in college, I ended up passing out the candy to everyone, because 1) I didn’t like smarties 2) people were a little annoyed at the outcome. It smoothed everything over.

  25. Dreamer*

    I rarely dream (or remember them), but a few years ago I dreamt vividly that a friend (Sara) of a friend (Demi) was kidnapped. I woke up from the dream trying to memorize the license plate number of the van Sara was taken in. It was so real and unlike how other dreams felt that I really wanted to call and check on her. It was a Saturday morning and i was worried something happened to her the Friday night before. I talked myself down from it, but did call Demi later in the day and ask her to check Sara’s Facebook to see if she had been active that day, and she had :).

    It’s good to be careful to not just dump negativity on people when there is nothing to be done about it, whether it’s a dream or criticism or whatever.

    The only dream I’ve had since then was that I was in a literally hand-to-hand combat knife fight with Paul Hollywood, but I had been watching clips of the Celebrity BakeOff the night before, so.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      Not that long ago, one of my friends from sixth form put something on Facebook about having dreamed that someone from her high school, who she hadn’t seen for years, was very upset about something. She asked the high school people if anyone had heard from this person, and someone who had her as a friend on Facebook tagged her in the post so she could confirm she was okay.

    2. Petty Patty*

      >>>The only dream I’ve had since then was that I was in a literally hand-to-hand combat knife fight with Paul Hollywood, but I had been watching clips of the Celebrity BakeOff the night before, so.<<

      Who won?? Were Prue and Noel there?? Was the fight over an assessment of a bake you did?

      1. Dreamer*

        lol, no one won. It was like a little aside in a larger dream that had nothing to do with Paul or Bake Off.

        I was running down this steep, narrow street at night, and at the bottom Paul jumped out from a side alley to attack me. I was flailing at him, hitting him with my free hand or the butt of the knife (that I magically acquired out of nowhere). After awhile, I realized I couldn’t actually bring myself to stab him and so would lose the fight. Then I realized he wasn’t *really* trying to stab me either, he could easily have finished me off already.

        So then it got awkward and felt like… I dunno, two kids in the school yard who don’t really want to fight but there’s a crowd cheering and they have to go through with it? Something like that. Nothing in the dream was pressuring us to fight, but there was a sense that we had to do it without our hearts really being into it. And the dream just kind of ended there, you know? The scene disintegrated.

  26. YL*

    LW #1

    I don’t why some commenters say this is on you. Yes, you allowed them in when they didn’t have an invite. But you didn’t know they were going to invite over more people. And who let the others in anyway? It sounds like they just wanted to go so they could take advantage of drinks? Anyway, I get not wanting to embarrass them by kicking them out. It’s just a live and learn situation.

  27. CarCarJabar*

    I really need a weekly feature where we submit the BIZARRE dreams we have about our coworkers and then discuss their meaning…. I can start with My Boss is a Covert Russian Spy Who Tried To Assassinate Me….. or maybe My Office Won A Chocolate Fondue Hot Tub

    1. Dreamer*

      I love hearing/reading about people’s dreams. This sounds like a good thread for the Friday post for open chat about work .

  28. learnedthehardway*

    For #2 – as someone who finds the small print on screens to be increasingly hard on my eyes, and as someone who has a hard time tracking script across screen sometimes, perhaps the best idea is to let Amy know that she can have a larger screen, if she needs it. I have a laptop for some of my work with a particular client, and it’s so hard to read from that I don’t use it as much as I should. I’m seriously thinking of getting a larger screen to plug it into, simply to make it more useable.

  29. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

    Once had a dream that Great Boss got so stressed from work that he basically behaved very badly and was probably going to get fired in a spectacular way. Could not shake the dream after I woke up. Decided to check Great Bosses stress load discretely but not mention dream. Before I could do so Coworker told me that they had a had dream where Great Boss got stressed out over work and quite in a very spectacular way. They had already told Great Boss about their dream. Cue me going straight to Great Boss and telling mine. Like you ok Buddy?

  30. learnedthehardway*

    OP#1 – I would look at what you want to achieve in the long term. I like Alison’s approach of acknowledging the situation wasn’t the best, but not falling all over yourself to apologize. You really do NOT owe these people an apology – they, in fact, really do owe you the apology here. That said, being gracious here is your best approach.

  31. GoryDetails*

    Re LW3 and the prediction-of-death dream: definitely don’t tell the person! But the concept is among my favorites in fiction, and has some variations beyond those already mentioned. Ursula Vernon has a delightful children’s series about Harriet, the Hamster Princess; her story began with the “Sleeping Beauty”-style prophecy about her being cursed on her 16th birthday, but her folks told her about it early on, and she made the logical decision that if she’s doomed to a certain fate when she turns 16 it means she can’t die BEFORE then. Cue her career as a fearless and risk-taking adventurer!

    They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera posits that people are notified of their impending deaths within a 24-hour window, so they can choose what to do with their final hours; makes no logical sense at all how such info could be provided, but it’s a given in-story, and the novel itself is really lovely. (And sad. And lovely.)

    The Machine of Death and its follow-on This Is How You Die features stories which all center on a machine that provides accurate – if sometimes poetically ambiguous – *causes* of death, but not the date; the variations on the theme are truly impressive, often very touching, sometimes wickedly clever, and sometimes in the “knowing makes it so” realm.

    1. HigherEdAdminista*

      I read “They Both Die at the End” and I kept waiting for them to get out of it somehow! I was in the denial stage even though the book told me up front what to expect.

  32. John*

    In summer 2018 I had a dream that, following their first Super Bowl win, the Eagles would have a rematch with the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII and beat them by a final score of 29-16. If that sounds irrelevant, that’s because it is, just as much as dreaming someone is going to die in early autumn 2024.

  33. animaniactoo*

    LW1: “I apologize for letting you in when I should have kept my business hat on and prioritized the client that I was hosting the party for. I understand that there was naturally some confusion about the point of the party after that, and I may have been mistaken about your intentions in hogging the center of the room.”

    Okay, leave off the last clause, Evil Me™ wrote that one, but the rest is a real suggestion.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Also – please evaluate what you think is rude. It is not rude to refuse entry to people who aren’t on the guest list for a party even if you know them and have friendly relationships with them.

  34. periwinkle*

    Once upon a time, a coworker pulled me aside to say she had a vivid dream that I was dating this guy on our team. She told him the same thing. Normally that would be super weird office behavior, but we both realized it was deliberate matchmaking rather than prophesy.

    She was an accurate matchmaker; that guy and I have been married almost 21 years.

  35. Hippo-nony-potomus*

    Different take on LW3: I have had a handful of incredibly vivid dreams that ended up coming true in short order, in a way that was relevant to my life.

    To some end, I disagree about the “if it’s a real prophecy, you can’t do anything about it.” That’s a movie thing and not even the movies all agree on it. I think we’ve all had some sort of inexplicable trepidation that ended up being correct, but for reasons that no one could ever have predicted, and we all wish we had listened to that.

    If I were the LW3, I would email myself a description of the dream. That way, there’s a date stamp for this. That’s something you may find to be useful later. Just keep it to yourself unless there seems to be a good reason to disclose – e.g., he expresses trepidation about going on a work trip that day, or he’s diagnosed with cancer but firmly believes that he’s going to beat it. If you’re no longer working together, shoot him an email in August 2024 to see how he’s doing.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Unless there seems to be a good reason to disclose.

      What on Earth would this be? Seriously.

      If someone is diagnosed with cancer, you do not tell them that your dream two years ago says they’re going to bite it so don’t bother with treatment.

      The dream gave zero guidance about whether he should avoid work, avoid home, avoid North America, avoid the planet–there is nothing to advise him on, much less something he’s likely to be explaining at the office, or on social media if he and his current boss no longer work in the same space.

      If someone died and you whipped out an email from three years earlier predicting his death–whether on this date or another one–people would be looking at your alibi. At absolute best case, giving side-eye about how you were weirdly making someone’s death all about your latent psychic powers using some sort of fake email.

      1. Hippo-nony-potomus*

        That was a weirdly hostile response. Do you want to try again?

        If your employee is scheduled for a work trip on the 26th of September, 2024, and expresses to you that he has a weird knot in the pit of his stomach, you say “You know, I believe in listening to these things. Let’s reschedule this for the following week.” If your employee complains of random aches and pains in January of 2024, you give him the time off to get it checked out. If he’s swamped with work in September of 2024 and his car’s brakes are making weird squeaky noises but he doesn’t have time to take it to the mechanic, you tell him that you’ve got his work covered for the afternoon and to take his car in.

        There are a lot of times in life when people say “it’s all fine” and it often is. The ache is a pulled muscle, the brakes hold out until you get them fixed, and the knot in your stomach is because you forgot to tell the dog walker to show up before the business trip. Other times, it’s not okay, and those weird feelings end up being right.

        Life isn’t a TV show, Falling Diphtong. There are a wide variety of alternatives between “OMG YOU’RE GOING TO DIE AND WE DON’T KNOW HOW TO PREVENT IT” and doing absolutely nothing. If you’re so upset about this as to write into AAM, you keep an eye out. Quietly encourage extra caution.

        PS – learn the difference between “real” and “fake.” It will serve you well in life.

        1. Observer*

          If your employee complains of random aches and pains in January of 2024, you give him the time off to get it checked out

          . . . snip . .

          If he’s swamped with work in September of 2024 and his car’s brakes are making weird squeaky noises but he doesn’t have time to take it to the mechanic, you tell him that you’ve got his work covered for the afternoon and to take his car in.

          Are you saying that absent this “premonition” you would NOT give him time to check these out? I find that a LOT scarier than any premonition you could come up with!

          I’m not sure how any decent boss does NOT give someone time to fix their brakes (!) or check out “random aches and pains”, any month of any year.

          So, I see absolutely zero reason for the OP to “make a note” of this in any way, shape or form.

          Life isn’t a TV show, Falling Diphtong

          . . . snip . . .

          learn the difference between “real” and “fake.” It will serve you well in life.

          This is good advice. I think you should take it.

        2. alienor*

          Other times, it’s not okay, and those weird feelings end up being right.

          Well, yes…weird feelings that you have in the present can be right. Weird feelings that happened three years ago in a dream are never going to be right except by accident, because dreams don’t predict the future.

  36. e271828*

    Is LW 2’s coworker Newton Pulsifer, or (at this remove) possibly his daughter? Are the computers crashing whenever she touches them?

    1. LunaLena*

      If she was, she’d be crashing all the computers on the entire network and possibly the clients’ as well, not just her own.

  37. Expelliarmus*

    In 2009, I dreamed that a friend of mine, “S” would date a classmate (I was in middle school) “V” of mine in 2014. They have not met to this day, so needless to say, they didn’t date in 2014. In case we need more examples that dreams can be full of it lol

  38. Here we go again*

    When I worked at a pizza place many many years ago I had a dream that I was a pizza and I was being put into the pizza oven at work. What is that supposed to mean? BTW I did tell my coworkers about it because it’s funny.

  39. IEanon*

    I have a visual impairment that makes copyediting digital brochures and other marketing materials very difficult (either I overlook mistakes or I zoom in so much that it doubles the time it takes me to edit). This was a very small part of my overall job (~5%), so I got around it by printing those materials and editing hardcopy.

    Then covid happened, and all of a sudden I was home without a printer. I tried really hard to do all the editing on my laptop (since I was NOT buying a printer for a position that would never let me be fulltime remote in the long run), but made a few mistakes. I finally had to come clean to my supervisor about my struggle and they were so mean about it–I was rushing, not committed to the project anymore, they had never seen this issue in my work, so it couldn’t be a disability, etc.–that I actually cried after the call. It was misery having to talk about an impairment I’m sensitive about, and to be berated for needing an accommodation.

    Worst of all, more than half of the mistakes I missed were in the portion that supervisor wrote and couldn’t be bothered to proofread themselves.

    All this to say that I came into this letter expecting to be sympathetic to the employee, but am really not. It does sound like a preference, and asking to travel to work on-site because she can’t/won’t read on a screen is ridiculous. My workaround was similar, but I would never let it get to that point, with documents all over the place and disorganized! There are some accommodations that can be made, but this seems ridiculous.

  40. Pikachu*

    #1 – if you are paying for a space in a venue for an invitation-only event, the venue staff can ask people to leave. Give invited attendees a badge or something to differentiate them from others, and leave it to the staff to do the policing. If they push back, blame it on something without feelings. “Sorry, all of this was planned far in advance and our contract only allows service for a max of X people.”

  41. Weirdness lured me out of lurkerville*

    So does op3 have a reminder on their phone or something?! “26th September 2024: did [coworker] die yesterday?”

    And if they’re no longer coworkers, are they just gonna message out of the blue “hey, random question, are you dead?”

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