I feel insulted by the rolls at my new job, coworker uses baby talk, 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. And how can we kick off December other than with…

1. I feel insulted by my new job

I’ve been at my new job for a month and today they had a potluck and a meeting. They put a sign up in the break room where we could write down what we were going to bring. I thought okay, I will keep it simple and get Hawaiian rolls. Well, to my surprise, someone who didn’t put their name on the list brought cheap ass rolls! I don’t know who did it, nor do I care ! Well, I did care because to me that was the first slap in the face to welcome me aboard! So instead of eating with everyone, I got up and went to work while everyone else ate. I thought it was rude to hang a sign up to bring a potluck and then people just bring what everyone else does. I mean, really! Why even put up a sign?

Then they started with the staff meeting, where I didn’t know what to expect because after all it was my first one. So we are sitting there and the slide says, “Let’s introduce the new people.” My name was first and a woman who started two weeks after me was on there. So he starts off by telling the other woman “welcome to the team, blah blah blah” and skips right over me and says nothing. I’m sitting there thinking I know this jackass didn’t skip right over me, but I sat there with a smile on my face and pretended I wasn’t upset. So he’s about to go to the next slide and someone speaks up and says, “What about Ann?” and he laughs and looks at me and says, “Omg, I didn’t realize you were new!” To me that was another slap in the face! I mean, if you don’t want me working for you, then just say so! So, I’m already mad over someone disrespecting me over bringing rolls which I said I would bring, then he skips right over me like I wasn’t even sitting there when my name was first on the stupid PowerPoint!

In your opinion, what the hell is going on? Was I wrong to walk out of the potluck and go straight to work? I think that makes a statement as far as I was concerned because I’m not going to hang around fake ass people. Now there is a Secret Santa and I’m not doing it! I don’t want any part of it. They can take Santa and stick it up their ass!

You are wildly overreacting, and it’s very likely that you are going to get yourself fired from this job.


2. Coworker using baby talk

I’ve read your post on a coworker using baby talk, and it hit home. I have a similar situation, but the context makes it difficult to bring up — she only does it when talking to our office-mates, and only when discussing friendly, non-work things. She would never use the voice with our boss, or a client, so I don’t feel like I can tell her that she is undermining her credibility as a professional. It’s still unbelievably grating, however, and I know most of the office hates it.

Most of the baby-talk is between her and one other coworker; it’s become their little shtick as they’ve gotten to be friends outside work. But the rest of us have to listen to it all day. Our office is an open-plan room with all 6 employees in the same desk area, all on the same level in the company. Our boss is in another room, and has probably never heard the voice.

Also tricky: the coworker in question is somewhat disliked in the office, and I think she knows it and gets passive-aggressive. She will pick controversial political fights for no reason or ask borderline offensive questions, and there is no way she believes the questions are benign. Most times, however, she’s very nice. I can’t tell if this is a situation where she knows she’s being annoying, or if she’s truly trying to be friendly. We have all told her, repeatedly and bluntly, that we hate the one baby-talk word she uses (‘ewwww, grosie!’), and she just laughs and uses it anyway.

How do I handle this? We are a very small office — no HR person, no one to discuss it with besides our boss, and it seems excessive to bring it up to him when I’m essentially just not this person’s biggest fan. It’s not affecting her work, just the personal atmosphere of the office. I would love to ask her to stop, without putting her on the defensive.

You can ask her to stop in a polite and reasonable way; whether she reacts defensively is up to her. But it’s important to note that the fact that she’s only doing this in social conversations at work doesn’t mean it’s not affecting her professional reputation; it absolutely is. If she’s doing it at work, in earshot of coworkers, it can impact her reputation.

The next time she does it, say this: “Jane, would you mind not doing the baby talk voice? It’s incredibly distracting to hear that in an office.”


3. I don’t like job candidates asking me what I don’t like about my company

I work in HR and I was conducting a phone interview yesterday. One of the questions asked by the candidate at the end was “What don’t you like about the company?” (She asked this right after asking what i do like about the company.)

Now, I’m all for people doing their research and weighing the pros and cons of working at a particular organization, but I believe it’s inappropriate to ask your interviewer that question, at least in that particular wording. I was put on the spot, and if I actually had anything bad to say, and I said it, and then she told people, it could technically affect my own standing/employment with my company. I actually do love the place I work at, and the only thing is the long commute, so that’s what I said. “It’s not the company, it’s the commute.”

If she wanted to know the negatives of working at my organization, she could just do some research, or reach out to contacts of hers who are working at the company, and NOT involved in the hiring process. What do you think?

Nope, you’re wrong on this one. It’s absolutely reasonable — and, in fact, smart — for candidates to ask questions like this. If you’re not willing to give candidates a reasonably candid view of the good and bad about working for the company, you should bow out of conducting interviews. That’s as much a part of the process as you asking them about their experience; part of your job as an interviewer is to help the candidate determine if they want the job at all.


4. My boss doesn’t want student workers eating lunch with us because they might hear “adult subjects”

I work in higher education and my office employs college students. The two students I currently oversee (both over 21) have been eating lunch in the break room at the noon hour along with the rest of the staff members. My supervisor told me she feels uncomfortable with the students doing this because staff may discuss confidential work info during lunch and because some staff swear and talk about adult subjects. My supervisor asked that I either change the students’ lunch hours or ask them to not sit in the break room.

I refused, arguing that the request is misguided and discriminatory. Are there any laws or other reasoning I can use to advocate for the student employees?

There’s no law that would really come into play here; age discrimination laws don’t kick in until 40, but even if they did apply earlier, there’s no law that prohibits treating one class of employee (student workers) differently from others.

But the law of Don’t Be Ridiculous certainly applies.

You might try pointing out to your boss the following:

1. The student workers are just as likely (if not more) to be exposed to confidential work info in the course of their work than at lunch.

2. They’re adults, not children.

3. College students probably get more daily exposure to swearing and “adult” topics than the rest of us.

4. They’re adults, not children.

5. It’s going to be awkward and demoralizing to prohibit them from eating lunch with the rest of their coworkers.

6. They’re adults, not children.

7. It’s actually helpful (to their work and to them professionally) to be able to get to know their coworkers better, as well as to be exposed to more experienced perspectives on work.

8. They’re adults, not children.


{ 637 comments… read them below }

    1. CmdrShepard*

      I feel like cheap ass rolls has been around for a while, I was truly surprised to realize it only came in 2019.
      But I guess it was November 2019 so 1 quarter before the pandemic makes sense why that feels so long ago.

          1. Lexica*

            According to the time-and-date website I’ve been using, today is March 642, 2020.

            Very deep sigh.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        I love the cheap ass rolls!
        I agree, it felt like those were from a long time ago! Pandemic time is longer than real time, though!

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I feel like pandemic time manages to be both longer & shorter than regular time.

          I’d love to see an update to this one.

          1. Doug Judy*

            Yes. 2021 is nearly over, yet somehow it still feels like it’s still 2020. I feel we are in the dot if the “i” in the Jeremy Bearimy.

            1. Student Affairs Sally*

              Totally off-topic, but I love that your username is a reference to one of my favorite shows and your comment is a reference to another

            2. ellex42*

              One of the best things about the pandemic years is that it’s when I discovered The Good Place.

              Also that I have not had to get dressed for work in nearly 2 years.

              1. Empress Matilda*

                I had to get dressed for work yesterday, and it was very weird. Not even dressed “up,” by pre-pandemic standards – just jeans and a sweater. But…jeans! And a belt, and proper shoes, and a bra that is not a bralette. I really have no idea how to do this any more!

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  I’m top-half dressed for a video interview in an hour (don’t freak out, y’all; I’m not all that excited about it), and wearing makeup again is weird. It just feels so strange.

                2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

                  You think that’s bad…I went into the office for the first time in a year and to my horror I’d forgotten how to use the fancy coffee maker. Oh the humanity! And I was the only one there so no one to ask. Memory came back or I might have had to work on no caffeine.

          2. MusicWithRocksIn*

            I would really love an update on the baby talk one. Probably because we’ve all had a coworker that drove us nuts and I would love to see some sweet justice there.

            1. Emotional Support Care’n*

              If it was my mom, she never stopped. She still does it, she just has no other office mates to annoy anymore. She still bakes “treats” for “her” male technicians, baby talks to at least one (who’s old enough to be my brother), and doesn’t understand why male supervisors don’t treat her with respect (she’s 60, dammit!). I’m glad that I don’t work with her anymore. Five years of listening to her baby talk was horrible, even if the money was good.

        2. AMH*

          I would really love to know which “cheap ass rolls” they are referring to! For instance, are they the store brand sandwich rolls?

          1. No, no, it's not me*

            It is the King’s Hawaiian Rolls. I am pretty sure it is my coworker, she brought all three flavors, and interrogated everyone who came into the room about what they brought, trying to figure out who brought assorted store brand rolls (I think from Kroger, my memory is hazy). She then stood at the roll section and complained at anyone who didn’t take any rolls, or who took the “cheap ass rolls”. The only difference from the story above compared to my coworker is she wasn’t that new, but I sense that was a change to make her less identifiable.

            1. No_woman_an_island*

              Why isn’t the more activity over your comment? You might know cheap ass rolls lady?? This is epic! I need more details.

      2. GammaGirl1908*

        This was so instantly legendary that I think we all feel like it’s been part of the lore around here forever.

      3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        On behalf of the cheap ass rolls, I am highly offended that you think they’ve been here longer than they have! How dare you! Are you trying to cheat them out of the recognition they deserve? Oh, the humanity!

          1. Mockingjay*

            Seriously, that could mean that a), you are entirely forgettable and unremarkable at your job or b), you fit in so well with the team and contribute like you’ve always been there.

            We hope for b, but in the case of the cheap ass rolls LW, probably a. As a gesture of holiday goodwill, I hope the LW learned from that post and has moved on to better things. Maybe we’ll get an update.

            1. ecnaseener*

              Idk, taking it at face value I think it means B. If he’d said “I forgot about you” or “I forgot you were here,” that’d mean A. (Of course A could be closer to the actual truth, but it’s not at all implied by “I forgot you were new.”)

            2. Amaranth*

              I admit its a bit strange to read right past her name on the slide but it might be the presenter’s joking way to address his mistake. I can’t imagine the OP managed to stay long at that job if they kept taking everything so personally and flouncing off in high dudgeon.

      4. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        On behalf of the cheap ass rolls, I am highly offended that you think they’ve been here longer than they have! How dare you! Are you trying to cheat them out of the recognition they deserve? Oh, the humanity!

      5. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        On behalf of the cheap ass rolls, I am highly offended that you think they’ve been here longer than they have! How dare you! Are you trying to cheat them out of the recognition they deserve? Oh, the humanity!

      6. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        On behalf of the cheap ass rolls, I am highly offended that you think they’ve been here longer than they have! How dare you! Are you trying to cheat them out of the recognition they deserve? Oh, the humanity!

        1. Botanist*

          I’m sure it’s a glitch but I am cracking up that your comment managed to post at least four times. Seems even more appropriate!

      7. Admiral Thrown Rocks the Blue*

        It just became legendary instantly. Such an utterly classic uber whine, how could it escape its destiny?

      8. KayDeeAye*

        I have nothing new to add to this particular thread, but I love the cheap-ass roll letter so, so, so very much that I just had to say how much I love it. For one thing, I learned so much, including that there is a hierarchy of supermarket rolls. Who knew?

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I’m one who actually prefers the cheap ass rolls over Hawaiian rolls. I am also of the opinion that there’s no such thing as too many dinner rolls.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            To me, Hawaiian rolls are so sweet that they are in the dessert category. But… there already is dessert? It’s a holiday potluck! I’m sure there’s pie and chocolate and what have you. So I’m afraid I’d be the one skipping the Hawaiian rolls entirely and then going, “Oh! Sorry, Hawaiian rolls! I forgot you were rolls!”

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

          It’s hilarious that the LW was so offended about this competition of off-the-shelf supermarket rolls. It’s not like they even got some “take and bake” rolls that they put in their oven for a few minutes.

            1. Candi*

              I always figured it was a reference to the children’s song, and maybe obliquely to how, when a company’s skeletons start showing up, it’s like they’re falling/rolling out of their hiding places.

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

                It was just a reference to the children’s song. I like your idea for a deeper meaning, too!

      9. alienor*

        I read the cheap ass rolls story when it was first posted while spending the night in a hotel at Heathrow airport. I was awake at 3 am because of jet lag, and a little loopy also because of jet lag, and every time I see the words “cheap ass rolls” it takes me right back to that room and trying to stifle my laughter so I wouldn’t bother whoever was next door!

      10. NerdyKris*

        The news feed on the TVs at my office have been stuck on March 2020 for a year and a half. Make of that what you will.

    2. Aphrodite*

      The cheap ass rolls story is wonderful but it is Alison’s blunt and brief answer that makes it extra special.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        I also would be shocked if it’s not true. I would give a lot for an update to this letter.

        1. dogmom*

          I’d be shocked if it’s not fake too, but it’s still one of the best things I’ve ever read on this site. And I also want an update! Is LW’s office also putting up a fake-ass tree for the holidays?

          1. Liane*

            They have to put up a fake-ass tree. Because the LW mentioned a Secret Santa that should have unspeakable things done to/with it. So they’ll need a spot for the cheap-ass gifts.

              1. Lenora Rose*

                And you can tell if it’s really inclusive or token inclusive by whether the menorah went up a few days ago, or will go up around the 15th or so…

          2. Merci Dee*

            See, I can totally believe this letter is real. A couple of years ago, there was a woman at my job who would have 100% been this upset if someone else brought a potluck item she signed up for. Only difference was, my former coworker would have said everything she was thinking about the cheap-ass rolls so that the rest of us could think she was overreacting in the moment that it happened.

            When I re-read the letter, I could see the look on her face and hear the tone of her voice, clear as day. Yes, there are people out there who would react exactly like this.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              There are some people who are dying to be offended. I could totally see this with some of my previous coworkers.

              1. mimi Me*

                Yes! My aunt was one of those people. Work parties, school functions, family events…she was offended by something with everything. Hell, she literally did die offended! She was mad that I didn’t tell her I was pregnant before I told my own mother and never spoke to me again. My cousin brings it up any time I see her…which isn’t often because she too is one of those people too.

            2. Anononon*

              It’s not a question of whether people like this exist – we all know they do. It’s the likely very, very small overlap of those people with those willing to write to an advice column.

              1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                People have misguided notions of what Alison’s advice entails though. I think much like “you’re a manager you should side with the manager”, someone who STRONGLY believes this is a breach of etiquette would expect an advice/professional etiquette column to agree with them.

                1. SometimesALurker*

                  Agreed — and I strongly suspect that the person who wrote in was not a regular reader but someone looking to vent their spleen to the first place that came up in Google results.

                2. Candi*

                  Wouldn’t be the first time someone Googled for advice, AAM was one of the top results (because of course it’s that awesome), and they just wrote in thinking work advice = advice that agrees with them.

              2. Worldwalker*

                Very, very small still isn’t zero.

                Also, the overlap might not be as small as you think — these people seem to have an amazing belief that they’re right and a need for validation of that belief. Mostly they just go around asking other people to agree with them (which means careful maneuvering to give a non-answer) but I can see that level of arrogance wanting validation from Alison instead of Fred at the next desk.

                1. Charlotte Lucas*

                  Yep. I’ve known some people whose ideas about etiquette & appropriate behavior were… Interesting, to say the least. But they are convinced that they’re Completely Right.

                2. PT*

                  There have been a small handful of people who have written into other advice columns (Dear Prudence, Dear Abby, etc,) basically asking for permission to abuse their child. It’s disgusting.

                3. nobadcats*

                  Very much like the manager who wouldn’t let her employee take the day off to go to her graduation. The hubris!

                4. Candi*

                  The worst part about graduation boss was the “I want to chase her down and chastise her” aspect. Not “I believe she was unprofessional” or “how wrong was she”, but “I want to scold her more.”

              3. Dust Bunny*

                Except when they write to an advice column under the misguided assumption that the columnist will side with them and vindicate their ridiculousness.

              4. Librarian of SHIELD*

                I read a lot of advice columns, and a common genre of letter is the “I have been deeply and mortally wronged please validate my feelings” letter. They’re not all that rare. If you look back at the letter, LW wasn’t even asking for advice, they just asked what Alison thought of the scenario. I’m guessing they hoped her response would tell them they were so right and obviously the injured party.

                1. Candi*

                  The “my employee was disrespectful when the company messed up her paycheck” (no she wasn’t” and “I was fired for showing initiative (and undermining my manager)” letters were at least half “I was right, help me prove I was right.” And those were about far more serious issues.

            3. MusicWithRocksIn*

              What always amused me about it is that I hate Hawaiian roles, do not consider them to be the same as normal rolls and would be very grateful there was another bread side as an option.

              1. MoinMoin*

                Agreed! I would kinda think of Hawaiian rolls as cheap- saccharine, squishy, processed- though I have no idea how much they actually cost. If someone told me to bring nice rolls, I’d bring some sort of crusty roll from the bakery section at least.

                But speaking as someone who has crumbled Doritos onto her taco salad and eaten an entire sleeve of Oreos in the last 48 hours, my comments are in no way meant to deride junk, mass-produced, or otherwise “cheap” foods.

                1. Dust Bunny*

                  I’m more of a Fritos girl but crumbled chips are an excellent salad topping! I mean, they’re pretty much croutons.

                2. Michelle Smith*

                  “Hawaiian” rolls are extremely cheap, yes. I was so confused reading that letter. I checked Whole Foods online (via Amazon, so more expensive than buying at a regular grocery store in person) and they are under $4 for 12 and they are 20 cents cheaper than the “classic dinner rolls.” And I live in one of the most expensive cities in America.

                3. ellex42*

                  Brand name Hawaiian rolls are not cheap…at all. But they’re also a sweet type of roll, and I too would appreciate a non-sweet bread offering as well, whether it was rolls or a nice sliced bread of the “crusty on the outside, soft on the inside” type.

                  I’m not terribly fond of Hawaiian rolls on their own, but they make fantastic bread pudding – since they’re already sweet, you don’t need to add much sugar.

                4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  At Elle – maybe it’s just my grandma’s recipie, but Hawaiian rolls never work right- they end up turning to mush. I tend to go with day old crusty baguette-style bread.

                5. Candi*

                  The King’s Hawaiian rolls are pretty darn cheap -the four-roll packs go for $2, and the 12 rolls are $4-5, depending on exactly where you get them.

              2. Dust Bunny*

                Saaaaame. I love bread but I live with people who don’t eat carbs so it’s hard to have bread around: I am always in the market for rolls and potluck. But I’m also not crazy about sweet bread so I’d be disappointed if Hawaiian rolls were the only option and would be very glad that somebody else brought cheap-ass rolls.

              3. Artemesia*

                me too — sugary bread that is not a breakfast roll or intentionally a sweet roll is gross IMHO. I find Hawaiian rolls just awful.

              4. Librarian of SHIELD*

                The year I brought dinner rolls to the potluck I bought a bag of frozen roll dough and baked them the night before. It’s the only time I’ve ever brought something to a work potluck and had no leftovers at the end of the day.

            4. Nea*

              Indeed, there was a letter here a few days ago when someone’s random potluck addition was referred to as “usurper cranberries.”

              1. Anonym*

                I do think cheap-ass rolls and usurper cranberries might be sisters. I was delighted by the idea of fruit usurpation.

                1. Artemesia*

                  I understand being annoyed if you sign up for something and go to the trouble to make it and then someone brings the exact same thing without signing up. I’d have made something else. You don’t need two dishes of cranberries at the same event. BUT it is not an attack on your purity of essence — it is just annoying.

                2. Merci Dee*

                  That’s exactly what I need right now — some cheap-ass rolls and usurper cranberries. I love, love, love, love, love putting cranberry sauce on my rolls. Much like I love, love, love, love, love mixing cranberry sauce into my dressing/stuffing.

                  I made some homemade cranberry relish for the holidays for the past couple of years, and it’s a phenomenal recipe. Don’t want to post a link because it will go into moderation, but if you go to the Food Network website and look up Cointreau Cranberry Relish, you’ll find Ted Allen’s recipe for the best cranberry relish I’ve ever tasted. The recipe gives you the option of using Cointreau or Grand Marnier, and I always go with the Grand Marnier. Additionally, the recipe calls for the zest of one lemon and one orange — this year, I cut the zest back to half a lemon and half an orange, and it came out absolutely perfect. The zests didn’t overpower the rest of the flavors when they were cut back to half the amount. I’m probably going to have to make another batch of relish this weekend because my daughter and I hoovered up the last of the relish a couple of days ago. It’s delicious on a couple of slices of plain toast.

              2. Charlotte Lucas*

                The only time I could see feeling this way is if someone is known for bringing a specialty item, & it someone else brings something really similar. And we’re talking something really distinct here. Like if Fergus always brings homemade marble cheesecake, & it’s a popular item, then Jane brings one, too. And knows about Fergus’ specialty. Because that seems weirdly competitive.

                But, who cares if there are extra packages of rolls? Or extra cranberries? (I guess two people do.)

                From experience, I love it when there are a variety of, say, brownies to choose from.

                1. Airy*

                  There’s a little comic that does the rounds on Tumblr showing someone who’s made a cake (as a metaphor for any sort of creative art/craft) and is comparing it with another cake that they find far more impressive and really stewing over all the shortcomings and feeling like they shouldn’t have put their cake on the table at all, and then someone comes along with a fork (I guess they carry one just in case, like Joey Tribbiani) and says “Sweet! TWO cakes!”
                  Which I feel is also the proper spirit in which to take two literal non-metaphorical (cheese)cakes.
                  (But if Fergus doesn’t see it that way I guess there’ll be tears before bedtime.)

                2. ggg*

                  Once I was running late for a school potluck event. I ran to the grocery across the street from the school and got a dulce de leche cake. The lady at the counter commented about how I was lucky, they only had one left!

                  Got to the potluck and yep, there were no less than five dulce de leche cakes from the grocery store bakery. But that’s what I liked about that school, (a) I wasn’t the only hot mess parent picking up a last minute grocery store cake and (b) we could all laugh about it as we ate our delicious cake.

                3. Kal*

                  And with things like cranberry sauce and rolls, different ones can vary wildly. The difference between cranberry sauce with chunks vs smooth vs jellied is a huge difference that people can have strong preferences about, and that’s not even getting into the fairly large variation in the ingredients and proportions themselves. More choice is great when its feasible like this was. I couldn’t ever get myself into the mindset of the weirdly competitive people who care about their thing not getting the spotlight at a potluck.

              3. Usurper Cranberries*

                I was so delighted by the use of “usurper cranberries” that I’ve stolen it for my username here!

                1. Usurper Cranberries*

                  Alas, it looks like there’s someone else using “Userper Cranberries” downthread, so I may have to change it!

                2. Kat in Boots*

                  Usurper Cranberries is such an excellent user name and I’m sure other regular readers besides myself will truly appreciate reading it every time you comment.

            5. Smithy*

              Where this reads most true to me is that for everyone who works someplace that’s largely fine or really wonderful, there are often a few eye rolling ridiculous pieces. A terrible mandatory holiday party, an evaluation process that makes no sense, a coworker who will get huffy if you don’t say good morning, etc. When it’s part of a larger system that’s working, those are more isolated issues that can be brushed aside.

              But! When you work somewhere that’s awful, those can be the easy to capture moments of why the place is terrible. You get in trouble for missing a holiday party or a coworker giving you the silent treatment all week because you forgot to say good morning. And so many of us do carry baggage from those old bad jobs and have very strong reactions to the those types of signs before seeing if they’re part of that larger pattern or the smaller irritating issues.

              1. Pounce de Leon*

                Yes! What’s the difference between an “overreaction” and a genuine red flag? Perspective. That’s where self-reflection is helpful. I hope the OP confined her over-the-top reaction to friends *outside* the office, and that she gained a more tempered perspective before getting fired (which would result in a lifetime of cheap ass baked goods)

          3. Fleezy*

            I got so excited because I didn’t read the heading that it was a rerun, and I thought it WAS an update!

      2. Deanna*

        Agreed. I can just picture Alison reading the letter with an exasperated facial expression the whole time and deciding that the short and sweet answer was the best reply.

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          Yes, imagine responding to a string of letters about toxic workplaces, harassment, being underpaid and overworked, gender discrimination, and then this gem. Red hot fury over cheap ass rolls.

          1. Deanna*

            Confession: I had to look up what Hawaiian rolls where because I’m an ignorant Scottish woman and until that letter, I had no idea what they even were. They sound delicious. I wouldn’t have thrown a fit if no-one else recognised then though

            1. KayDeeAye*

              They are pretty sweet, I must say. I can understand why some people love them, but I can also understand why others do not. My experience is that you either love them or hate them, but for most of us, they are not obviously superior to the other supermarket rolls out there in the world, cheap-ass or not.

          2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

            Red Hot Fury would be a great name for a pepper sauce. Or a very spicy cranberry relish. Or a brand of cheap-ass rolls to make them sound more exotic.

        2. Empress Matilda*

          Yes! And if Alison is anything like me, she would have written and deleted several paragraphs before deciding that there was really no good way to express what she was thinking, so short and sweet was the way to go.

        3. marvin the paranoid android*

          My guess is that Alison enjoyed the sheer poetry that is cheap-ass rolls at least as much as the rest of us.

      3. Phony Genius*

        I wish there was a away to see all of the letters Alison’ answered in one sentence answers in the same place. There are so few of them, but they’re all good.

      4. AnonInCanada*

        It’s the “French kiss” that makes it so memorable. Even though those cheap ass rolls have got to be stale by now :-P

        1. Kat in Boots*

          I think you mean the “chef’s kiss”, as I picture something very different when I hear “French kiss” lol.

          1. thatjillgirl*

            Yeah, I was very confused for a moment trying to figure out what on earth from the story was remotely related to a French kiss. Lol

      5. Heffalump*

        We’ve seen a number of stories where the LW was totally in left field, and Alison very cogently told them why. In this case I’m sure she (probably rightly) thought it would be futile.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Hopefully LW was too outraged by Alison’s answer to ever read the site again. They wouldn’t be very happy to see how they’ve become the butt of a running joke!

      2. Lacey*

        I desperately want an update, but I feel like the only possible updates are 1. They got fired as predicted or 2. Alison’s response was enough to make them realize they were acting like a crazy person and they turned it around and acted like an adult.

        1. ferrina*

          Or they just kept being dramatic, their coworkers eventually figure that out and quietly start avoiding them. I’ve worked with this person before.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          I’m willing to bet it’s a case of their behaviour escalated to a shouting match with someone who e.g. forgot to say ‘good morning’ and they were booted out by their manager.

          (I’m also very curious about the person who was taking trash out of the bins and leaving it on top out of anger for people not recycling- that letter definitely was heading in the same ‘I’m taking offence everywhere’ direction)

    3. Bagpuss*

      I remembered the Cheap Ass Rolls but I had forgotten that it was the LW who was outraged – I’d remembered it as them bringing rolls and someone else being critical of them… Obviously I couldn’t process someone actually being that petty and writing in to be petty about it in public!

      1. Allornone*

        Especially since the rolls they brought in weren’t particularly fancy. I mean, I love Hawaiian rolls, but they are not exactly the height of bread sophistication.

        1. Lacey*

          Haha, yes! I’d forgotten that bit of it. I love a Hawaiian roll, but they’re usually the same price as regular rolls.

        2. No longer working*

          Yes, I wonder, what roll could be even cheaper than Hawaiian rolls? They are pretty near the bottom of the roll hierarchy if you ask me.

          1. Olivia Mansfield*

            Great Value (Always Save, etc.) generic br0wn n’ serve rolls — the cheap ass (and good!) rolls of my childhood Easters and Thanksgivings!

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              Great Value are on a tier of their own (we call them Great Disappointment). I’ll take any of the other generics over them every time.

            1. Anonymous Hippo*

              I grew up eating exclusively homemade bread. So to me, that kind of bread is not bread at all, but some kind of fluffy cake. I need more substance and depth of wheaty flavor. LOL

              I’m too lazy to make my own bread all the time, but I still search for the grainiest wheatiest bread whenever I get some…the more crap stuffed in the better. :) Plus you can make fresh delicious homemade rolls in no more than 60 minutes.

              1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

                I had a boyfriend when I was in my teens whose mother made real biscuits every morning. One day she came home from her job and her husband, her son, his best friend, and their respective girlfriends (including me) were arguing over the last 2 leftover breakfast biscuits. She thought we were nuts. Best Friend said, “You know you make the best biscuits of anyone.”

            2. NotAnotherManager!*

              Hawaiian rolls are too sweet my palate, especially as dinner rolls. I will happily leave them for others and stick with the cheap-ass rolls for myself.

        3. marvin the paranoid android*

          Nothing about the situation as described makes a lick of sense and that’s why I love it.

    4. ceiswyn*

      Nothing has made me happier today, or is likely to make me happier today, than revisiting cheap ass rolls :)

    5. Xantar*

      For a second I thought this was going to be an update to the cheap ass rolls letter. Alas, it’s not meant to be.

      1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        Don’t give up hope! Remember from the end of the letter–“Now there’s a Secret Santa.” Perhaps your Secret Santa will get you the update you want (and if so, you must share). For all we know, Ms. C-A R is reading this and firing off the response she thinks we deserve….

    6. DrunkAtAWedding*

      Honestly, I feel for her, but I also recognise that it’s an unreasonable and it’s probably the rejection sensitive dysphoria talking. And, of course, the fact that I know what to call it means it isn’t a problem (that’s a joke, it is a problem and one I’ve been working on for many years).

      1. Olivia Mansfield*

        I had a coworker who reacted like that to being introduced as a new employee at the college-wide staff meeting. His boss introduced him just as nicely as any other new person was introduced, but after the meeting was over and we were all back in our respective departmental offices, he proceeded to have a fit about how shitty his introduction was. Everyone was puzzled by his reaction, but it turned out later that he reacted that way to a lot if things, and he later told me that he struggled with rejection sensitive dysphoria.

        1. Omnivalent*

          O Lord, please let 2022 be the year where we stop letting people behave like entitled toddlers as long as they claim they have a diagnosis like ASD or RSD first.

          1. Kat in Boots*

            I mean…”letting” people behave like this is a stretch. I don’t get the sense that a lot of people accommodate or appreciate this behaviour in a workplace setting. Also, I’m fairly certain that rejection sensitive dysphoria doesn’t qualify for any sort of formal accommodation, though it can be a symptom of a wide variety of psychological/psychiatric disorders.

            I’d rather not let diagnosis come into it. Most adults with ASD get really annoyed and upset if they hear that people are using their diagnosis to act like an ass to others.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        I’d definitely be peeved and a little hurt if I were ignored at the new employee introduction. Because I’d feel like they’d completely forgotten I even existed, I was that unimportant. (I mean, her name was on the slide!) But the indignation over the cheap-ass rolls is… special.

        1. PT*

          I would be a little peeved/hurt too. And one of the reasons I’d be a little peeved/hurt, is that I’ve been in situations where people did intend things like that as a slight and it was a red flag. I’ve also been in situations where it was an accident because people are busy and didn’t mean it. So I would be wondering, is this a situation where I should shrug it off because it’s an accident, or should I be worried I’ve just set a precedent of being the office doormat?

    7. Minerva*

      YAAAS I was so excited to see that Cheap Ass Rolls was the 1st story.

      I am surprised that the time warp of 2020 means that it was only submitted in 2019.

    8. A Poster Has No Name*

      Am I the only one who hates Hawaiian rolls and would likely have brought my own cheap-ass rolls because Hawaiian rolls are too sweet and a potluck should have non-sweet rolls?

      1. Classic Rando (she/ her)*

        I, too, am not a fan. See also: coco bread (yuck!)

        Though I probably would have just skipped eating the rolls rather than being extras.

        1. ggg*

          Growing up, Hawaiian rolls were a special treat. Our grocery store wouldn’t have them all the time.

          Now I live/work pretty close to the actual Hawaiian roll factory and you see them everywhere. I still like them but I agree that they are pretty sweet. My kids will devour them if I buy them.

    9. learnedthehardway*

      I hadn’t seen that one before, and am eternally grateful that I do not work with or know “Ann”, and I send my deepest sympathies to those who do.

    10. LifeBeforeCorona*

      We are having our Christmas lunch this week and I double-checked that our rolls are not “cheap ass rolls.” They are a selection of multi-grain, whole-wheat and white. Crisis averted!

    11. LGC*

      Not gonna lie, I saw the headline, skimmed the letter, and cheered. In the streets. As I was walking to the train to work.

      Apologies to my neighbors, I was the weird guy yelling “YES!” at my phone at 6:20 AM. You’d do it too for cheap ass rolls.

    12. All Het Up About It*

      I had forgotten the “stick Santa up their ass” element. SOOOOO gooooood! I kind of want it on a T-shirt.

    13. gsa*

      I never read the letter regarding those rolls.

      I wouldn’t really be upset if someone brought something I had signed up for, but since they didn’t sign up for it I wouldn’t want credit for it, particularly credit for cheap ass rolls!

    14. Kate*

      I missed this on the first go round & have seen it referenced so many times. I’m delighted to see this & it could not be any more perfect.

    15. RB*

      Such a good day when cheap ass rolls makes an appearance! And the topper is the last sentence about taking their secret santa and sticking it.

    16. Little Miss Sunshine*

      I would love an update on this one. How did OP take her slap of reality? Fid she get fired?

    17. Erin*

      I remember reading Cheap Ass Rolls and thinking Alison was punking us! I mean what in the actual?!

      I would looove an update on Cheap Ass Rolls. I wonder what other injustices they have endured since that potluck. Who knows, maybe someone brought a box of Ritz crackers when Cheap Ass Rolls already said they are on it with Wheat Thins?

      I would really love to know if Cheap Ass Rolls is still incredibly offended by non-offensive things, or if their perspective has shifted a bit.

    1. CoveredinBees*

      It’s why you often see references to cheap ass rolls and Hawaiian rolls in the comments. It really made an impact.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Definitely. About 12 years ago I worked with someone who would take offence at everything – and rant on email/company forums/social media about the perceived unfairness.

          Everything. The guy sat opposite said ‘morning’ – that must mean he thinks she’s ugly else he’d have said a full sentence. I rubbed my head at one point – that must mean I hated her (I had a headache). Company hires someone who’s pretty out about being gay – everyone hates her because her husband left her for another man and this was deliberate salt in the wounds….

          She did leave, but not before we got to hear a full 2 hour rant about how unfair it was that she was judged at fault for ramming her car into the back of a stationary bus. At a bus stop. The logic of it still escapes me.

          1. Kat in Boots*

            That’s cause there was no logic. Expecting humans to act in ways that universally support logical principles is a recipe for disappointment in all walks of life.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I saw someone do that in London, run into a stopped bus. Then another bus hit the car (all slow-moving vehicles; no one was hurt). It turned into a glorious moment of connection between people at the bus stop as we all turned to each other and said, “Did you just see that?!” Had a very nice conversation with a woman and her children about the pluses and minuses of public transport.

            Then our bus arrived and we all turned back into strangers.

          3. Candi*

            So many people play stupid around buses, in cars, on foot, and on bikes.

            Item 1: Many years ago when I was still working my first job, my bus was in the left turn lane to go on the road that ran by my work; I’m sitting in the front, on the other side from the driver. Since there was holiday traffic and the light had juuuuust turned red again, the bus was creeeeeeping forward to put less space between it and the car in front of it. Keep in mind the bus is moving, just very slowly.

            A guy on a regular bike cuts in front of the bus, entering the space between the bus and the car in front of it, which at this point is barely longer than the bike. Driver jams the brakes.

            Then the guy moves to the left, and goes up the left side of the cars waiting in the left turn lane. Because of the angle, I didn’t see what he did after that. That was the day I asked how much the bus weighs. That model? 19,000+ pounds (or 8618.255 kg).

            Item 2: Working another job. It’s autumn and fairly late, and I’m on my way home on the bus.

            Part of this bus’ route takes it through the [Major Highway] Park&Ride, where the big intercity/county buses pick up and drop off passengers. There’s a big parking lot where people who work in [Big City in County to the North] or [Other Big City in County to the South] can park their cars -for FREE- taking the bus for the rest of the commute. The employers often pay for it, the parking is so poor and expensive if you don’t own your own. (First come, first served, on the parking, and they have a security person.)

            Important detail is the parking lot and the transit center share the same exit driveway, and the lot exit enters the exit driveway at a right angle.

            So some dimwit apparently decided to race and beat the bus onto and out of the driveway. Keep in mind even though there’s lights all over the place, it’s after sunset, and it’s raining.

            When I went by, the SUV was bent like a V. Punch a cake; it was that squished. I think it caught a corner of the bus from the sharpness of the V angle. The bus looks like “Oh, maybe I felt that?” (It was pulled over, waiting for its replacement.)

    2. Susie*

      I was inspired by the cheap-ass rolls story to try the Hawaiian rolls last week and I have to say they are pretty good. I bought “original” and “savory butter”. I don’t know if I would be outraged about someone else bringing “cheap” rolls to the potluck, but I think maybe the OP was having a rough start and the rolls were the straw that broke the camel’s back.

      1. What She Said*

        That’s the funny part for me. Many in my family love them, me, I hate them. I don’t eat them and would have welcomed the cheap ass rolls if I was at that potluck.

  1. banoffee pie*

    Finally an explanation for the cheap-ass rolls thing! I’ve been seeing it mentioned round here for ages and I could never imagine exactly what the letter would have been like. I wasn’t expecting that haha.

    1. Double A*

      What’s funny is I know this letter and subsequent references well, but when I read the title of the post I was not expecting the cheap ass roll letter. I was expecting it to be about, you know, job rolls.

      Also, can I just say I appreciate Alison revisiting the letters that are the sources of inside jokes. It’s fun when you were there the first time, and it’s also fun that new people or people who missed it get the scoop.

      1. londonedit*

        On first glance I thought ‘Oh, crikey, I know Alison doesn’t edit letters but a roll/role slip-up in the headline…?’ and then half a second later my brain went AHHHHHH IT’S THE CHEAP ASS ROLLS!!!

        1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

          Really? I got the opposite reaction! Glanced at the title, though “IT’S THE RETURN OF THE CHEAP ASS ROLLS!!1!” and then was almost scared to click the link in case it was something else. So glad it was not!

          1. JESUS IS THE MAN!*

            NGL, I was hoping for completely different roll drama from some other workplace, not the return of Cheap Ass Rolls, as brilliant as that whole exchange was.

            I guess I just wanted to believe that there are multiple places out there where cheap ass roll drama occurs.

            1. RB*

              Yeah, I was hoping maybe there was another similar roll situation at a completely different job. That would have been something.

        2. CoveredinBees*

          Our hosts served Hawaiian rolls at Thanksgiving and I got to share the cheap ass rolls story. It was well-appreciated.

        3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Same. I read it as something like “Insulted by my job rolls” and paused thinking that is a pretty big error. But what job?
          Butvyeah, like you, first sentence. Bam. No preamble to the ramble. Damnable rolls!

      2. EPLawyer*

        I knew it was the cheap ass rolls letter as soon as I saw the headline. And LAUGHED. And LAUGHED some more. I totally needed that today too. My first appellate oral argument is today and the nerves are hitting.

        1. Mona-Lisa Saperstein*

          Good luck. You are going to feel amazing when it is over, and you are almost there. I’ll never forget the feeling of relief that washed over me when I had finished my first argument in the [omitted for anonymity]th Circuit.

        2. EPLawyer*

          THANK YOU EVERYONE for the good thoughts. I did not see them until after I finished but they were appreciated anyway.

          I survived the arguments. that is all.

    2. Chicanery*

      Not long ago I brought Hawaiian rolls to a family gathering. When I got there I found out my mother-in-law had brought a few trays of Great Value bake-n-serves. I couldn’t stop giggling.

      1. Night Vale Seems Good By Comparison*

        Ha ha, that’s amazing. And I bet everyone took the rolls they wanted and enjoyed themselves with no drama!

    3. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      It’s an archetype. It’s a paradigm. It’s a meme.

      Well, it’s really really funny. :)

  2. Stitch*

    You know what’s always (extremely pettily) bothered me about the cheap ass rolls letter? Hawaiian rolls themselves aren’t particularly fancy. Like a name brand package or a dozen is like $3-4. It’s not like LW handmade artisan pesto sundried tomato rolls or something.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      And they’re so subjective. I think they’re too sweet to serve with a meal, but not sweet enough to really be desert. However, I live in an area where they are brought to every pot luck and get raved over as if there is no other type of bread on earth. To each their own I guess.

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              No, we’ve got those too, but brioche rolls are less sweet and have more of a crust.

                1. Stitch*

                  Hawaiian rolls are really really sweet. Like most recipes you use pineapple juice and then still add sugar. The dough is even sweeter than the base dough that I use for cinnamon rolls.

            2. CoveredinBees*

              They’re more like the dough used for Chinese pineapple buns (bolo bao), if that helps. The dough for Hawaiian rolls is also less airy than brioche.

          1. Stitch*

            Personally they’re way too sweet for me. Like eating cake.

            But I also only put like a tablespoon of sugar in my cornbread too and still think that’s plenty sweet.

        1. CmdrShepard*

          They are great especially if you are into the savory and sweet tastes at the same time.

          I have had them with pulled pork, I have had them with beef sliders, and sloppy joes, I have had them with chicken grilled and fried, and other various meats too numerous to describe, I have had them up ways, down ways, and wich ways, but never have I cried, THESE ARE SOME CHEAP ASS ROLLS !

          1. Olivia Mansfield*

            That’s what I get when I’m having cheap ass takeout from the grocery store: rotisserie chicken, deli potato salad, and Hawaiian rolls. Then I make a little sandwich out of chicken thigh meat on the Hawaiian roll *chef’s kiss*

          2. IndustriousLabRat*

            Haha! I was waiting for you to add green eggs and ham into your poetic list of accompaniments to Not Cheap Ass Rolls!

          3. Rusty Shackelford*

            I make little ham sandwiches with them for potlucks – the sweet and the ham really go together well, especially with a bit of cranberry relish.

            1. Chicanery*

              My favorite bread since having to go gluten free has been Canyon Bakehouse’s Hawaiian bread. A grilled ham and cheese sandwich on that stuff is just glorious.

        2. WoodswomanWrites*

          Same, I had no idea what they were. But reading here that they’re a combo of sweet and savory… no thanks. I love both on their own but dislike when they’re mixed together.

          I had forgotten just how epic this letter was, including the summary at the end. There are things in some workplaces to be furious about. But these? Nope.

          1. Edwina*

            No, they’re not a combo of sweet and savory. They (the rolls) are sweet-ISH, like brioche bread only a tiny bit sweeter. What CmdrShepard means is that if you like sweet and savory together, eating the sweetish rolls with savory meats is a nice treat. And Aphrodite’s comment is that she dislikes the fact that they are sweet, she thinks they should be savory.

            Honestly, they’re pretty good. It’s kind of like the way you might have fried chicken, and have biscuits and honey on the side.

            1. londonedit*

              There is/was a huge trend in the UK for ‘posh’ burger restaurants with epic burgers, and they pretty much exclusively use brioche buns, so now the whole thing has trickled down through the layers of the hospitality industry to the point where you can’t even get a burger in a pub without it being 21-day aged grass-fed beef with smoked Somerset Cheddar and a chargrilled brioche bun. And there are people who get very annoyed about it and believe brioche has no place anywhere near a burger.

              1. UKDancer*

                Ooh me me! I think burgers should be served in proper sesame seeded burger buns not this weird brioche stuff that has become so alarmingly popular. I do buy nice burgers from the butcher but I am a traditionalist as to the bread component.

                I don’t much like sweet breads so I would definitely be grateful at a potluck if someone had brought non-sweet rolls to the event, whether the rolls were cheap-ass or expensive-ass.

                1. londonedit*

                  It’s especially weird when they also use brioche for the veggie burgers, because I’m guessing at least with a beef burger you’d have some really savoury flavours going on that could conceivably balance the sweetness of the brioche, but with a veggie burger you’re unlikely to have that, so it just makes the whole thing oddly sweet.

                2. SarahKay*

                  Me too. I actually don’t like brioche with anything; to me it’s kind of sweetly-bland pap-textured not-quite-bread. I am continually amazed at its popularity.

              2. Pippa K*

                “21-day aged grass-fed beef with smoked Somerset Cheddar and a chargrilled brioche bun”

                (Homer Simpson drooling dot gif) If there’s too much brioche and cheddar and grass-fed beef around I’d be happy to take care of the surplus.

              3. Purple Princess*

                Agreed. And brioche isn’t a particularly sturdy bread either, so the burger juices/relishes/sauces/moisture from tomatoes or whatever else soak into the bread and it breaks apart so quickly, making it difficult to eat.

                1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  That is my issue with brioche buns on burgers – I want a bun that isn’t going to disintegrate before my burger is finished. Give me a nice potato roll or a Kaiser bun any day over brioche.

                2. londonedit*

                  Exactly! Brioche buns just disintegrate halfway through. Normal bread is fine! It’s not about the bread, anyway!

                3. Mockingjay*

                  It’s so hard to find a good Kaiser roll – or any decent crusty, firm bread. The local bakeries produce nothing but oversized cupcakes and nightmare-sweet cakes.

                  I miss Germany and the Bäckerei.

              4. a tester, not a developer*

                Brioche buns and veggie burgers also don’t make sense to me since brioche has milk, butter, and eggs. Feels like you’re kind of going against the spirit of making something vegetarian…

                1. Metadata minion*

                  Many vegetarians eat eggs and dairy, and plenty of veggie burgers contain eggs and/or cheese.

                2. londonedit*

                  Yeah, where I’m from vegetarian means no meat/fish or things derived from them, but dairy and eggs are totally fine. Vegans are the ones who don’t eat anything that comes from an animal in any way.

                3. Anonym*

                  Yeah, it’s sort of aggressively borderline, even though it’s technically vegetarian. No meat but maximum number of animal products!

                4. londonedit*

                  Maybe a regional thing but veggie burgers are standard pub fare where I’m from – you’ll usually have a burger section on a pub menu with a beef option, probably a chicken/pulled pork thing, and a veggie burger. There’s a trend towards just making the veggie/vegan option vegan because it’s obviously easier for the kitchen, but veggie burgers usually have cheese and/or some sort of sour cream or tzatziki, and/or halloumi. All of which are vegetarian! I don’t see the problem with having dairy products as part of a vegetarian dish – it’s extremely common (see also veggie lasagne, all the veggie things that involve feta and goat’s cheese, mushroom risottos with cheese and butter and cream etc).

              5. Hermione Danger*

                I live in Chicago, and we are very clear here that the only bun to put a burger on is a pretzel bun. People in London are clearly doing it wrong. ;)

                1. ThatGirl*

                  Pretzel buns are the best for big, thick, juicy burgers. They don’t work nearly as well for smash-style griddled burgers; for those a potato roll is best. But I do use brioche at home a fair amount – I toast them lightly first and they hold up better. (I am from the ‘burbs.)

                2. Kat in Boots*

                  I like a brioche bun with a burger, but others are welcome to their preferences!

                  I’m enjoying how this comment thread has more or less turned into a sound off on the relative merits of different buns.

            2. cat socks*

              I use the Kings Hawaiian Rolls to make ham and cheese sliders. They’re easy to make for a large group and are a hit with people I’ve served them to. I tried another brand of Hawaiian rolls, but they weren’t the same.

              1. a heather*

                Yes! These are delicious. Usually they have a bit of mustard on them as well. They’re easy to make because you make the whole package at once, not individually.

            3. Akcipitrokulo*

              It became a standing joke that when we went for team lunch, one member always objected to burgers in brioche buns :)

          2. JB*

            You dislike barbeque? Marinated meats? Chocolate-covered pretzels? Ketchup…?

            The majority of foods have both sweet and savory components.

        3. Gothic Bee*

          I love hawaiian rolls, but they are quite a sweet basic white bread roll. Around here it’s kind of a thing for people to use them to make mini ham sandwiches and then bake them, sometimes with extra fillings or seasoning stuff on top. Not sure if that’s a thing everywhere in the US or if it’s more regional, but my sister always makes them for holidays.

      1. PepperVL*

        I’m with you. I don’t actually like Hawaiian rolls. I also couldn’t stand the O’Charley’s rolls back in the day. If my bread is going to be sweet, I need it to be dessert sweet (and to eat it when I want dessert, not with our before my meal).

        But I know a lot of people like them.

      2. Night Vale Seems Good By Comparison*

        Everyone always thinks of the sweet Kings Hawaiian rolls because that’s what they’re known for, but they also have a variety called savory butter. They can be harder to find, but worth grabbing when you see them. Still delicious, more like a standard roll.

        Honestly, most dinner type rolls are good as long as they are
        aren’t stale or moldy, and even at bakeries aren’t crazy expensive.

      3. Snow Globe*

        Depends what you make with them. I wouldn’t use them for sandwiches, but I used them for a bread pudding recipe that was sooooo good.

      4. Carlie*

        Yes, thank you. I hate Hawaiian rolls and they have overtaken the bread section at supermarkets. We had to go to three stores to find cbeap-ass rolls for Thanksgiving. To each their own indeed, and may all the potlucks have a variety of breads.

      5. Don't Be Longsuffering*

        I had a job where people waxed lyrical about Hawaiian rolls. Couldn’t wait for the once-a-year potluck because Chris was gonna bring them rolls. I was expecting something artisan like Stitch said, delivered still warm from the oven. I always made my own dinner rolls so these must be wowser.
        When the day came Chris threw one bag of rolls on the table and folks were happier about them than any of the truly wonderful dishes coworkers had spent hours making. I tried one, but (for me) it was way too sweet. And cheap! What?
        Then I began to see the packages of rolls in the supermarket–as though they were just normal bread one could buy. One day I fell into a reverie next to them until another shopper said “Dreaming about those rolls, huh? They are so good.” No, I was just contemplating a question: why don’t the Hawaiian roll lovers at work just buy some themselves? I was too junior and socially inept to ask and I still don’t know the magic answer.

        1. Stitch*

          My weird Hawaiian rolls story is that I’m about 70% sure the communion bread at my church when I was a kid was Hawaiian rolls for a while (they changed it up a lot).

          1. Esmeralda*

            Worth going to confession for, then?

            Recovering RC here. Man, if the communion wafers were Kings Hawaiian instead of the traditional styrofoam tablets, I would have behaved a LOT better when I was a kid.

          2. Resident Catholicville, USA*

            Trying to imagine 1980’s Catholic conservative area I grew up in using Hawaiian Rolls as communion wafers (presumably flattened or something) and it’s kind of an amazing image.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              I don’t think they could. They’re supposed to be unleavened.

              We went to a church that occasionally had homemade Eucharist. Gave the body of Christ a lot more… Body.

              1. Kat in Boots*


                Hawaiian rolls were probably served for communion at a church that was not Catholic. I’ve never been to a Catholic church that served anything but wafer hosts and, because they are a denomination that is very particular about How Ceremonies and Rituals Are Done I have to assume this is required.

                1. Charlotte Lucas*

                  Yep. When we had the homemade Eucharist, it was definitely all done under the auspices of the priest.

                2. Nobby Nobbs*

                  Maybe it was Methodist. Hawaiian bread and grape juice, because God loves us and wants us to be happy! (Probably it’s actually because Methodists don’t do Transubstantiation and are therefore less worried about crumbs, and the denomination was founded at a time when all the Serious Moral Crusaders were teetotalers, but you have to admit it tastes better than wafers in wine.)

          3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            Our church back when I was a kid (in the 90s) 100% used Kings Hawaiian for communion. Not the rolls though, the loaves.

          4. Malarkey01*

            Mine was TOO!! And I remember how excited I would get every communion Sunday (once a month) to get that small piece of Hawaiian roll and little shot of grape juice. I obviously wasn’t grasping the sacred importance as a small child.

        2. DrunkAtAWedding*

          Food given as a gift or eaten at a party is usually better than food you buy for yourself.

      6. What She Said*

        Same here. I am not a fan. The family loves them and it drives me nuts when they are the only rolls available at a family dinner. I love “cheap ass rolls” over Hawaiian.

      7. Anon for this*

        They’re good when served with REALLY salty, fatty meat like pulled pork or short ribs. But if the filling isn’t salty and fatty enough to counter the acidic sweetness, they’re waaaaay too sweet.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      I will never again be able to think of Hawaiian rolls without thinking of the cheap ass rolls letter.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Right? I could see feeling MILDLY slighted if LW baked rolls from scratch and someone else brought store-bought, especially if people ended up liking the other ones better or something. But this is really just a personal preference between similar brands… and they got THIS worked up about it!

      1. Lacey*

        Yes. Also, it’s like they’ve never been to a potluck before! Sure, a number of people sign up for a dish, but then 20% of the people will always just show up with whatever. It’s not a personal affront – they just didn’t plan ahead.

    4. EPLawyer*

      She specifically said she went with something easy. Then got all huffy and stormed out (nobody probably noticed so not the statement she thought it was) because someone … also did something easy.

      1. RC*

        This is what I love about it–the outrage over…what? Being too lazy to make something?

        I also headcanon that she flounced angrily out of the room and literally no one noticed. Think of all that rage and no one noticed.

    5. Minerva*

      Right? I could understand *maybe* if she had gone through the trouble of making Hawaiian rolls from scratch but the store bought ones are inexpensive, I just ate one last night as a side with my 4.99 chicken tender snack pack from the supermarket.

    6. Jessica Ganschen*

      Seriously! Even if I brought a batch of my family’s homemade crescent rolls, the recipe passed down through three generations, you know what my only reaction would be if someone else brought store-bought rolls (whether Hawaiian or cheap-ass)? “Aww yeah, more bread!”

      1. banoffee pie*

        Yes, either that or smugness! If I brought some of my homemade bread, and somebody else brought cheap ass rolls from the supermarket, I’d be inclined to sit there and let the contrast speak for itself haha. I’d wait for the compliments to roll in, then get annoyed if they didn’t. (Some people don’t like homemade bread and find it too rich/filling if they’re used to supermarket stuff. I’ve learned that the hard way lol)

        1. Kal*

          My only reaction I’ve had based on whether people ate my brought foods or not was either “yay! more for me!” or “no! please eat it, I made way too much for just me!”

          I had the benefit of that being modelled to me by my mom, who was a very frequent contributor of homemade things to events. And being picky and generally low-appetite myself, I know that there are a ton of factors that play into how much people eat your thing, including how much other food there is (sometimes you just can’t eat as much as you’d like to!), how familiar looking the thing is to people, to even things like time of day of the event compared to the normal mealtimes of the people there skewing what types of food they eat. Its way too much to bother trying to quantify into a “do people think I’m good at food” thing.

    7. Recruited Recruiter*

      I totally feel you on this! I think that Hawaiian rolls are cheap-ass rolls too. But it’s also not going to bother me if there are cheap-ass rolls (of any variety) at a potluck. I think that’s part of what makes the letter so funny.

      I wonder how the original LW would feel if she knew that her letter became the basis for the ‘cheap-ass rolls scale of pettiness’?

    8. RB*

      That was one of the main things that was so astounding to me. They were so outraged about someone else’s rolls that were basically the same thing as what the LW brought. I mean, in all the categories of rolls out there, these two are in the same category.

    9. Erin*

      +1 to this. I don’t really see Hawaiian rolls ruling the gourmet bread category? They are easily available at most grocery stores, and definitely under $5. But, I’m also not a fan of the Hawaiian rolls, so I would have passed on the *fAnCy* stuff anyway

    1. Imaginary Friend*

      I’ve been so focussed on those rolls that I totally didn’t remember the powerpoint thing. Wow, talk about having a GIANT chip on your shoulder. (I mean, honestly, I feel bad for this person because their life must be a self-made hell. But sheesh!)

      1. Ailurophile*

        The PowerPoint slide seemed like LW1 escalated from molehill to mountain in 2 seconds. Taken differently, maybe it was a compliment! “Oh wow, LW1 has fit so seamlessly into our culture that I forgot they were new!” I might also feel a little annoyed if someone brought the same item as me to a potluck, and I might feel a little hurt if someone skipped over my name during a team meeting. It seems like a leap to assume there’s some insidious plot to devalue this employee specifically.

  3. ninjaaccountant*

    I was wondering the other day what the hell people meant by cheap ass rolls. . . . . now I know!

  4. Double A*

    I see what you did there, Alison: The law of Don’t Be Ridiculous also applies to the cheap ass rolls.

    Also that letter is even more over the top than I remember. I wonder if they have back problems? Because that is a massive chip on their shoulder.

    1. Not Alison*

      Was there ever an update to this from the OP – – – particularly after Alison’s pithy response? Was the OP fired?

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I don’t think so but if there’s ever a letter I truly want an update to it’s that one

      2. Zephy*

        I think about this LW a lot. I hope she’s feeling better these days. I imagine she probably didn’t stick around long after her letter was published, if she came here at all, since the entire comment thread was just people clowning on her. Deservedly so, she was being ridiculous, but based on her letter (and assuming there wasn’t a long gap of time between her writing in and Alison publishing it), I imagine she wasn’t in a great headspace to hear that at the time.

        1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

          I like the empathy in this comment. Ridiculously-behaving people are usually in a bad place, I believe.

          1. Kat in Boots*

            Me too. This person was clearly not in touch with how she would be perceived and what was a reasonable level of offense. That suggests she is probably regularly getting into conflict with others, which makes for a stressful and lonely life. It’s not unlikely that she grew up in a family where others got angry with her, or with others, for similar levels of “offense”, because she appears to believe this is so normal. I doubt we will ever get an update and I feel for her because it is likely to take her a long time to get to a good place of peace, if she ever does.

    2. Xenia*

      This whole series of letters seems like the “don’t be ridiculous” set. Cheap-ass rolls, supervisors wanting to shelter college kids–whole lot of ridiculousness.

  5. Lizy*

    Somehow I missed previously where we’re sticking Santa’s cheap ass rolls up the rude coworkers’ asses, but that just is the melted butter on the nice Hawaiian rolls.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I honestly wondered if there was something going on in their life outside of work. The Hawaiian vrs regular rolls was just such a weird thing to get so bent out of shape over.

      Being forgotten in the new employee introduction though I can understand being upset over (but again, not to the point that OP took it too), especially if there was a PowerPoint slide of names of new employees.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        As they say, Blessed are the flexible, for they shall never be bent out of shape.

        I feel like this person‘s approach to life is always so inflexible that they are always bent out of shape about something, and that day their target just happened to be the poor cheap-ass rolls and the PowerPoint. That letter writer spends a lot of time hunting under rocks in corners for the faintest of reasons to assume they don’t want her working there, and there just happened to be two in the same hour.

      2. Jackalope*

        I took it the other way, actually, as a compliment. Had that happened to me as a new employee I would have said something about how glad I was that I fit into the team so well they’d already forgotten I was new, or something like that.

        1. Bad at picking names*

          Yes, exactly. Or feeling grateful the other employee spoke up for her, which would have meant a lot to me in that situation .

        2. RabbitRabbit*

          This exactly. You aren’t sticking out for bad reasons or doing anything awkward (outside of storming out of a potluck over sign-up rule-breakers).

        3. Recruited Recruiter*

          I totally agree with you. A couple jobs ago, my boss asked when my 5 years of hire was. At 2 and 1/4. It was one of the biggest compliments that I have gotten on my work.

        4. irene adler*

          That’d be my take on it!
          (and relief that I don’t have to get up in front of a group and talk to them.)

      3. CoveredinBees*

        Taking it to the conclusion of being unwanted at their job was such a huge leap, especially after the person apologized. In the past, I’ve had some of those types of thoughts when I was dealing with undiagnosed and untreated depression and anxiety along with some other (mentally) unhealthy issues. I do hope this person has found what they needed to live a happier life.

        1. KaciHall*

          I have diagnosed depression, but the year after college I didn’t have health insurance and was poor (Yay for graduating on 09!) so I hadn’t gone to the doctor to get my prescription renewed because I was fine. Totally fine. Getting annoyed by things like the cheap ass rolls was totally fine.

          A year later, my boyfriend and I are in the middle of a stupid fight and he says something along the lines of ‘God you must be off your meds again.’ He was entirely right. And once I got back on them life was so much smoother. (Though getting rid of the boyfriend who did not need to be medicated but still picked stupid fights probably helped, too.)

          1. Kat in Boots*

            Props for getting rid of a boyfriend who mentions things like psych meds in the middle of fights.

  6. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    Okay, going to be the odd person out, I have always been bothered by the supervisor that didn’t want (over-21) student employees eating lunch with full time staff because “they may overhear something adult!” Honestly Alison’s repeated “they are adults” could have been the whole advice answer. Sure hope that guy came to his senses.
    I mean give me a break – you can join any branch of the military at 18 – and he was obsessing over “adult topics” in front of 21 year olds?!?!?!

    1. Hekko*

      I’m 38, and if the “adult topics” are what I think they are, I don’t want to hear about them. Not at work!

      If it’s any other kind of adult topics, young people can join the conversation.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Oh agreed – I don’t need or want details about your or anybody’s sex life. But by the way the manager mentioned cursing, I have a feeling that his idea of adult topics is way more tame than that.

        1. Jackalope*

          My guess was talking about drinking and wild parties. Which of course 21 yr olds know nothing about. /s

          1. Lady_Lessa*

            They probably know more about that than I do, but then I’ve never been into that kind of partying.

        2. MusicWithRocksIn*

          I feel like if any group was going to discuss their sex life at work it would be the 21 year olds who are not yet in sync with office norms. Which is why these conversations are good for them (the interns)! See what topics are appropriate to discuss with coworkers, and hopefully be skilled enough to figure out what people are not discussing (sex, religion, politics, diets) that should not be discussed. Appropriate office chit chat can be a legitimate skill that you need to learn at the intern stage, let them learn.

          1. Lucy Skywalker*

            Why not diets? If I’m on a diet, and someone offers me cookies, and I say “no thanks, I’m on a diet,” and she takes offense to that because she’s fat and thinks that I’m implying that fat is a bad thing and that she is personally insulted by my choice, she’s the one out of line, not me.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Mentioning that you’re on a diet briefly is fine; I think what MusicWithRocksIn is referring to is going on endlessly about your diet, or making it a huge topic of discussion — personally, I think diet culture is Very Bad but I’ll do you the favor of not ranting about it as long as you’re not going on about the merits of keto or whatever. :)

              1. OhNo*

                Yes, there have been discussions here before about offices where the only thing anyone ever talks about is their diet, which is almost universally agreed to be awful. Quick mentions are no problem, but when every conversation gets immediately turned into a game of Guess What Foods Jane Can’t Eat This Week, it gets old fast.

                1. Ailurophile*

                  This. I worked in an office where people would go on a diet kick and try to get the entire office involved. They would routinely send out emails to the entire department (once or twice a day) asking people to check in about what they’d eaten, how much water they were drinking, what exercise they had done so far, etc. It’s appropriate to mention dietary restrictions in an office where people regularly share food so that no one gets left out inadvertently. However, that’s a far cry from proselytizing about your diet.

                2. Candi*

                  There’s also the factor that people who go on and on very loudly about their diet have a high Venn Diagram overlap with people who assign moral values to food, often also very loudly. And that’s just annoying.

                  It’s not the understandable kind of moralizing either, like chickens in teeny cages vs a large barn, or dumping beef full of antibiotics vs giving it to them only when they’re actually sick, or not at all, depending. The kind that has a heavy intersection with ethics. Nope, it’s about how “evil” or “sinful” a food is, whether it’s “good” or “bad”.

                  Food cannot be evil or good, unless maybe it came from Willy Wonka or Dr. Wundertainment. It just is.

            2. bamcheeks*

              For me that’s a bit like, “no thanks, I’m a bit backed up and need to eat more fibre”. Fine if that’s what you’re thinking about! I just would prefer not to hear about it.

      2. Bamcheeks*

        Yes exactly! What are you talking about AT WORK that isn’t appropriate for 21 year olds? Unionising?

        1. UKDancer*

          Personally I always make sure when we have an intern in my part of the company that they’re aware of the trade unions and the importance of joining one of the ones that represents us if they come to work in our industry. So I definitely think it’s a good topic of adult conversation.

      3. Bilateralrope*


        And I’d think that those topics are more likely to come from someone around 21 than someone older. Unless there is a specific coworker that HR needs to do something about.

      4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Well, and also, staff may discuss confidential work info during lunch – if something isn’t appropriate for the intern to hear, either because it’s racy or because it’s confidential, you probably shouldn’t be discussing it in the breakroom period.

        It feels a bit like “stop inviting women to off-site events because we want to tell locker room jokes”.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Agreed there – know your intended and unintended audience for all conversations should be something taught in schools – or even in employee onboarding. Sadly it’s not.

      5. EPLawyer*

        well yeah, they shouldn’t be discussing “adult” topics in the break room at all.

        But on the other hand, we don’t want to scare 21 year olds with talk of mortgages and the high cost of daycare.

            1. ggg*

              I know way more about cataract surgery, colonoscopies and prostate health than I should, from working with a bunch of old guys for years. Even if I wasn’t part of the conversation I could hear them talk about it all day long.

              When I turn 50 I’m going to go back over to that department for a consult. They do solid research over there and have a whole list of properly vetted health practitioners and supplement regimes.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Yeah – that’s what I meant. I knew that the Cheap Rolls was probably going to dominate the comments for this one – they are a site legend after all.

          1. Observer*

            Yeah, that’s a good point.

            It’s a legend for a reason… But I think that on any other group, this one would get plenty of response.

    2. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      I’m also confused about the confidential work info bit. Are the student employees seen as too young to understand the concept of confidentiality, and for this reason not allowed to hear anything they couldn’t tell absolutely everyone (and if so, what work do they actually do that is 100% public in every detail)? Or are the other employees discussing such things in the lunch room that all employees aren’t supposed to know about, and instead of telling those people to keep it out of the lunch room, someone wants to restrich who’s allowed to be in the lunch room?

      And of course the adult topic bit is ridiculous. I don’t know what age people typically graduate in the US, but I know that in several European countries it’s common that “lower level” degrees (no university/college) are finished before 20 and those people go to working life as professionals. Nurse’s aids or waiters, for example, certainly can’t avoid “adult topics” then.

      1. Susan Ivanova*

        I worked at one of the tech companies notorious for secrecy that would do their big public “what’s coming next” announcement in early June. This meant interns would start working before they were allowed to know what the current projects were about (we’d give them something related from the previous year). But it also meant that we absolutely never talked about those projects at lunch, because the people at the next table over might not be read in to that project either.

      2. Bamcheeks*

        This is actually a fairly real thing to be worried about— much more real than the “adult topics”! If you’re in a department that works with student records you have access to all sorts of personal info, some of it sensitive (contact info, grades, etc, but potentially also disabilities, mental health problems, drug and alcohol issues etc.) If you’ve got a long-term student employee you trust them and you l expect the same standards of confidentiality as you would from any professional, but if it’s a short term contract you’ve got to have a bit more caution about them having access to confidential stuff or overhearing discussions of sensitive topics because they’ve less to lose.

        But the solution to that is “don’t discuss it in the lunch room”, not “ban you student workers from shared spaces.”

        1. Bamcheeks*

          … sorry I forgot to say, abs the point being they may very well hear or learn things about their classmates or even their friends that their friends wouldn’t want them to know. Keeping that kind of thing compartmentalised is a pretty high-level skill and not one it’s necessarily fair to place on people who are new to the workplace.

          1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

            Um, based on your above comment, no one should be discussing a co-worker’s drug/alcohol treatment history, mental health history or grades over lunch. Doesn’t matter if a co-student is present or not, that’s ridiculous. If those topics are being bandied about, the employees are bigger problems than the students.

            1. bamcheeks*

              Not colleagues’ drug/alcohol problems, but students’. There are lots and lots of areas of the university where a team might be aware of sensitive information about students, and how you share, discuss and record it and who has access to it is critical. It’s not objectively wrong for people to discuss those kind of things in shared offices or even in break spaces as long as you know everyone there understands and respects the students’ confidentiality. But if you have student employees, you should be changing how and where you talk about other students, not banning them from the lunch room!

              1. Observer*

                This is mostly true. But @Cheesesteak in Paradise is correct. The very sensitive nature of this information means that NONE of it should be discussed in the lunchroom or any other space that others have access to. It’s not enough to “know” that the people in the room “understands and respects the students’ confidentiality”. Because they may still not be entitled to that information, and thus talking about it around them is a serious breach.

                1. Bamcheeks*

                  By “understands and respects”, I meant people who are part of the same service and with whom you would have work-related reasons for discussing sensitive information—our lunch/break room wasn’t open to anyone outside the service. But I don’t disagree with the clarification.

                2. Candi*

                  From my experience, “not open to anyone outside the service” is rarely watertight unless there’s bookoo security involved. While no one but employees working out of that location are supposed to be in there, other people can wind up in there. The ones I’m most familiar with is vendors being invited in to have lunch or because the one conference room was occupied, other workers for the company, usually higher ups, visiting the location (and they didn’t have authority to know what the staff was working on because confidentiality), and consultants who were supposed to have a dedicated place to work, but management slipped up. That was fun.

          2. NervousHoolelya*

            While that may be true, many student worker positions (at least at the universities I’ve worked at) do involve access to sensitive or confidential information AS PART OF THE JOB. If these lunches are happening in a department-only space, the conversations might simply be an extension of information the student workers already know. (If the break space is public, or cross-departmental, then I would hope for more discretion.)

            I’m thinking, for instance, of peer Writing Center tutors using their break time to process a difficult session or to flag problematic comments written by a faculty member on a paper or to question a grade they saw on a student paper. If those conversations happened in a Writing-Center-only space, they would be considered perfectly acceptable (and very typical), even though they involve sensitive information.

            It’s a different story if the full-time staff are using break conversations to reveal sensitive information that the student workers wouldn’t otherwise have access to. But I’ve supervised a lot of student workers over the years, and they all had access to some level of confidential information about their peers, possibly including information that those folks wouldn’t want them to know. It’s the reality of employing student workers.

            1. bamcheeks*

              Yes, same here. But it’s not something we’re careless about– it’s something we consider and think about when we are creating student worker roles or deciding whether to advertise substantive roles to students. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable thing for LW4’s boss to be thinking about, I just think that “so you can’t have lunch with other people” is the wrong answer.

            2. GreyjoyGardens*

              I think this is one of those things that it’s better for someone to learn about as early in their work career as possible, and know how to handle it appropriately. This is where mentoring and supervising come in.

              If they don’t learn “you are going to hear sensitive information as a part of the job, don’t turn it into juicy gossip, it’s confidential for a reason, sometimes LEGAL reasons, and you could get in trouble by blabbing it all over the place” at 20, when an intern’s mistakes are more easily forgiven, they might be Lucinda Looselips at 26, in their first job, where something like that could get them fired.

              1. Kat in Boots*

                It seems to me that it would be fairly standard practice in most organizations where workers have to deal with confidential information that training in how to handle that information is standard mandatory on-boarding training. If it’s not, the organization is not properly run.

                In my experience supervising student workers, I’ve had to address students who were too free with information as well as students who were overzealous about confidentiality (i.e., “You are allowed to tell your friends or family that you WORK HERE, this is not a secret intelligence agency).

                1. Bamcheeks*

                  We make a (soft) distinction between confidential data and sensitive data. It’s not uncommon to have student workers who have access to systems with students’ contact details, date of birth, grades etc, and they’d be trained on data protection same as anyone else. But the student counselling service, disability service, academic appeals etc will have greater restrictions on access to data (eg. I could see all a student’s contact data, address etc, but not details of their disability, which was stored in the same system but under more restricted access.) Those areas generally wouldn’t have student workers because it’s neither fair to ask student workers to compartmentalise such sensitive information about friends and classmates, nor to ask students to disclose sensitive information knowing that classmates or friends may see it.

        2. H2*

          I agree with you, although I do think that being concerned about adult topics as a more valid concern with student employees then it would be in general. Yes, most college students are not going to be scandalized by most topics that come up in conversation. But the power differential between faculty and staff and student employees is, I think, greater than what you would typically find. I’ve had student employees as TAs and I’m not sure who they would even complain to if they were upset. And I’ve been a TA (as a pretty naive 21 year old woman in a very male dominated field) and heard things that could have been offensive, and really would not have felt or even realized that there was anything that I could do to follow up on that.

          Anyway, it doesn’t really matter, because your solution is 100% correct. Watch your mouth, not ban students!

        3. Observer*

          But the solution to that is “don’t discuss it in the lunch room”, not “ban you student workers from shared spaces.”

          Yes. Because there are likely to be OTHER people, besides the interns that are not supposed to hear this stuff.

      3. Candi*

        Well, in the US, part of it depends if the student participates in Running Start or not.

        A student who does not participate can graduate just high school at 18. (Although my son got in under the wire on his age range, so he graduated at 17.) The student can go straight to college, usually the following fall, and do two years community college + two years university, or four years university, graduating with a four-year degree at around 22. (Assuming they pass all classes on the first try.)

        In Running Start in my state, the students can take college (usually the more flexible community college) courses that count for both high school and college. They don’t pay tuition, but they do have to cover books, fees, and transportation. (So not really the “low income benefit” one community college tried to claim several years ago.)

        A student who is in Running Start will graduate with a high school diploma and a two-year Associate’s degree by 18, again assuming they pass all classes the first try. If they go immediately to finish up at a four-year college, they can have their degree by 20.

        In any flippin’ case, they aren’t kids, they’re young adults by that point.

        1. Anononon*

          I’ve never heard of that program. I wonder if it’s only certain states? Or newer? (I graduated from high school in 2006 in PA.)

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            In my state, it doesn’t use that particular brand name, but concurrent enrollment is fairly common.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              I went to high school in the 80s & knew kids who took some college classes while in high school. I did a two-week intensive summer course that gave me some college credit while still in high school.

          2. OyHiOh*

            My state calls it either Early College, or duel enrollment.

            I know a few students who have managed the holy grail of concurrent diploma and A.A. degree but most of the duel enrolled students I know finish high school with 12 to 24 college credits (1 to 2 semesters), which is still nothing to sneeze at! The ones who pull it off are determined to get as much college paid for as possible while it’s free to them – Early College/duel enrollment is paid for under K-12 public education – in order to limit student loans and cost to family later on.

        2. Zephy*

          My school district (FL) called that “dual enrollment,” but same idea – finish high school and your AA at the same time, and then I believe there was some kind of “pipeline” deal where you could transfer to any state school once you had the Associate’s and you were guaranteed acceptance. No word on whether you could afford to go to the state school after that, even if just for two years (transfer student merit scholarships tend to be hot garbage, specifically because you won’t be enrolled as long as someone coming straight from HS), but you’d get in, at least – so if you really had your heart set on attending UF or whatever, it was a nice way to hedge your bets there.

          1. Zephy*

            Edit to add context – I finished HS in Florida in 2009, and currently work for a (private) college, also in FL.

          2. Candi*

            Maybe a lot of the universities in my state are more accepting, since A LOT of students go to community colleges for two years, than transfer, to save on expenses. Including international students. I took that path, and it was so routine that the department was like “fill out this paper work, do it now so in a year and a half you only have to wait for the last part to process”. That part was the part saying, “Yes, they have all the credits and have graduated/will definitely graduate before X date.” (I only needed 1 natural science class when I was accepted to university.)

            So a university that won’t accept 6-10 quarter students will miss out on a lot of money.

            For reference, the CC I went to, the graduation rate was ~24%. The transfer rate was ~73%.

        3. GreyjoyGardens*

          Running Start sounds great – I wish it had been around when I was in high school! (Or maybe it was and I didn’t know about it).

          In any event, yes, college degree or not, these are ADULTS, not precious vulnerable little children. The trend to infantilize young adults (and, for that matter, teenagers) is maddening. Sheltered, helicoptered young adults become the “problem” interns or new employees that AAM hears about all the time.

          Don’t helicopter your young or intern employees (they probably get that enough from their parents as it is). “Don’t discuss sensitive or confidential topics in the lunchroom” is good advice. Also maybe pulling aside the college interns, as a group, and explain that they will probably be hearing confidential information about other employees – or each other – and that this is *confidential* for a reason and not to be the topic of gossip. It’s a good lesson to learn when one is young and starting out in the workplace.

        4. PT*

          My US college had a large international student population. We had a *ton* of kids who were 16 and 17 year old freshmen because they graduated on the Euro system. We also had a bunch of grade skippers, and students who were simply young for their age (If a state’s Kindergarten cutoff is after September 1, a good chunk of their students will be 17 for the start of college.)

          Typically minor aged college students are considered college students, not minors, except in a few specific situations like field trips or medical procedures. You wouldn’t have to be like “everyone who is a minor cover your ears and close your eyes!” in a particular setting in college. That’s just not expected.

          1. Elenna*

            Yes – my sister was 17 when she started university, since she skipped a grade, and afaik during the entire process she was treated as an adult uni student in charge of her own life, not a minor.

      4. Bagpuss*

        Yes, I’m in the UK, and here, if someone goes directly to University after they finish school they would typically be 18 when they start at Uni and 21 when they graduate (assuming a typical 4 year degree)

        not to mention that there are also people who leave school earlier and start work. Our youngest employee, who is working here on an apprenticeship, is 17 and was only 16 when they started. (I did have to issue a reminder, earlier in the year, when there was a night out, earlier this year when people started venturing out again, that as she is too young to drink we must make sure that no-one offered or bought her any alcoholic drinks (at least during our event!) – it’s a while since we had an employee who was under 18 and therefore under legal drinking age!

        Thinking back to my time at university I am struggling to think of any adult topics which might come up in the workplace and which would cause any raised eyebrows among students.

        If it’s confidential information then surely the way forward is don’t discuss confidential stuff in the breakroom / over lunch, not ban the interns?

        1. londonedit*

          Degrees are usually 4 years in Scotland, but more usually 3 years in England/Wales unless you’re doing something with a placement year in the middle. Mine was a 3-year BA. But yes, here you’re meant to be in some sort of education or training until you’re 18, but you don’t have to actually be at school beyond 16. And of course drinking age here is 18, so the vast majority of university students are able to drink legally (and in my day, had probably been drinking illegally for two or three years before that, because there’s always one pub in town that’ll serve you underage). Generally here I think university students are regarded as adults and I don’t think people would feel the need to shelter them from ‘adult topics’ or swearing. The thing about them potentially hearing confidential information is a different matter – if that’s a problem, people shouldn’t be talking about it at lunchtime. But the idea that grown adult interns should be ‘sheltered’ from swear words or ‘adult’ topics? That’s ridiculous.

    3. Squidhead*

      I assumed that the supervisor thinks the full-time employees are jaded and cynical and didn’t want the student employees to see such an unvarnished view of the profession. “Adult topics” would mean “adults sometimes venting about their jobs in the relative privacy of the breakroom” and maybe also discussing inside business/gossip that aren’t really the interns’ business (“Jane had better get on another committee if she wants tenure” “Mark and Alex had an argument in front of the 9th grade literature class over how to teach Poe”). Like, the supervisor doesn’t want to break the magic spell that all teachers are perfect and uncomplaining humans at all times.

      1. OftenOblivious*

        The bits of “real professor life” were the best bits about working as a student admin worker in my major. Most of my job was copying materials (which included copying tests and being trusted to keep the tests confidential as well as occasional grading).

      2. GreyjoyGardens*

        Hah. If more idealistic younglings were exposed to the scut-work, unpleasant part of so-called glamour jobs (like in publishing) or idealism jobs (in universities or nonprofits) the better off the workplace and our collective mental health would be. Wipe the stars from their eyes as early as possible, say I. We might be better off if some of those starry-eyed youngsters decided to be insurance underwriters or systems analysts after all.

        1. Kat in Boots*

          Agreed. They can handle the information once they become teenagers, and in general the more years they have to process it, the better.

          That said, I do think that there is merit to not shoving the freshest, youngest, least trained employees into the most traumatic soul-destroying parts of the job, which regularly happens to Social Workers in Child Protection and Elder Abuse. No one is really immune from the vicarious trauma of these jobs, but I think there’s good evidence that throwing young, less experiences workers into this fresh out of training (or with inadequate training) is a good way to wreak lives.

          1. GreyjoyGardens*

            The problems with the child and elder decisions of social work go far, far beyond putting the youngest, greenest people in there. I know seeing abused children is harrowing but it seems to me that it’s even more harrowing because there is so little CPS can do.

            I agree that the youngest and least- trained workers should not be given such work that they get traumatized by what they see. What I refer to as wiping stars from eyes is the idea that fields like fashion, or publishing, or journalism, or nonprofit work are so very glamorous they are worth being paid in peanuts and putting up with bad treatment, when in reality, they involve a lot of grunt work just like any other job.

    4. Saraquill*

      The “they may hear profanity” part confuses me. I remember middle school and early high school well. Flinging swear words like confetti was proof of being grown up. By age 21, I’m sure these students have heard and used everything.

    5. Cat*

      I work for a university and have managed student workers in the past. While I agree that they should be able to eat lunch in the break room and socialize with co-workers, the “they’re adults” reasoning is missing something in my opinion. These are students at the university, and I represent the university in an official capacity as an employee. This is a more nuanced relationship than an intern at a company because there are expectations that students are sort of placed in the university’s care while they’re there. There has been such a huge focus and a large amount of media attention on things like student wellness and mental health for example. I don’t think the manager is wrong to have a different set of concerns for students, no matter their age.

      1. un-pleased*

        Yeah, the student wellness angle and caretaking angle is an important factor. Colleges and universities have what is at times an ill-defined quasi-parental role in that regard. I also know that when I worked at a university, I had to be super careful about how I responded if a student expressed something that sounded like a mental health issue. Those were reportable to the student counseling services by law in that state.

        Also, the relationship between students and faculty and staff is governed by federal Title IX guidelines. I don’t have enough context to know if that’s playing a role here, but what can be considered actionable under those and other state- or institution-specific rules can cover a broad swath of things. Saying something in front of them that makes them uncomfortable (even if not to them) can be a violation. College students may be adults by age, but as you say, s context that changes how they can be treated as conversational partners in this way. Perhaps the boss is being overly cautious, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

        1. H2*

          As a faculty member, I totally agree with both of you. I tried to also articulate it above, but I like the way that you pointed out that student workers are somehow both customer and employee at the same time and how there is an expectation that we’re taking care of them a little bit. A student worker setup really isn’t the same as an intern.

      2. hbc*

        I’m not a real fan of the whole In Loco Parentis thing for 21 year olds who probably have peers who have been supporting themselves and possibly offspring for a couple of years. But regardless, a huge reason behind internships is to give that exposure to the working world and to start having them function as adults. Acting like their tender ears aren’t prepared for the horrors of breakroom banter does no one any favors.

        1. H2*

          Eh, student workers at universities aren’t the same as interns. Universities tend to hire a lot of students, both as cheap labor and as a convenience for students who live on campus to be able to have a job with a convenient location and hours. It’s typically more about getting spending money and something on a resume than it is about getting real world career experiences. Let’s face it, academia is not exactly the place to learn about career norms, ha.

          I think for me a lot of the problem is that when you have student workers at a university, the power differential is very large. It would be more like eating lunch with your great grand boss, and having them say something off-color. And it doesn’t have to even be off-color, there are plenty of topics that are fairly benign that might make a 21 year old uncomfortable (say, childbirth). Who would they even complain to? How would they even handle it? But no one should have to be uncomfortable at lunch.

          To be clear, the solution is very easy, and it’s not banning the students. It’s just reading the room. I just don’t think it’s off-base to say that there subjects that you shouldn’t discuss in front of student workers *at a university*.

          1. pancakes*

            Being mildly uncomfortable for a moment isn’t something that needs to be the subject of an official complaint. Most young adults will have begun learning how to handle being mildly uncomfortable for a moment well before going to university. Some will be experts in it due to their families.

          2. bamcheeks*

            It’s typically more about getting spending money and something on a resume than it is about getting real world career experiences. Let’s face it, academia is not exactly the place to learn about career norms, ha.

            as a university careers adviser, I dispute both of these sentences in the strongest possible terms!

            1. H2*

              Yeah, that’s fair. I realized as soon as I hit submit that that part in particular didn’t really express what I was trying to say. I only have experience with TAs and RAs (research not resident). My point is more that it’s very different from an internship. It’s hard to articulate! But the relationship that I have with my TAs is different from the one that I have with my boss. I strongly suspect that this is not true for, say, work-study students in the library. The whole thing is just more complicated by the fact that the professor/student relationship is just different and colors all interactions.

              1. H2*

                Let me give an example, that might be the best way of explaining what I’m trying to say. I don’t want to derail, but I also don’t want to offend university work-study programs!

                I had one TA who would just periodically not show up. After it happened a couple of times, I asked him to just at least let me know if he wasn’t going to be there, because I planned on having his help to run lab. He would let me know after that, but he would tell me about five minutes before class started. Another TA ended up with a much harder cut courseload than she anticipated, and didn’t have any time. She would periodically show up and want some work to do, and I would scramble to find some thing for her to do. It’s always a delicate situation, because I’m never going to tell them that school doesn’t come first. And I’ve been their professor, and we all want them to end up with good jobs/graduate placements. The only real consequence would be not getting hired back the next semester. I can and do give some guidance but the standards aren’t the same. It’s just not a normal boss-report relationship. And with that, I am definitely more circumspect with what I would say to them. (Rather than telling them to take off to the kiddie table so the adults can have their lunch)

          3. hbc*

            The less that resume item is like a “real world experience,” the worse it is for the students.

            As for off-color remarks, we don’t ban the junior accountants for using the lunchroom when the CFO is there. The good thing about internships is that there’s *more* support for who to go to if you’re not sure whether your professor or the dean should be talking in your presence about their C-section. You have someone who placed you there who’s very familiar with new workers having weird questions, rather than (maybe) an HR person who is used to seasoned people.

          4. GreyjoyGardens*

            Childbirth? ROFLMAO I read Ayla’s birthing scene in Clan of the Cave Bear when I was a young teenager. There was also another book that we passed around at school which involved a plane crash in the Andes and cannibalism in order to survive, with rather graphic descriptions of the taste.

            Maybe Young People These Days ™ are more sheltered and guarded than I was (and I had pretty helicopter-y parents for my era!) but give them a little credit for not being fragile flowers.

        2. GreyjoyGardens*

          Exactly. Coddling and sheltering them just leads to them being the kind of mid-20s employees who become Ask a Manager fodder for their weird and immature behavior.

      3. dawbs*

        Having supervised student workers before and worked with faculty and staff, I have to wonder if it’s not the unprofessional thing that they’re trying to avoid but the blatant….uh, things that faculty (& staff) sometimes say at top volume that other students shouldn’t hear (because the student workers are employees…but they are also “other students”. And faculty and staff can definitely find themselves in FERPA violations through carelessness here)
        I mean, faculty lounge examples I remember (some of them might have been faculty ‘joking’, but student workers might not know that):

        “Can you BELIEVE how badly this guy did on this multiple choice test? he should have gotten 50% on the T/F section and ended up with 35%”
        “well, budgets being what they are, we’re going to be charging the students lab fees whether they broke anything or not!”
        “So, do you think Becky from my lecture with the court hearing needs me to be a character witness still?”
        “Can you believe Professor Smith is still on staff? after they got caught drunk last year?”

        (I swear, part of my job training was to tell students that the 2 admins in our office went into and out of a cold war that predated them [hell, it predated me] and that they were to STAY OUT OF IT–because by definition, they were temporary and expendable and they’d just be pawns who got eaten by interoffice drama. Because I saw it happen and I rescued a few from it)

        1. Kat in Boots*

          This seems more likely to be a concern than “protecting fragile students from adult experiences”.

          And it’s a problem with senior employees discussing sensitive information too freely without consideration for its potential listeners. But it should be the senior employees who need to rein it in, not the students who should be barred from the break room!

          1. dawbs*

            yeah, and they needed to rein it in regardless, because, you know, privacy!
            (I am a nosy nellie. I”m also a closed book, so people at that job didn’t know how much info was in my head at any given time. But I knew *SO MUCH* that was locked away. Not that this wasn’t useful to me, but, for crying out loud, it wasn’t appropriate for me to know it!)

            I usually made sure I emphasized to *MY* student workers the value of privacy and that things they knew because they were workers was always confidential. But it was still infuriating.

    6. CoveredinBees*

      At my law school internships, I heard adult conversations that were definitely things outside of what I had much exposure to before: mortgages, childcare issues, osteoarthritis, retirement accounts… Some of it was dull but some of it was helpful as stuff that isn’t taught but you’re expected to just know.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I sincerely want to know what lunchtime topics he thought were discussed by the staff that would be shocking to the sheltered ears of 21 year old college students.

      “Kids, lemme tell ya what, when you own a house? Then when the plumbing makes weird noises, you can’t just call the landlord! You’re the landlord!”

      1. H2*

        I think you’d be surprised (and by you I mean a lot of the commenters here) at the range of experiences of 21 year old college students. College isn’t Animal House. And all it takes is one more sheltered one, you don’t want to offend anyone! (Again, however, the solution is to be more circumspect rather than to ban them)

        1. pancakes*

          Realizing that some young people are very sheltered and wanting to keep them sheltered are two different things.

          1. Kat in Boots*

            Yep. I was very sheltered at a young age. But I listened and learned. Why not expect most other sheltered young adults to do the same?

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          But would any of those sheltered topics be normal workplace lunch conversation?

          If Betty wants to describe exactly what went down with the pastrami at sex club Tuesday afternoon, you tell Betty to knock it off. Not to wait until everyone under 30 has been cleared from the room.

    8. learnedthehardway*

      Personally, I have concerns about the work environment. If it is too objectionable for 21 year olds to overhear what their more senior colleagues are discussing, then the place has serious problems of some sort, and is probably open to being called out for sexual harassment or something else that creates a hostile work environment.

      It is merely the subject matter that is serious/difficult, well, a lot of 21 year olds have dealt with serious issues, and if these haven’t, then by all means get them exposed to the serious/difficult issues their students may be facing. They’ll need that understanding to be good teachers!

    9. TootsNYC*

      Alison left out one:
      9. Casual conversations at lunch can teach the interns so much about how to do their own roles well, and also about how the industry works–which is the entire purpose of an internship!

    10. Loredena Frisealach*

      I’m definitely side-eyeing that manager! Either the ‘adult conversations’ were NSFW and shouldn’t be held during lunch at all, or the Adult! students are old enough to hear them.

  7. Grace*

    I have a friend just like this “cheap ass rolls” person. She takes everything personal and thinks every boss and coworker is out to get her. She’s job hopped a LOT because everyone supposedly treats her so unfairly. I’m guessing this roll person has been through a lot of jobs too.

      1. RT*

        It’s been referenced often in the comments, so I feel like it’s felt more “ingrained” in the site culture if that makes sense.

        Also not to get too off-topic, but we just responded to each other’s comments at the same time.

      2. Anon for this*

        In the bizarre crisis/stasis that is the very definition of COVID-time, it was, at the same time, just yesterday and an eternity ago.

      3. NerdyPrettyThings*

        I thought it was a recent letter, too! I guess I should have realized that a potluck tale was from the Before Times.

    1. Stitch*

      My son was born in 2019 so I’ve never been sure if it’s just having a small child or the pandemic.

    2. Selina Luna*

      2019 was a long time ago. It was 2 years by the clock and around 300 by how it felt. And I had an ever-changing baby-now toddler-to take care of. Friends and students alike are astounded when I tell them that the baby they last saw me pregnant with is now nearly 2.

    1. Kal Zakath*

      I once dated a person like LW1. They had a personality disorder. I hope LW1 got help for their issue, it may or may not be their fault.

      1. qvaken*

        This is a good point. When I read the letter, I found it confusing. I can understand why people in the comments find it funny.

        But now that you mention it, assuming the letter is genuine, this is a real person who really lives their life worrying that the people at their job (and in all parts of their life?) don’t really want them there, and they use anger as armour to protect themselves. That’s not a joke to laugh at, that’s a really tough experience worthy of empathy.

        1. Reba*

          True. On first read I remember thinking something like “that is a hard way to go through life.”

        2. OhNo*

          Sympathy, maybe. Compassion, certainly. In this case, though, I’d rather avoid truly understanding or sharing what LW1 is feeling… that just sounds like it would be exhausting.

          1. Candi*

            Until I was about 19, I felt everyone was always watching and judging me. It was like a bright light when I realized most people don’t care that much. They have their own concerns.

            But for while it lasted, it was exhausting. And it didn’t have a bad temper to go with it.

      2. CoveredinBees*

        I used to have some of those thought patterns because of undiagnosed mental health issues and being raised with some very toxic ideas about the world and how to interact with people. Because those interactions often went poorly, it only got worse and more ingrained.

        1. qvaken*

          Yes, this is poignant. I’ve heard that these beliefs about self and others are self-reinforcing.

          People are going to reject me and leave me. So I’ll “catch” people out in their plans early and protect myself from them through anger. Then I see that people reject me and leave me.

          Therefore, my belief that people are going to reject me and leave me is correct. Therefore, I need to continue to treat people with suspicion, “catch” them out and react to them with anger to protect myself from them.

    2. Saraquill*

      I had a stint at a community college. While I worked with many students, the ones with “cheap ass rolls” temperament stick out most in my head. I hope those students have mellowed and moved on with their lives, but I find it plausible one of them wrote that letter.

    3. EmmaPoet*

      Yes, while the letter is funny to us, it’s also kind of sad. This person sounds like they go through life looking for everything to be wrong and bad and against them, and that’s an exhausting way to be.

      1. qvaken*

        I agree. And not just exhausting, but deeply painful. I think we all want to feel liked, loved, and as though we belong. If we genuinely believe that others never like us, love us, or accept us, then I think that would be a very hurtful way to live.

  8. Stitch*

    The idea that over 21 year olds need to be protected from swearing is something else. I think the craziest language I’ve ever encountered was in my college dorms. Older adults at work would be way more toned down.

    1. Worldwalker*

      The worst language I’ve ever heard, except for mine when my computer fried itself two weeks ago, was from a playground full of kids under 10.

      1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

        Fair enough, the worst language I have ever heard was from an ex of mine who was in IT, while he was working.

        But I, personally, have really toned down my language since I was 21, so I am also quite confused. Maybe one of the students did complain with either the boss or whomever is responsible of the placement on campus? But even then the boss should have said “the students don’t appreciate that kind of language, let’s please all tone it down”, not exclude them from the lunchroom.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Yes, I think most people (in most workplaces) use more moderate language than you’re likely to come across while socializing with / being round large numbers of students , not least as a lot of people are going to be less moderate in social settings than at work

    3. anonymous73*

      Seriously. My stepson is in marching band at his high school, so we’re at all the football games. I remember swearing as a teenager (and I have a potty mouth now), but it seems like the kids today are way worse than I ever was. And I know my stepson hears all kinds of stuff in school, so yeah, unless those 21 year olds came from some teeny tiny town in the middle of nowhere, they’ve heard it all before.

    1. RT*

      I thought the opposite! I thought it was way older for some reason. Probably because it’s reached legendary status so fast!

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        It was one of those instantly legendary – like Guacamole Bob (the letter, not the commenter). The whole thing is just so over the top that you are left scratching your head and wondering why?

        1. Candi*

          It’s one of those cases where you hope the company eventually made attending counseling, maybe through EAP, a condition of OP keeping their job. If they have a miswiring mental health issue, that can help them manage the wiring in a healthier fashion, and if they’re just a miserable person, maybe they can be nudged to a less stressful, more constructive way of thinking.

  9. Tsunade*

    I have shown the Cheap Ass Rolls saga to SO many people… from the bottom of my heart, Alison – thank you for bringing it into my life!

  10. Tali*

    #3 One bad thing you could say about your company is that apparently they will fire an HR person for saying anything negative about the company to potential candidates…

    1. Koalafied*

      I wonder if LW was missing that there’s a lot that falls between “the location is inconvenient to me” and “everyone here is a cheap ass roll personified.”

      When I’ve been asked for the negatives about my employer – who I like well enough to have been here a decade with no intention of leaving up to this point – I’ve said things like, “Everyone’s very collaborative, which is great, but also means that a few leaders drag their feet making hard decisions – they want to get consensus from everyone first and will delay finalizing a decision or keep revisiting an unpopular one until they’ve convinced the last holdouts to get on board.” Or, “We have a LOT of meetings.” Or, “Our department is a bit heavy on mid level roles without many junior employees, so we often need do things ourselves that our equivalent roles in other places would delegate to a junior.”

      I would not be at all concerned for my job if it got around I had disclosed those things. They fall into the category of things companies can do that won’t be universally loved by staff but also aren’t malicious or egregious. No company is perfect!

      1. Nav*

        Sooo..I’m op no 3 and I must say I’m honoured to be featured in the vacation posts 8 years later.

        In my defence, this was my first Role in my field (HR) I have since been humbled and have worked in many toxic places and some not so toxic but could be better and am very transparent about workplace culture when I’m asked. In fact I recently quit a job were there was no work/life balance and am now going back to freelancing in DE&I and workplace culture. I’m happy to laugh at myself but it would be nice if a bit of grace was shown to someone who wrote a letter 8 years ago at the start of her career!

        1. After 33 years ...*

          Nav: Thank you for checking back in! From someone who was younger once, “with years come experience”. Looking back allows you to see how you’ve changed and grown!

        2. Koalafied*

          Awesome, very cool to see when a LW is both still reading and still participating in the comments! And I didn’t think your letter was a bad question – what I said above, about maybe missing the existence of a middle ground, was indeed thinking that it might be a lack of experience at play more than an actually punitive HR department!

          When I was early in my career, I can see now, that I didn’t really know how to evaluate a lot of things that happened at my first couple of places. I had nothing to compare them to, so I didn’t know if something that annoyed me was just a fact of all jobs or a super weird quirk of this one place, and I didn’t have a lot of ideas about what alternatives might look like. The examples I gave above about lots of meetings, or slow decision-making – in my first job I would have had no clue whether the amount of meetings we had was higher than average, or whether a strong emphasis for consensus-based decision making was a reasonably common approach across the working world. Maybe that’s just how decisions are often made everywhere and it’s one of those “realities of work” that people accept, and if I complained about consensus decision making to a candidate, would I just be showing my naivete?

          So back then if I had a gripe about a job I felt was legitimate, it was typically because I didn’t need work experience to know X shouldn’t be happening: someone is a bully, someone is a harasser, you’re being made to work unpaid overtime, the company is paying workers under the table. Those “obviously wrong to a layperson” type of things *do* tend to be the kinds of things you would rightly be hesitant to blithely disclose to a job candidate in an interview. Meaning when you’re young and inexperienced, it does feel like anything a company is doing wrong must be similarly a sensitive issue that you would be reprimanded for airing in an interview setting instead of properly reporting it up the chain or following whatever the company’s formal grievance procedure is, so I can totally see back then thinking, why would a candidate ask me to talk about that?!

          Nowadays I have a much more nuanced understanding of how different companies cultures get things done in different ways. All the different ways can be legitimate and based on sound reasoning and ethical approaches, and different individuals will fit better in some cultures and be more frustrated by others. That took me until about my 3rd workplace or so to realize.

        3. Sara without an H*

          Thanks for checking back in! That this was your first HR role clarifies a lot — without a lot of experience interviewing candidates, the “what don’t you like about this place?” question could be hard to answer. But as Koalified said, there are good and useful ways to answer that question.

          Best of luck to you in your new free lance career!

          1. Nav*

            Thank you!

            I appreciated the initial advice given to me by A and the readers! It didn’t deter me from checking this Column three times a day! I love all the advice and the stories here.

        4. Threeve*

          Honestly I do find the “what don’t you like” phrasing a little abrasive, even if the question itself is perfectly fine. Definitely better to use “what are the biggest challenges employees experience” or something like that.

          1. Elenna*

            Yeah, it would make me raise my eyebrows a little, but more in a “huh, that’s not the phrasing I would have used” sort of way, rather than an “I think they did something wrong” sort of way. And it’s possible I soften my language too much.

        5. Recruited Recruiter*

          Nav, aka OP#3, I feel you.
          I had a very toxic job for my second job after high school. I also used to very much overread into peoples’ mundane comments. That experience also gave me a huge amount of perspective. I am now a voice of positivity in my workplace. I can acknowledge issues, but I also know where my lines are. I do have to admit that recruiting is very difficult when you disagree with many things about your employer.

        6. learnedthehardway*

          Some workplaces are ones where you definitely wouldn’t want to comment at all negatively on the organization – which is a huge red flag. A very junior person wouldn’t have known that though.

          If I’d been commenting when the post was first put up, I’d have suggested answering about what you find challenging in your role. Eg. “One of my challenges is that there are multiple areas that have to provide data, and sometimes I have to go hunting for it. That should be solved over the next year or so, because we’re implementing a new ERP system.”

        7. bluephone*

          Yeah, the method for these updates makes no sense sometimes. Sorry you had to go through this again.
          Honestly, I think you were in the right about not badmouthing your current job to prospective candidates. There’s a way to give the fuller picture without dragging the source of your current paycheck through the mud and you were right to wonder where that line was. It also doesn’t mean that your company was a toxic trash dump–it’s just called “being smart.”

      2. Sara without an H*

        These are good examples. My last job was with an organization with a very definite ethos and it was important to screen for fit. People who didn’t get what the organization was about either weren’t hired or stayed only a couple of years. People who did get us stayed for decades.

        So I would interpret “What don’t you like about this place?” as “What is it about this place that a new person might find it hard to adapt to?” If your answer makes some candidates decide to look elsewhere, that’s probably good, both for them and for you.

      3. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        At my office, it’s not uncommon for us to be asked about negatives during panel interviews. It’s always a bit of a race to see who gets to “We have a LOT of meetings” first. (Most of us have a backup answer, but the meetings bit always comes up.)

    1. Gracely*

      The only sad thing about the return of the cheap ass rolls is for a second there, I thought we were getting an UPDATE from the cheap ass rolls person, and I got SO EXCITED for the drama that I thought was about to follow.

  11. June*

    We don’t care who brings what or duplicates or stuff not signed up. We eat it. Very strange to get worked up over bread.

    1. PepperVL*

      I’d actually be thrilled if someone brought “cheap ass rolls” to a potluck where the person on the sign up sheet says they were bringing Hawaiian rolls as I don’t like Hawaiian rolls and I’d be sad without bread.

      1. londonedit*

        I’ve never tried Hawaiian rolls but it doesn’t sound like I’d like them (especially not with a savoury lunch) so if I saw them on a sign-up sheet as the only bread option I may well decide to bring some normal rolls just in case.

        1. Candi*

          In the original post, there were several of both “Yay, more bread!” from those who would eat both, and “I don’t like sweet bread, I’d be glad there’s another option.”

          Personally? I think a decent-sized potluck should duplicate at least some of the sides, since it’s very rare the sides will be identical, and people will enjoy the variations.

      2. Delta Delta*

        I don’t like them, either. I suspect if they were the bread at the potluck and some people didn’t eat them, this lady would get offended about that, too. I’m not gonna eat a sweet ass roll to please this lady.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Lol – they would sadly be the only bread at most pot lucks out here where I live.
      Actually pot lucks in general where I live tend to be “odd” with the centerpiece being Jello Molds. The last one I went to had a lime jello mold with candied yams suspended in it. Oh, and it was also frosted with cool whip. (Can’t tell you what it tasted like – I skipped all the food – mystery mush casseroles and jello molds with a whole pile of kings Hawaiian rolls…. Not my food scene)

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Where do you work? 1956?

        That being said, ham & pickle roll ups were really popular at my last job. Apparently, I worked in 1977.

      2. Rational Lemming*

        As a born and bred Minnesotan, I know exactly what you are talking about! The last “jello salad” I saw in the wild was lime jello with canned tangerine chunks and shredded carrots. Topped with Cool Whip of course.

        It had been completely eaten by the time the luncheon was over :)

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

        Utah? Idaho? Was the jello also served on a leaf of lettuce? That’s from my own personal experience…

  12. Loulou*

    #3 makes no sense to me. I’m literally a research librarian and I don’t know what type of “research” OP expects candidates to do on the drawbacks of working at a specific company besides…asking people who work there? Obviously someone savvy might be able to draw some conclusions from the outside, but this isn’t really something you can find an answer to without, again, speaking to people who work there!

    I will say I don’t find “what don’t you like about the company?” a diplomatic question and I probably wouldn’t ask it, but I think something slightly more euphemistic along the lines of “what challenges do you run into…” could serve a similar purpose.

    1. Eden*

      I prefer to phrase it more like you do, as asking about a challenge. But when I’m the interviewer I do get a lot of candidates just asking “what’s your least favorite part of the job” or “what do you dislike the most about the role” or other pretty blunt phrasings. At this point I figure we all know the candidate wants to know a high point and a low point so I don’t bother getting worked up over how they phrase things :)

      1. Candi*

        Now, I’d wonder why they were phrasing the questions that way to the interviewer. As I understand it, except for the occasional peer interview -often a knowledge thing- most interviewers are at least one level up from the role they’re interviewing for, and may not even be in the same dept if the interviewer is in HR. Either way, they aren’t and weren’t in the role being interviewed for. It’s mildly sloppy at best.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’ve just finished 10 different interviews in two weeks and I can say that the strongest candidates were the ones who asked about cons, no matter how they phrased it. Some phrased it bluntly. Some phrased it more softly, but the best people- the ones we want to make offers for- they all asked. That says something about how realistically someone is viewing the job, especially in fields (like mine) where people have very idealized views of how our days tend to go.

      1. Krabby*

        I’ve always had the same experience when interviewing candidates. Honestly, if I was interviewing for a job and the interviewer got bent out of shape over me asking that question, I’d see it as the same kind of red flag as a candidate dodging the question, “What is the last piece of constructive feedback you received and how did you address it?”

        1. Nav*

          Op no 3. I didn’t Actually convey my discomfort to the interviewer. I did transparently also say that I was relatively new and didn’t have much to say in terms of negatives yet. A non answer but the truth at the time. By the way it was a great workplace, one of the few I actually liked

          1. Hippo-nony-potomus*

            Easy to say when behind a keyboard, harder when you’re on the spot: you can elaborate on that answer to get a really good answer. “A lot of the reason I moved to this company was because of its culture. At most every company I’ve worked for, x, y, and z would happen rather frequently. In my first six months here, I’ve not found that any of that happens. Llama International is deeply committed to its values, and when we have problems, they are handled professionally and quickly. There’s a reason I commute an hour each way to get here.”

            Maybe if there are any problems with the applicant’s department or any management changes on the horizon, you could discuss that.

            I once worked for the company from hell, and later, when interviewing, asked someone flat-out what he disliked about the company. He said he loved it and it took him two years to stop expecting the other shoe to drop. I believed him and thought it was a legitimate answer.

        2. korangeen*

          Wow, there’s no way on earth I could come up with a solid answer to “What is the last piece of constructive feedback you received and how did you address it?” off the top of my head. That’s the kind of thing that I’d have to think long and hard about and comb through my memories. Oh man, these kinds of questions are why I hate interviews. My memory and brain just doesn’t work that way, and no one ever seems willing to give me the questions ahead of time so I can actually think it through.

          1. korangeen*

            After spending a few minutes thinking about it, probably the most recent constructive feedback I received was a couple days ago when I sent an outline and partial draft of a story I was working on to my boss and asked if he had any thoughts about parts I should focus more or less on. He replied with a few suggestions, and I incorporated the suggestions. I don’t know if that’s a very useful answer to an interviewer though. If the interviewer wanted me to dig back through my memories to find an example of more substantial feedback or more difficult feedback I received, then I’d have to spend a lot longer thinking about it.

            I wish more interviewers appreciated that not everyone has brains that work like Google, where you can just input a question and pop out an answer or relevant memory within seconds.

    3. EPLawyer*

      Yeah, a company is not going to put out on their website “we suck, you will give 100 hours a week to this job EVERY SINGLE WEEK and we pay below market rate.”

      Reach out to contacts in the company is equally baffling. What is someone doesn’t HAVE any contacts in the company? Then how do they find out anything?

      One thing it shows, HR is uncomfortable discussing difficult topics. Which, you know, HR is kinda part of the job.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I have asked the question as “what do you see as the biggest challenges at [company]” as well as the biggest challenges of the actual job. Both can be revealing. I can see asking as “what do you like/what don’t you like” having symmetry to it.

    5. What’s good for the goose*

      I use “what are the three things you like most about working here?”, and then follow it with “what are the three things you like least about working here?”, and I ask it of *all* my interviewers.

      I got it from advice about visiting colleges (to ask a similar question to your student tour guides). After I finished college, I happened to find my pre-college notes with people’s answers to those questions, and the answers were very consistent with my own experience after 4 years at the college. So I decided to rephrase it for jobs and try it during my interviews. I’ve found that 1) there is very high consistency for people’s answers within a particular company, and 2) for the jobs I’ve taken the answers have been pretty spot-on with my own opinion after working there for a while. It’s so informative, I would never accept a job offer without being able to ask it.

      It does put interviewers on the spot a little, but since interviewers can ask candidates questions like, “what is your biggest weakness?”, I feel no guilt about this question.

    6. Purple Cat*

      Yes, I don’t love the wording of the question.
      I usually ask about “challenges the department/company faces” or “What things would you change if you could?” to get at the same idea, but this LW is way off base to think the interviewee shouldn’t be asking at all! The interview IS the time/place to do their research.

    7. Ailurophile*

      Fellow librarian here! This falls into the category of “research that people assume exists but probably doesn’t.” I regularly have faculty who tell students to use a database in a way that isn’t possible (because they didn’t check) or to find peer-reviewed articles on current market trends or an event that happened within the past two months (which don’t exist). I’ve often heard the advice that you should research a company, but there are limits, as the other commenters noted. I wonder how often HR professionals or recruiters try to research or Google their companies to see what information is out there.

  13. Lily of the meadow*

    I would REALLY love to know how long cheap ass rolls person kept their job, cause that letter went from dough to WHOA faster than the speed of light! I am not sure if I have EVER seen anybody get THAT offended THAT fast.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yeah – I found myself wondering if they even survived their training/probationary period. They just seemed so angry it’s hard to imagine that didn’t crop up in other areas of their work.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        And so angry over nothing! Several nothings!

        There’s an episode of Designing Women where Julia calls Charlene “…endlessly fascinated by absolutely nothing.” This letter writer seemed to be endlessly infuriated over absolutely nothing.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I seem to be the only person on this site who is totally over the cheapass rolls letter/references (which is fine, to each their own) but I am absolutely stealing “from dough to WHOA” for future use, because that is beautiful.

  14. jms*

    I read the headline and was like “but surely that’s a typo and she means ROLES, not rolls”……..nope

      1. Bad at picking names*

        Me three. Then I read on and was like, “ohhh, ROLLS” and was delighted all over again

  15. PrettySticks*

    Cheap ass rolls! Now it’s really the holiday season!

    But also, I’d never seen this baby talk letter, nor the earlier one that was linked. Just reading “Am I in tubble?” gave me hives.

    1. CreepyPaper*

      I made such a weird noise at that baby talk letter that both my dogs looked at me as if to say ‘you okay, Mum?’. Honestly, who does that!

      Also cheap-ass rolls always makes me cackle. Mainly in the bakery section of my local supermarket. It’s back!

      1. Candi*

        The silent deadpan stare can help with silly talk, but I’ve never had the chance to try it on someone baby talking specifically.

        The key is to hold it juuuust until the silly talker starts to squirm, then continue the conversation as though there was no pause.

        My opinion of baby talk? I never even did it to my kids. Just talked to them in an adult pattern. Later, they constantly scored above average in reading and writing. A study suggests that might be related; teaching baby and then adult talk is teaching two different speech patterns in succession, and the baby’s mind has to cope.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          For actual babies it’s totally fine, and is in fact a universal human phenomenon found in wildly different cultures across the globe. Studies show babies prefer listening to it also.

          For adults its infantilizing.

          1. Metadata minion*

            Yeah, I’ve seen research showing baby talk helps with language acquisition, that it slightly retards language acquisition, and that it has no effect one way or the other, Given that, as you say, it’s pretty much universal on a species-wide level, I think people can feel free to baby-talk their actual babies.

          2. Charlotte Lucas*

            Not just humans! Other mammals also do something similar when communicating with their young. The emphasis helps them pick up the nuances.

        2. Joielle*

          It’s kind of a running joke in my family that I don’t baby talk to anyone, ever. I once said “It was nice to see you, I hope you have a good day!” to my toddler niece and nobody will let me forget it (“What, are you gonna shake the baby’s hand?” I mean, maybe, they’ve gotta learn sometime!).

          But I’d rather be the person adult-talking to babies than the person baby talking to adults. LOL!

    2. SarahKay*

      In the team I work with ‘onesie-twosies’ has been used for the last few years, instead of ‘one or two’ (e.g. “We’re down to the last onesie-twosies” when discussing completing a batch of teapots). It never fails to make me shudder – these are grown men in their forties for goodness’ sake!
      Alas, it seems to have taken root and since the boss of the team also uses it I came to the conclusion that this may be a hill to vomit on, but it’s not quite a hill worth dying on.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      Yeah, if I ever heard that at work, I’m sure my total lack of a poker face would give me away/I’d have a hard time not saying something like, “What the HELL is wrong with you!?” It’s just a full body cringe.

    4. WellRed*

      On the original baby talk letter I made a comment about a bartender using baby talk and got jumped on by a few commenters saying maybe she had some…rare condition. Sigh. Sometimes baby talk is exactly that: baby talk. And irritating.

    1. Stopgap*

      I’m sure LW1 believes we’re bullies picking on her. Between her obvious anger issues, and the fact that people here have been laughing at that letter.

    2. Heidi*

      Yes! For a second there I thought we were getting an update. It was a carnival ride in comments section that day. Definitely worth perusing. You could see a bunch of us simultaneously going on a journey from, “She’s mad about what now?” to “Yikes!”

    3. Userper Cranberries*

      I thought when I saw the title it was an update and I was so excited! But I have a feeling we’ll never get one. Oh well, I hope that LW is doing better now.

  16. Mary*

    LMAO! I kind of wish #1’s coworkers would leave a cheap roll next to her computer ever so often so she would think a roll elf was taunting her.

    1. Observer*

      This person is waaay over the top. That should go without saying. But I don’t see why that should mean people should actively taunt them.

      To be honest, I feel bad for them. Although I also would NEVER want to work with them until they sort out their issues. And I would not blame their management for firing them.

      1. anonymous73*

        Pretty sure it was a joke. And what is there to feel bad about? Thinking everyone is out to get you is an over the top irrational way of thinking – nobody was treating her poorly and there’s no evidence of anything being done on purpose.

        1. Metadata minion*

          I feel bad that she has to live with a brain that tells her everyone is out to get her. That’s incredibly stressful and upsetting! I have that problem myself. Luckily I seem to be more self-aware than the LW and can usually shrug off the immediate Everyone Must Secretly Hate Me reaction (thank you, therapy and medication!), and I hope that the LW gets the help she needs, because right now whatever is going on is making things miserable for both her and everyone around her.

        2. Observer*

          Yes, it’s way over the top and totally irrational. But it’s still exhausting and painful. It’s not an easy way to live.

    2. GreyjoyGardens*

      Elf On The Shelf is *so* last year. Cheap-Ass Roll Elf is what all the cool kids are doing now!

  17. awesome3*

    Alison when you said we’d get an update we’ve been wanting… did you by chance mean we’re getting a cheap ass rolls update?

    (If not, and if you’re reading this LW1, send in your update! It will be highly anticipated. We think about you all the time!)

    1. Louise*

      We laugh about her all the time… Not sure that makes anyone want to write in. I could honestly understand not wanting to read this site at all because it gets mentioned so often. Hope OP is in a better (head) space now.

  18. PollyQ*

    Any other grammar nitpickers bothered by the lack of hyphen between “cheap” and “ass”? No? Just me? OK then.

    1. M./P.*

      That’s because it’s how it was originally written by the letter writer. A lot of commenters pointed out the missing hyphen in the original thread. So it’s not just you!

      1. PollyQ*

        Oh yeah, my criticism was definitely not toward Alison! It’s just another problem our poor OP has.

    2. L.H. Puttgrass*


      Between the “cheap ass rolls” and the “fake ass people,” that workplace sounds very…assy. (And the less I think about the implications of the other hyphenation option in “cheap ass rolls,” the better.)

    3. londonedit*

      I’m bothered by it but I’ve come to accept it as part of the joy of the letter. The rolls are not merely cheap-ass, they are CHEAP ASS.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        But they are NOT “cheap ass-rolls”….although I always read it that way just because I thought of it ONCE, way back when the column first ran!

    4. Esmeralda*

      The hyphen is not required for it to be grammatically correct — this is not one of those hard-and-fast rules situations, like subject-verb agreement. These are all acceptable: cheapass rolls, cheap-ass rolls, cheap ass rolls, and Kings Hawaiian rolls.

      Now, I myself would prefer the hyphen, but then I’m one of those Oxford comma martinets.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I would argue that since the role of grammar is clarity, “cheap ass rolls” is the least correct of those options listed, because it can be read one of two ways. The others can only be read one way.

  19. Bindswa*

    I come for the excellent career advice, I stay for the Alison reality slaps. This is the best site on the internet.

  20. Airy*

    Ah, Cheap Ass Rolls Ann, where are you now?
    Just imagine how mad she’d get if you spelled her name Anne. A calculated insult both to her and to her parents!

  21. Airy*

    The only thing better than an update from Cheap Ass Rolls herself, I think, would be a letter from a coworker saying “OMG, I didn’t make the connection at the time but Cheap Ass Rolls was at my office, here is the rest of what she did before bombing out in a spectacular manner,” possibly with a “P.S. ‘twas I who brought the cheap-ass rolls!”

    1. froodle*

      Now all I want for Christmas is for the nefarious Bringer of Cheap Ass Rolls to reveal themselves to the AAM commentariat

    2. hbc*

      That’s the saddest thing of all–very little chance that anyone noticed any of this. It was entirely in her head. At most, this is what was seen from the outside: Newish employee kind of has a sour face at the potluck and leaves early, and doesn’t participate in Secret Santa. That’s it.

      Probably any one of us could work with OP and we’d not make the connection unless she rage quit with a, “This place has had it in for me since those nasty rolls were brought!” But my money is either that she’s come around since then, or she quit with no notice thinking everyone would know she was protesting the purchase of cheap-ass pens because she cleared her desk of everything but three Bics.

  22. Dark Macadamia*

    Cheap ass rolls, make that potluck game weak!

    I forgot just HOW outrageous that one was. It must be exhausting to go through life like that.

  23. UKgreen*

    Thank you Allison. I’m now laughing my socks off as discreetly as possible on a busy train over the Cheap Ass Rolls.

  24. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

    I think it was Kissinger who said that student politics are the most vicious kind of politics because the stakes are so low … Reading OP1 working herself into a rage over “cheap ass rolls”, it’s hard to imagine the stakes being much lower than two people bringing bread to a potluck.

    1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Fandom wars and art commentary feuds are even worse. All that drama for what, follower count? No thanks.

      1. Koalafied*

        I sometimes post on a message board for a video game and there’s like one or two fights that some of the regulars will have over and over again basically just disagreeing on the subjective value of certain gameplay mechanics in the game. There is no objective truth to be had, and a thread will end up being 4 pages long with 90% of the posts being two assholes flaming each other as if anyone else on the board cares. Lots of “you’re making a fool of yourself being so WRONG” and “now you’re dodging my questions because you can’t come up with a response!” giving the impression they think this is a very high stakes public debate that everyone else on the board is watching with bated breath to see who triumphs. When in reality most of are like, “shut up already, it’s okay to let someone have a different opinion and nobody enjoys reading 5 straight pages of two nerds insulting each other back and forth.”

    2. Polly Hedron*

      Yes, Kissinger said in 1997, “Academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.” I can vouch for this because I worked at a university for many years.

      Many others have said similar things. The idea has been called “Sayre’s Law,” after Wallace Stanley Sayre (1905-72), political science professor at Columbia.

      Links will be in subcomment.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      Parish councils too, if you remember the viral video from Handforth Parish Council earlier this year.

  25. Omg*

    I admit it. I thought “rolls” was a typo for “roles”.

    My life truly was incomplete before reading LW1’s letter. Did they ever provide an update?

    1. Middle Name Jane*

      Haha! I also thought “rolls” was a typo for “roles” when I first started reading it.

  26. ed123*

    I studied health care and in few of my clinical placements the students were not allowed to the breakroom. Their reasoning was that there was not enough space. In reality they just wanted to have a break from the students (and possible put us into our places). And that was kinda annoying. We just hanged out in the family room when our instructors went on a break. However, being worried about adult subjects when everyone is adult is ridiculous. Also as a 30+ yo I don’t particularly want to hear adult subjects that would offend 21yo at work either.

  27. o_gal*

    I agree with the ridiculousness of cheap-ass rolls, but the next part isn’t all that funny to me. I have been the person who gets overlooked in a presentations. It is not fun. I have been overlooked individually and as part of a group that was overlooked. You feel left out, and awkward if you bring it up. And Ann was new to the job too, which makes it worse. Her reaction was too much but I know how I would have felt.

    1. londonedit*

      I said it on the original post, but that pretty much happened to me when I first started my current job – I went to my first meeting, about 10 days after I’d started, and my boss didn’t introduce me. She realised at the end and did a hurried ‘Oh! Everyone! This is londonedit, she started at the end of last month – I totally forgot to introduce her!’ but it was a bit odd because I’d sat there feeling a bit like half the people at the meeting had no idea who I was, and then I only got a hurried introduction at the end when people were leaving the room. My boss apologised afterwards and literally said that the reason it had slipped her mind was that she’d totally forgotten I was so new and it was my first meeting, because it felt like I’d been part of the team for months already. Which I absolutely took at face value and took as a compliment. I didn’t feel at all like I’d been overlooked or excluded – people make mistakes, people forget things, and I was pleased to hear that I’d fitted in so well with the team and was doing such a good job that people assumed I’d been around for ages.

    2. Shad*

      I think part of it is that readers are seeing the presenter’s “I didn’t realize you were new” as a compliment to how quickly OP was integrating into the team and not really seeing the insult there, since it was specifically her newness that was being overlooked.
      That, and being blown away by just how much too much her reaction is. It sucks when the underlying issue is valid, but there’s definitely a point where the perceived overreaction makes it hard to recognize the validity of the core complaint, and the whole cheap ass rolls diversion definitely primed us to reach that point.

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        “Cheap ass rolls” rightly became the memorable catch phrase from this letter, but for me the real WTF, jaw-drop, record-scratch, my-smack-was-fully-gobbed moment of the letter was, “I’m sitting there thinking I know this jackass didn’t skip right over me.” So much anger over what seems a minor and understandable oversight! It made me wonder—was there some other reason the boss had earned the sobriquet “that jackass” in just a month? I mean, he couldn’t have been a jackass just for skipping over her name…right?

        The cheap ass rolls I can almost understand if I put myself in the mind of someone who really, really cares about rolls and potluck protocol (and now that I’m there, I’d like back out, please). The level of offense at being passed over initially in the roster of new employees—I can’t even fathom it.

        1. pancakes*

          I mean, he couldn’t have been a jackass just for skipping over her name…right?

          You don’t think this letter writer seems extremely belligerent about absolutely everything?

          1. River Otter*

            Doesn’t make them wrong about everything. It’s possible to be completely overreacting about one thing and reacting appropriately to another.

            1. pancakes*

              Even if the letter writer correctly identified her boss as a jackass, being incredulous that he made a minor slip-up in a meeting isn’t the most appropriate response to it. It’s weirdly intense and disproportionate.

            2. Candi*

              Throwing a mental screaming fit at being overlooked in a meeting, especially when the boss apologized and complimented the OP, is a severe overreaction.

      2. Candi*

        There’s a perfect example on this very site of how an overreaction to a valid problem can bury that the problem does need to be fixed or people need to stop causing it. It was obviously causing the woman a lot of stress -people theorized it was a place that treats its admin staff like dirt.

        “coworker sent us all a 12-paragraph rant about office supplies”

        I repeat, the problem was valid. Her reaction detracted from the validity and made her a laughingstock.

    3. EnEm*

      I’m in the same boat. I keep being left off meeting rosters for meetings I’m attending and I’ve been at my current job for three months. I know it’s a minor issue but at the same time it does start to mess with your head a bit.

    4. Nails*

      That got me too. I held a role where I was regularly overlooked in similar contexts, and it was not a situation of delightful flattery and “Daddy thinks I’ve been here for ages, how rewarding!” but genuinely tearjerking, occasionally cruel, and tremendously bad management. Any single piece of behaviour appeared innocent, and I was certainly framed as over-reacting and over-sensitive, but the actual intention was unmistakable.

      It became quite obvious in my first month, when team members praised someone who had started the same day as me for “being their favorite new employee.” They gave the person a pile of rewards that were weirdly off-base (think giving a devout/openly Muslim person a present of a hip flask and a bottle of whisky – not necessarily deliberately offensive, and definitely something that would be weird to call out in the moment, but not a normal work gift either.) They then did a speech welcoming the person to the company. Every single person in the room then went around the room and introduced themselves. I thought, “Oh no! it will be weird when I introduce myself, because I’m also new! They’ll be embarrassed!” It was weird, but they weren’t embarrassed. They let it hang in the air that I was definitely new, but nobody’s favorite new employee, because I hadn’t picked up that I was supposed to do certain things to impress them.

      So while my coworkers mocked me for crying and “taking it personally” when my name was misspelled on an important front-facing document (and presumably, some of this comment section might have joined them in this – how immature to cry over a little detail like that! People make mistakes!) it wasn’t really ABOUT THE TYPO. It was about the fact that I had consistently been left off emails, not invited to team meetings, and not copied in or included in discussions about my work. It was because my manager frequently forgot me, because I was never introduced to anybody and it was constantly assumed that I was an intern/assistant/student, and because I was asked to champion a piece of work that was then given to someone else without telling me, so that when I proudly went to present my first piece of work the other person had already done it (I suppose the equivalent of cheap-ass rolls). Painfully, it was because a colleague who was supposed to take me to another site and mentor me through my first external job simply left me there by myself, and drove off in the car they had rented with company money for the journey. So after being literally thrown to the wolves I had to walk, take taxis and multiple changes of public transport to get back from an unfamiliar and awkwardly located industrial site, eventually getting home at 10 pm. (The colleague had simply driven the car home in an hour. We worked in the same office and lived in the same town. I had additional mobility needs, was heavily pregnant and was left with luggage/materials to carry. Plus, expensing all of the taxis and trains cost more than the car rental! When I realized I was being left and humbly asked if it wouldn’t be more economical to share the car back, they told me that it was unfortunate that I lacked independence, but they wanted to drive back by themselves. Today, I am far more professional and mature, but if I went back in time to that moment, I still wouldn’t know what to say.)

      Today, I am extremely angry about it. I could see myself resembling LW1 in my anger. It was unnecessary and such poor management at every level. At the time, I was young/pregnant/unwell, so it was particularly hard to take, and perhaps made it easier for them to put me in the “victim” box. I certainly wasn’t able to get myself out of it – I constantly wondered what was wrong with me, why I was being overlooked, and why everyone acted like it was so natural and I was so unreasonable.

      (The Muslim colleague left before I did – corporate sentiment quickly pivoted and the ‘favorite new employee’ was quickly labelled as hysterical, angry and humorless, having “no resilience” to constant comments about their religion/culture/skin color. I was too sad, isolated and gaslit to notice this properly at the time, becoming self-absorbed and convinced that there was something deeply wrong with me. Today, I am deeply ashamed that I did not identify this workplace as cruel, and offer the colleague my help. I know that today I certainly would.)

      1. Nails*

        Not to make this over-sharing hour, but I’ve just remembered that there was a Secret Santa element to it too.

        People were asked to put up their hands in a large meeting to participate in a voluntary, optional Secret Santa. The Muslim colleague and I were the only ones who did not put our hands up. The senior manager then stopped the meeting and asked the Muslim colleague why. When they explained that they didn’t celebrate any part of Christmas, the manager “playfully” scolded them for being angry and taking things too personally, in front of about 50 people.

        I was then called on to explain myself, this time with added “we understand that you’re very silly and oversensitive yourself, but you don’t need to miss out just to make THE MUSLIM comfortable.” Which I now recognize as triangulation. At the time I was abstaining because of a sense of self-preservation and a premonition of the future. I knew that I would bring in a gift, but there would be no gift for me. Whoever got my name would simply lose it, and there would be no paper trail. I would then be mocked for being a silly spoiled child for wanting presents and seeming to care about Secret Santa. I knew I’d end up crying in the bathroom either way, so I might as well save my money.

        Honestly, I wish I had had the anger and belief in myself that LW1 has, even if it seems misplaced. After the commentary about Muslim people I should have said STICK YOUR SECRET SANTA UP YOUR ASS. But at the time I made some awkward excuse.

        At the holiday party, our names were put on a powerpoint in front of everybody for being grinches. So I guess you can’t say I was overlooked there.

        It’s weird how I’d forgotten all that.

        1. Empress Matilda*

          Oh my gosh, Nails. I’m retroactively angry on your behalf, and on behalf of your colleague. None of that is okay, and I’m so glad you’re out of there and that you recognize how toxic and abusive that workplace was.

          Also, this

          I was asked to champion a piece of work that was then given to someone else without telling me, so that when I proudly went to present my first piece of work the other person had already done it

          is in no way equivalent to cheap ass rolls. You were deliberately set up and humiliated. You have every right to be angry about that, even years later! None of what you did (or felt, or feel) is an overreaction. If you were still working there, you’d probably have half the comment section encouraging you to take the whole place down with a flamethrower – and the other half offering to do it for you. <3

        2. Candi*

          You went through something so far from the OP’s experience (as presented) there’s really no comparison.

          You were abused.

          They likely took advantage of your pregnancy. It’s the rare person who doesn’t have some idea pregnancy is exhausting and protective instincts are on high. With me, those protective instincts included the duck, huddle, and don’t stir the pot.

          You were also young, unsure, and didn’t know how to stand up for yourself. In our culture, for a long time teaching a woman to advocate for herself was considered anathema, and they were smacked down if they tried anyway. That workplace took advantage of that as well.

          If you’d had AAM back then, you would have been told to get the heck out. Alison might even have gone so far to give one of her very rare “get out now!” lines.

    5. River Otter*

      I was overlooked during introductions once. It later turned out to be worse than being overlooked—my skip level boss actually introduced the new man using my (female) advanced credentials. In retrospect, it was a harbinger of more jackassery ahead. On this point, Cheap Ass LW’s reaction was right on the nose.

      1. pancakes*

        Her reaction seems to have been to make a sour face and flounce out of the room about the rolls, and sit there silently seething during the meeting. I don’t see how any of that is right on the nose unless her intention was to appear crabby and unable or unwilling to communicate why for some inscrutable reason.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          And it sounds like a coworker did bring up the mistake in the moment. So, someone was looking out for her interests.

          We’d need more (useful) data to know if this was an honest mistake or if the boss really is a jackass. (Is “ass” in all the OP’s adjectives?)

      2. Candi*

        Thing is, usually it’s just a slip and the slipper is fine with being reminded they messed up. It being jerkitude is far more rare -we’re just going to hear about it more on this site, since that’s one of the things Alison and commentators can help with via advice.

        Humans like to believe they have great memories, but most just don’t.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      It’s just such an outsized reaction. I would feel awkward and a little sad to be overlooked too, but my main worry would be “is it weirder if I do correct him or don’t?” not “this jackass obviously hates me.”

      The thing that gets me is someone else spoke up – they noticed the omission and corrected it immediately! That was a kind and attentive thing to do, and should make LW feel appreciated at least by that one coworker. And then when he said he didn’t realize how new she was, she could’ve thought “oh yay, I must be really fitting in and doing well!” or “everyone makes mistakes” or even “sure, nice save buddy *eye roll*” … But she assumes he intentionally disrespected her because he hates having her there.

      1. Observer*

        Exactly. And when you put it together with the TERRIBLE OFFENSE of bringing rolls without signing up! (be still my heart!), you just have to wonder what’s up there.

  28. GlowCloud*

    If No. 4’s Boss doesn’t want students to hear swearing and/ or confidential information during break, isn’t it better to communicate to the staff as a whole that these things are taboo and shouldn’t be discussed??

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      But that’s how a professional adult would have handled the situation – and wouldn’t have resulted in a letter to us for discussion.

      Honestly, nothing confidential should be discussed in a break room – at any job, because you don’t know who may accidentally overhear.

  29. Quickbeam*

    I’m retiring this week and cheap ass rolls is the best going away gift ever. Thanks for the day brightener.

    1. Pikachu*

      May your Hanukkah balls be shiny, your lunches extra spicy, and your cheap ass rolls forever behind thee.

  30. Sporty Yoda*

    Ahhh, the plot twist in 4: the “adult subjects” referred to were taxes and drinking water, and the employer didn’t want the student workers to think the other workers were lame.
    Signed, elder millennial whose interns are very confused about all the time I spend talking about how the best tupperware is those reusable takeout containers from bryiani places, you either know what I’m talking about and understand or don’t.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My Tupperware drawer is full of containers from my housemate’s favorite ramen place, because when he orders takeout ramen, they package it in parts and he has to assemble it himself, and their takeout containers are an excellent size and both dishwasher and microwave safe. So I get four new containers every time he orders nice ramen. And he loves nice ramen.

    2. Elenna*

      Those boxes of hot food they sell at Chinese supermarkets in my area are also great tupperware.
      (And yeah, taxes and mortgage payments are definitely adult subjects that 21-year-old me would not have wanted to hear about!)

  31. Middle Name Jane*

    I can’t believe I missed cheap ass rolls when it was first posted! Was that a fake/joke post?

  32. Esmeralda*

    Ah, cheap ass rolls! A classic.

    What’s always so amazing to me about this is that “I didn’t know you were new” is a *compliment* = you fit right in, you’re working so well we can’t tell you just started. LOL, what a dumbass. (But not a cheap dumbass)

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      The only time I’d disagree is if there was a huge PowerPoint slide with the name of all the new employees. Then it’s an annoyance- but nothing worth turning the amp straight to 11 about.

  33. Dwight Schrute*

    This was a good one! The return of cheap ass rolls, the baby talk reminding me of the office episode where Andy baby talks about his IBS, and the law of don’t be ridiculous made me LOL!

  34. Charlotte Lucas*

    There are some people who are dying to be offended. I could totally see this with some of my previous coworkers.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Nesting fail. This was meant to go under one of the comments about “cheap-ass rolls.”

    1. Pikachu*

      The original was posted on November 22. I’m marking my calendar for next year.

      We can have a zoom happy hour potluck. I’ll bring the brisket that has been aging in my file cabinet overnight.

  35. Eldritch Office Worker*

    In the oddest coincidence I’m listening to a Boy Meets World recap podcast and it’s playing the “they want you to take the rolls!” episode right now.

  36. CounterOfThings*

    Thought process while reading the first update:
    * There is a typo in the title – it should be roles*
    **reads update**
    **Oh, nevermind its actually about dinner rolls***

  37. Sunflower*

    My goodness. Who is she to talk about cheap-ass rolls? Unless she homemade it herself, Hawaiian Rolls are cheap too. I only like them with spinach dip. I’d probably like the cheap-ass rolls better if they are a crustier or harder type bread.

    1. Meep*

      Hawaiian Rolls are fine. They aren’t all that great IMHO, but I will eat them on occasion. The fact someone is getting so offended by something so mediocre and overhyped is beyond hilarious.

  38. AnonInCanada*

    When can we trademark Cheap Ass™ Rolls and start baking and marketing these things? We can make …

    … miiiilions!

    Of course I guess the original OP would probably want a cut of the profits. But only if she provides a picture of herself to put on the bags! x-D

      1. AnonInCanada*

        But this isn’t Big Ass. This is the coveted Cheap Ass™ brand!

        Think of what other Cheap Ass™ products we can put to market! Cheap Ass™ guacamole (defiantly not approved by Bob!) Cheap Ass™ Greeting Cards (with nothing in it) for those special occasions where your boss really appreciates all the work you’ve done over the past year! The opportunities are endless!

        1. Candi*

          I think you meant “definitely not approved by Bob” but considering the guy’s attitude in the original letter, “defiantly” works so incredibly well.

    1. Kate in Colorado*

      I really would buy AAM merch that featured a picture of a dinner roll with “Cheap A**” written underneath it in comic sans font. I would love the experience of wearing it in public and coming across another AAM follower who got the reference.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I’m almost positive Alison would never do this because it would be publicly mocking Letter Writers – but on the other hand I am not as classy as Alison is and I would wear the hell out of that shirt.

        1. Kate in Colorado*

          Ah, I get the point about how it might be considered mocking letter writers, and I agree that’s not what I would want….but dang, I’d still wear the hell out of it, too! Classy? No. Funny? Absolutely!

  39. Meep*

    LW3 – We had someone I knew in undergrad recently applying for a job here. He got my number from a mutual friend and asked me a bunch of questions. Now I could say a lot about my Toxic Coworker (and I have), but I kept mum about it. One of the things he asked was what are some of the challenges of the job. I could be quite blunt and say “Management is disorganized as fuck around these parts and don’t have the luxury because we are swamped.” Instead, I opted for “Well, we are a small company with an abundance of clients so sometimes things slip through the cracks and you have to manage your time carefully.” Gets the message across that here you have to be self-sufficient because Toxic Coworker isn’t going to hold your hand. Heck, you are going to realize soon enough, YOU have to hold HERS.

  40. Meep*

    LW3 – We had someone I knew in undergrad recently applying for a job here. He got my number from a mutual friend and asked me a bunch of questions. Now I could say a lot about my Toxic Coworker (and I have), but I kept mum about it. One of the things he asked was what are some of the challenges of the job. I could be quite blunt and say “Management is disorganized as can be around these parts and don’t have the luxury because we are swamped.” Instead, I opted for “Well, we are a small company with an abundance of clients so sometimes things slip through the cracks and you have to manage your time carefully.” Gets the message across that here you have to be self-sufficient because Toxic Coworker isn’t going to hold your hand. Heck, you are going to realize soon enough, YOU have to hold HERS.

  41. ObservantServant*

    It’s early and I’m just sitting down to work (ahem!) but am I the only one that skipped over the “on vacation” intro and thought Christmas had come early and we were going to get an update on the Cheap Ass Rolls saga???

  42. Dust Bunny*

    So my department is housed in a building separate from the main building if our institution, due to space needs, so it’s really normal for me to attend work functions–which are rare–and see somebody I don’t recognize. I never call them out as “new” because it’s very likely they’ve been there for months already and I just never met them because I only go to the main building a couple of times a year (and even fewer now because of COVID. I’ve been to the main building twice since 2019). So in a weird way *I’m* the one who is perpetually new, at least at the main location, even though I’ve been here for years.

  43. El l*

    LW3 was in 2013. In retrospect, we should’ve called it the opening days of “When we started to restore balance to interview power relations.”

    I wasn’t around for Cheap Ass Rolls, but that was hilarious.

  44. Anonymous Hippo*

    The fact that someone feels so strongly that Hawaiian rolls are superior to “cheap ass rolls” kills me. If I was gonna define bread in such a way, Hawaiian rolls would fall squarely in the cheap ass rolls category.

    I will say, I once got into hot water at my office because I volunteered to buy the cheese and meat for sandwiches, and I brought slightly elevated version (i mean like I brought deli co-jack and smoked turkey) and people were quite pissed that it was kraft slices and shaved ham. They treated me like I was “uppity” for about 3 months after. So it runs both ways lol.

  45. tess*

    “You are wildly overreacting, and it’s very likely that you are going to get yourself fired from this job.”

    The only update I’ve ever really wanted…….

  46. JelloStapler*

    Cheap ass rolls!!
    #4. It’s a question of “adult conversation” vs “professionalism”. You can have adult conversation that is still professional. I work in higher ed, we have student workers everywhere and while we are a little more guarded and professional around them than we may be if it’s just colleagues we trust and know well, we certainly include them in conversations and lunch if they wanted to join us!

  47. Dr Sarah*

    I read the title having not read the ‘cheap-ass roll’ story when it was posted previously, and was trying to figure out how someone was insulted by rolls; did they have pictures of genitals iced on them? Were they being placed on an outline of a woman to look like breasts? I figured there had to be something actually, well, offensive happening with the rolls.

    But, no, instead it was this utter gem. Awesome.

  48. MEH Squared*

    I read the original cheap ass rolls column recently and am delighted to see it again. The original comment section was one of the funniest and best. I did feel sorry for the OP, though, because I know what it’s like to feel everyone is against you. I hope she’s been able to find some peace in the two years since she originally wrote it (I, too, can’t believe it was that recent. Pandemic brain!).

  49. HeavensToBetsy*

    One of my mantras is that there’s worse things in this world and most things are not worth complaining about. I mean, whining about rolls? Sheesh! Hopefully you’ve found actual things to whine about.

  50. Robin Ellacott*

    I see the “cheap ass rolls” referenced here all the time and had never read the original. Thanks for re-posting it – that was quite a ride.

    The past colleague I had who repeatedly said other people were closing their office doors deliberately to exclude HER is paling in comparison.

    1. Candi*


      Um, if I saw you closing your office door, I’d figure you needed privacy or quiet or both. As long as I could knock and get your attention when I needed to, it would barely rate a conscious acknowledgement.

  51. Don't Shoot the Messenger*

    I definitely thought there was a typo in the heading because someone must be upset about roles. Who would be upset about rolls?

  52. Jaybeetee*

    Wow, so the OG cheap ass rolls thread linked to an older “person takes ridiculous offense at innocuous things” letter, the comments of which referenced an even older “You are not nearly as important as you think you are” post. Heckuva AAM rabbit-hole.

  53. Rosie*

    Some legitimate reasons why someone might bring “cheap ass rolls” to an office potluck, eve though someone else had already signed up to bring Hawaiian rolls:

    *They didn’t realize there was a sign-up sheet.
    *They forgot about the potluck until the last minute, so they grabbed something quick and easy from the grocery store.
    *They had an extra package of rolls at home and didn’t want them to go to waste.
    *They don’t like Hawaiian rolls.
    *Someone found them in the office kitchen and assumed they were for the potluck.
    *The thing they had signed up to bring was sold out at the store/went bad/got dropped on the ground by accident/was eaten by other household members who didn’t know it was for a potluck/was overcooked to the point of being inedible/etc., so they brought rolls instead.
    *They signed up for (and brought) something else, but decided to be generous and bring two things.
    *More than one person signed up to bring rolls.
    *This particular office LOVES rolls and will go through multiple packages in a single potluck (which OP wouldn’t necessarily know, since she’s new), so someone decided to bring extras just in case.
    *They struggle financially, so inexpensive rolls were all they could afford to contribute.
    *They were at the store, saw some rolls, and decided that they sounded good for the potluck.

    One very, VERY unlikely reason why someone might bring “cheap ass rolls” to an office potluck:

    *They saw that their new colleague had signed up to bring rolls, thought, “Aha! This will be the perfect opportunity to sabotage her career!” and purposely brought inferior rolls so that the whole office would think less of OP. For some reason.

    Same with the PowerPoint: there are plenty of legitimate reasons why the presenter might have skipped over OP. (He didn’t prepare well enough for the presentation; he mistakenly thought she’d been welcomed in the last meeting; OP’s performance was good enough that he genuinely didn’t know she was new.) It’s highly unlikely that he was subtly trying to send her a message.

    If OP is correct against all odds, and her coworkers actually are trying to sabotage or otherwise disrespect her, I hope she can find solace in the knowledge that they are really bad at it.

  54. Effluvia*

    Coincidentally, I was eating some Hawaiian rolls with dinner tonight, with a little prosciutto and mozzarella. Tasty!

  55. Anonymous Bosch*

    I do like Hawaiian rolls, but I think that they can be too sweet for certain people or with certain foods.

    Being an all around carb lover and vegetarian (obviously not the health food variety), I’d be really happy if there were multiple kinds of bread or rolls available. I’d also be happy if more than one person brought pie so we could have apple and pecan, for example.

    When I was younger, I was more likely to get my feeling hurt over small things, but I knew better than to say anything to anyone, especially if I were new at the work place. I wanted more than anything to fit in where I worked. Being a bit “different”, I was not always successful at being just one of the gang. Even then, I probably would have taken it as a compliment if someone said they forgot I was new.

Comments are closed.