employees ask customers to buy cheese from her, picking up boss after surgery, 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. Employee is soliciting customers to buy mozzarella from her

I manage our family-owned retail farm store and have two employees. One is our full-time butcher and the other is my daughter’s best friend, Jess, who has been working for me for six years.

I make homemade mozzarella in the store and taught Jess how to make it for our customers. For years I also made mozzarella as my own little side business — just selling exclusively to one customer (a local farmer in our area who owns several farm stands). I passed this little side business along to my daughter when she was living here. When she moved away and Jess started to work for me, I offered the side mozzarella business to Jess. She was happy to take it on.

The problem now is that Jess solicits her mozzarella making to customers coming into our store. For example, on a day I was not at the store, a local restaurant owner came in and said he needed 30 balls of mozzarella. Jess suggested that she would make it for him and he would do business with her and pay her.

When I learned of this I spoke with Jess and tried to explain to her that she cannot solicit business for herself and that the farmer was the ONLY person she can personally made mozzarella for. She was not happy and proceeded to argue with me. I explained that the little “side business” I passed along to her was a privilege and was strictly only to be made for the farmer.

I understand that I have opened up a can of worms and I don’t know the proper way to deal with this issue. It is an ongoing problem and because she is my daughter’s best friend and I have known her since she was eight years old (she’s 25 now) it makes the situation very hard to deal with.

Well, really, Jess should be able to use her mozzarella-making skills to sell it to other people too if she wants — she just can’t solicit your customers to do that while they’re shopping in your store. It’s very reasonable and very normal in all kinds of businesses to prohibit employees from using their work for you to find customers for their own side businesses. When they’re working for you, you want them focused on serving your customers and promoting your business.

And that’s how you should frame it to Jess: “When you’re at work here and talking to people who come into the store, I need you to stay focused on our business, which means that you can’t solicit customers for side work. You can of course take on additional side work outside of your job here if you’d like to, but you can’t pitch outside products or services to customers while they’re shopping here.”

If she continues to push back, you can say, “I hear you that you disagree, but ultimately this is the policy, and it’s the policy of most stores. So I do need you to abide by that while you’re working here. Can you do that?”


2. I don’t want to pick up my boss after surgery

My boss mentioned today that he will be having a procedure done that requires anesthesia. He added that he might need my help to get home after the procedure (he moved to our city for this job and his family lives several states away). He also told me that he tends to get a little loopy/goofy after anesthesia and experiences memory lapses, as most people do.

Am I right to feel that post-surgery transportation is asking a little much of an employee? I want to be helpful but also don’t want to put myself in a bad situation. I’m wary of going to a colleague’s house alone especially when they aren’t themselves because of the effects of anesthesia. As background, I’ll add that he is an older man and I’m a younger woman. We work together well but aren’t close outside of work. I know he is closer with a handful of other people we work with and spends time with them outside of the office. And can you suggest a tactful way of declining to help?

Sometimes if you’re new to an area and don’t know anyone there yet, a coworker might be your only option for something like this, which is a hard situation to be in. In theory it’s not unreasonable to ask this of a coworker if you have reason to believe they’ll be comfortable with it. But that last part is key; you have to really think through whether you have reason to believe the person will be comfortable with it (not just whether you, the asker, would be comfortable with it — which sounds like what your boss is doing here).

But why is he asking you, rather than the people he spends time with outside the office? Is it because he’s your boss and not theirs? If so, that’s icky — this isn’t a work task he can delegate. Is it because you’re a younger woman and thus he sees you as in a natural helper role? If so, also icky. In any case, you’re not the obvious choice here, and it’s totally reasonable to decline.

The easiest way to decline would be to have a conflict on that date. If that’s not feasible, you could try a simple “I can’t do that, sorry! Maybe Bob or Cecil can help.” Or, “To be honest, I’d feel awkward doing that because you’re my boss — maybe Bob or Cecil can help.” (If you use the first and he asks why — which he probably won’t, but he might — then your answer could be the second.)


3. Rejected candidate told me I’d missed out on “one of the best minds of the 21st century”

I work at a university, and opened up two job slots for student workers (not work-study, but out of my budget). In four hours, I received almost 150 applications. After going through literally every application and then sending follow-up questions to my top few, I finally interviewed four and hired two students. They’ve been at work for a week now, and seem to be doing great so far.

The problem is that I’ve gotten more than one nasty response from students for not hiring them that are so far out-of-line it’s ridiculous. I really want to use this as a teaching moment somehow, but (1) don’t know how to respond to the crazy, and (2) am not 100% sure I should.

As an example, here’s a response that did not contain any swears or mentions of my obviously dubious parentage (those I’m just straight up ignoring, because going there will only bring me trouble): “It’s your loss not mine. I regret to inform you that you have missed an opportunity to work with one of the best minds of the 21st century.”

Thoughts? Advice? Am I better off just continuing to ignore these responses, or, since they are students at my university, should I address the issue with them? Right now I’m leaning towards no, but I honestly keep rethinking it.

One of the best minds of the 21st century! Amazing, and such a shame you missed the opportunity.

In general, I don’t think there’s a lot to be gained by replying to rude responses to rejections, although it can at times be satisfying to send a dry, fact-based response (“we received 150 applications and interviewed the applicants with the strongest qualifications”). But these are students and this is an on-campus job, so while you don’t have to invest the time, it would be a particular service to them if you decided to.

(Frankly, you might also consider replying to the profane or insulting ones and saying something like, “I would recommend not sending abusive messages to potential on-campus employers if you hope to apply for on-campus work in the future.”)


4. Can you ask HR to clarify an ambiguous question on a job application?

I have a question about addressing ambiguous questions on job applications. In essence, the application I recently filled out has a question that could be interpreted in a number of different ways, so I emailed HR (once) to ask what they specifically meant. I did this because the ad states that applicants should direct job-related questions to HR (and provided HR’s email address). I should note that I was very concise and polite.

It’s been a few days and they haven’t responded, and I’m worried that if I’m left to my own devices, I may fill out the job application incorrectly. What do you think I should do?

Interpret it as best you can, finish the application, and submit it. Don’t wait for an answer from them.

Other candidates are presumably making do, and you don’t want to come across as someone who needs special hand-holding that others didn’t require. That’s not to say that plenty of applications don’t have poorly worded, ambiguous questions; they do. But you’ll rarely get clarification from busy HR departments, who tend to think their application questions work just fine as stated or that you should be able to find a way to make do. And following up a second time when you already tried once is likely to cement an impression that you’re potentially high maintenance, which you don’t want.


{ 320 comments… read them below }

  1. The Bimmer Guy*

    Yikes, regarding the nasty responses from students. You’d think they would just inherently know better, but I guess they don’t. I would also be tempted to use something like Alison’s script, about how they shouldn’t be burning bridges with profanity, especially since academia is a highly insular field.

    1. Artemesia*

      I taught at a highly selective prestigious university. AT parents night — sort of mid fall — the parents of one of our first years approached several faculty at a reception event and lectured us on how much we could learn from their son, one of the best minds of the 20th century. Our program could be improved by taking advantage of his wisdom. Tempted, but did not laugh out loud. The kid was smart. Most of them were. Maybe he was smarter than some of the PhDs they were insisting adapt their program on his advice. But seriously?

      1. Seriously?*

        We visited Boston when oldest was in high school. I told him to pick one college to tour. He chose MIT (this was never a serious choice for him!) The student tour was great, but the parent question session – was eye-opening. Bless those admission people. Parent: What exactly does my Fergus need to do to get in? MIT: talks about having diverse student body so no exact standard. Parent 2: My Fiona is perfect. What does she need to get in? And on and on. We were giggling it was so ridiculous!

        Kid did just fine at a great state school. Cum laude engineer making more money than I ever will while company pays for his masters.

        1. Wendy*

          I used to work for an Ivy-league school in the admissions department (graduated a semester early and picked up odd jobs at the admissions office until my now-husband finished up in May). I spent a lot of time as the receptionist in the tour area, and I loved seeing the disconnect between some parents and students. We had a big wall of flyers for each of the majors our school offered – it wasn’t uncommon to see a student picking up brochures for philosophy, music, history, etc. and their parents to go behind them grabbing pre-med, pre-law, and biomedical engineering :-P

          Worse than the in-person tours were the phone calls, though. I was not an admissions officer and I wasn’t qualified to say “these are your kid’s chances of getting in,” but a lot of parents wouldn’t accept that as an answer. Sure, tell me all your kid’s extra-curriculars and test scores and GPA if you want – I don’t know your kid’s high school or how rigorous it is, I don’t know how good your kid’s essay was, and I don’t know how many applicants we have this year. Last year, yes, but I can’t tell you this year because they’re not all in yet :-\

          1. Phoenix*

            I was also a tour guide at a top ten school. Some of the parents and kids were AWFUL! The department’s longtime receptionist would sometimes pass along especially rude behavior to the Dean of Admissions and I know that at least once, this made the difference between admission and rejection. There’s a threat for whenever you take kids on a college visit!

            1. Elle Woods*

              I attended a small, private, liberal arts college and my work-study job was at the admissions office giving campus tours, doing mailings, running errands, etc. There were definitely some awful parents and kids. The worst was a set of parents who thought they knew more about the school than the admissions counselor who had been there for 30 years. The parents had been rude to me during the campus tour; apparently, they were downright nasty to the counselor during their daughter’s appointment. Afterward, the counselor found me to apologize for their behavior and let me know that he was putting a note in the student’s file that it was in the best interests of the college, its students, and its workers that this student not be admitted.

              1. Observer*

                This reminds me of the letter writer who complained that his University had never told them that they need to be nice to the receptionist. Apparently, no one ever told these people that, either. ~~Rolling my eyes at people like that~~

          1. quill*

            We had a few: my scholarship required me to babysit scholarship competitors on their big interview day, though I got out of it every year but one by either being out of the country, excused because I was working on thesis, or being ill that week.

            I heard a few stories though. The parents can get quite ridiculous, and we weren’t even ivy league, just a private college!

        2. Texan in exile on her phone*

          I actually answered this question when I was volunteering for my college at a college fair. The dad was so angry at my answer – daughter probably wouldn’t get in and if she wanted a football school, this wasn’t the place for her anyway – that he called the admissions office to complain about me.

        3. Anononon*

          When I was touring colleges with my parents, our absolute fave part were the ridiculous questions. I still remember one family asking how many pianos are on campus!!

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            If their child was majoring in music, or just really liked playing as a form of decompressing – I can see that question. Most dorm rooms don’t accommodate pianos.

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

            If they had asked how many piano tuners there were on campus, it would have been a job interview question.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              My college had a piano tuning course and I kick myself for not taking it every time my piano needs tuning.

        4. TrackingCookieMonster*

          Oh man, I remember being in an admission Q&A for UC Berkeley when I was in high school. Looking back at the ruthlessness some of the people in there had, it suddenly makes sense how the admissions bribery scandal could have happened.

      2. WantonSeedStitch*

        I work at a university, in the fundraising department. I often see reports of meetings with donors, and sometimes the kids of those donors apply to our university. While those kids do get in sometimes, they certainly don’t always. Some of the donors (usually those who are also alumni) are cool about this, and their reaction is along the lines of “hey, if Junior didn’t get in, then he probably wouldn’t have been happy here anyway–it doesn’t get EASIER after you get in.” But some get really irate that their donations didn’t buy Junior a spot in the incoming class.

      3. Marillenbaum*

        I used to work in college admissions, and the parents were WILD. Sometimes the kids were terrible (especially if they went to Choate) but honestly, 80% of the time it was some urologist with too much time on their hands calling every day to tell you about how beautiful, how brilliant, how accomplished little Persephone is and you need to admit her.

    2. Laure001*

      Well, one of the best mind of the century should know that it is never a good idea to burn bridges in your future professional field.
      Of course, one of the best mind of the century should know that if you call yourself one of the best mind of the century, people will laugh openly at you.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s just been my observation that the truly brighter minds around me never, ever mention how smart they are.
        They are too busy figuring out and learning what more they need to know.

        People skills and self-awareness are also parts of the thing we call intelligence.

        1. Koalafied*

          Indeed. People who continually seek out knowledge because they crave intellectual stimulation (something you might call a sign of a “great mind”) tend to be highly aware of how much they *don’t* yet know or understand.

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          When I was growing up as a socially awkward smart kid, the best advice I ever got was “don’t tell other people how smart you are, let them figure it out on their own.”

          1. MAC*

            I wish I could figure out a way to say this nicely to my (soon to be) step-nephew. He IS extremely smart, but also insecure, and tends to brag and be kind of off-putting. I’ve gotten to know him and can see behind the facade, but when a young kid manages to annoy my mother, who was born to be a mom and grandma, you know it’s pretty major. And since he’s only been in our family for a couple of years, I don’t have the long history/relationship to be able to kind of kid with him about it like I would my nieces, especially since he just hit the all-knowing (but still very sensitive) age of 13. (It doesn’t help that my sister’s fiancé is also “all-knowing” and wants to make sure everyone knows that, but I think the ship has sailed on him becoming self-aware.)

        3. The Magpie*

          I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but I’ve really found it to be true: the smartest people I’ve ever known would describe themselves as “practically knowing nothing”, probably because the more you learn, the more you realise you don’t actually know a fraction of what there is to know.

          Everyone I’ve met who thinks they’re Einstein 2.0, well, that ego has always seemed to get in the way of their actually learning much at all. And forget about folks like that believing that anyone else might have something to contribute to the conversation – especially if they’re marginalised in some way. Either the speaker is marginalised in a similar way and therefore knows EVERYTHING there is to know about XYZ experience, or the speaker is not marginalised in that way and cannot possibly believe that someone else might have a valid perspective about which they know nothing.

          I just finished my own PhD, which is why I’ve met so MANY of the two categories of people. The former are my friends. The latter I avoid like pothole puddles on the street.

        4. EmmaPoet*

          Yep. I know someone who was one of the Whiz Kids hired at Big Govt Agency when he was still a teenager. He’s got about eight terminal degrees at this point, because he takes them to expand his knowledge base for his job. He’s multilingual and also a former martial arts champion. And the reason I know this? I googled him and it came up in his professional bio. He never mentioned it once (the martial arts part came up because I was taking them. My teacher knew him.) And he was also one of the nicest, genuinely humble guys I’ve ever met.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        I would be tempted to ask about the methodology by which he compared his own mind to that of all the others. This is similar to how I respond to “I did my own research!” Ask about the control group and sample size and so forth that this person used in their study.

      3. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        I worked with a reporter who, on being fired, told his boss, “You’re going to regret this for the rest of your life!” The boss instead told the story for laughs for the rest of his life. (The reporter went on to become one of those fancy bartenders in Miami Beach and probably made more in a night there than he made in a week working in a newsroom, so it was a happy ending for everyone.)

      4. BubbleTea*

        And it feels like it’s a bit early to call it, no? What if my infant son turns out to be the next Einstein? He has a few decades to blossom before the 22nd century starts!

    3. Caaan Do!*

      I used to work in recruitment at a security company and it always surprised me just how many people, despite advice, training, guidance etc would spectacularly destroy bridges with us.

      We had a lot of “your loss” responses, calling up to endlessly argue, one memorable guy who would talk calmly one minute and then SCREAM at us the next (he applied multiple times across years – eventually the MD wrote a personal letter essentially telling him to eff off), another guy who threatened to find where my boss lived and bring a baseball bat, and my personal favourite, just a succint “haha, *c-bomb”

      And these people were supposed to de-escalate situations on the job!

    4. DrunkAtAWedding*

      You’d think, at the very least, one of the best minds of the century would be able to work out not to do that.

    5. Retired Prof*

      If it had been me, I would forward the worst replies – especially any that swore at me or insulted me – to Student Affairs. If the student did this, they have probably done other similar things. I used to hesitate about bringing in SA, but one of the folks there said they need a paper trail for problem students, and often they only find out about problems when it’s too late to help the student and instead some kind of formal discipline or expulsion is the only option. At my university, you are doing the student a favor by bringing in Student Affairs because they have counselors to get the student back on track. Better that than have a student send a similar email over a failing grade or threaten an instructor or staff member with violence over something they don’t like (which has happened to me and many other colleagues).

    6. Enna*

      I work in academia, I would have at least given them a warning that abusive language towards faculty and staff go against the student code of conduct and could result in disciplinary action. And forward the emails to the appropriate department, not requesting action necessarily but for documentation.

      When students react this way in a situation like this (not the greatest mind, but the ones who swear at or insult the OP) it is unlikely that this is the only time they have abused staff members on campus. It often takes overwhelming documentation to have anything take place, and just like other forms of harassment, when someone doesn’t report because they think their individual experience is just a wrinkle and not worth pursuing, it makes it harder to do something when it is really needed.

      We had a student who was screaming, berating and had escalated to threatening people and it wasn’t until reports were coming in from multiple offices that it was considered that the student was actually a liability on campus.

  2. Best mozzarella maker of the 21st century*

    OP #3 if you’re reading this again, I hope you collected all the really entertaining responses for days when you need to relieve any imposter syndrome. “Well, I fluffed that call with the Dean, but at least I managed not to call myself ‘one of the greatest minds of this century’.”

  3. LondonLights*

    #2 – As a minimum I’d explain that given that this is surgery it would be best if two of you were available to help – i.e. if you feel that helping out is a nice thing to do as your boss is new to the area, make sure another colleague is with you.

    1. Artemesia*

      it really needs to be shut down. It is hard to imagine anything too much more inappropriate than a young female new employee assisting an older boss home while he is incapacitated from anesthesia and ”not himself”.

      1. AcademiaNut*


        It is a difficult situation when you’re in a new location and don’t know people well, and you need someone to keep an eye on you after anesthesia, and sometimes you have to ask someone who is not at the level of relationship intimacy which would make this a normal request. But you can’t ask someone who is below you in a hierarchy to provide medical support like this, because, like the LW, they can be reluctant to say no.

        I do wonder if the boss is more comfortable asking a younger women to fulfill a caretaking role than someone he sees as a peer, which is just icky.

        It *is* possible to hire a private nurse for a day to take care of you, even if it is overkill for the amount of care that is normally required (this is a pre-COVID letter, so the current labour shortages wouldn’t have been a factor).

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          This was in line with what I was thinking: he thinks she is more likely to say yes because she’s his report, and he’s afraid he’s going to be goofy and embarrass himself, and he’d rather do that in front of someone who won’t feel like they can get away with teasing him about it.

          1. Amaranth*

            I wouldn’t want to risk him needing some help with the bathroom or clothing when he got home, even if LW is strong enough to hold him up if he is unsteady. The boss is being shortsighted, because if he accidentally says or does something inappropriate, a junior employee might be intimidated, but they also might report him to HR. He’d be much better off with one or two of his personal friends.

        2. DivineMissL*

          My ex has a home based business (he lived upstairs, the first floor was set up as the offices for 3 employees). He had really weird boundaries (or lack thereof) between the professional and personal relationships with his employees, and thought nothing of asking them to do personal favors like this. He didn’t really have any friends or family nearby, and couldn’t separate out that he was paying them and maybe made it difficult to say no (in his mind, they were friends); so he seemed to think that they wouldn’t mind driving him to his colonoscopy appointment(!) or being his emergency contact for the alarm company if he was out of town and the alarm was going off at 3 am. He would get angry if I suggested that it was unprofessional. Did I mention he’s an ex?

      2. London Lass*

        My cynical self read that as the perfect excuse for an older man to knowingly act inappropriately towards a young female employee while claiming no awareness or memory of his own behaviour.

        1. Wendy*

          At the very least, this is an older man who is willfully clueless to how awkward it will be for his younger female employee to turn him down – which may be part of why he’s asking :-\

        2. Perfectly Particular*

          Seriously, not every man in a position of power is a creep! He might just be a little rattled about the procedure, and not thinking through the optics/potential complications. OP should definitely bring a work friend with her because if is just smart to not put yourself in a situation like that, but also not assume the worst of her boss!

          1. Clisby*

            That’s not the only reason – there’s a perfectly good medical reason to take two people along. If he’s loopy from anesthesia, what if he stumbles and falls? Two people would have a lot better chance of re-stabilizing him than one person.

          2. BubbleTea*

            But it is an inappropriate request for her boss to make. She doesn’t have to assume the worst, because the facts are already not good.

            If OP were employed to provide personal care, then it would be an appropriate request, but standard practice to have two care givers, both for logistical reasons and to protect both parties from allegations. But OP isn’t employed to give personal care, and making an inappropriate request of two employees would be worse, not better!

            1. ArtsyGirl*

              Agreed – the LW is NOT the boss’s personal assistant. He is not paying her salary and he cannot demand she attend to him since that is outside the boundaries of her employment. So either she is doing this during work hours and is not actually doing her work or she is doing this off hours and not being compensated for it. She is not this guy’s friend and she is not even his colleague – she is his direct report and he should never had put her in this position especially since it doesn’t sound like he asked her but rather told her.

          3. Lore*

            I can also see the logic going something like this: this is a huge imposition and I don’t have anyone that I’m genuinely close enough to; at least if I ask someone who works for me I know they won’t have to take a vacation day or lose a day of pay to be “on call” for this. (The hospital really wants you gone quickly once they’ve decided you’re ready to go, IME. Last time I had a procedure was on a cold day in March in a city that was still under a lot of covid restrictions so my partner wasn’t allowed to wait at the hospital and there were no open coffee shops or anything like that. He lives about half an hour by transit so he jumped on a train the moment they called him and they called twice more when he wasn’t there in ten minutes!)

            1. NotRealAnonForThis*

              Pre-Covid times, I had to provide names and contact numbers for the person ahead of time, then wound up getting tons of flack because I provided three different ones. Well, when you change the procedure time by several hours on the day of procedure and throw every bit of the schedule (at that time it involved getting care for two toddlers, hence the need for a nailed down schedule) off, I figure you don’t get to b!tch.

              I swear everything medical is extra difficult.

          4. Batgirl*

            It’s not that every man who could get away with it is a creep, but rather that safety measures usually involve considering the worst case scenario. Here the worst case scenario is that he’s intentionally predatory, but even the best case scenarios here are not great. For me, It’s like how I would always meet an internet date in public and tell someone where I was going. However, if I thought every guy was a predator I just wouldn’t go on internet dates. Lots of men are offended by this, but it’s merely insurance against the worst case scenario.

            1. Nanani*

              Ding ding ding!

              Anyone who goes off with “don’t assume the worst geez” is holding up a red flag.

          5. learnedthehardway*

            Assume the worst, and be pleasantly surprised if it’s not the case – that’s the best advice in this situation.

            Honestly, someone who says they behave inappropriately in situations when they are not in full control of their faculties, and yet still asks a young female colleague to pick them up – that’s someone who knows better, and is most likely trying to get away with something untoward.

            I’d take it as a warning and would maintain a certain vigilance until I knew for sure whether the manager is creepy or simply clueless.

            1. Loulou*

              I’m not sure where you’re getting “behaves inappropriately” from OP’s own words, and no, the boss is not MOST LIKELY trying to get away with something untoward. They COULD do something untoward, which is one reason among many others not to do this

              Remember that OP has to either keep working for this guy or find a new job immediately. So it does in fact matter if he’s new in town and hasn’t thought through why he shouldn’t ask his employer to do this vs. actively planning to attack her. Luckily, it’s almost certainly the former so OP should be good declining and continuing to work for this dude.

              1. Nanani*

                The request was inapropriate. He is already behaving inappropriately by asking this.
                He doesn’t have to plan anything worse for it to be inappropriate.

                Stop covering for the creeps of the world by pretending everything is in women’s heads (and it doesn’t matter what your own gender is, you’re still doing it)

                1. Loulou*

                  I agree the request is inappropriate, but I’m responding to a comment saying the boss “says they behave inappropriately in situations when they are not in full control of their faculties” (which I took to be a reference to how the boss will feel after surgery, not this request). That’s not how I read the letter, which said the boss “gets loopy” and has memory lapses under anesthesia. The comment also says the boss is “most likely planning to do something untoward,” which I again disagree with. He most likely did not ask OP to do this because he intends to attack her while he is under anesthesia. This does not make his request appropriate — it’s not! I think we can all agree there.

                  But thanks for accusing me of covering for creeps when you didn’t read carefully enough to understand the comment I was replying to :)

          6. pancakes*

            “He might just not be thinking about anyone besides himself” isn’t as exculpatory as you seem to think it is. It’s fairly common, yes, and it’s not the absolute worst way to behave either, but it’s not ok.

          7. I should really pick a name*

            The LW said “I’m wary of going to a colleague’s house alone especially when they aren’t themselves because of the effects of anesthesia”. That’s more than enough reason on it’s own not to do it.

            Advising them to bring a friend suggests that they’re under some obligation to try to make it work.

            Not every man in a position of power is a creep, but not every one isn’t either.

            1. Observer*

              Advising them to bring a friend suggests that they’re under some obligation to try to make it work.

              Exactly. I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone thinks she has any obligation here, except to her own safety and peace of mind!

          8. Amaranth*

            Its his protection as well. If his hand slips or he ends up falling, does that put her job at risk? Will she report him to HR? Is she stuck wondering if he groped her by accident or if it was taking advantage of the situation? Sure, we’re looking at this through a cis lens, but that and the power imbalance makes it risky for both of them.

          9. Gerry Keay*

            For the sake of safety, some of us have to walk through life assuming the worst of people. I’m glad you haven’t had the experiences that would make this situation scary for you.

          10. Observer*

            Seriously, not every man in a position of power is a creep

            True. But not relevant. Even if he has no intention of being sexual, he IS being a creep. To demand difficult, unpaid and highly personal assistance from a younger female employee whose employment you have major impact on is the definition of creepy.

            He might just be a little rattled about the procedure, and not thinking through the optics/potential complications.

            That level of “not thinking through” is bad enough that the motives don’t much matter anymore. And calling it “optics” is waaay dismissive of the very real problem even a REQUEST would pose, aside from potential complications. And also, aside from the fact that he didn’t even ask her – he TOLD her.

            This is one of those places where the “get off my foot analogy” holds up very well. It doesn’t really matter if he doesn’t have bad intentions. He is STILL doing something really, really inappropriate and it needs to be shut down.

            OP should definitely bring a work friend with her because if is just smart to not put yourself in a situation like that,

            No, the OP should definitely NOT COMPLY with the Boss, bringing it to HR if necessary. Because it really IS stupid to put yourself into a situation like that, but also because the very notions is ridiculous and it’s really out if line for her to have to burn political capital to pander to a boundary crossing boss.

            Again, this is not about assuming what he’s do after the surgery. This is totally down to the mere fact that he’s making demands of her that have nothing to do with her job but burden her, and the nature of the demand on it’s own.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          This came up when this first ran, and I still don’t get it. I think the ask is inappropriate–he should ask his same-level friends–but not a dastardly plan to make a pass. He could just go to a bar and do that, under the influence of far more salubrious drugs.

          My experience of people post-anesthesia (e.g. both my kids with wisdom teeth removal) is that they were woozy and, a few hours later, had no memory of how they went from the doctor’s office to home. Even had they had a nefarious plan in mind to execute, they were not able to do more than shamble sleepily to the car.

          1. Loulou*

            Yeah, this is one of those situations where the reasonable answer is so obvious that a handful of commenters seem to spin out coming up with more things to add.

            1. Dino*

              Or like me, we’ve been through some shit and see things through that lens. Doesn’t mean it’s healthy or helpful for the OP, but in case a reader ever thinks of asking their employee to do something similar, it’s worth knowing that it might ping very wrong on the employee’s radar.

              1. Loulou*

                I mean, sure, I think a worst case scenario is on many of our radars. But saying “this bad-but-unlikely thing COULD happen” is extremely different than saying “this bad-but-unlikely thing is PROBABLY the case.” The latter has serious implications when followed to its logical conclusion. I just don’t think making false statements about likelihood (as opposed to, you might not have thought of X, but I would) is helpful to OP or anyone else who might think of doing something similar.

            2. Observer*

              eah, this is one of those situations where the reasonable answer is so obvious that a handful of commenters seem to spin out coming up with more things to add.

              Well, apparently the “reasonable answer” is NOT “so obvious” or we wouldn’t be getting so many people suggesting that the OP should just take someone along with her to accommodate this utterly inappropriate boss.

              1. Loulou*

                I just checked and found exactly one comment suggesting OP should bring a friend. I could have missed one, but there were definitely not many and I’d say the overwhelming tone of the comments here is that OP should decline. One outlier doesn’t = reasonable solution is not obvious to most people here.

        4. RagingADHD*

          Unless he’s faking the whole procedure in some kind of bizarre cartoon-villain setup, nobody in their right mind would use a medical procedure as an opportunity to knowingly cross boundaries. People usually feel awful after a procedure.

          A proper villain would try to finagle getting the young female employee alone when *she* was impaired, not when he was nauseous , shaky, and probably bearing stitches or leaking body fluids.

          It’s still an inappropriate request, but if it’s some kind of nefarious plan, it’s an extremely weak one.

          1. bamcheeks*

            I think it’s less A Nefarious Plan, than that the same kind of entitlement to a young woman’s time and attention regardless of her own boundaries or desires. The mindset that says, “I can expect Jane to look after me when I’m post-surgery and woozy” is pretty much the same one that says, “I fancy that young woman and I expect her to flatter my ego and respond to my desires”.

          2. Observer*

            eah, this is one of those situations where the reasonable answer is so obvious that a handful of commenters seem to spin out coming up with more things to add.

            True. But he’s already crossed some boundaries. So I’m not going to speculate on his motives, because it doesn’t matter anymore.

            And let’s face it, it’s not all THAT improbable that he is that nefarious, but just stupid. Because I do agree with you that a plan to actually use that time to pull a fast one *IS* pretty stupid. But stupid and arrogant bosses are not all that rare.

        5. NeutralJanet*

          The problem with that scenario is that if he’s just woken up from anesthesia, he probably WON’T have any awareness or memory of his behavior, and almost certainly won’t be up for doing anything creepy.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Right? My experience of anesthesia, my own and others, is that coming out of it is a terrible time to attempt to execute any nefarious scheme.

            Also, apparently (from comments here) they should keep your phone away from you lest you realize that you should immediately share your Extremely Keen Business Insights (as just explained to you by the drugs) with your boss.

          2. Amaranth*

            I don’t think it has to be a Plan in order to be boundary crossing. I’d be concerned that he’d need help getting into bed, or the bathroom, or just fall. You don’t really know how someone will react to anaesthesia until you get there. I walked out of a procedure with no problem and then almost passed out on my doorstep.

            1. NeutralJanet*

              Sure, I agree that this is an inappropriate ask—I just read London Lass’s comment as suggesting that the boss might be setting up a plot to sexually harass the OP, and that doesn’t seem likely.

      3. mrsfields4701*

        I’ve worked with student employees at a university for years, and when I get a particularly nasty email, I am *just* petty enough to forward it to their advisor (or their coach, if they’re an athlete) and suggest that it would be a good teaching opportunity with regard to respectful and appropriate communication. About 95% of the time, I get an apology email from the student faster than you can blink.

        1. Elizabeth I*

          I LOVE this. So simple, direct, and even kind, since it provides a badly needed teaching moment, and from a source they will likely listen to.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          BRILLIANT solution to “forward the awkward” to a person who is already in a teaching role with the problem student.

      4. ArtsyGirl*

        While the boss is hopefully just obtuse about why this is not a good idea, the negative side of me tends to see him as a potentially bad actor. Warning a young woman that she HAS to be alone with him “while he are not himself” is giving cover if he sexually harasses or touches her inappropriately. Even at best this shows that the boss has poor boundaries and will happily use the numerous imbalances (power/gender/age) to get her to do what he wants.

      5. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Not to mention, part of the reason surgeons advise you to have someone with you is wound care. As much as I respect my boss, I do not want to be in a situation where they are partly unclothed while I change their bandages.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      The whole thing hits me as odd. He could just tell the doc or hospital that he lives alone and would have to be providing his own transportation. They may accommodate that or they may offer resources for him to use.

      It just seems like he asked OP because he figured OP would not know what to say.

      1. Clisby*

        Yes, in my area there are private transportation services that do this. He should google “non-emergency medical transport.”

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Same here – especially since we have a very good public transit system, and lots of people from all walks of life use it almost exclusively.

      2. WantonSeedStitch*

        I once was at an ER late at night, after a long afternoon and evening of trying to figure out what was wrong with me (turned out to be nothing serious). I’d come straight from work, was a non-driver, and public transit had stopped running. I mentioned this to the people at the ER and they said, “oh, we can give you a voucher for a cab and call one here for you.” Easy-peasy.

      3. Retired Prof*

        At the surgical center I go to, you can’t have a procedure that involves sedation if you don’t have someone to go home with you. Not take you home, but be at home with you to watch for post-anesthetic reactions.

      4. meagain*

        Most doctors or hospitals will not accommodate that. It’s not odd to require a ride from a responsible person after a procedure, but it’s sort of awkward that he asked a subordinate or put her in that position to have to say no. He may have asked OP because he legitimately needed a ride. She could just say something like she’s not comfortable in emergency situations and wouldn’t be a good person in this instance. I don’t think he’s necessarily trying to take advantage of her. It’s more likely that people don’t remember a thing after a procedure or how they even got home.

        1. Observer*

          but it’s sort of awkward that he asked a subordinate or put her in that position to have to say no.

          That’s giving him WAAAY more credit than he deserves. It’s not just “awkward” (although it’s EXTREMELY awkward, not just “sort of”). It is flamingly out of line. I don’t care how much he needs a ride. He should not have ASKED, much less TOLD her that she IS going to do this.

          I don’t think he’s necessarily trying to take advantage of her.

          He already IS. While he is probably not stupid enough to actually think he’s going to be able to do anything “frisky” at that point, the mere fact that he’s made the demand is already taking advantage of her.

          1. 1.0*

            You know, something can be inappropriate without being the MOST inappropriate. The boss shouldn’t have asked, and that can be true without him also being a rapist.

      5. GreyjoyGardens*

        I agree. I won’t go so far as some commenters with “Boss has nefarious plans to hit on LW” (because most people are so out of it after anesthesia they don’t remember much), but rather “boss is imposing on an employee and thinks he can get away with it.”

        LW, this is a HUGE ask and it’s fine to say NO, you have other plans that day. Presumably Boss, because he’s a boss, can afford to hire a caregiver for the day if he’s new in town. He doesn’t even need a nurse, just an aide, and there are agencies that provide home health care. What Boss needs to do is *talk to the hospital social worker* and get some recommendations.

        I know that hospital social workers can be overworked, frazzled and brusque – my former health care plan was an HMO (begins with “K”) and a lot of the social work staff were unhelpful and nasty. Thankfully, I’m not with them anymore, and when I needed to go home after a major surgery, I got transportation and an overnight health care aide (yes, I did have to pay, fortunately, insurance covered part of it) when none of my friends who could drive were available.

        Tl;dr Boss needs a home health care aide, not an underling, to babysit him after surgery.

    3. Hire a nurse*

      If this is a city of any decent size, you can see what’s on Care-dot-com. (Spelled out in case links don’t work here.) It’s basically a site for freelance medical care. That’s that I did for my colonoscopy. Got a registered nurse to pick me up, take me there, wait, take me home, and sit with me for a while for $100. Definitely worth it.

    4. anonymous73*

      I wouldn’t even go there. OP is uncomfortable with the ask and needs to say no. It doesn’t matter if it’s her boss, this is not work related. Boundaries need to be set here.

    5. Observer*

      As a minimum I’d explain that given that this is surgery it would be best if two of you were available to help

      Way too accommodating. Even as a request, it would have been out of line. As a statement of expectation? Beyond out of line. There is no way she should agree to this, even with another person around.

    6. Michelle ma belle*

      Agree that this showld not be the LW’s responsibility as all sort of unintended conswquences can occur. We were at the holiday party for the law firm where my husband worked when it became obvious that a a partner’s admin assistant had way too much to drink. Her boyfriend had chosen that afternoon to break up with her and she had consoled herself at the open bar. After a “consultation” among a handfull of the attorneys, it was easily decided that they would not allow her to drive herslf home. Getting a cab for her was ruled out for several reason: she was y wasted to the point that cabbies would not want to risk having vomit in their cab, there was concern that she could be assaulted by an unscrupulous driver, and she lived in an area that was so crime ridden that cabs usually refused to take customers there after dark. ( It ground zero for the early 90’s crack problem in our area.)
      Rather than have a lone male attorney drive this woman home, they decided that a married couple should take her home to minimize any legal risk resulting from her not remembering how she got home. My husband came to me and told me to grab my coat quickly as they were looking in his direction to handle this; he had told the others that we had a sitter to get home (very true). Husband also did not want to venture into this part of town, noted for drug sellers on corners and carjacking, late at night as we were totally unfamiliar with it. A couple with no sitter issues ended up taking her home and had to almost carry her into her place. I understand the wasted employee was quite contrite about the situation and that was the last time the firm rented a hotel space with open bar for their annual shindig.

  4. E Pendergast*

    I’m a little unclear about whether the mozzarella business is the LW’s and the friend operates it, or if she gave it to the friend once her daughter bowed out but feels like it needs to stay exactly the way she set it up. Either way, it’s fair to ask Friend not to promote it while on the clock for the LW’s business.

    1. Anonariffic*

      I think Jess is actively stealing business that should be going to OP’s retail store- OP says “I make homemade mozzarella in the store and taught Jess how to make it for our customers.” So they make and sell the cheese in-house at their shop and then there’s the secondary side business of supplying the other farm stand. (Which seems like it would be a conflict in itself but whatever, OP started it.)

      Jess was working the counter at OP’s store and, when a customer came in to order mozzarella from the store, she was telling them to buy it directly from her in a private sale instead. So she’s not just expanding the side business without permission, she’s doing it by diverting customers from her main paid job.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yes, exactly, it’s quite egregious! I think OP maybe set herself up for argument from the way she phrased the complaint, because as Alison said she can’t really insist that Jess ONLY sell to that farmer if Jess wants to expand the side business. But she can of course very plainly insist that Jess not poach customers from the store literally while she’s on the clock at the store…

    2. Sherm*

      I’d wager that the LW is not involved in the side business anymore — LW taught Jess how to make the mozzarella and gave her the blessing to sell to the farmer. And since the store is offering the same cheese, I can see why the LW is “cheesed off” that Jess is selling at the store.

    3. MK*

      I think calling it a side business is confusing, because it sounds like it was a very specific freelance arrangement with one client, not a business that was soliciting or taking orders from anyone. Jess is trying to make it a real side business, while the OP is not ok with Jess selling to anyone else.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Agreed. Probably OP using the wrong term led Jess to think, naturally, that she was now the owner of a small business and could solicit new customers. (Obviously soliciting the store’s customers is a problem and makes sense to ban.)

    4. Beth*

      If I’m understanding this right:

      – OP runs a store that sells, among other things, homemade mozzarella.
      – OP also sold homemade mozzarella to this one customer; for some reason (unclear why), OP considered this to be separate from the store.
      – OP handed over their mozzarella recipe and the side customer to Jess, who also works in OP’s store
      – Jess, while at work in OP’s store, directed customers away from buying OP’s mozzarella in order to expand the side business that she now controls

      The fourth of those is obviously wrong, and OP gets to tell Jess she can’t do that. If you’re working in someone’s store, you can’t be like “don’t buy this here, buy it from my business instead”–that’s poaching your boss’s customers, and I can’t imagine any employer would tolerate it. The rest is confusing but ultimately not relevant, I think, beyond explaining why OP feels like they can dictate what Jess does with the side business.

      1. Green great dragon*

        Yep. I think OP is selling through the store at retail prices, and also had a deal for bulk supply at trade prices to the farm store – Jess is now supplying the farm store through this deal. When new customer came in, she thought the order was large enough to be a trade order which she could supply directly, giving the customer the cheaper trade price. But of course that’s totally inappropriate.

        Maybe it would have been right to offer the restaurant some sort of bulk deal, especially if they’re going to order regularly, maybe OP would have been happy to hand them to Jess as a trade customer if asked, but that has to be OPs decision. Jess doesn’t get to poach customers that come into the store.

        1. H2*

          I think it’s also possible that the letter writer has an agreement with the farmer that they sell exclusively to him. So the correct response to someone wanting to buy cheese would be to direct them to the farmer. This would make sense of the farmer supplies them with milk, for example.

      2. Bamcheeks*

        I’m also wondering where Jess makes the mozarella. Is she doing it in her own kitchen, or on the farm using the farm’s equipment (and possibly under their hygiene license and insurance)? It definitely seems like there could be a lot of blurry lines here about whether this is really an independent business or not.

        1. Heidi*

          I was also thinking about this. If Jess is going to make her cheese at a separate facility using her own supplies and ingredients, that’s one thing. But it sounds like with the existing side hustle cheese agreement, she makes the mozzarella at OP’s store, sells it to one buyer, and takes all the profit. The OP can definitely limit the use of their own equipment and ingredients.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            I think this and the point about exclusivity due to how/where the milk comes from are both points that are just outside normal business enough (it is a farm stand set-up after all), that it’s definitely worth checking to see if their relevant.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              This thread is convincing me more than the previous post that there might actually be totally valid reasons that OP can have more say than I was thinking over who Jess can reasonably sell to…

              1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

                Yeah it always sounded from the description like OP’s use of the term “side business” was kind of a misnomer (although legally/financially may be accurate). It’s more like a separate arm of the business, which the OP treats casually. OP has passed the work on to Jess, and in exchange Jess can just pocket the profit. But OP clearly thinks of this as still within the domain of the store’s business, just a unique transaction they don’t have to monitor anymore. And it’s possible that some part of this is under-the-table or something similar.

                But regardless, even if it is a totally separate situation and a business OP has legally passed on, it’s fair to say that as a condition of working in the retail store, Jess cannot proposition store customers for the side business.

        2. RegBarclay*

          That’s what I was wondering! Surely Jess is not making it in her own kitchen if she’s selling it – not impossible but I wouldn’t personally buy cheese from a home kitchen the way I might buy baked goods. I was assuming she was using the store’s equipment, though it could be the farm as well.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            A friend with a small food-related business rents commercial kitchen space that is set up for sharing. (Hourly rates. Additional fee for special equipment or monthly locked storage.)

      3. MK*

        Well, she can’t dictate what Jess does with the side business exactly, but she can have rules about what is a conflict of interest for an employee of hers. If this side customer didn’t exist, would she allow an employee to have a side hustle making and selling the exact same thing that is sold in her store? Many stores would have a policy against that, and by the same token it wouldn’t be odd to say it’s only ok to sell to one particular customer, but she doesn’t want Jess to grow a separate business competing with the store. Frankly, if Jess wants to do that, she should quit.

      4. quill*

        I think OP got their wires crossed: this is less a separate business than an order-in-bulk arrangement with a long term, high volume customer.

    5. First time listener, long time caller*

      It’s simple. For years OP was stealing from her family’s business THAT SHE RUNS by running a directly competitive business. Then, she let her daughter steal from the company instead. Then she let her daughter’s friend do it. Then she felt the friend was stealing too much so she wants to shut it down.

      1. Red*

        Kind of this. I don’t think it was stealing, because businesses often do both retail and wholesale. The issue seems like it was all rather informal up to the point of the letter, and LW was flustered by this unexpected outcome. Setting pen to paper to clarify Jess’s role would have been a logical starting point, ex. “Perform transactions, maintain inventory, routine order supply for Farmer Joe, refer new business inquiries to LW.” Whatever.

        If Jess disagreed and wanted her own cheese business, that’s a separate conversation with other potential ramifications.

    1. Fikly*

      It reads to me like the LW wants to control who the daughter’s friend sells to, regardless of where she finds the buyer. Which, no, you can’t do. She taught the person how to make mozzarella, but this is not a technique that is protected, it’s not the secret spices and herbs.

      She didn’t actually give her a side business. She gave her a recipe and one contact, at most. And regardless, once you sell a business to someone, unless you have negotiated otherwise during the sale, you cannot control what the new owner does with it.

      It’s entirely reasonable to tell her she can’t try to gain customers for her private cheese venture while working at this shop, but outside of work is outside of work, and she can do what she likes there.

      1. MK*

        Well, she can say that it’s not ok to both work in the store and have a competing side hustle, most businesses have such a rule. She can’t stop Jess from trying to grow her side business, but frankly I think firing would be a reasonable response, if she insists that’s what she will do, even if she stops soliciting customers.

        1. anonymous73*

          No she really can’t say that unless she and Jess entered in a contractual agreement. No, Jess can’t solicit for her own business while working in OP’s store, but OP can’t dictate what she can do outside of that.

      2. Stitch*

        I mean it sounded to me like the friend was taking customers who were physically in OP’s store which is a huge no no.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yeah, that part seems clear to me–they came into the store to buy cheese and Jess tried to direct them to her side business instead. That’s definitely not okay.

          1. Koalafied*

            Yeah, on first read I assumed the store must not sell mozzarella balls in store? Because that’s the only context where you’d expect Jess to think it was appropriate to pitch another mozzarella source to customers, in the store, while on the job.

            1. londonedit*

              Yeah I read it that the OP does sell their own mozzarella at the farm shop, one day the guy from the restaurant came in and said ‘I’d like to buy 30 balls of mozzarella please’, which was probably more than they had in stock at the shop at the time, and Jess said ‘We don’t have enough to fulfil that right now, but I have a side business making mozzarella for another customer, I can take that order for you and you can just pay me’. Which is extremely shady (whether Jess realised that or not) because she’s directly siphoning off business from the OP’s shop.

      3. H2*

        I’m wondering if there’s an agreement that they wholesale to just the farmer, though? And so should direct a chef wanting cheese to the farmer?

      4. Koalafied*

        “She didn’t actually give her a side business. She gave her a recipe and one contact, at most.”

        I’d even go so far as to say she essentially just offered the daughter’s friend a bonus for taking on a special assignment.

    2. Language Lover*

      It really is. Is all the cheese made in the store? I’d imagine it’d have to be to meet standards. So why is it a “side business?” Is it just because the Letter writer doesn’t want to make the weekly order so they pass it on to someone else? Their daughter and now their daughter’s friend?

      It probably should have always just remained a part of the original business.

    3. BetsyS*

      It read to me as though the farm store sells mozzarella, and the employee is undercutting the store by offering to sell her own mozzarella instead. You can’t work at a store and offer the customers a better deal.

      It might be more clear with another sort of business, for example, if you work for a tailor shop, you can’t solicit tailoring jobs from the shop’s customers. Or, if you are a personal trainer at a gym and want to solicit the gym’s customers for your in-home training, the gym might arrange to allow you to do this for a cut.

      There might be a win-win here, if the employee could make the cheese for the shop and give the shop a percentage. But she can’t run a competing side business right from the counter.

      1. MK*

        Many businesses wouldn’t allow a competing side business even if it was completely separate from the store, it depends on professional norms. I think trainers having private in-home clients is common, but for other vendors, it’s not.

    4. HB*

      Yes! This is one where I want an update that simply provides nothing but background on the original question – not because it really changes the advice but because I really just want to know! (Loving all the commenters providing different likely scenarios of what’s going on).

    5. hbc*

      To me, the events are pretty clear, but there’s a whole world of “what made you think this would end well?” confusion.

      -You shouldn’t have employees you can’t/won’t fire. Jess arguing about her right to poach clients *while on the clock* is delusional and should be on her way out. This isn’t complicated.

      -You can’t “hand over a business” and then dictate how that business operates. Jess has no moral or legal obligation to only sell cheese to this one farmer ever.

      -If you’ve muddied the waters by having a side business that pseudo-competes with your main business and employees who are friends, get all boundaries down in writing. Not so much so you can Enforce a Contract, but so you make sure you’re all in agreement going in. Jess probably wouldn’t be pitching a fit if she had been told up front that she could only sell to the farmer and stay employed.

      1. Warmond*

        I am wondering about point 2, as there is some missing information that may make more of a case for the owner to maybe have some influence on Jess’ side business. Is Jess using the shop’s manufacturing equipment to make the mozzarella? And what about the inputs besides labor, such as ingredients, e.g., milk – is Jess buying these or are these coming from the farm?

        1. hbc*

          Yeah, that’s where 3 comes into play (or maybe a 2.5.) OP doesn’t get to say anything about Jess’ business, but she can control her own business and equipment. Jess can make cheese for whoever she wants, but OP can decide she’s only provide equipment/materials to cover Farmer’s order, or only while Farmer is the exclusive customer of Jess, or whatever.

          It may end up with the same result, but it’s controlling what’s her right to control.

  5. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    Many, many moons ago I worked at the student union (where the clubs/Greek organizations would hold many of their on-campus events) and we had an attached theater (seated about 70) that clubs could reserve. This meant that I (I worked in the office that you booked space through) was well acquainted with the university theater techs (we also had the largest music program at any state university in our state – so we had two very nice music halls and a just short of professional stage). Our techs were all enrolled students – and this is important – who were considered”non traditional university students*.” The person in charge of hiring techs had a very, very non-negotiable requirement that anyone hired as a tech had provable prior work experience with electrical and wiring. For him it was a safety requirement – he didn’t want to work with people who had zero training/experience with electrical, and his budget wasn’t enough to train students on the job (it was enough to pay almost double what the average student employee was making, so about $14 an hour in the very early ‘00’s).
    He had one person hunt him down one day to demand either a job or serve him with papers for a discrimination claim. He finally found him in the office I worked in while the head of the Jazz band Dept, my manager, and I were going over requirements for Winter Recital season. This kid was just barely 17, and really, really profane while giving his Ultimatum. He was kicked out of the office after attempting to jump the guy by the Dean of Student Affairs. This kid got himself blacklisted from all student employment while enrolled for ten mins of foolishness.
    The point of this story – college is a time to learn all sorts of things – both in and out of the classroom. It wouldn’t hurt to respond back to the profane/obscene responses that this sort of conduct in the real world tends to lead to you getting blacklisted from companies. It may not stick for all – but it may help some of them that are just immature.

    *this university was in a navy town, and about 45 mins from a marine corps training/repair yard. We were at that time about 45% non traditional students (meaning someone who starts college later in life), and many of them were former military who were attending on GI bills. There was no shortage of people with electrical training and experience from their military service to fill those jobs Safely.

    1. Ebar*

      Well if you’re going to burn a bridge no point messing with matches if thermite is available.

    2. MBK*

      “Attempted to assault University employee; got blacklisted from student employment.” Anything short of being disenrolled and barred from campus is an underreaction, IMO.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I don’t know if that happened later, I wasn’t employees in an office where I would have been privy to student disciplinary records (and was a student employee myself at the time). I know about the blacklisting because that guy applied to work in the student lounge, and was told he wasn’t eligible for student employment (my roommate told me he at least took that rejection calmly).

    3. RagingADHD*

      The sad and worrisome thing about such volatile students is that so many MH issues tend to surface or peak around that age. The combination of new responsibilities & new freedoms, the major change in living & social situation, as well as the natural course of brain development, can be a perfect storm.

      Sometimes young people who needed extra support can finally access it, and sometimes those whose family & school supports were keeping issues at bay get to college and the wheels come offf.

  6. confused and anon*

    Question related to #5.

    I’m job hunting, and I’ve been seeing an increasing number of posts that have a line that goes something like “If you have a disability that means you need accomodations for the application process, please reach out to your recruiter.”

    I have a traumatic brain injury, and some other cognitive issues that can cause issues specifically with the application process before it gets to an interview – which means if I need to discuss accommodations, it can be before I have a recruiter or other contact at a potential employer.

    While I appreciate at least some wording that seems to acknowledge the existance of people with disabilities, I am confused on how to figure out who to contact if I need to request an accommodation before I send in an application. If it matters, I’m generally looking at job posts directly on company websites, and not usually huge corporations.

    I have never reached out based on exactly what Alison says in response to #5 – ignoring the risk of discrimmination, my understanding is that HR departments will pretty much never respond. I emailed one a few months back when clearly the wrong application was attached to a job post (the short answer questions were aimed at a manager, and this was not a manager role) and never heard anything, and took that as an example of the principle in action.

    1. Wendy*

      I’m curious – what kind of accommodations do you need? If it’s something really out of the ordinary, I suspect you may just be stuck either using a private recruiter/headhunter (they can be employee-hired, although that’s rare, but your issue sounds like one of the big reasons they exist!) or only applying to places you can talk to HR ahead of time to get your disability accommodated. If it’s something more general, though – larger print on the paperwork, you can only communicate by text instead of phone calls, I don’t even know what to guess – that may be something they’re prepared to handle with little extra fuss.

    2. Virginia Plain*

      For what it’s worth in my area (U.K. govt) that question is entirely for the benefit of the candidate and is certainly neither ignored nor used to discriminate – that would be illegal, in the US too I think.
      With us there is a question on the application form about disabilities and what accommodations might be needed (also it’s “do you consider yourself”, not “provide proof”). This info is passed to interviewers/those overseeing recruitment tests/exercises to ensure the accommodation is provided. So extra time for written tests if you have e.g dyslexia is definitely given, it never occurs to people that it wouldn’t be or that it’s any sort of problem, and for another example I have sat in an interview panel and read on a form that a candidate has reduced mobility so needs stair free access. So as it was an external interview location where candidates were usually sent up to the room, I went down to the lobby to direct the candidate to the lift and accompany her to the interview room at slow pace so she didn’t feel rushed. This is the minimum expectation of I’d as interviewers and it wouldn’t occur to us to object or think it a problem. The attitude is very much, horror at the idea of someone not getting a reasonable accommodation they asked for, as opposed to something which might be used against them. Very important reputational issue.

      1. ecnaseener*

        That’s very nice for you. “confused and anon” is talking about applications that don’t have a question to fill out, just instructions to contact someone who may not exist at that stage.

        Yes, discrimination in the hiring process is illegal in the US too but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. It’s nice that you haven’t personally noticed it happening.

        1. BubbleTea*

          This seems unnecessarily adversarial. Virginia is explaining their experience of the process and encouraging confused not to worry about following the instructions, not denying that discrimination exists. If the employer will discriminate they’ll do it whether it’s via application, email or phone.

          1. Someone On-Line*

            Of course people with the intent to discriminate will discriminate, but I’d worry about unconscious bias if having that information at the start. “Jane just doesn’t seem quite as qualified, can’t really put my finger on why…” after finding out Jane uses walkers, for example.

            1. londonedit*

              The point of asking for it is meant to be that it will help to make the process/the company itself *more* inclusive, not less. In the UK you’ll often see a line at the end of a job advert to the effect of ‘We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds, and are particularly encouraging those from diverse groups, such as members of the BAME and LGBTQ+ communities, and those who consider themselves to have a disability, to join us’. And that’s meant to be a genuine request. Of course discrimination happens, but companies are at least making an effort to be clear that they want applications from all sorts of people (and in most cases they are actually also making an effort to ensure they interview and employ staff from a diverse range of backgrounds.

              1. Anononon*

                Companies often use similar statements on their job postings here in the US as well. And while I’m sure many (most, even) mean it sincerely, I think it’s a bit Pollyanna-ish to assume that no company won’t, at the minimum, be subconsciously biased by it.

                1. londonedit*

                  Of course, and I don’t think ‘no company’ would be unbiased by it. But it’s at least a step in the right direction, and I think it’s unnecessarily cynical to write it off as meaningless.

                2. Colette*

                  That could happen – but if you need accommodations and don’t ask for them, that will likely hurt you more than unconscious bias.

                3. Anononon*

                  It’s tricky, because I don’t think it’s necessarily meaningless, and I do think the intent behind most is incredibly important. It’s just tough because applicants don’t know which scenario will apply, so each time they request accommodations, they have to wonder if they’re hurting their chances or not.

          2. ecnaseener*

            I wasn’t going for adversarial at all. It genuinely is very nice for Virginia Plain to have seen this done well. But it isn’t really a helpful response to someone who’s talking about their own difficult experiences, hence my qualifying that it’s nice “for you” and pointing out why it wasn’t helpful.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      I think you will need to get through the application process by yourself without support from HR, simply because it’s very hard to get the attention of a human being while you’re doing an online application. At that stage, you’re just submitting the application to a computer system. If you need help with this, then I would ask someone you know to support you.

      IF you get a response to your application to set up a call or whatever, then you can ask for whatever accommodations you need for the call. Eg. if you’re hard of hearing, you can ask for a video call so you can lipread, vs a phone conversation (etc.)

      In the interview, you can explain the accommodations you would need on the job. Eg. if you need a phone that does voice to text, that’s the time to flag what accommodations you would need.

    4. Bumblebee*

      I would answer in the context of the interview only – (I’m at a university so sorry if these examples are odd) – for example, would anything about taking a walking tour be difficult for you? Do you need some sort of alternative set-up for a Zoom call/phone call? etc. Do you need any kind of parking accommodations/a note about where the handicap spaces are? Do you need captioning or a microphone for the audience if you are giving a large-group presentation? Etc.

    5. First time listener, long time caller*

      Don’t do it!!!!!! They are weeding out people with disabilities and want you to identify yourself before they make an offer.

  7. Cheese Puzzled*

    Why doesn’t the store owner take custom cheese orders through the store and split the profits with Jess? I don’t understand why they’re only doing it for the one farmer, unless it’s too much labor under the current setup. In which case maybe think about starting a cheese wing of your operation? It seems like enough demand is there to cause some friction.

    1. Green great dragon*

      I think it is a labour issue, in that OP is happy making as much mozzerella as the shop needs but wants to be a shop owner, not a bulk cheese manufacturer. Which is fair enough. They might even have been OK with passing on a new bulk customer to Jess if asked! But that is not up to Jess.

    2. Don't be long-suffering*

      I think it’s essentially pretty simple. You can’t take away my customers while I’m paying you to serve them.

    3. Catie*

      I thought the same. Unclear why a farm store w/ a butcher would refuse to sell mozzarella, even though the owner had a side business doing so.

    4. madge*

      She might not want to deal with health codes, food manufacturing permits, etc., that aren’t needed with the current setup. Some states/counties allow “farm” versions of codes that are more relaxed but maybe OP’s doesn’t.
      As an example, we serve beer but were told by the health inspector that if we wanted to slice fruit to serve in it, we had to have an additional stainless-steel table ($1k+ for the lowest-priced one we’d have to have). We can serve little baskets of prepackaged cheese and sausage along with knives but if we so much as slice bread or slice the cheese ourselves? Stainless steel table needed.

  8. Warmond*

    LW#1 – the facts seem a little hazy here. It sounds like a very informal set-up and I suspect that there hasn’t been formal acknowledgement (verbally or in writing) of just what this side business is. In any case, it’s pretty sketchy in both the business- and moral-sense for Jess to be soliciting business from your customers when you both sell mozzarella.

    In fact, she actually took business away from you by taking this order for herself, this acting in bad faith. Most companies have a non-compete clause for employees, and she would be in violation of this. Are you sure that this is someone that you want working for you? Have there been other red flags?

    Out of interest, how is she making the mozzarella – is it inside your business and using your manufacturing equipment? If this is the case, I can see why you would be especially bothered by this – if it is really bothering you, you could end this issue by revoking access to the equipment, but (warning!) there would be considerable ill-will and I doubt the relationship will be the same.

    One last point, it may have been your understanding when you gave her the side business that it would be for one customer only. However, I doubt that you have any practical ability to put restrictions on her customers. It would be different if this side business was covered in her duties as an employee.

    OP – I’m sorry that you are dealing with this. You did something nice for someone, and I can see how you could feel upset or taken advantage of. Good luck!

    1. londonedit*

      I agree with all of this. It sounds like the main purpose of the cheese-making facilities is to make cheese for the OP’s farm shop, to be sold to the public at retail prices, but OP (and then their daughter, and now Jess) also uses it to make a regular bulk trade order for this one farmer. And Jess then offered to take on another trade customer, thereby directing the profit for that sale into her own side business, rather than having that customer buy from the shop itself, in which case the profit would have gone to the OP. So I can see why the OP would be annoyed about that, especially if Jess is using the farm shop’s equipment to make the cheese. It’s definitely all a bit messy and boundaries need to be clarified – Jess needs to know that siphoning off customers who enquire via the farm shop into her side business isn’t OK, which I think is a reasonable request for the OP to make, but OP also needs to realise that there’s nothing they can do about any other new customers who might approach Jess outside of the shop. Either Jess runs the side business or she doesn’t.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Hard agree about a bit mess and boundaries needing clarification.

        OP GAVE Jess the biz. Well, it’s not actually a biz, it’s one agreement with one customer. Jess decided to branch out- which is fine, OP could have anticipated that would happen, after all it is now Jess’ business.
        She can do as she wishes.

        But she can’t do as she wishes on OP’s clock or with OP’s equipment. And she really can’t undercut OP’s own profits.

        I am not surprised that Jess is confused. We are confused reading about it here. I think the bulk of this one falls on OP for not laying things out in a clearer form. What is left is to just tell Jess that she cannot sell her own cheese on OP’s time. If Jess says. but-but-but, OP can just say, “My store. My rules.” One would hope that Jess would be clever enough to realize that cutting into OP’s profits impacts her own paycheck and is really not a good long term plan.

        I understand businesses can develop side gigs, but it’s super important for the owner to know what they are doing and why they are doing it. Based on what is here, that one cheese buyer could have just remained a store customer and those sales could have remained under the umbrella of the store business. Maybe this customer was given a special discount which meant more accounting work. This is fine, plenty of businesses offer preferential pricing to bulk buyers. I’d love to see what is up with the books (financials) on this one.

    2. anonymous73*

      The letter is a bit confusing, but the bottom line is clear. If a business owner teaches you a skill for a side hustle, you can’t solicit away that business owner’s customers while they’re shopping in that business owner’s store. And it would also be pretty shitty to solicit those same customers outside of the store (although the business owner couldn’t really do anything about that unless a contract was signed, which I’m guessing doesn’t exist).

        1. anonymous73*

          You seem to be insistent on firing Jess. If many of the commentariat are confused, it stands to reason that Jess is as well. It sounds as if OP wasn’t clear on the expectations of the side hustle, and made assumptions based on their relationship. She needs to have a direct conversation with her about what is and isn’t acceptable, and THEN if Jess ignores that or refuses to comply, OP can fire her.

          1. londonedit*

            Yeah it sounds like the OP meant ‘you can pick up a bit of extra money making mozzarella in bulk for the farmer while you’re making the cheese for the shop’ and Jess heard ‘this is now your own mozzarella business and you can do as you please’.

    3. Warmond*

      OP – while I was thinking about the question of where Jess’ mozzarella is being prepared, another question occurred to me. Who is paying for the inputs, e.g., milk product, into Jess’ mozzarella? Is she paying for this, or is this farm product that is used for the family store?

      In any case, the arrangement doesn’t led itself well to clear boundaries or how an expansion of the side business would work.

  9. lobsterp0t*

    Wow. Re: #2, I would for sure be like – happy to assist. Let me know what time to book the Uber. This strikes me as creepy!!

    1. Janet Pinkerton*

      It can’t just be an Uber—you have to have a person who’s actually helping you. (Do people sometimes have Uber drivers pretend they are friends so they can just use Uber? Yes, but there’s a reason doctors require more than just an Uber.)

      1. londonedit*

        This reminds me of the time a few years ago when one of my friends was pregnant and there was this Huge Thing going around pregnancy circles at the time about how you had to have a car seat to take your baby home in, and you would not be allowed to leave the hospital with the baby unless it was in a car seat. Of course people were neglecting to understand that you needed to leave the hospital with the baby in a car seat *if you were taking the baby home in a car*. So my friend, who like many people in London doesn’t drive and was planning to take the baby home in a sling/pram on the Tube, was subjected to a constant barrage of ‘You need a car seat, they won’t let you leave without a car seat’ and people could not wrap their heads around the fact that a baby does not need to be in a car seat if it is not in a car.

        1. KRM*

          A friend of mine encoutered that at the hospital when she wanted to take her baby home. They asked to see the car seat and she said “oh, I don’t have one, I’m taking the train home, I don’t have a car” and one of the nurses refused to believe it and hassled her about needing the car seat. Eventually she just put the baby in the sling and left, but it was quite annoying for her.

        2. bamcheeks*

          It does depend on a fair amount of luck that you’d be able to carry a baby and walk! I left the hospital same day within 24 hours with my second and within 48 hours with my first, and walking to the hospital door was hard enough.

        3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Here if you are leaving the hospital via public transit all they ask is to see a good carriage (that will allow you to strap in the newborn) and your transit pass. But I’m also in a rare part of the US with a well developed public transit system.

      2. EmmaPoet*

        I had to have major dental surgery a while back, and they had a car service that you could hire if you didn’t have someone to pick you up- bonded driver and whatnot, they all knew him, and there had never been an incident. The driver was really nice, gave me a bottle of water, got me home smoothly, and made sure I got down the steps to my apartment without going flat on my face. I wish more places had this option. I’ve got a procedure with this requirement coming up and it’s an hour away from home- nearest family is several states away and who can I ask among my friends (who are all working fulltime) to spend two hours+ to retrieve me at some ungodly hour?

        1. Imaginary Friend*

          You can hire medical transportation support yourself. I’m not talking ambulance, I’m talking agencies that supply home medical assistance and someone drives you or rides in the cab with you.

      3. lobsterp0t*

        Yes, I was being somewhat flip but I would absolutely not do what was asked. I would also consider collating a list of appropriate services and emailing those across. Maybe this person is unaware of their existence. (I’m thinking Medical transportation services or whatever.)

    2. StudentA*

      The healthcare providers I’ve dealt with need someone you know to pick you up and be responsible for transporting you. No Ubers. If you’ve ever been in a bind like that, you’d know the request is not in and of itself creepy. But the LW should decline if it makes her uncomfortable.

      1. Observer*

        Nope. It’s still creepy. As Allison pointed out, he could have asked the people ON HIS LEVEL who he hangs out with out of work. And if none of them were available he could have asked them if they know of any services that would do this – every hospital will accept a health care aid as acceptable.

    3. meagain*

      Typically the office/surgical center will not let you leave without a person there to take you. You can’t just say, oh I’m taking an uber home. It’s very stressful if you don’t have a person in your life to help with these personal and private things.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Yep. I used to give rides home after abortions as part of a volunteer service because they could not leave in a cab. I had to physically come inside the center to sign them out then drive them home, though my responsibility ended at their curb. (And while I’d recommend the LW beg off, dropping the boss off without going inside is an option to sidestep fear of being responsible or overly involved.)

        It is stressful. What if you don’t have anyone? What if you do, but they can’t get off work? What if you didn’t want anyone to know? These women were poor and often traveling great distances. Over the years I’ve been the friend with flexible days so I’ve given a lot of rides but not everyone has that. Honestly I’m not sure who would have picked me up a lot of the time.

    4. Blomma*

      It has to be an actual person. I have had major dental surgery under anesthesia 3x this past year and fortunately my mom was able to drive me. I had to provide her name and phone number as part of check in. Between the anesthesia and the sedative I had to take for anxiety, I was really out of it and needed assistance walking to/from the car afterwards, plus I have a bunch of memory gaps. (Apparently they took X-rays after the second surgery. I don’t remember that!) I feel for the boss if he doesn’t have family nearby to help, but it isn’t appropriate to ask the OP or an Uber driver for that kind of help.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        When I had to have dental work under anesthesia and no-one to drive me home and stay with me, I hired a pet sitter (recommended by my dentist). It worked out beautifully. She did a great job and my big fat Ragdoll got a new buddy to snuggle with.

        While if you’re poor, hiring someone is off the table, it sounds like Boss can hire someone if he has to (if he can afford an employee!). LW should beg off. Boss can hire a professional.

  10. Jennifer Juniper*

    OP2: Get a list of medical transport services and send it to your boss. They will pick him up and take him home from the procedure. Since he’s an older man, you’re a younger woman, AND he’s your boss – this has all the potential of a sexual harassment situation that has plausible deniability written all over it.

    1. Clisby*

      And OP doesn’t have to say that to the boss if she doesn’t want to. It’s perfectly reasonable to give a list of medical transport services and say, “I really don’t feel comfortable being responsible for someone who’s just been under anesthesia. These people are trained.”

  11. londonedit*

    With number 4 – I’ve done that once. In my industry you don’t usually apply via an application form or online portal, it’s usually just sending in a CV and cover letter (historically by post, now just by email). But there was one time where a company was using an application form, and in filling it out I noticed that the final two questions were identical. Bear in mind that this was an application for an editorial job, so noticing/not noticing might have been more important than in other sectors. I emailed the contact name on the job advert and asked whether it was a mistake, and they apologised and sent me a new version of the form. I’m sure they accepted the forms where people didn’t query it, but I was glad I’d asked (and I did end up getting an interview for the job). However in this case you’ve tried to contact HR and haven’t had a response, so I agree that you should just carry on and answer the question as best you can. Maybe include something in your answer that addresses the ambiguity – ‘This question could be answered in several different ways, but in my experience…’ and so on.

    1. Smithy*

      In my sector, I’ve noticed a trend that so many jobs have nearly an identical job description and you can’t really tease out how senior the job is unless you look at the years of experience. If they mention the title of the person you’re reporting into or salary, that also helps but is not information widely included. Otherwise, you can see nearly identical job postings that are asking for 2-3 years of experience as well as 10-15.

      With that level of potential confusion around how to gauge the level of seniority of the role, I’ve found the email that’s inclusive of my cover letter/resume a great time to include that question. Basically to call out, “I am excited about the potential of the position and have X years of experience and am looking to step into this level of seniority. If that matches with your vision for this position, I look forward to your consideration of my application.”

      I have tried to do my very best to figure out those questions prior to applying as much as possible – but when it’s really not possible, that’s how I’ve approached it.

  12. Essentially Cheesy*

    I would be all over selling cheese that I make to anyone that would buy it. I am tempted to ask people to go buy the cheeses we make at work! LOL

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

    #2 I could be wrong but don’t you need to have someone home with you after you’ve had anesthesia. Like doesn’t the hospital ask who will be with him? Doesn’t someone have to come into the hospital? Otherwise they could just call a cab.
    He could come home, start the stove to make a cup of tea and fall asleep and start a fire.
    If he is known to be loopy from anesthesia maybe he needs to talk to the hospital to have them keep him longer until the affects have 100% worn off. Then he can take a cab or something

    1. Clisby*

      When I’ve been in this situation, they absolutely require that you have a responsible person with you when you leave (and I’m just talking about outpatient procedures.) This doesn’t have to be the driver; it’s OK to use a cab as long as this designated person is with you. My husband has always come with me, but they’d have been OK with my non-driving son as well.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Cats’ question is, shouldn’t that person also be required to stay at your home once you get there? Not just to be in the car with you

        1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

          When my husband had outpatient surgery a few years ago, they asked if I would be staying with him after we went home. I told them that I had to run some errands, so my Dad was going to stay with him while I was out. Once they were satisfied that I wasn’t going to leave home until Dad arrived, they were fine with us switching around who the responsible person was at any given time. The important part was that someone was there with him.

        2. Anononon*

          I mean, I’m sure many people lie about it.

          Back in the day, when my dad would get epidurals for his back (without anesthesia!), he would wait around in the lobby a bit, and then go “oh, there’s my wife”, walk out and drive home.

          (Now, at least, hospitals have gotten smarter than that and so has he.)

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            Yep. Once when Mr Gumption was overseas I had to have surgery and totally lied about someone being home with me. My neighbor drove me to and from the surgi-center, but I certainly wasn’t going to ask her to hang out with me while I was whacked out on meds.

        3. Clisby*

          As a practical matter, I’m not sure how a hospital could require that – but it hasn’t been the case when I needed someone to get me home. All they’ve required when I, my husband, or either of my children were in this situation was that your “responsible person” had to be there when you checked in, so they could lay eyes on that person and get a phone number.

        4. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

          I guess my thought is that it sounds like the boss doesn’t have anyone who lives with him as the OP says his family is not in the same city. So if he can’t have a family member drive him then I’m assuming that no none will be at home with him. Unless he has someone at home who just isn’t able to drive.

        5. pancakes*

          How would they enforce that? I’ve been in that situation, and have been the pick-up person in that situation. The last time that situation arose, my boyfriend had a colonoscopy, and our friend went and brought him home in a Lyft because I had some work conflict. It would be pretty seriously intrusive — and wildly expensive! — for hospitals and doctors’ offices to send private enforcement around to be sure people have someone with them.

          1. ecnaseener*

            No, obviously not sending private enforcement. I guess I didn’t mean “requirement” so much as “very strong recommendation that they will make when you pick up the patient.” The point is, it’s not generally considered enough to JUST drive someone home from surgery, they need someone to stay with them, and the employee really really shouldn’t be put in that position.

    2. Not your typical admin*

      This is what I was thinking. Every time I’ve had anesthesia or helped someone who has I’ve always been told the patient needs someone with them for 24 hours. Even after just having wisdom teeth out I only vaguely remember getting into bed and my husband waking me up every few hours to give me meds and to make sure I ate something. There’s more to after procedure care than just transport.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yeah, sometimes people have reactions to the anesthesia or the procedure after they’re home.

        When I had my wisdom teeth out, I got incredibly ill from the anesthetic and spent the better part of the next 24 hours throwing up. If I’d been alone without anyone to monitor me or push fluids, it could have been quite serious.

        1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

          My bio-family has a history of reactions to anesthesia. My Grandma almost died under it once. I tend to vomit for hours afterwards. My son comes out of it in a Hulk rage. (Seriously: I watched it take 7 adults to restrain a 2 1/2 year old who had ripped his IV out of his arm while in Hulk mode. 7 people to hold him down and get the IV back in!) I’m guessing the level of anesthesia and the length of time you are under it probably have something to do with the level of reaction? Like when I had a procedure as a kid I remember throwing up for a good most of the day afterwards. (not fun since procedure was on my throat which made barfing even less fun) As an adult I had 3 wisdom teeth taken out at once. A relative parked me on the couch with meds and a vomit bucket and then left. I remember throwing up once. Starting a movie. The movie ending and nothing in between thanks to loopiness. It was like I just skipped a few hours into the future. But I honestly can’t imagine asking a coworker or an underling to deal with any of the above. Maybe a close trusted friend or someone with medical knowledge. But not just anyone.

          1. RagingADHD*

            Oh yeah, no. Definitely wouldn’t want anyone who wasn’t a close friend/family or a professional health aide involved with that.

      2. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        I feel like I missed out on an experience. I had my wisdom teeth out under general, and my OH was there to accompany me home. I was gathering my things to go home and chatting to him when he gave me an odd look and asked “Are you *sure* they knocked you out? You’re completely lucid!” I was warned not to sign any legal documents for 24 hours after the procedure, but honestly by all accounts I was fine.

    3. Miki*

      Had a procedure in August and my twin was my person (she waited and then drove me when I was done). I definitely didn’t want her sitting with me for the next 24 hours, so I told her I’ll call if I need anything. Turns out I was asleep most of the day, no help needed.
      Nurses did make sure she was in the waiting room and they called her once I was ready to be discharged.

    4. Observer*

      I could be wrong but don’t you need to have someone home with you after you’ve had anesthesia. Like doesn’t the hospital ask who will be with him? Doesn’t someone have to come into the hospital?

      The specifics vary, but this is pretty much the case. As bad as just a ride is, what Boss is asking for is NOT just a ride in the vast majority of cases. If he’s actually framing it that way, that raises some further red flags.

  14. Been There*

    I was in a similar position over the summer; having just moved to a new state, I had no support group locally to take me home after a colonoscopy. Apparently this is not uncommon. To limit their own liability (to an unreasonable degree, I think), the clinic refuses to perform the procedure unless I have a ride home. A taxi or Uber is unacceptable to them. I was in the tough position of, indeed, having to ask a co-worker. I managed to find a home-nursing organization to help me out – for $150 out of pocket. Still fighting with my FSA to cover the cost, but even if I end up footing the bill, it’s worth it to avoid the embarrassing situation both having to ask and the nature of the procedure. I can understand why you don’t want to, but I can also sympathize with his situation. Silly that lingering effects of nitrous oxide and Xanax make you unable to figure out an Uber home…

    1. anonymous73*

      I understand that it’s a difficult position to be in, but OP stated that boss does have colleagues that he socializes with outside of work. It’s completely inappropriate of him to ask her to help him when there are other options.

        1. Lady Danbury*

          Completely inappropriate is the correct term. 1. There’s a reason why bosses shouldn’t ask subordinates for personal favors. 2. It’s even worse when you consider the older male/younger female dynamic.

          At best, it shows lack of appropriate manager/subordinate boundaries and a lack of awareness of gender-related issues that might also give her cause for concern.

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          The power dynamic here does, in fact, make it completely inappropriate. Caring for someone post-surgery is an intimate thing, and forcing a level of intimacy – including non-sexual intimacy – on a person you have power over in other ways is not in any way okay.

        3. anonymous73*

          Nope, not extreme at all. Power dynamic is key here. As her boss, OP thinks she isn’t able to say no to his request, even though it has nothing to do with work. That makes it completely inappropriate.

        4. Observer*

          completely inappropriate” is extreme.

          No – it’s actually an understatement. There is simply no justification for someone EXPECTING their younger and junior employee to take on this task. If he really can’t find someone among the people he hangs out with, he can do what you did, and PAY FOR THE SERVICE. Dumping it on the handy young woman he manages is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

          In some companies that would put him on Veeeery thin ice.

    2. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

      I remember reading something about how the society is not really set up for single people. And someone had said that they have paid their uber driver extra to pretend to be a friend. They took the uber sign out of their car, came into the lobby and acted like they knew each other. Granted, that’s not always going to work, and it’s not great. But sometimes you’ve got to do what needs to be done.

        1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          “Single” isn’t synonymous with “friendless,” true, but “having friends” isn’t synonymous with:
          -Having interdependent friendships that provide the same access to support as a spousal/familial relationship typically would
          -Having friendships where providing that support to each other is as protected/enabled by employer policies and law as it would be for a spousal/familial relationship
          -Having friendships where you can take for granted that your needs may be prioritized in the way that they would in a spousal/familial relationship (which is related to that second point)
          -Having friendships where you have enough available time/labour/lack of commitments to to others that the earlier points don’t become an issue at all

          1. pancakes*

            I don’t disagree, but much of this is way beyond the scope of having someone pick you up after a medical procedure. People don’t need a spouse or the legal equivalent of a spouse just to get released to go home. I also don’t think it makes much sense to talk about “typical” family or spouse relationships because there’s huge variety for both.

      1. Nanani*

        Amatonormativity is the term I’ve seen this under.

        It’s the assumption that everyone is either coupled up or is a minor child living with parents, and it is baked in to a lot of systems and norms.

  15. Oryx*

    I went back and read the original comments on the cheese letter and I am still so confused about the arrangement. Both between OP and Jess and between the local farmer who was the exclusive customer.

    OP calls it a “side business” but if she makes and sells mozzarella as part of her family owned store, how is it a side business? Is it just wholesale and the shop sells retail? In which case I somewhat understand Jess thinking “Oh, bulk orders are handled differently.” Does the farmer provide the milk and that’s why he’s an exclusive customer? But, I’m still getting hung up on OP making mozzarella for her family owned store and then having a separate side business to sell to a single farmer. Why can’t he buy from the main store? How is that not taking away money from the main store if OP and now Jess is pocketing it directly? But somehow that arrangement is okay but Jess can’t sell to any other exclusive customer for whatever reason?

    I agree Jess should not be soliciting OP’s customers, but OP also doesn’t get to tell Jess who she can and can’t make cheese for outside of the store. (And if Jess is going to make her own cheese and sell it separate from the arrangement she has now, she needs to find her own equipment and not use the store’s.)

    I just wish OP had come back and provided more context because I feel there is a lot missing that makes it hard to fully grasp the picture here.

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

      This is one of those letters where you really wish the OP had sent an update/clarification or replied in the comments.

      1. Czhorat*

        The whole thing is weird.

        If the store doesn’t sell fresh mozzarella then I’m not even sure if selling it to customers is THAT big an issue. I can kind of see the implication being that Jess’s mozzarella is associated with the store, but other than that there seems to be little harm.

        I wonder if part of it is that OP had an idea that the mozzarella business was limited to this one farmer and didn’t like the idea of expanding it more for psychological reasons.

        1. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

          Yeah, I wasn’t sure if the store sold the Mozzarella or not. If not, it wouldn’t be a big problem. Jess should have asked first of course. But I don’t see it as any different than other small businesses that often have business info for other businesses. (an example would be a grocery store that doesn’t have a bakery section having business cards for someone who makes cakes).

          1. Czhorat*

            I think that other posters who assume that something else is afoot here are on the money – there might be some factors in this arrangement that aren’t clear to us or even the employee.

            1. Imaginary Friend*

              I’m thinking it’s about using the store’s equipment and premises, because it’s hard to maintain commercial-food-preparation levels of cleanliness unless you have a dedicated facility. So now Jess is on-site a lot more than expected; putting wear-and-tear on the equipment; using water and energy (and maybe milk) for her own profit beyond what LW budgeted for.

          2. Oryx*

            First sentence of the second paragraph OP says “I make homemade mozzarella in the store and taught Jess how to make it for our customers” add then she “also” made mozzarella as her own side business selling exclusively to the farmer. So I think the store does sell mozzarella.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Some people up above suggested that maybe the farmer and OP had an arrangement- farmer provided the milk for free and in exchange for paying for labor for the cheese back, while allowing the OP to keep a small amount to sell themselves and make a small profit. It seems logical if that farmer doesn’t have the right set-up to make mozzarella, but makes and sells other cheeses at his stands. On that case maybe OP had been doing it for so long that they forgot to tell Jess about it (or thought that Jess knew about the arrangements already).

      1. Oryx*

        From a somewhat logical standpoint that seems to make the most sense: dairy farmer wants to sell cheese made from his milk in his stand but can’t do it himself so makes a deal with a cheese maker. But even if OP didn’t tell Jess that I feel like it would be fairly obvious the milk was supplied from another source than whatever source they use in-house and that arrangement would kind of explain itself?

    3. pancakes*

      I think it’s the arrangement with the farmer to supply their farm stands that’s the side business.

  16. Jean*

    There’s really only one appropriate way to respond to someone who unironically refers to themselves as “one of the finest minds of the 21st century” – hysterical laughter. I mean, really. That person needs a humble pie to the face.

    1. Pikachu*

      I’m one of the finest minds of the 21st century. If you didn’t make this comment, I’d have been able to prove it.


      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        OP’s applicant didn’t specify, so it may well be that the applicant is in the top 90MMM (90,000,000,000) minds of the 21st century.

        1. Office Lobster DJ*

          True, the applicant only said “one of.”

          I’m having my fun choosing to read “fine” with the informal sense of “acceptable but not that special.”

          1. Pikachu*

            I’m one of the finest minds if fine means extraordinarily expensive yet fragile and easily breakable under the slightest hint of stress. :)

  17. Albeira Dawn*

    #2 – I talked about this in an open thread while it was happening, but last summer, while I was interning thousands of miles away from my family in a state where I didn’t know anybody, I needed to get all 4 wisdom teeth removed, stat. I had to be put under anesthesia, which meant I needed someone to drive me there and take me back. I ended up asking the other intern to do it, for a couple reasons:
    (1) We lived in the same apartment building so it wasn’t too much of an imposition.
    (2) We had hung out outside of work enough times to be considered friends.
    (3) She offered! We were talking about wrapping up our summers there and I mentioned I was probably going to postpone the surgery until I was with my family, and she said if I needed to do it quickly she could drive me.

    Without all of those conditions, plus the fact that we were in the same rung on the hierarchy, there’s no way I would have asked anyone at work.

    1. ForeignLawyer*

      I think the fact you were both on the same level of the hierarchy makes a difference here. I get that it can be an awkward ask either way, but with a boss asking a subordinate there’s an extra layer of (implicit) coercion from knowing that that person also controls your income.

      There are certainly some boss-subordinate relationships where the request could still be ok, but at minimum it would likely involve having worked together for long enough that the employee knows they won’t face any work consequences for turning down the boss’ request.

  18. kittymommy*

    #2 makes me kind of sad, at least some of the responses. I’m a single female with no family (not just no family here, but no family at tall) and I can 100% see myself in this situation. Hell, I have been in this situation. And not everyone can afford the hired medical help/transport. I get the concerns that everyone has, and to a degree I have them too. It just is a little depressing that some automatically go to creepy, bad intentions. Now I’m second guessing when I’ve asked for help in the past and re-thinking doing it in the future.

    1. Meg*

      I think the biggest issues are two-fold here:
      1)The boss was asking his subordinate for help.
      2) He is an older man asking a younger woman for help. Again, a woman who is his subordinate.
      It veers into creepy because of both of these things. And, according to OP, he does have other colleagues he is closer to at work.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        All of this. There’s nothing inherently wrong with asking other people for help, including coworkers who are your peers. But bosses have to be extremely careful about asking their subordinates for personal favors because of the power imbalance. It’s Schrodinger’s boss. There’s no way for the subordinate to know if her boss will calmly accept a no with no negative effect on her career/their working relationship until after she says no. Consent cannot 100% be freely given because the employee could be concerned about the impact of her career if she refuses.

    2. anonymous73*

      It’s inappropriate without going directly to the “older man/younger woman bad intentions” scenario. He’s her boss, and this is not a work related request. He’s putting her in a very awkward position where she feels she can’t say no BECAUSE he’s her boss. She even stated that he socializes with other colleagues so they should have been his first go to, especially if they are at his same level in the company hierarchy.

      1. Steggy Saurus*

        So what are bosses supposed to do? Similar to kittymommy, I’m a single female. My family is all a plane ride away from me. I don’t socialize at all, so I haven’t got anyone outside of work, where I am the boss. Mostly I guess people do what I do, which is not get procedures done. Or lie and say there’s someone picking you up, I guess.

        1. anonymous73*

          Not ask their subordinates these types of requests, that’s what. It really is that simple. When did it become the job of an employee to help their boss with things outside of work, especially something as personal as transporting you after surgery? If you really have no way of paying for a service that does this type of thing, it would be much more appropriate to ask a colleague at the same level as you for help. The power dynamic of asking a subordinate is off and makes this not okay*.

          *The only exception is if you have a fairly close relationship (on a personal level) with your subordinate. My last boss was (and still is) an actual friend of mine, and I would have done this for her without question.

        2. pancakes*

          Start socializing? It isn’t mandatory to go through life without friends. I know a lot of people are down on city living for various reasons, but having grown up in the suburbs of a small city and moved to a very big city, I want to point out that it’s much easier to meet people here than it is in places where people drive their cars from one place to another and don’t mix much in between. Those of you who feel like it’s become a problem to not know anyone besides your coworkers might consider a move. Yes, I know not everyone can afford to do that.

          1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

            “Start socializing” kind of ignores a reality that pops up for people at a certain life stage, which is that whatever friends you make are more likely than not to have (or develop) families of their own, which means that they can’t necessarily be relied on to help out at that level when you need it.

            Even in big liberal cities, it’s pretty easy to end up with a healthy social life comprised mostly of people whose family life demands are pretty likely to preempt being able to commit to friends. It’s different if you’re a single person who’s chosen to make friends with single people who are in a position to prioritize friendships, though, and I don’t know if that’s influencing your viewpoint.

            1. pancakes*

              This doesn’t ring true to me, and fwiw I’m 45 and not quite single. (I’m in a long-term (20+ years) sometimes-open relationship). I’m in NYC and lots of people here live busy lives, whether they’re single or married or whatnot, but I don’t know anyone who is so relentlessly busy with family “demands” that they can’t ever do something with or for a friend for, like, part of an afternoon. That’s not to say that every last one of my friends would be able to pick me up from the doctor on any given day; it’s just that you’re describing relationships that seem a lot more rigid than the ones I’m familiar with, even the married hetero ones. I don’t think people tend to be as purposeful as that about choosing to make friends with single or partnered people, either.

        3. successor state*

          Being a boss is not a part of the equation at all. It is not a work situation, and therefore not something where a person should be leveraging their influence or power over others. There are other options between “never get medical procedures done” and “pressure my direct reports to do things for me outside of work”.

        4. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I would assume that most bosses, unless they are the CEO or business owner, have peers they can ask for assistance instead of going to their subordinates.

          If you’re a manager in your office and you have a friendly relationship with a person at work who doesn’t report to you, then I think it would be totally fine to ask them for a favor like this. But if you ask the people who report to you, they’re almost certainly going to feel like this is a request from a boss and not a non-work favor, and that’s going to make them feel weird and not good.

        5. Observer*

          So what are bosses supposed to do?

          Aske their FIRENDS or COLLEAGUES (who are at the same level of hierarchy as themselves)! If that’s really not possible, PAY FOR THE SERVICE.

          I don’t socialize at all, so I haven’t got anyone outside of work, where I am the boss

          That’s your problem. It’s simply not reasonable (or fair) to expect your employees to take over the roles of your family, friends and entire social circle. And it’s even worse to expect them to do it UNPAID, which it really what this OP is asking (in addition to all of the other issues in this letter.)

          Your situation really does sound difficult, and I sympathize. What I do NOT have sympathy for is your attempt to essentially guilt the world for your “not being able” to get procedures done because of your non-existent social life and unwillingness to actually pay for the services you need.

        6. Calliope*

          There’s a variety of options – paid medical transport, community groups who help people with this, places of worship, even ask on neighborhood Facebook groups or NextDoor. I think most people want to help if they can and many would do this for a neighbor if they can. I had an acquaintance who was new in town ask me once and was happy to help. But your subordinates are really the last people to ask.

        7. Nancy*

          You don’t ask a subordinate. There are organizations that provide this service, ask your doctor for recommendations. Or local community groups. Or coworkers at your level. I’m single and even once posted on Facebook to see if anyone was free. I got a response from an acquaintance willing to help (and this person is married with kids, so you never know who will have the time).

          I sympathize with the feeling of not having a person you can automatically rely on, but it is not the direct report’s problem.

    3. londonedit*

      I’ve absolutely done this for friends before, and I hope my friends would do the same for me. But I wouldn’t ask someone at work unless I was absolutely desperate, and I certainly wouldn’t ask someone who reported to me because of the power imbalance, even if we were both female. That power imbalance is what makes it weird, along with the fact that there were apparently other people he’s actually friends with who he could easily have asked, without even going into the older man/younger woman/what are his intentions thing.

    4. Butterfly Counter*

      I kind of get this. I have moved around a LOT in my life and got to the point I didn’t try to make good friends. I was friendly and nice and respectful to those around me, but trying to find one’s way into new, established social circles gets harder and harder as you get older. There were times that the people I felt I could rely upon the most were coworkers. And if someone is reliable and nice to me in a work setting, I can see thinking that this is the closest person I have to someone who could help me after a medical procedure. And I agree with an above comment that the person might be so focused on worrying about the procedure, they’re not thinking about the optics.

      Another commenter said that, if asked, they would chime in on being happy to call the boss an Uber or Lyft. That might be what is needed for the boss to realize this is beyond his employee’s scope and figure out how to go from there. It might be possible that the clinic has a quiet room he can use for a few hours after the procedure to sleep off the meds.

    5. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      I am very sympathetic to this situation for single people, but I find it wholly inappropriate for a boss to make this kind of personal request to a direct report. It’s not about any creepiness or gender. Someone else mentioned the power imbalance, which is on point. The request is not within the scope of work, and the report feels pressured to do something that she does not want to do. Also, the situation with anesthesia can potentially become serious if the person has an adverse reaction. I think this is a no-brainer. It is simply not an appropriate request, and the OP should have felt free to politely decline. I wonder what happened…

    6. I fly, you buy a meal*

      Asking for help and offering future help is different from a work supervisor basically presuming that a subordinate will drive them. As long as you are offering to help someone in return, reciprocity is in place.

      As someone else that is far away from family and depends on friends for transport for medical tests, my circle has worked out a basic exchange: you drive me, I buy a meal for us to share.

      There is one person that I am backing away from who only asks and never offers. As long as you are not a user, you are fine.

    7. Nanani*

      It’s not automatically creepy to be single with no family. It’s creepy to ask an intensely personal favour of a subordinate.

      As long as you’re asking peers, friends, and other categories of people who can say no without their jobs being at risk, you are not being creepy.

    8. Observer*

      It just is a little depressing that some automatically go to creepy, bad intentions.

      When someone behaves badly, it’s not surprising that people go to bad intentions. And the boss is behaving badly.

      Now I’m second guessing when I’ve asked for help in the past and re-thinking doing it in the future.\

      Here are the the key issues you should think about:

      1. Are you ASKING or TELLING
      2. What are the power dynamics – you simply CANNOT ask someone whose job you have control over to any extent.
      3. Gender dynamics – An older man asking a younger woman to take on a task that has a high potential for requiring highly personal / physical assistance (eg helping someone to the bathroom) is just . . . not acceptable. And by the way, it’s not ok if you reverse the genders but leave the age / power structure in place. (Iow, don’t ask the guy you supervise to do this for you.)

  19. meagain*

    Although this isn’t directly related to the question about the boss wanting a ride after surgery, I truly wish managers would allow an employee to take a paid personal day to help a friend with a surgery procedure or ride home. When I was single several years ago, it was incredibly stressful when I needed dental work under sedation and the office required someone to stay there for the entire procedure. My family lived in other states, I didn’t have a partner or adult children, and while I had several friend, they all had jobs. Asking someone to take a personal day or vacation day on my behalf felt like an imposition. Honestly, having to find a reliable person (and not one who was going to show up at the office with her large dog or anything else completely inappropriate) was more stressful to me than the procedure. As more people do age alone, it would be really helpful if companies would give some grace if an employee needs to give a ride to a friend, etc. (Remote work/more flexibility these days does help with this to some degree.)

    1. RagingADHD*

      If employees have PTO days to take, it’s not their manager’s business what they do with that time. Getting time off approved on short notice might be a different matter, but for a scheduled procedure it shouldn’t be.

      Anyone who is in a situation where they need managerial approval for how they spend their days off is in a terrible job anyway.

      But you said that you were uncomfortable asking a friend to take PTO. I’m not sure how asking them to request extra PTO would be easier? It’s a much bigger and more unusual request.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        If employees have PTO days to take, it’s not their manager’s business what they do with that time. Getting time off approved on short notice might be a different matter, but for a scheduled procedure it shouldn’t be.

        That’s my experience to the letter. If I have proper lead time, why is irrelevant, and why is more of a barrier to triviality than it is a hard requirement when I lack proper lead time.

      2. meagain*

        My workplace now is pretty laidback flexible. If one of my employees told me she wanted to take a day to help a friend with a procedure, having been in that friend’s position myself, I would just tell the employee that’s fine and I wouldn’t have her submit a PTO form or anything.

        I’m not saying any of this is feasible as an actual policy. Just that friends may of course be willing to use a PTO day to care for their spouse or child, but in reality, not be as willing to give up one of their treasured days off to care for a friend or acquittance. Which leaves single people who do need care without as many options. Basically I just want to give some incentive to help the single friend in need, because it really sucks to be in that position and feel alone and stressed about needing a ride. And if it’s a free day off that doesn’t count against their vacation days, personal days, or sick days, that’s my little contribution to the world that day.

        1. RagingADHD*

          With all due respect, this sounds less like something related to any kind of employment policies, and something much more personal to you, based on your own feelings about asking for help or “imposing.” You don’t need special permission from your friends’ employers in order to ask for help!

          Or possibly it’s based on the nature of your friendships. If your friends aren’t willing to come help you with their existing PTO, having more job flexibility isn’t going to incentivize them. People who need incentives from a third party in order to help you aren’t good friends. I hope that’s not the case.

          1. meagain*

            Yeah I know. I did eventually meet my partner and have “my person” for things like this. I’ll just never forget what it felt like to be single without nearby family and have to rely on friends who all started getting busier and more focused on their own families and lives. I did have friends, it just sucked if someone had 2 weeks vacation days and 5 sick days and 2 personal days, to ask oh can you use one of your days off for my surgery? (I was a social person and did find a few people to ask for things like this, but I wasn’t as close to them and I would have much preferred my best friend who of course was going to save her PTO for her own vacations and when her kids got sick.) I’m not saying that’s her employer’s problem. Just that I remember how that felt.

            Also this was quite some time ago when I was single and most jobs then had very defined, structured days and hours and workers had less control over their own schedules. Now a good amount of employers do give flexible hours and remote work where it wouldn’t be such a huge ask for a good friend to make arrangements or coordinate her schedule or make up hours in order to help out for the day.

        2. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          Agreed. Another big part of this (which might not be relevant at all employers) is that many people have separate PTO buckets, and sick leave often covers handling spouses’ and dependents’ medical stuff. Right now, I work somewhere that also has an additional family leave pot. There’s a lot of discussion that these types of leaves aren’t designed to make it easy for people to provide help for friends.

          When you combine this with how some workplaces have norms or policies that crack down on even pre-planned sick leave use or where one-off use of vacation days is looked at oddly or discouraged, there are a lot of disincentives at play when it comes to using PTO to help a friend.

      3. doreen*

        I think the idea is that asking a friend to take a paid day off that is specifically set aside for helping someone with a procedure who needs a ride home/to be watched during the recovery period is not the same as asking that friend to take time off that could otherwise be used for the friend’s own purposes. But it’s unrealistic to expect that to happen – helping a friend with this is just one subset of “things that PTO is used for “. Employers aren’t going to give additional, set-aside days off for every admirable or necessary purpose

        1. meagain*

          I know, I don’t think it’s realistic. Just that I know how it feels to be single without family nearby and need help and have to rely on friends who have their own families and commitments and leisure time that they use their PTO for.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      I’m not really following what you’re suggesting.

      Do you mean an extra day in addition to their existing PTO?
      If so, it seems odd to me to have a day for this one very specific purpose.

    3. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

      I think it all depends on the work. If the person has PTO I don’t see why the manager should say no. You shouldn’t have to give an itinerary for your day off. As long as the person gives a heads up and doesn’t call in at the last minute it should be fine.
      Now if it’s a really busy time or something I can see a manager saying no to the PTO. But if the friend explains why a good manager will let them off. Unless the person you are asking is also a coworker, then I could see why a boss might not be able to let someone off.

      1. meagain*

        Yea, the reason for taking PTO doesn’t matter to a manager. What I’m saying is that a friend might not want to use their PTO for simply a friend, the way they would for a spouse or child. It leaves single people without having as many options for a ride. Ideally single people have good friends who would be willing to use a day off to help them with a medical procedure. What often happens is that married people with families get insular and the single friend is sort of left to their own devices. I think giving a paid caretaker day to an employee to help with someone’s care, something not as fun as using it for a vacation day, is a nice thing to do. I don’t see this as something feasible to implement or anything I would suggest as a workplace policy. Just that in my own experience, there are a ton of policies that are family friendly or support “working families” and not as much that supports single people or people aging alone. Just sort of thinking of ways to incentivize helping someone who needs medical care and doesn’t have support.

      1. Czhorat*

        Yeah, you need someone to take you home after you’ve had anesthesia.

        I don’t like using an employee for it, but it isn’t always an easy thing to arrange.

        1. Despachito*

          I get it is not easy, but if he really needs to ask someone from work why not someone of his buddies (OP said he has some), instead of a FEMALE SUBORDINATE?

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          The thing a lot of us keep coming back to is you can ask coworkers – just don’t ask coworkers who you supervise. You ask the coworkers on your same level instead.

            1. RagingADHD*

              Then you get a home health aide for the day. But the boss in this scenario does indeed know people at his level, and he socializes with them.

    1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      This is not about the mode of transportation. The requirement is usually that a person come into the hospital/building to personally pick up and check out the patient and escort/help the patient get home. Yes, you can use an Uber or tax for the transport, but you still need a person to show up inside the building and do the check out/escorting.

  20. Mannheim Steamroller*

    OP 1…

    Now that Jess knows how to make mozzarella, she should be able to make it for anyone and sell it to anyone, with some obvious exceptions…

    NOT in your facility,
    NOT with your equipment,
    NOT with your ingredients,
    NOT to your store’s customers.

    Maybe have future employees sign a non-compete agreement?

    1. First time listener, long time caller*

      Sure, she can make it for whoever she wants. Just not as long as she still works for OP. This situation is outrageous. Why would you allow your employee to compete with you directly while working for you. The in-store aspect of it just highlights the fundamental problem with the situation.

  21. the cat's ass*

    I’m someone who orders these sorts of procedures and i always stress that people have to have someone come and get them, not an Uber or Lyft. We used to be okay with Uber etc until one patient tripped getting out of the Uber and broke her hip, so it’s a huge liability issue. And sometimes people have to do a lot of advance planning to get a friend or family member to get them home.

    1. pancakes*

      I can see why you’d want someone to be accompanied by another adult, not merely have transportation, but the possibility of falling isn’t in itself a good reason why. It’s just easy for someone unsteady on their feet to fall getting out of a friend’s car (or getting out of a Lyft or whatnot accompanied by a friend) as it is to fall getting out of a Lyft alone. They’re not a special type of vehicle that makes falls more likely.

  22. Ray Gillette*

    If Jess is only permitted to make cheese for one customer, that’s more of a special assignment for extra money than a true side business, isn’t it? No wonder she’s confused, just like all of us reading the letter.

    Mozzarella is actually pretty straightforward to make. It can be made in a home kitchen in about an hour. Cheese made in a home kitchen wouldn’t be legal to sell, but it’s not like there are trade secrets or specialized equipment involved.

  23. Hippo-nony-potomus*

    Some of those responses from the students are just horrible. I’m sorry, LW, that you were treated like that.

    In their partial defence, a lot of them are probably getting really bad advice. My parents used to tell me that I had screwed up if I interviewed with a law firm and did not get the job. (They even said that about informational interviews.) Allegedly, I was supposed to call up every interviewer and solicit feedback as to what I was doing wrong and why they had not given me an incredibly competitive position.

    Some people really do not understand that the world is a competitive place, and you don’t just get things handed to you because you are “smart” and “hardworking.”

    My advice would be to try to revamp the application process: part of applying is signing a statement that you will act professionally during the process, which includes not sending abusive, curse-filled, or hateful emails.

    1. pancakes*

      That’s certainly possible, but someone who’s received only bad advice about what acting professionally involves isn’t going to become more knowledgeable just by having signed something.

      1. Hippo-nony-potomus*

        The swearing is always inappropriate, and my language would get rid of that element.

        Part of what a college should teach is how to act professionally, ideally in an environment wherein you don’t cause permanent damage to your reputation when you mess up because you were given bad advice.

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t agree that college should be about learning office norms. I also don’t think most people need college-level instruction to figure out that being really rude to prospective employers is a bad idea! People from families with serious anger management problems could almost certainly really use some help recalibrating their expectations about how people treat one another, and that should be available, but it’s not something that absolutely every student needs.

  24. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    For OP3, I’d be tempted to forward the most egregious emails to their Department Chairs and/or whatever entity handles violations of the Student Code of Conduct. Since they’re students and have a relationship with the larger organization, there may actually be some mechanism to start dealing with these. Of course, it may not be worth the time and effort required and there’s no guarantee the university will do much.

  25. Coffee Bean*

    Now I want to change my user name to “OneoftheBestMindsofthe21stCentury”. Then I will plan a party with “CheapAssRolls” and “IWillConfrontYoubyWednesday”.

  26. KatieP*

    As a hiring manager in an academic department who supervises student employees, I knew exactly where #3 was going right away. I don’t have hard data to support it, but about 5-10% of student employment applicants do some very rude things to the people who make hiring decisions.

  27. First time listener, long time caller*

    Is she highlighting how bad her answers to 1 and 2 are?

    OP1 for years competed with her family business (with no indication that she even TOLD anybody else about it, no less got their approval). Now Alison is saying she basically has to let her employee compete with the same business as long as she doesn’t do it at work. WHAT???!!! Even places that outlaw anti-moonlighting policies don’t require this, and for good reason.

    Her response to OP2 says her boss is new in town and doesn’t know anybody. Alison is just floored that he’s not asking the people in town he knows. You’d think after posting this twice she would have read the question once.

    1. no?*

      Reading comprehension fail. From the letter: “I know he is closer with a handful of other people we work with and spends time with them outside of the office.”

  28. nnn*

    #2 is really a sign of a broader societal problem, which is that health care facilities apparently don’t have any mechanism for taking care of patients until they’re able to safely leave under their own power! If you aren’t able to get home and/or aren’t able to safely be at home alone, you haven’t sufficiently recovered yet, and it’s appalling that health care facilities don’t see the need to continue to provide you with medical care until you have sufficiently recovered especially since, in this case, mostly a matter of somewhere to safely lie down until the medication has left your system.)

    I know this isn’t OP’s problem to solve as an individual, but we as a society really need to start seeing it as a problem!

    1. pancakes*

      Yep. If people are too groggy to leave without assistance, keeping them under observation and letting them rest longer really should be an option.

  29. Lizard*

    “One of the greatest minds of the century”… good stuff. Was that student, perhaps, also an untried visionary?

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