my coworker has celebrity friends, asking to come back to an interview question, and more

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

1. Can I ask my coworker to introduce me to her celebrity friends?

I am 22 and just started my first job in the entertainment industry. I love my work and am especially happy to be working with my co-assistant, who I’ll call Tess. She is funny and smart and has been really helpful as I’ve been getting trained on our shared duties. I know through social media that Tess is an extremely sociable person with connections to a couple of actresses and writers that I follow and would love to work with someday — I often see her in photos on celebrities’ Instagrams or every once in a while, a celebrity will appear on hers.

I’m wondering if there’s any particular etiquette around asking her to hang out outside of work with the purpose of piggybacking on some of those connections. I am very envious of her famous friends and for a couple specific people she hangs out with, I really believe I have a lot in common with these people and could be a valued member of their writing staff. Is there a good way to ask her this, or is it inappropriate?

Well, it’s pretty much the definition of using someone for what they can do for you, so no, don’t do it. If you were interested in Tess for herself and wanted to hang out with her even if she didn’t have celebrity connections, it would be fine to make social overtures to her. But it sounds like you see her as a means to an end, and that’s not a great way to treat someone. (She’s also likely to pick up on it, which could negatively impact your working relationship with her.)

Once you’ve worked with Tess longer and have both gotten to know each other better, it’s possible that you could just be up-front with her about your interest. But you’d need to wait a while — minimum of six months, I’d say, if not longer — in order for her to even be able to judge whether she’d be comfortable connecting you to people. And there’s a good chance it would still feel off to ask then, depending on the relationship you have with her. (If you’re not close, then it’s a flat no.) She also probably has a bunch of people trying to access her connections in this way, so you should tread very lightly, if at all. Heavy emphasis on “if at all.”


2. Coworker wants to be left out of our company blog

I am a new office manager for a great little company with a nationwide footprint. One of my focuses is going to be helping to get our online presence more felt, and part of that includes updating the company blog. We have a few blog posts helping us get to know a few members of the team, but not everyone by a long shot. I sent out a fun questionnaire for everyone to answer so that I can write a little blurb about each of us. I was excited to get the info and put the spots together.

Then one coworker, who I’ve already been warned could be a little negative and often separates herself from the group, replied with short answers and asked to be left out of the blog.

I feel this attitude stems from not feeling like part of the team and wanting to be separate from a lot that goes on, I’ve seen other examples of it elsewhere. I think this is an important step to show her that she is a valued member of a TEAM and that failure to get her to participate will only perpetuate a known problem. I want to nip this in the bud, but still respect her boundaries for personal privacy. Should I insist on her letting us do the blog and find a way to keep it private, for example maybe not including pics or some other compromise? Am I wrong to insist she be part of the blog posts?

Nooooooo! You absolutely should not insist on it. If someone doesn’t want to take part in something like this — something that’s meant to be fun and has no real bearing on their actual job — you should respect that. There’s just no cause for pushing her on this. It makes her uncomfortable, there are zero problems caused by letting her opt out, and you should drop it. Her desire for privacy and boundaries is not something anyone needs to nip in the bud (!).

If there are actual work-related ramifications to her not being super team-oriented, that’s something that her manager can address with her privately. It’s absolutely not your place as a coworker.


3. Asking to come back to an interview question

I’ve always been told (and told others-eek!) that if you can”t answer a behaviorally related question (“Can you think of a time when you’ve XYZ”) immediately, it’s perfectly fine to ask to come back to this question. My mother is very strong on this and has been in charge of hiring for her organization for several years, and I also do recruitment as part of several of my roles, and prefer this to a flubbed answer, but as I think you have said before, it’s all about how the applicant handles it.

However, I recently interviewed for another position that I appeared to be well qualified for, and when the company finally contacted me back to advise I was unsuccessful, the feedback was that this made the interviewer uncomfortable: she found it “highly unusual” and “sometimes you just have to give it a go.” I was extremely surprised to hear this, as during the interview I said “I’d really love to give you a work related example so could I take a second to get back to you on that one,” and then I voluntarily came back to the question and gave what I thought was a really good answer which demonstrated my performance and success in a similar role.

I’d be very interested to know your thoughts — have I had bad advice, or is this interviewer just a weird anomaly? The only other thing I could think of was that I came across as “pushy” by choosing when I wanted to ask the question, but I did ask reeeeally nicely!

Weird anomaly. If you don’t have an answer on the spot, it doesn’t make sense to make the interviewer sit there for five minutes while you try to come up with one. What you did is perfectly fine, as long as (a) you really do come back to the question on your own, and (b) you don’t do this when the question is one you should have been prepared for (like questions about why you’d excel in the role or what you’re looking for in your next job). (2021 addition: And as long as it’s not a job where you’ll need to do lots of off-the-cuff speaking in contexts where that answer wouldn’t fly.)


4. How can I follow up with people who didn’t attend a course they signed up for?

At my church, we hosted a course and wrote letters of invitation to over 100 students, one month in advance. Some who responded and confirmed they would be attending did not attend. They did not send a courtesy email in advance or an email of apology after the course date.

As an administrator in my day job, repeat offenders who do not attend and do not let us know are sent a letter and a copy of the letter to their doctor to say “we have discharged your patient back to your care.” Please advise how I can construct a letter to the students who did not attend the church course, to politely communicate to them that they should have had the courtesy to email us that they would not be attending.

I’d drop the idea of sending this letter at all. It’s pretty common in free courses that some people won’t show up. (Hell, on free webinars, I think the attendance rate is usually something like 50% of everyone who signed up.) If it’s going to inconvenience you or cost you money to have some people not show up after RSVPing that they will, then you might consider how you can modify things on your side — for instance, it might make sense to confirm with people a few days before the course, or to plan around the assumption that some particular portion won’t show up, or to stress in the original communication why you need to be alerted if they need to cancel. But chastising people for not attending and not apologizing to you is likely to alienate them, which probably isn’t what a church wants to be doing.


{ 293 comments… read them below }

  1. Reg Reagan*


    It’s entirely possible that the employee is dealing with a stalker, and having their info out there will lead to serious consequences.

    1. Ashkela*


      I literally started hyperventilating when I read “Should I insist” like absolutely not don’t you DARE.

      I’m gonna go read some Friday posts now, this upset me.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yeah, the OP needs to assume their coworker has a good reason to opt out.

        Years ago I had a coworker who desperately did not want her name and photo to appear on the employee directory on our public-facing website. When marketing kept pushing, the coworker had to escalate it to HR and explain that she had moved to a different country and had zero online presence to get away from her abusive father. She was absolutely distraught. It still breaks my heart to think about the pain and fear the company caused her, not to mention her ongoing fear of being found.

        1. M*

          I used to work for a school, and students had to RSVP their guests for graduation. Often students would forget who they RSVP’d/not check for the email so they’d call around asking for someone to check the list for them.

          My coworker said (since it was a busy time and we often weren’t able to get back to all emails right away) to just publish the list on our website so students could check the RSVP list themselves. NOPE.

        2. Lee*

          This exact scenario has been me. Luckily, my HR Director was an angel and shut that down quick smart. I was so thankful for her then, and still think of her so fondly.

      2. Holey Hobby*

        I was surprised how much this upset me as well. Stalker or abusive ex was my first thought. Then I thought – actually, I wouldn’t want to do this either. And I’m all about company fun times. But I don’t want to be on the internet. I’m a very private person.

        Then I got steamed about people who call other people “negative” – because nine times out of ten, that is how users talk about people they find hard to use. Like, the utter sociopaths who run pyramid schemes call people negative and losers when they resist being scammed.

        Ugh. And putting “TEAM” in all caps? Christ. Just say cult, when you say it that way.

        Yeah – found this one oddly very triggering.

    2. Aphrodite*

      Yes, it could be a stalker or it could be that she is a very private person, or someone who loathes social media with every fiber of her being. It could be shyness, or a desire to keep a low profile without any particular reason. But whatever her own reason, it is no business of yours.

      A former manager and her boss, the VP, were very bothered by my determination to stay private. I had no intention of being in work social event pictures, professional event pictures, mentioned in the blog. When they tried to take a group picture one time I simply stood behind a taller man; all they got was a bit of face and some hair. (The picture was not published.) Served them right. Leave her alone.

      1. Malarkey01*

        I don’t think it even falls under “very private”. I can be a bit of an over sharer with friends and some coworkers but it’s what I decide to share. There are absolutely other parents of my life that I would not stand on a street corner and shout out and a goofy questionnaire on a blog post is not something I’d ever be into.

        Plus I think office manager is wrong that clients really want to read random trivia about people at this company who they may or may not even have contact with.

        1. Candi*

          Worked with X charity or Y organization, maybe. Pets, maybe. One’s something that’s nice to know the company supports at least enough to talk about their workers doing it, and many people love animals.

          But some of the stuff I’ve seen on the forms? Random clientele do not need high schools, colleges, family size, ancestry, places workers have lived in their lives, and random hobbies.

          Besides how much of this stuff is used for (dum dum dum) security questions, and not everyone lies in the answers like I do.

          1. CalypsoSummer*

            Re OP #2 — a coworker wants to maintain her privacy and OP2 wants to “nip that in the bud”? If I told someone that I did NOT want to be cited in a blog that is going onto THE WORLDWIDE WEB, and he did it anyway, I would nip HIM in the bud in such a way that I doubt he’d recover.

      2. iliketoknit*

        I have TOTALLY done that in group pictures before, too. I loathe them with every fiber of my being.

      3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I will admit to jiggling about during the staff photo session, I came out blurred on every single photo, except one where my head is turned away. It looks like I’m in an animated conversation with the boss, and that’s the one they put up on Internet. Since you can’t tell it’s me, I didn’t complain, but it is actually against the law to publish photos of people without their express written permission here in France.
        My reason was that I didn’t want to be associated with the new boss. I was proud of working at the agency when we were a “boutique agency”, serving only high-end clients. Once we were bought out by a cowboy outfit that made their contractors wait an illegal six months before being paid, I no longer wanted to be associated with them in any way.

    3. Rosie*

      I came here to say this – the employee might not want her information on the blog for safety reasons. That shouldn’t matter, because “I don’t want to” is a perfectly valid reason that doesn’t require further justification, but it genuinely might not be a simple matter of personal preference.

    4. File Herder*

      I remember this post from the first time because it upset me so much. And the boundary trampler has probably already demonstrated that they would not be a safe person to tell about being stalked, or
      about some of the other reasons people might be worried about being on a blog. (For me it was being a woman in a very male dominated industry, but at least I knew my management would have my back.)

    5. LifeBeforeCorona*

      It’s more than entirely possible. I had a stalker years ago and as a result, I decline to have my picture and name on any company website. I hated wearing work name tags and often “forgot” to wear mine. Don’t keep insisting on their participation or you could hear a horrific story about why they are guarding their privacy so zealously.

      1. allathian*

        In my job, you might be laid off without pay pending an official firing if you refused to wear your name tags in spite of being told to do so repeatedly, and I work for the government where firing is very difficult and time-consuming. That said, employee photos are never posted on our website. Senior management, and senior ICs with a professional social media presence are an exception to this, though.

        That said, a stalker is a definite possibility here, and the LW is wrong to insist on participation, regardless of whether it’s actually a stalker (which the person might not be comfortable sharing with such a boundary trampler anyway) or whether it’s just a matter of preferring anonymity at work.

        1. LutherstadtWittenberg*

          I’ll side with the person concerned with a stalker over ‘in my job, people get fired over name tags.’ I’m more concerned about someone’s safety.

        2. Batgirl*

          Yes it’s still disconcertingly common for companies to be pushy like that. I won’t shop in places with name badges because I think it’s appalling. I did have a great manager who got around company policy years ago who would say “You do have to have a name tag, but it can be any name”. One girl with an unusual name who had coloured her hair and hidden her address, but was still in the same region as her abusive ex, was so relieved she could just have Jane as a shop floor name.

          1. Ella bee bee*

            How do you manage this? I can’t think of a single place to shop in my area that doesn’t have name badges. I agree that people should not have to wear them, I’m not arguing against you boycotting places that have this requirement, I’m just genuinely curious where you shop for things like groceries if you won’t shop at places with name badges.

        3. Going Anon For This One*

          I have *also* worked for the government, at a site where it was of the utmost importance for you to know that the other people there belonged there, and it’s ingenious to compare a requirement to wear a security badge with your photo in a access-controlled building to a public-facing website with your name and photo.

    6. Bamcheeks*

      It’s completely possible they have a stalker, or another reason to fear having their name and photo on the website, and that’s something LW should keep in mind, but it’s also completely possible they have no external reason to justify this and simply DON’T WANT TO. Given it’s an initiative designed by the office manager to foster team spirit and not eg. a key part of the company’s sales strategy, there is no reason at all not to respect that!

      (IMO it should still be respected if it’s a key part of the company’s sales strategy, but if that were the case there’d be a little more weight on the “it’s part of your job description” side.)

      1. EPLawyer*

        ” Given it’s an initiative designed by the office manager to foster team spirit”

        THIS. OP nothing will destroy team spirit more than forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do. Oh its for morale should not involve things that tank morale.

        Your coworker has set a boundary. The fact that you are trying to find a way to destroy that boundary shows you don’t really respect the boundary. The best thing you can do for your team is respect the boundaries they set (as long as they don’t affect actual work functions).

      2. LQ*

        YES! I get that everyone here catastrophizes everything, but it’s ok to not want to participate in this kind of stuff or it should be because you don’t want to.

        1. Nanani*

          It’s not catastrophizing to point out a likely scenario that is more common than you seem to realize.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            Right? I know a sadly high number of women who have dealt with abuse, stalking, and/or harassment, and it’s not that I know an unusual population of women. We have no way of knowing whether this is true of the OP’s coworker, but there is a reason a lot of us are thinking along those lines, and it’s clear to me from the post why the OP’s coworker wouldn’t feel safe telling OP this – and even if she would feel safe, she’s not obligated. Don’t push this, OP – find other ways to make sure the coworker feels included, but as long as she is holding up her end in a work context, let her make her own decisions on how she participates – or not – in optional team stuff, or it’s not really optional, and that’s obnoxious.

        2. CalypsoSummer*

          Excuse me. It’s catastrophizing to know that stalkers exist? Then call me a catastrophy, because I had one. Unbalanced guy who was angry that I broke up with him, was avoiding him, and refused to speak to him on the phone. I can’t prove it was him following me when I got off work late at night, but I had several evasion routes pre-planned, which varied according to when I noticed a set of headlights that were taking the same turns I was.

          I’m not going to hope you experience that, because no one should go through that. But it would be a good thing if you realized that yes, it DOES happen.

      3. MEH Squared*

        I completely agree. I’m someone who uses social media judiciously and I would never want a company I worked for to put up personal information about me or my photo on their website. I don’t have a stalker or anything like that, but I like to be in control of what personal information of mine is on the internet.

        OP#2, your framing of your coworker as negative and not being a TEAM player is concerning. It’s not negative or not being part of the TEAM to to want to set boundaries about what you do and don’t share with your coworkers. The fact that you’re doubling down on this being fun is even more concerning. Just because it’s fun for you doesn’t make it fun for everyone else. Leave your coworker alone.

      4. Chris*

        Exactly! And forcing someone to do something will not help at all if they do not feel like part of the team.

      5. Is a Security Analyst*

        I’d be wary about posting lots of information about me on a company blog purely because security analysts often attract WEIRD people when they make their presence known. I have an active social media presence… but I never mention my job, ever. Do not want people going hah hah your security analyst likes kittens? I don’t like kittens so I’m going to send you phishing emails.

      6. Llama Llama*

        yup – there are jobs out there where something like this would be a requirement. I have one. But job descriptions usually say “will be the public face of the company” “public facing job” etc. That clearly isn’t what’s going on here.

    7. Medusa*

      I found this letter to be bonkers. There’s nothing wrong with “separating yourself from the group” if the activity in no way impedes anyone from doing their job.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Yes, OP’s interpretation of coworker being seen as someone who is not a TEAM player because she does not participate in “fun things” is concerning. Does she do a good job? Well that brings my second concern. OP doesn’t work with her, much less manage her, so and assessing coworker’s “image” and determining 1) it needs remedying 2) is her place to remedy it is…odd.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Being a “team player” shouldn’t be about whether or not you participate in non-work activities with your coworkers. It should be about your behavior when it comes to work tasks. Do you get your work to the people who need it in a timely manner? Do you pitch in when it’s crunch time or somebody else is out for an illness or emergency? Is the feedback you provide useful and actionable? Those are the things that make a team player, not having the best answers on a silly blog survey.

        2. quill*

          There’s also the old concern of whether all the activities are actually accessible, or “mandatory fun” that in reality nobody with obligations outside work can consistently participate in.

        3. Ralph the Wonder Llamas*

          Yep this letter writer sounds like she is the office’s interfering busybody who needs to learn to stay in her own lane. There are any number of reasons that her coworker might not want to participate. Some of the potentialities are quite serious, and all of them should be respected. She is not due an explanation from the coworker as it is not her place to judge the validity of the reason.

    8. anonymous73*

      While that’s entirely possible, the reasoning is irrelevant. Companies need to stop forcing their employees to participate in things they think are fun/team building/helpful that have NOTHING to do with their jobs. I’m selectively social, and hate to be the center of attention, so most of the time I don’t participate in things that aren’t required as part of my job. And that’s okay. As are many of the other reasons someone may have for not wanting to participate in outside activities.

      1. Anononon*

        Yeah. I don’t think the reasoning is important at all because, for this request, “I don’t want to” is a perfectly valid reason. While it’s not bad to be aware that not everyone has perfect idyllic lives, and these activities can cause actual danger to some, I’m not a fan of stressing super hard that it could be a stalker because I don’t want people dismissing less intense reasons because they’re not as serious.

        1. anonymous73*

          Yes! Always jumping to worst case scenario is not helpful in understanding why OP’s insistence on participating is a bad idea.

        2. AnonEMoose*

          “I don’t want to” is an entirely valid reason and should be respected. But in my experience, it’s also true that people, unless they’ve experienced it, often don’t think of these more serious scenarios as a realistic possibility as something that might actually have happened/be happening to someone they personally know…it feels like one of those things that happens, but “out there” somewhere, not to a real person you really know and interact with. And especially if the person wanting to not participate happens to be a woman, there can be a lot of pressure/social consequences for holding your boundary (“not a team player,” “not friendly,” “not approachable,” and so on). Getting people to understand that there can be more behind a desire to not be included in a blog or on a website is, for me, in part a way of trying to get people to reconsider their immediate reactions to this kind of thing, which is a step along the journey of getting them to recognize that “I don’t want to” is completely valid. Of course, with some people, this does just seem to encourage them to get even nosier and demanding that people justify themselves….::sigh::

    9. Amethystmoon*

      Thank you, I was coming here to say that. We actually had this happen in one of my Toastmaster clubs. The club historically posted photos on social media of whoever won the awards for that week (best speaker, etc.), but she didn’t want her name used. So yeah, it definitely does happen.

    10. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Honestly, it doesn’t matter why she doesn’t want to do it since it is a voluntary team building activity. The whole point of voluntary is being able to opt out. Unless the LW is the manager who is worried that lack of team cohesion is causing problems (e.g. employee opts out of working lunches where it is known that the emphasis is more work than lunch, skips all-hands meetings), the LW should just let her roll as she pleases. Not everyone wants to be part of a group beyond being paid to do the same work

    11. Picking Wildflowers*

      This! There are so many reasons for wanting and needing privacy. I’m married to a LEO and receive way too many death threats to go around announcing to the world where I can be found and where our children go to school.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        What’s a LEO? I did google it but just got things about “if you’re a Leo, you’ll be a great leader/actor”

    12. Hippo-nony-potomus*

      A stalker, family members who harass her, nasty people in her life who follow her online….

      I also caution people to understand that “using up capital” goes both ways. If you push her on the blog, that makes her less of a team player later, not more of a team player: she had her boundaries violated for no good reason and you burned through a lot of goodwill.

      Also, if you want someone to be more of a team player, be a team player to them. Many times, it doesn’t work, but sometimes, it does.

    13. many bells down*

      I had a co-worker in the process of seeking political asylum from their home country and we didn’t put their name or photo up because there was a real risk of immigration coming for them before their asylum plea went through.

    14. Golden*

      Definitely this. I’ve never had a stalking situation, but do have an ex (from high school! and we’re 30ish now!) who tries to get in touch with me every time I move cities “because they might have an opportunity to move there and it would be nice to know someone in the area”. It’s certainly a reason that my online presence is pretty locked down nowadays, and I would not appreciate this blog either.

      I know this is an old letter, but I hope OP dropped it and is more cognizant of these things going forward.

    15. Meep*

      Or they just plain like their privacy. I have refused to lend my voice to marketing material. Not because I have a stalker, but because I like to keep my online and personal life separate and do not need people connecting two-and-two.

      Either way, the rep needed to mind their nose.

      1. Meep*

        Since that sounded ominious. I review books on Youtube. I only do it to get over my anxiety of public speaking but it is still cringe on both sides. lol.

        1. Anax*

          That was a thought of mine, too; I can imagine a lot of reasons someone wouldn’t want to connect their online and offline lives. Say, someone who went mildly viral for a silly picture and is tired of That One Joke, someone who doesn’t want to talk about their writing career at work, someone who’s trans and had to put their name change in the newspaper by law but doesn’t want their deadname known at work…

          There’s a LOT of pretty innocuous but annoying or embarrassing or personal reasons someone might not want to be “online” at work.

    16. quill*

      Yeah there is no reason to push on this because FAR more people than anyone who hasn’t experienced it think have people who they need to keep information about themselves from – not just stalkers, but estranged relatives etc.

    17. Respecttheboundaries*

      This is why I’m not in any photos on our website and my name is only listed in the office intranet directory.

    18. Momma Bear*

      Even without a stalker there are a lot of reasons I would opt out. I hope OP let that person just be.

    19. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yes, #2 made me so angry. If the only way to show someone that they are “a valued member of a TEAM” is by forcing them to put their personal information out for the world to see, then the TEAM is doing something terribly wrong.

    20. Nanani*


      Sure they might just be a curmudgeon, but people with minimal online presence usually have good reason that are, and this is key, !none of your business!

    21. Robin Ellacott*

      That was my first thought too. It’s hardly rare… I have known several people who had stalkers of various kinds, including myself.

    22. my roflcopter goes soi soi soi*

      I hate hate hate it when people from my past life track me down through work. I try not to have any pictures attached to my name, save for very carefully ‘blurred’ ones that are out of date or where I’m wearing a mask. I’ve had bad experiences being found by bad people.
      Please don’t force this employee to present themselves for public consumption.

  2. PollyQ*

    #2 — “I want to show someone they’re a valued member of our team by forcing them to do something they clearly don’t want to! (that doesn’t actually need to be done and brings a negligible benefit at best)” Mmmmm, what’s wrong with this picture?

    1. Marthooh*

      ASTRONAUT #1: Wait, so I’m a valued member of a team?

      ASTRONAUT #2: [points gun] Always have been.

  3. Beth*

    #1: Either try to make friends with Tess because she’s funny and smart and kind and seems like a really cool person to be friends with, or decide to be coworkers and let her be. If you do make friends, don’t assume she’ll invite you to hang out with celebrities; it might happen, it might not, it has no bearing on your friendship. People notice, sooner or later, if you’re just using them to access their connections or other resources.

    1. Web of Pies*

      The celebrities will also pick up on it (as well as the writers, who will see she just wants their jobs). It’s an understandable, envy-fueled impulse, but I hope if we get an update to this, the update is “I have no update because I didn’t pursue this because I realized it would be gross.”

      I had a friend I lost touch with who later got a little famous, and the impulse to reach out became VERY STRONG, even though I knew I was only interested because of where their career had taken them. It wasn’t cool and I’m glad I left them alone.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I was in a similar situation, complicated because I’d lost touch with many people because of depression & ADD –not because I stopped thinking of them.
        So I send notes of congratulation, I connect on public social media, and I occasionally send relevant links their way. A couple of them have chosen to get back in touch with me, and I consider that a win.

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          Off I feel this – I lost touch with a lot of people due to depression stemming from undiagnosed ADHD – it’s really hard! Glad you’ve found a way to reconnect and hope you’re in a better place.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I would put $$ that people have tried to use Tess before for celebrity connections so she’s probably pretty good at sussing out the motivations behind a friendship. I have a friend who hangs out with Jason Momoa and Lisa Bonet on the regular and she’s developed a 6th sense for it when she meets new people and takes a pretty dim view of old friends/acquaintances who ask for an intro. LW should step back and just be a friendly co-worker with Tess and see what develops organically.

        1. miss chevious*

          This is soooo true. A neighbor of mine is close (like childhood best friends, see each other every few weeks) with a famous musician, and he has stories about the people who try to use him as a connection as opposed to seeing him as a person. I suspect that you don’t stay friends with famous people if you don’t develop that skill.

        2. JustAnotherCommenter*

          Couldn’t agree with this more. I work in the entertainment industry and while I’m not anyone nor am I besties with any big names, I do interact with actors pretty regularly and produce work that’s publically viewable. Even just the whiff of rubbing elbows with someone on TV caused SO many people to get in touch that had not bothered to before and the number of new people I meet who only want to talk about my job and post about me and the work I do on their social media is cringe.
          Don’t get me wrong, I love working in the industry and I love to talk about my job, but you can tell when someone is asking you about the work you do because they’re interested vs. wanting to see who they could potentially meet, how they can leverage you, or what they can brag about knowing you for.

      3. Hippo-nony-potomus*

        There was a point at which my career took me in a somewhat high-profile direction. It was very easy to see who was my friend before then and who started treating me differently (read: better) after.

      4. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        I am college classmates with someone who became a major celebrity. We lived in the same dorm freshman year. I become friends (later on) with one of their roommates. I still see that person at class reunions. It should be easy to make a connection, since we definitely have things in common. BUT…I wasn’t friends with that person while in school, we don’t share any other friends, and the only time I remember speaking with that person is saying “excuse me” when trying to use a door they were blocking. So I would never, ever, try to make a connection.

        OP1 has none of this, yet thinks they have many things in common and is planning to become friends with these celebrities. I hope OP1 never asked Tess to make that connection.

      5. Boof*

        I think if you lost touch with the friend and then they became famous, and you wanted to reach out with them because “oh yeah I’ve been meaning to do this!!” and not “well now I want to get to know you again!” it’d be fine.
        It’s interesting I had pretty good friend from high school that I lost touch with, mostly because we both move a lot and have busy lives, and randomly connected with her on FB one day and that was cool. Then she got a big book deal! I’d say she’s definitely started to get the kind of success many would be a little envious of and I really hope it continues to take off. I don’t think it’d have been weird to have reconnected with her if I’d noticed her after the bookdeal somehow, though it was really cool to have gotten back to chatting with her a little before because it’s just cool to see someone succeed at something they worked so hard at, and a difficult thing to break into.
        (also the book was really good and I need to buy the next one it just came out!!)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          This is how it was with me. Someone I knew became fairly high-profile in a niche area, and we’d lost touch over time. I DM’ed them to say hi and then later in support because they were going through some shit. They still have a social media account but haven’t posted in ages, although we still follow each other.

          They know how to find me if they want me. I’m always here for them.

      6. Lucy Skywalker*

        One of my college classmates is a somewhat famous musician (not an A-list celebrity, but well known enough that he was nominated for a Grammy). I kept in touch with him for a few years after graduation, and then eventually lost touch with him (this was in the early 2000’s, before social media was a thing). Then years later when it became a thing, I reconnected with him over Facebook, along with many other classmates who I had lost touch with over the years.
        I haven’t seen him in years, and every now and then when he has a major accomplishment (i, e, being nominated for an award or profiled in a major magazine) I will send him a note congratulating him. But I would never dream of contacting him to get in to a celebrity event or anything like that.

        Then there’s my elementary school teacher who I also reconnected with over Facebook. Her daughter has a job where she gets to meet lots of big time celebrities; and has even been on national TV. But again, I would never try to use her or her daughter to get to her celebrity friends.

      7. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Sarah Millican did a piece reading a letter from a former school “friend” who wrote to try to bask in the reflected glory, mentioning how cool her kids thought it was that Mum knew someone famous. The “friend” gets a total savaging. So, Web, I think you did the right thing.

    2. Bamcheeks*

      Also, on a purely selfish note, if you are in an entertainment / celebrity adjacent field, nothing is going to damage your career faster than thinking it’s ok to use someone else’s social time and space to forward your own career. Everyone you are working with is going to be super sensitive to that and it is NOT going to impress them.

      1. a sound engineer*

        Yup, exactly. I work on the technical side of events, and it’s always extremely (and quickly) clear who is in it because they are actually interested in our field, and who just wants to go to concerts for free and brag to their friends about working “with” whatever bands come through. Nothing will make me want to be strictly acquaintances less than finding this out about me and immediately asking me if I can get you a show/tickets/introduce you to whatever band. Trying to use people like this is a great way to smoke your reputation and ensure that people don’t want to help you as you try to advance. And I promise you, we all talk among ourselves – we all know who is who.

        1. Momma Bear*

          I have a relative who works in entertainment and for years they would not tell anyone what company they worked for/who they knew because they were tired of being asked for intros or tickets. I hope OP did her own legwork instead of trying to skip rungs climbing over Tess.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        This. If you’re looking for a field where no one will have their antennae tuned for the possibility that you are just trying to manipulate them for their connections? This ain’t it.

      3. Classic Rando (she/ her)*

        Yuuuup. In my free time I do guest relations staffing for pop culture conventions and when I was a department manager we’d specifically screen out applicants who gave us this vibe. And it’s easy to spot, none are as subtle as they think they are. Celebrities get these kinds of overtures **all the time** and if you get a reputation for them it’ll be really limiting to your career

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          One of my friends got me into doing ushering and whatnot for concerts at a couple of well known venues that booked some pretty amazing shows. When she brought me in to intro me (the jobs were word-of-mouth since so popular) they flat asked me about how I’d feel about meeting famous people. Me, being awkward AF, replied, “Oh hell no, I get nervous enough meeting normal people, I want to stay as far away from famous people as possible.” Somehow this was the correct answer

          1. Classic Rando (she/ her)*

            Oh it definitely is! It would disqualify you for the Guest Handler job (for obvious reasons lol) but there were other roles on my biggest teams that that attitude would have been great for

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              I was interviewing to be an usher/audience assist, so I am guessing that not wanting to hang out backstage with the bands was seen as a positive. I could totally see folks wanting the job and then just peacing out at some point to try to get close to the bands.

            2. quill*

              Yeah, I’d imagine you’d want staff who was focused on doing their jobs without any social interaction with a celebrity.

              A relative of mine once worked at a ski resort that has a lot of athletic stars come by, and was pulled aside by a co-worker after she provided someone with a lift ticket.

              “Do you know who that was?”
              “That was [olympic gold medalist]!”
              She apparently didn’t recognize him without his team USA equipment, but the resort does pride itself on “don’t bother the stars.”

              1. Anne of Green Gables*

                I did use a very thin connection to call out to an athlete once, but we’re talking minor league baseball, not major star. I went to high school in a northern state but now live in a southern state over a thousand miles away. I recognized a familiar name when the announcer called the roster at a minor league game–guy was a year behind me in high school and was a big-time athlete in multiple sports; I was in pep band so saw him play all the time. Once I realized this guy was on the local team, I went down by the dugout the next game and called out the name of our high school during warm-ups. It being so far away, he visibly reacted and came closer, I explained that I was a graduate and just wanted him to know someone local who went to the same high school was cheering him on. We didn’t know each other and were in completely different circles, but did have one interaction which I knew he would remember the incident (but not me) which involved insider knowledge that only someone who was really there would know. I like to think he appreciated the local call-out.

          2. Lucy Skywalker*

            I so would have failed that job interview as I totally would be fangirling if I met, say, Eddie Vedder, through work.

          3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            In my dreams, I meet David Bowie. But, even in my dreams, I just melt into a muddy puddle at the sight of him.

    3. Edwina*

      Also, here’s the thing: even if you DID ask Tess to “introduce you to celebrities” and even if she DID, all you would come off as is a fangirl hanger-on. If you want to succeed in the business, YOU have to have something to offer. Are you a writer? Then come up with ideas and pitches and write spec scripts. Ask people for feedback. Work to get an agent. Tess has worked hard to make these connections, and one of the way she nurtures them is by presenting herself as a colleague, as something to offer, NOT by passing on second-rate beginner scripts. If you really think it’s appropriate, you can ask Tess for feedback. If SHE thinks a famous person would be interested, SHE will suggest it.

      But honestly, if you want to succeed, you have to think “what can I offer people?” and then do THAT.

      1. Critical Roll*

        That was my thought, too. If you want to progress in the industry, you have to behave like a professional and not a fan. “It would be so cool to meet X!” can be a private thought, but if you use all your networking capital to make pointless handshakes happen, you’re going to kill your reputation and get nowhere in your career.

      2. aebhel*

        This, also! Just meeting someone famous isn’t really going to do anything for your career if you don’t have anything to offer in a professional sense.

      3. Snark*

        All of this, and to piggyback? No, OP2, you do not know you have anything in common with them and they do not want you to join their writing team.

    4. BritChickaaa*

      Oh jeez no. I’m a fairly successful playwright and screenwriter and have some celeb friends – people try to use me to get close to them constantly. CONSTANTLY. Any hint of that is a huge red flag. I’ve had a number of stalkers target me or single me out for online abuse due to those relationships and while most fans are not stalkers, the wording of envious is a red flag that the OP has some level of emotional investment in those celebs that goes beyond wanting to develop career opportunities.

      Celebs are just people; anyone serious about building a writing career should be trying to develop relationships with literary agents and producers, not chasing celebs. I don’t mean to be unkind but someone so young in their first job is unlikely to be an asset in a writers’ room – focus on building up a body of writing work (write and put on plays, make short films, webseries, podcasts – anything that shows off your writing skill) as well as redrafting and honing your spec scripts. That’s how you become an asset.

      And I’d strongly recommend not waiting a certain period of time – by all means let a friendship develop naturally, but I once had someone cultivate a friendship with me for a long time then found out they’d just been using me because they were obsessed with my best friend’s TV star fiancé and it caused so much pain and turmoil for all involved.

      1. NYWeasel*

        I also have a friend who’s a celebrity, and while I’ve thankfully never dealt with stalking or abuse, I’m quite familiar with people like OP1, and part of the reason I’ve become friends with Jen Famous is that I’m hugely protective of her privacy and RARELY introduce new people to her.

        Being famous messes with all your relationships in ways that are hard to understand until you see it in person. There are the people who immediately want something (“Can I get tickets to your show? Can you give this to your agent? Can you read this?”). Even being just a friend, I have people asking me all the time to ask for favors. My strategy is to respond back to them “I don’t even ask for that for myself”. Even worse are the people who seem cool at first but expect the celebrity to pay for everything “because you’re rich”. Jen is super kind and generous and pays for lots of our meals, etc, but I never take it for granted, and try to make sure I’ve done more “typical friend” favors than I take in return. Finally, the absolute worst types of people are those who only think of Jen as an accessory to make them look better—they don’t see her as a real person. What Jen values about our friendship is that we simply hang out and talk about families, kids, interests. I almost never bring up her career, though of course it sometimes factors into her stories, and I think of her as a real person—if she’s tired and doesn’t feel like hanging out when she’s in the area, I don’t hold it against her. In comparison I’ve seen some people in her outer orbit (ie, she doesn’t let them contact her directly, but they always show up wherever she makes appearances, so she knows them by name) recognize that she was under the weather, but still expect her to be “on” and taking photos, etc. These same people get upset that I don’t tell them where I’m going to be hanging out with Jen, but they are exhausting for her to deal with after a long day at work.

        OP1: I don’t agree with AAM’s suggestion that perhaps in six months you might be able to ask. DON’T ever ask, as it’s such an obvious red flag that Tess will know instantly that you’ve been angling for it the whole time. Put your energies towards getting to know Tess in her own right, as you would with any other coworker and in growing your own interests. And if Tess ever does introduce you to some of her famous friends, stop thinking of them as a path to your goals and remember that they’re people too. They don’t want to spend their time and energy around people who just want stuff from them, because that’s almost all the people they see throughout the day. If you can genuinely follow that path, you have the best odds of forging a real connection.

        1. londonedit*

          Yeah, I don’t even know any celebrities but I work for a publishing company that people will have heard of – I don’t even work for the bit of the company that publishes the really cool books, but I’m still depressingly used to the old ‘Oh wow! I’m writing a book! Can I send it to you? Can you give me the name of an agent? Can you pass it along to [company’s extremely famous] fiction editors?’ stuff. It’s wearing when you’re having a pleasant chat with a friend-of-a-friend or your parents’ neighbour and all of a sudden their eyes light up and you have to spend half an hour explaining that no, you really have zero influence over fiction or children’s publishing and no you’re not going to spend your work capital on sending random book proposals to people you don’t even interact with on a daily basis. I can only imagine what it must be like to be a celebrity, or the friend of a celebrity. It’s going to come across badly if the OP tries to worm their way into Tess’s celebrity circle, especially if they’re only doing it because they want a job. Some of the language the OP is using – piggybacking, being envious of the friends, feeling like they have some sort of connection to them when they’ve never met them – really makes it sound like they’re only interested in Tess because they want to glom on to her famous mates.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            The part about feeling a connection to these strangers who she’s sure will want to be her friends is a sign that OP will not pull this off well.

            1. Workerbee*

              I was thinking back—even when I was 22 myself, would I have had the “I feel we have so much in common!” belief toward people I’ve never met who just happen to be in high powered or celebrity positions? I dearly hope not.

              1. Katt*

                When I was 22, I was dumb and I definitely had that feeling sometimes. :)

                …I’ve since grown out of it, and also, I never would have tried to use someone else to meet these celebrities in person. It was more daydreaming than anything else! Which I think is perfectly normal.

            2. Dust Bunny*

              Gotta be honest–meeting one of my favorite celebrities would be one of my nightmares. I would 100% do or say something incredibly stupid, or freeze and not do or say anything at all, even when I should, or some other mortifying thing. I am very happy never to be on the spot like that.

              1. aebhel*


                I have met a handful of famous people (mostly through my spouse, who used to be a stage manager), and while all of those interactions were perfectly pleasant they were also SO stressful in a way that just meeting people my spouse works with absolutely shouldn’t be. And none of them were people I was actually a fan of!

              2. ENFP in Texas*

                Been there. Done that. I still cringe at the memory. I met an actor on the street in NYC and he asked about some of the online websites he’d heard about, and I was over-enthusiastic about them, and it just didn’t go well.

                I’ve decided now that when it comes to meeting celebrities, I’d rather not be remembered at all than be remembered for being a bibbling idiot.

              3. GreyjoyGardens*

                I feel the same way. I’d be afraid of either making an absolute fool of myself somehow, or else finding out that Celebrity I Admire is, in real life, a jerk.

                For me, celebrities are best admired from afar.

              4. PT*

                I always feel like if I met them, they would probably be boring or jerks or something and it would be totally unsatisfying.

                1. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*


                  I’ve met many people in bands and quite a few are idiots. Sometimes its best to keep your heroes safe (ie never meet them). They’re just people who do creative work, not everything someone projects on to them because of how said work makes them feel.

                2. tangerineRose*

                  I went to one of Dave Barry’s book signings a few years ago, and it was kind of awesome. He seems cool, and when he was asking for questions, I asked one that he seemed to think was a good question. (And I bought his book, and he signed it.) But that’s not really hanging out with someone, of course.

          2. quill*

            Oooh, making friends with writers and agents is a minor problem when you’re hoping to break into the industry. Like… there’s just so many people trying to climb over you like a christmas crab climbs a coconut tree. People who announce getting an agent or a book deal can get swarmed.

            1. Texan In Exile*

              My college friends group includes Wakeen, who has become a NY Times-bestselling novelist. Napoleon, who is one of the college friends, has a post-college friend who saw one of Wakeen’s comments on Napoleon’s facebook post and asked – in that thread! – if Napoleon would send her manuscript to Wakeen. I was horrified.

      2. BritChickaaa*

        I would add that if you have a genuine networking request then it’s far better to be upfront. In my part of the industry it’s completely fine and normal to go up to someone at at a party and say “hey I wrote x and y and I love your work, can I call your pa and set up a meeting so we can talk properly?” Then they either say yes or “I’m really busy right now” and you go away and it’s fine and not intrusive. I do a lot of mentoring and it’s fine if people are upfront about saying “can you introduce me to any agents” as long as it’s a legit request and not just fanning a celeb.

        My best friend is a major industry figure and knows every household name you could think of, and our level of friendship is such that I could go up to him at a party and say “oy I want to write for Succession, go up to Jesse and tell him you want to introduce him to an amazing writer.” But you need a proper close relationship to be able to do that. Because it’s based on honesty. Real friends want to help each other. I make introductions for people all the time but only if I think both parties will benefit.

        1. aebhel*

          I feel like people get so blinded by the celebrity aspect of it that they forget how normal job networking works, honestly. Like it would not be weird for me to strike up a conversation with a fellow librarian at a conference and go ‘oh, I’m thinking of moving out there, do you know of any openings in your area?’ It WOULD be weird for me to cultivate a long-term non-professional friendship with someone when I’m really just angling for a job.

        2. EventPlannerGal*

          This is what I was thinking – if the OP actually had some kind of specific request/goal then it might not be out of the question if handled right, but this is so vague! These people are likely busy, and if you want a favour from a busy person you need to make it easy for them to help you. That means being specific about what you want and taking no for an answer. No busy person has time to sit around thinking “hmm, I wonder what I could do to help out that coworker of that friend of mine that I met at a party that one time who said she totally loves my show”.

        3. Smithy*

          This is really good context about how within the context of professional networking, very direct requests handled professionally – even if entirely self serving – are appropriate. Whereas similar or softer personal requests can be far more unnerving.

          I’m a fundraiser, so making requests for meetings to then ask for money is a totally normal part of my work life. And for the people I make those requests of, being asked is also a totally normal part of their lives. If it’s the right time, meetings get scheduled. If its the wrong time, they don’t. Asking the same people to hang out socially or asking friends for money are in no way the same things.

          I will say, once I was moving to a new city where a friend of mine had a friend who had a job in an industry that was a hobby of mine. I made a very flippant/sarcastic comment that I could befriend anyone who free access to events around this hobby. She was fairly hesitant to introduce us (very fair!) but when we did eventually meet we really did get along. However, in retrospect, there’s no way I ever would have have had long term access to the free access had I not liked her – because the access meant spending a lot of time together. Had I not liked or the reverse, it would have made the experience miserable for both parties. Free or not.

        4. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

          This is interesting – and could work if you have the requisite skills to make such a meeting worthwhile.

          OP1’s letter is quite short so doesn’t give a sense if they have any significant writing experience or not.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Hard agree about not waiting a time period then asking. Skip that part and just do not ask.

        Younger me made this mistake. My friend had connections and he ran with people that I will never, ever meet in my life. A family member wanted tickets to an event held by one of those connections, so I asked my friend if he could help. He said, “You know I get asked that a lot….”. And a part of me died on the inside from embarrassment. I never asked again. Fortunately for me, my friend forgave me and forgot about it.

        I was naïve. It never occurred to me that if *I* thought of asking so did dozens and dozens of other people. Fast forward years later, due to an odd set of circumstances my husband and I met a person who worked on the set of a famous tv show. This person shared hobbies with celebs and did other fun activities with famous people. This person was name dropping left and right. Older and wiser me, just let the person tell their stories and said nothing. As I watched this person talk, I realized that was part of his work life, not much different than me talking about my work life. (Well, his was way more interesting.. ha.)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Ugh. That got a way from me.

          I wanted to say on the proactive side, OP, turn yourself into a go-to person who other people actually seek out. Make yourself indispensable. This will take time. But once you get there, what you have will be truly yours and you won’t be dependent on someone else’s good name or reputation.

      4. Poker Face*

        When I was a freshman in highschool, I had a senior really take an interest in me. I was a shy, awkward girl, so to have this senior step in to serve as a friend/mentor, really meant a lot to me…until I realized the only reason she did was because she thought it would get her an in to be a selected intern with my uncle.

        My uncle at the time was the president of a prominent film company. He, as an alumnus of the highschool I was attending, often came to speak to the upper school body about his career path. He would take me to lunch and/or give me rides home from school when he was in town. The senior had seen this and wanted an internship at said film company over the summer. She thought I could put a good word in.

        He friendship and help in trying to get me to be more social quickly turned to conversation about my uncle and his company…then even more blatant – if she could go to dinner next time he was in town visiting my grandparents.

        Once I caught on and moved past the immense hurt I felt, needless to say, I did not put a good word in with my uncle about her and she did not get an internship.

        If OP and Tess are actually compatible as friends, I hope they just chose that route rather than solely becoming Tess’ friend for an ulterior reason. I am in my 30s now, but I still think so poorly of that girl who did me so wrong in high school. It stinks feeling used and that person won’t forget.

    5. Bagpuss*

      I have a friend who works with various celebrities – she has definitely commented about how someone trying to use her to get to the celebrities is a massive no-no, and people who ask definitely get put at an arms length.
      (I have never asked her – but I have had a couple of awesome invitations from her, I assume at least in part because I haven’t ever asked her for freebies or access, and because I behaved appropriately the first time she did invite me) But as far as I can recall, the first invitation was about 5 years into our friendship

    6. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      And remember Tess is friends with these people, because she treats them like friends, not commodities.
      And Tess is actual friends with other non celebrities because they treat her as a friend and not a commodity.
      OP, If you really think you have something to offer these people and want to use your connection to Tess to do it, try the “blow her mind approach” and ask.

    7. Ex PA*

      I worked in the entertainment industry many years ago, so the culture may have shifted since then. However, I think it WOULD be appropriate to ask Tess if she could set you up with one of her writer friends for an informational interview. You could explain that you know she’s close with x person, and since you’re new at this, you’d really like to make some connections and find out what their job is like. The entertainment industry is all about networking, and when I was there, people loved to do informational interviews, which not always, but often ended in at least a business card exchange. Don’t pretend to be friends with Tess, though. Just ask upfront if she wouldn’t mind setting you up with x person. Be calm and professional when you ask.

      Tess may say no, so be prepared for that too.

      If you get to go to the meeting, be prepared with questions about their day to day life on the job, and say nothing about wanting them to hire you. Look through this site for stuff on informational interviews, or Google it.

      Someone correct me though if this isn’t the norm anymore in that industry.

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        I can’t speak for every area of the entertainment industry, but I work in kid’s TV and agree with Ex PA. My industry is very big on informational interviews and asking Tess to connect you to a writer for one in a professional manner would be appropriate. My only hesitation is if the LW knows Tess is a writer herself, then they are in “direct competition” and asking for help might be awkward. Tess might still be okay with it but it’s a lot more likely she would say no, so LW should consider that.

        1. Momma Bear*

          I think this is perhaps the only valid direction LW might take – it builds their own professional network. However, LW needs to handle it well and I’m a little skeptical of that part. A lot of people want the reward without the effort/work and LW needs to slow that down and recognize that they are starting way down the ladder and need to earn their rank.

    8. Jaybee*

      And if Tess is actually friends with these celebrities, it’s probably in part because she DOESN’T introduce them to every Tom, Dick and Tracy who asks.

      1. The Rules are Made Up*

        THIS. A few of the comments on the original called this “networking” and what the LW was describing is definitely not considered networking in entertainment industries. It’s considered using people and social climbing. Idk why people think they’re the only one with the brilliant idea “Hey so and so knows a famous person, what if I got close to them so I can also know that famous person!” LW is probably the 10th person who had that thought about Tess when she started working there, so chances are, Tess is used to people trying that and will not be receptive to it.

    9. aebhel*

      Especially people with famous friends. It’s a widely known fact that people get WEIRD about celebrities; LW’s coworker has almost definitely had (probably many) people try to get close to her primarily as a way to get close to her celebrity connections. It’s a really obvious move; don’t do it.

      1. Ariaflame*

        They don’t even have to be ‘famous’ famous. The parasocial thing happens with things like gaming streamers as well. Situationally famous will bring out the same sort of behaviour in some people.

    10. New Mom*

      OP #1 gave me bad high school flashbacks, I went to a really large public high school that had a pretty intense pecking order and it was a common occurrence where people were super nice only to get an “in” with other connections and then drop you. But we were teenagers! I would be really mad to experience this in adult and professional life.

    11. my roflcopter goes soi soi soi*

      I know a lot of celebrities, thanks to growing up with a person deeply connected to many A-listers. Most of these folks value their privacy and ability to control unplanned introductions. If I were to start including other people when interacting with the rich & famous, I would lose my own access/friendships because my judgement and discretion would be in question. Most are so used to being hit up for money, merch, autographs etc that any moments they can have just being regular people around other regular people are highly prized.
      It’s easiest for me to just not mention knowing these folks and to deflect/redirect invitation-seekers who somehow know who I know. Including my own mother, which was hard.

    12. Properlike*

      “Celebrities” are people too. And like everyone else is saying, you’re not going to make friends for yourself with this mindset — in fact, you are going to be held at arms’ length. Anyone who’s got those kind of genuine friendships is going to be (or should be) extremely protective of them, and word will spread in the very small town of entertainment that you’re a leech. Not a good look. But you’re new.

      Make your own friends. Work really, really hard. Treat everyone the same way. Be nice. Be kind. Be helpful. Be really good at your job and (if you’re writing) then have a lot of specs to write. And then wait, because it will come around, and people will reach out to the ones they genuinely like and respect.

  4. Not Quite*

    In addition to everything Allison said, there’s no way to really know strangers (celebrities) based on social media. If you don’t know someone, you can’t “believe” you have a lot in common with them. That goes doubly so for people whose job it is to have a public persona! I hope OP listened to Allison, because I cringed right through. I’m a little surprised this was from 22 and not 17.

    2# & 4#
    Please leave people alone.
    2 sounds like the early stirrings of an office that calls toxicity “culture”. Hope they realised.
    4, if you can’t afford to throw a free, casual event then don’t advertise it as that. Turning an outreach thing into a chore is a bad idea anyway.

    1. Lessie*

      Eh, it sounds pretty normal for a 22 yo. They just begin their careers, so it makes sense that they’re still learning what’s appropriate and what’s not.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Yeah, I read an interview with Kobe Bryant’s cousin, John Cox when he was playing college ball.
        “I guess a lot of your classmates come up to you because your related” (can’t remember if the author had the insight to realize the irony of his interviewing a talented, yet not superstar sophomore)
        John said, “yeah, I owe about a hundred people his autograph.”
        Cuz each college aged kid thought, why not ask?

  5. Bill*


    For goodness sake, please stop trying to force people to participate in things that make them feel uncomfortable or they don’t desire to do. I immediately thought that this is likely a situation where the coworker has a stalker or family member with whom they have had to go no-contact. It seems glaringly obvious to me this coworker has good reason to avoid these kinds of things. Although there is likely a very valid reason the coworker doesn’t want to participate in these kinds of things, it is simply ok if they just don’t like stuff like that and want to be left to their own devices to just do their job, get their pay, and live their lives free of that crap.

    1. banoffee pie*

      yeah I’m surprised so many people never even consider stalkers; they’re pretty commonly mentioned on the news. A lot of people must think ‘but no one I know could ever have one’.

      1. Mongrel*

        I’m a cis-male without a stalker but introverted and shy, I dislike these ideas as I find them intrusive and far too gregarious for my tastes.
        I’ve never liked having my picture taken and have never used Facebook, Twitter or any other social media (barring Reddit and it’s far easier to be anonymous there) while trying to keep online interactions clear of identifying information.

        In recent years keeping your online persona subtle has also been a good idea just so it doesn’t get hoovered up by every sleazy, algorithm wielding, online profiling agency who wants to monetize your every breath

    2. Riley and Jonesey*

      Yep yep yep. I used to work in a maximum security prison in the early 2000s. Some of the staff were located by the inmates and harassed. We had to keep a low profile online. I still hold to keeping a low profile because of the danger from some of these men – even though I work in a completely different field now. I would be incandescent with rage if someone posted my information online without my permission or pushed me to feeling guilty about not sharing with the class.

      #2 – try and think outside your own tiny, immediate world.

    3. SarahKay*

      Our site used to do a weekly newsletter, with strictly site-only distribution of approx 150 people. It’d be a mix of work info / reminders and more ‘social’ items – new starters, long-service awards, people writing about their hobbies or particularly nice holidays or a good recipe, etc.
      I edited it and I was very, very definite that no-one had to have their name and / or picture in it if they didn’t want. No reasons were asked for, and any time I asked people for pictures (e.g. I would usually take the snaps of the long-service people) I made sure that they knew it was a request, not a demand.
      People are entitled to privacy, and they don’t have to say why.
      (As a side note, because I didn’t pressure people they were often willing to compromise – pictures of people holding up their long-service cert in front of their face, so we saw their fingers and the top of their head, a couple of avatars, that sort of thing, all of which went down well with the readers.)

    4. Quiet Liberal*

      But also, many of us just don’t want our companies to use our likeness and personal info/stories on their website for marketing.

    5. Beth (not that Beth, the other Beth)*

      There are also those of us who hate having pictures taken. I always have. I hated Zoom until I got the clear support from this site that I could leave my camera off most of the time. There’s a corporate photo of myself on my firm’s website, and I don’t like that one either. Fortunately, I very rarely have to look at it.

    6. Batgirl*

      The best case scenario, that they simply don’t like being part of a blog event, and the worst case scenario, that’s its dangerous for them to participate both have the same answer: don’t force them to do something so wholly unnecessary! Stop being a busybody and just get on with your own life. This reminds me so much of my partner’s pushy aunt. She invited us to a social event, and I actually wanted to go (my partner didn’t), but we couldn’t make it. So she pouted and pushed and guilt tripped, and also specified that it was probably my bad and unsociable influence on him, because apparently she’s one of those people who responds to the word “no” like a toddler does. The next time we got an intivation from her, genuinely neither one of us wanted to go.

  6. Phil*

    #3 I spent a good few seconds trying to work out what event(s) of 2021 warranted the addition until I realised you were merely datestamping it. ‍♂️

    1. Myrin*

      Ha, I had the same reaction! I read “2021 addition” and thought “Aha! How did COVID change this?”.

      1. Kate*

        I know it’s not what she meant, but the addition did immediately make me think of Allegra Stratton. ‘Did you have a party in Downing Street?’ ‘Er- can I come back to that one?’

      1. TiredEmployee*

        The letter and answer are from 2013, but Alison added an extra comment when posting it today, and labelled that as a “2021 addition”. Phil initially thought that meant she was adding the comment because of something that happened in 2021, but realised that it was actually just to clarify that the extra comment was new, unlike the rest of the answer. Does that help?

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        It just means if you compare this repost to the original, it wasn’t part of her original answer. Kind of like how she puts the disclaimer on all her Inc. articles that the answer may have been revised or expanded since originally published.

      3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        In simple terms, 2021 is when the addition occurs, not why it occurs.

    2. Phil*

      Also, the male symbol at the end is how this site translated the man facepalm emoji, so this whole comment was just a huge fail.

      1. Cheap Ass Warm Gooey Burnt Banana Bread*

        I am laughing so f’ing hard at this, because I just skipped over it with a momentary thought of ‘huh, wonder how they got that symbol to show up here”, hahaha!

  7. MissM*

    LW #2 I really hope you read this five years later and have the cringe moment. There are so many reasons people don’t want to be the “product” versus the actual product your company sells, and I hope you explore why. It may be tokenism, personal privacy concerns, or just no; they’re all valid and no means no in this instance

  8. Rich*

    LW2, Your perception of what’s personally innocuous or valuable for inclusion may not (and in this case almost clearly doesn’t) match your employee’s. Forcing your tastes on them is much more likely to build resentment than team spirit — leaving aside all of the personal safety possibilities mentioned already.

    Don’t shove your good intensions under your employee’s fingernails.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Thank you so very much.

      I had to be photographed and put on a website. I had no choice.
      OP, I am here to tell you first hand, IF the employee’s relationship with the company is poor to begin with, this will ONLY make the relationship WORSE.
      In other words, if your goal is to drive this employee out, then your plan is definitely a positive step toward that goal. Straw/camel’s back and all that.

      If you are insightful enough to see where the real problems are at, then you can do things to address the core issues.
      Think of it this way, if a family member wanted you to have a better relationship with Aunt Julie or Cousin Bob, making you sit for pictures, or broadcasting information about you, with Aunt or Cousin probably will do absolutely nothing to bettering the relationship. Scale this up, putting an employee online is not going to improve the relationship with the company- that is just a huge disconnect in thinking.

  9. someguy*

    We have a company newsletter where in every issue there is a short piece about one of the employees. I know of a couple of people who were asked to participate and they politely declined. That’s what I will do if they ask me. Not because I don’t feel like I’m part of the team or anything like that. I’m just a very private person and I don’t feel comfortable sharing personal stuff. And I know the newsletter people will respect that.

    I have a lot of complaints about my company, but at least they treat people with respect.

    1. Meg*

      I can 100% see someone not wanting to do a profile because of issues with a previous abusive relationship. Like… we’ve heard that SO many times on this blog. Its not worth it to push it. Its a company blog, lol. Not the NYT.

    2. Insert Clever Name Here*

      We have a monthly meeting for a our whole division, about 200 people. Ahead of November’s meeting, we were told that we’d recognize veterans and invited to send in a picture of yourself if you’re a veteran, or of you with a veteran you’re close to. One of my coworkers is a veteran, and the day before the meeting the organizer was walking by his desk and said “oh hey, are you going to send in a picture for the meeting?” He calmly said “no” and while the organizer was visibly a little taken aback, they just said “ok” and that was it. This is exactly how that’s supposed to work!

      1. Gingerbread Gnome*

        Yes, this.
        My father was a gunner during the Korean war. It was not a good experience. He didn’t often talk about his experiences during the war and would quietly leave whenever possible. Just because some folks are very public with their service doesn’t mean everyone wants to relive that time.

  10. Marmot*

    LW 1: Nooooooo

    I used to work in campaign politics. When we’d have an event with candidates or surrogates (folks speaking on behalf of the candidate – family members, other politicians, celebrities, etc), we would rely on volunteers for numerous associated tasks. Some would show up, do very little (or get in the way) and ask to meet the candidate/surrogate. Others would show up, work hard, and not say a thing about being introduced. If I *did* have the opportunity to bring someone back for a quick handshake / photo / introduction… any bets on who I chose?

  11. Mangled metaphor*

    #3 – part of me is thinking that some “tell me about a time when XYZ” questions should be prepared for – they are common enough questions appearing on nearly every answer link on the first page of Google results (I didn’t check the YouTube linked ones), that if you didn’t have an answer for “tell me about a time you handled conflict at work” (or some variation) then I’d almost agree with the interviewer that you were unprepared for that interview.

    But the overall *range* of XYZ is so wide that it’s impossible to just pull an answer for all of them from your hat.
    “Tell me about a time when you weren’t prepared for something.”
    “This question, actually…”

    1. Batgirl*

      You can be prepared for something, but in the moment decide to toss the prepared answer, because you know there’s a better answer to fit the direction of the discussion. For example, lots of times you get the impression while doing your research that a company is all about x, but in the interview they’re more concerned about how the role connects to y. It’s perfectly reasonable to take your time with any answer; it’s not an interrogation! I would rather someone had the confidence to ask, and cared enough to give the most relevant answer. I suppose that’s because I’d rather it be a discussion instead of someone just reeling off a pre prepared list. There are exceptions, I suppose. Like if someone comes across as madly hesitant and they need to be a good public speaker. But I think in most situations an objection to this is almost an old fashioned observance of a top heavy power dynamic. Good interviews are discussions, not a quick fire test round and the interviewee needs to be comfortable too.

    1. UK girl*

      For me, it depends on the circumstances. A planned introduction for the sake of the introduction alone would feel awkward. If there was a reason to deal with them then ok.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I think it depends on the situation – and of course most celebrities are used to being met so tend to be quite good at breaking the ice and not being fazed by people getting tongue-tied when they meet them!

      1. CatBookMom*

        Based on where I live, I’ve tripped over a number of moderately famous celebs, just being around and about. I’m very good on faces, but HORRIBLE about their actual names. SO many good actors, I’ve stumbled across at mall clothing stores, at the iStore, my local tiny-burb library. If I remember their names/roles, I try to say something, a few complimentary words in passing, not to gush. And to say quietly. Mostly, the rule usually is, be QUIET about recognizing them. “Hi, I like your work” is always right, and just enough. If you remember the role, the film, the show, add that. And then STOP.

        1. londonedit*

          Yep, working in central London (in the Before Times, anyway) celeb sightings are a pretty regular occurrence. But you never actually say anything to them, you just go back to the office and say ‘Excellent celeb spot on Oxford Street just now! Stephen Fry!!’

          1. UKDancer*

            I am hopeless at recognising people out of context so tend not to notice famous people in London. This is why I’d be hopeless. As a student I managed to serve several members of the cast of Emmerdale (northern soap opera) without recognising any of them as I don’t watch it. Much to the amusement of everyone else working there.

        2. Lore*

          My classic NYC experience is seeing someone famous and reaching “That’s a familiar person” two beats before “that person is familiar because they’re famous” and in those two beats I’ve usually smiled and said “hi” and then the lightbulb goes on and I feel ridiculous. There was one particular actor who must have lived right near my office because I saw her a lot with a baby carriage and she probably thought we knew each other after a certain point because I must have done the nod and “hi” thing almost weekly.

        3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          The one time this happened to me I was this guy in a bar and was racking my brain where I had seen him before. Finally I walked up and asked, “Hi, I am sorry to bother you do you go to $GradSchool or work at $GradInternshipPlace, because I swear I have seen you before.” He laughed and said, “No, but I am on $VeryPopularSeriesFromEarly2000s.” Once I realized I didn’t actually, factually know him I got embarrassed, told him that must be it, and rushed back to my seat feeling bad for bothering the guy. This is part of why I would hate being a celebrity. You can’t reliably go out anywhere without people recognizing you.

          1. Cheap Ass Warm Gooey Burnt Banana Bread*

            ~20 years ago, a friend of my friend X admitted that she’d been shopping at some hip fashion store in Hollywood, saw X, and started talking to him. But after 5 minutes she realized it wasn’t X, it was Jared Leto. LOL!

          2. Eh*

            I did this to someone on a popular teen show when we were part of the same university club. I watched the show on and off, enough that she was in my memories but not enough to make the connection, apparently. I was convinced we were in the same classes/degree because that’s the only way someone would be this familiar without me knowing why. She kindly said no, she wasn’t in that class, and I shrugged and moved on. I saw the show a while later and it registered. Was a bit embarrassed.

          3. Eh*

            I was actually a bit disappointed because I’d approached her out of excitement that someone else was both in my small degree and enjoyed the same club I did.

      2. i'm all i wanna be*

        Agreed, I think anyone in a public role has probably seen worse than whatever awkwardness I can bring!

        I have dealt with some (minor) celebrities in work and volunteering contexts and while I’ve never ended up making lifelong friends with them, I have taken the opportunity to calmly tell them I’m a fan of their work if I can and I am glad I did, even if sometimes I was terrified at the time of looking like an idiot.

        It gets easier turning off the starstruck after you’ve done it a few times.

    3. SarahKay*

      Nope, I’m right there with you. I could do it okay if it had some other context – I’ve served David Dimbleby in a restaurant with no embarrassment – but not just as a fan meeting.

      1. allathian*

        Yup. Even celebrities buy books, and some of them eat fast food. I ran across a number of mainly minor but some quite locally famous celebrities when I was working in a bookstore and a fast food stand when I was a student. I met them in my professional role, so it was easy to treat them like any other customer, whereas I would probably have been completely tongue-tied if I’d run into them outside of work.

        A celebrity appearance when they’re being paid to appear is also very different from simply seeing someone out in public. When I worked at a big downtown bookstore, we sometimes hosted author appearances. Every author I met in that capacity was very professional.

        1. londonedit*

          We tease my brother-in-law because he seems to know half the parliament and, like, someone who does the weather on Yle. He’s always piping up with ‘Oh yeah, I was in the military with him’ or ‘She was in my sister’s class at school’.

        2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          My friend used to sell Maya Angelou shoes for years. I’m not often jealous of meeting famous folks, but I was a bit in this case.

    4. Dr. Rebecca*

      I’ve got like a 50/50 split on success talking to celebs. Sometimes I’m smooth and collected and everything comes out of my mouth fine. The rest of the time I just sort of wibble vaguely in their direction, and then do something mega embarrassing like fumbling/awkward hug (they offered) or trying to take our selfie with my short arms instead of asking them to do it with their long ones.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      I would die.

      I have talked to people who were “famous” within certain hobbies or subcultures, but they weren’t wider-world famous and we had that hobby or subculture in common (so basically to cover for my lack of anything else to offer them. Not grubbing for pity here–I’m just contentedly mediocre at a lot of things). I admin a FB group for a specific not-very-popular music genre and have accepted a lot of membership requests from people who are Very Big Names in that genre, but it’s a small genre so they’re not FAMOUS famous and, frankly, in such a small community you will inevitably cross paths with “celebrities”.

      Jason Isbell [tweeted?] recently:

      “I just rode an elevator with a guy in a Jason Isbell t-shirt and I said nice shirt and he just said thank you. So either I’m looking not so good today or that’s one cool ass dude. Or maybe the shirt was a gift and it’s laundry day and he’s not a fan at all

      — Jason IsBOO (@JasonIsbell) October 27, 2021

      and I am totally someone who would get into an elevator with Jason Isbell and pretend I didn’t recognize him, or convince myself that it was a guy who happened to look like Jason Isbell but surely there was no way it was actually Jason Isbell, because otherwise my face would turn beet red and I’d say something that didn’t make sense. I am not chill.

      Serving them at a restaurant or whatever would be much easier because I’d have the job as a distraction.

      1. lost academic*

        Road an elevator with Cary Elwes once and was just stressing about getting food back to my husband and baby in our hotel so I just distractedly nodded at him and his handler when we all got on like you do for anyone in an elevator but also glad I didn’t make the connection for another 60 seconds or so because I would feel terrible about potentially trapping him with a fan in the elevator. (We were staying at that hotel for a large convention because it was much nicer at the same price/location than the typical “con hotels” and a lot quieter – one of the reasons a lot of the bigger guests were also there.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Celebrities get starstruck too. I remember a story Patrick Stewart told about the time he met Nelson Mandela in an elevator; he said he was like, “Bluuuuuuuh!”

          So far the most well-known person I’ve met is Ernie Hudson. He’s very nice. I can talk to almost anyone, but there are folks who would absolutely wipe my brain if I met them in person. Robert Downey Jr. is one. Or Sam Neill, on whom I’ve had a crush for the last 40 years.

    6. anonymous73*

      I’ve only ever come into contact with home team professional sports figures in person before, and I never know what to say. I’m shy with strangers in real life, so the added celebrity aspect makes me extra nervous.

    7. Delta Delta*

      I can be sort of dense sometimes. More than once I’ve been at something and had conversations with with a famous person (celebrity? not sure, but I’ll just say famous people), and it wasn’t until much later that someone said, “hey, that’s so and so, I’d have been so nervous!” Meanwhile I just talked to them about the event or the weather or thermostats (that was a fun chat I had with a professional hockey coach) because we were just being normal people talking about normal stuff.

    8. Robin Ellacott*

      I think I’d just feel a bit gauche. I know it’s an expected part of being famous and that’s a me thing, but I just squirm at the idea of having to be “on” all the time and feeling like someone might expect my attention. Hopefully they don’t, but I would project that on them.

      There are a lot of movies filmed in my city and when I’ve seen famous people I just smile at them. One time I mimed zipping my lips shut in an elevator containing me, them, and a bunch of drunk people – they audibly snorted trying not to laugh, which was delightful.

  12. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP2 – people feel part of a team when they feel valued and appreciated.

    You aren’t trying to make tbem feel part of a team. You are trying to force them to play the part of a happy teamster because of YOUR needs, and because they are not “enough” by themselves.

    That is actively acting sabotaging a cohesive team.

    (And a shitty thing to do.)

  13. LifeBeforeCorona*

    It’s more than entirely possible. I had a stalker years ago and as a result, I decline to have my picture and name on any company website. I hated wearing work name tags and often “forgot” to wear mine. Don’t keep insisting on their participation or you could hear a horrific story about why they are guarding their privacy so zealously.

  14. a sound engineer*

    #1 – Establishing yourself as someone who is a user and just in it to be around celebrities and famous people is a really good way to get yourself shut out of the entertainment industry before your career even starts.

    1. Bee*


      I’m so curious a0bout what kind of course this was. The line about sending a copy of the letter to their doctor and the wording of “patient” makes me wonder if this is some kind of church based counselling or therapy session.

      If so, it’s even more likely there will be no-shows if you are dealing with students with mental health issues. I had debilitating depressive episodes throughout my time at university that culminated in my final year in not being able to get out of bed for my classes. A free church event would have been the least of my concerns.

      I also wonder (and apologies because I know this is getting to the point of mad spitballing ) if students are being directed to this course to take some pressure off their university mental health services and/or are being told it’s a prerequisite for accessing further care.

      1. Bee*

        Aaaaaand I have no idea how this comment ended up as a reply to this thread instead of it’s own thread. I begin to suspect black magic employee has cast a curse on the comments section of AAM to misdirect comments.

      2. Chicanery*

        I *think* the OP’s day job is something healthcare related, and the church course is a separate side gig/volunteer position. So the example with the doctor’s letter was about how OP sees attrition handled in a different context, but doctor’s notes aren’t actually relevant to the church course.

      3. Jaybee*

        The letter you are referring to is what LW sends out as part of their day job (I’d assume as an admin for some kind of health care facility), not what they are proposing to send out for the church.

    2. Batgirl*

      Yeah, it’s not at all clear how on earth it could help the OPs actual career as someone who’s seen as a go to in her own right. I mean she would “love to” work with them, but I would “love to” work with kittens on my lap. It doesn’t mean it’s going to make me look capable and gain me professional respect.

  15. The Prettiest Curse*

    #4 – Alison is right re: the attendance rate for free events. 50% no-show is about the standard rate for both webinars and in-person events. Though since we often post video of our webinars, some of those no-shows probably just want to be sent the link to the recording after the event.

    If it’s a free event, nothing you can do to enforce attendance, unless it’s some kind of certification/training where you have to attend a minimum number of sessions. And you can also get no-shows for paid events. I ran registration for a conference where registration cost around $300 and if you didn’t cancel by the deadline, you didn’t get a refund. We still got a small number of no-shows each year.

    1. londonedit*

      I’ve been involved with organising a few races – 10k, half-marathon, that sort of thing – that are open to the public (i.e. not just to a running club) and the standard no-show rate for any race is about 25-30%. For anything from a local organised 5k to the London Marathon. People can spend a lot of money on these races, but a good quarter of them won’t end up taking part – of course some of that is down to injury, but a lot of it is just ah, never mind, going to be on holiday that day, or they haven’t done the training, or they signed up because one of their mates was doing it but now they’ve decided they don’t fancy it.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Yes, I suspect that the way forward is to monitor the normal levels of no-shows and plan around that – if you typically get 25% no showing then plan on that basis.
      I think it is reasonable to include details when people sign up, asking them to let you know if they are unable to attend, but a lot of people wont do that – not least that if they are generally disorganised, or had an emergency, or forgot, they’ll probably forget to cancel, too.
      if the courses are typically over-subscribed and you have to turn people away, then it would be reasonable to consider a returnable deposit, or asking for email or phone details to send a reminder the day before or morning of, which would probably reduce the number of no-shows, (especially if you say ‘please let us know if you can no longer attend as we have a waiting list and use the spot for someone else’) but if you aren’t over subscribed then I’d just accept that this is how it is.

      1. lcsa99*

        Yeah this is probably the best. My husband works in a library and we’ve figured that the attendance for his programs is about 50% of the people who signed up, plus about 25% will just show up – so he counts on 75% and that ends up being fairly accurate.

        Instead of letting it bother you just adjust the mental math for what you typically see.

    3. Coenobita*

      Yeah, I’m very guilty of this – especially registering for webinars just to get the recording (which I do watch!). If it’s a smallish event or one that is more discussion-based rather than just a presentation, I’ll certainly try to email in advance if I know I can’t come. But otherwise I assume it will be fine. My field has a LOT of online seminars, continuing education sessions, etc. and this is really, really normal.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Yeah, I have two industry webinar things in the next two days that I signed up for knowing I had a conflict and wouldn’t attend, but I want to get a link to the recording emailed to me.

        I assume webinar organizers know people do this and are basically fine with it. If they cared, they could probably find a way to offer a “I can’t come, but send me the recording after” signup separate from the event registration itself.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          We don’t split out our webinar registrations that way because there are some folks who want to attend live and watch the recording afterwards. But I think this would work well for anyone who had webinar capacity restrictions or needed a definite number of confirmed attendees in advance.

          Personally, I don’t mind if some people only register to get the recording link and mentally figure that into my calculations of potential attendee numbers.

          1. Candi*

            With a webinar you have to know how much carrying capacity will be needed to avoid lagging on the network and the like, but I’ve noticed that tends to be a lot more flexible than X number of seats must be filled in a lecture hall, no if, ands, or buts, to justify even having the presentation.

            (With caveats about how there has to be a certain amount of interest in the webinar to even have it.)

    4. The OTHER other*

      LW #4 is making a false equivalence between someone not showing up for a free course and no-showing for some kind of medical appointment. For the latter, a professional’s time is wasted and someone who needed to see the doctor (or whatever) may not have been able to get an appointment. For the former, unless attendance was strictly limited and people were turned away, not showing with no explanation is rude, but no harm was done.

      Even in the case of no-shows for doctor appointments, a letter such as #4 talks about seems unnecessarily punitive. I’d suggest LW a try to let this go and not take these things so personally, they seem oddly worked up about it.

      1. A*

        Ya, I was really confused by the medical tie in. Completely different ballgames! Agreed that the wording of the letter sounds punitive and overly formal, and I’m also unclear on why it would say ‘discharged to their care’…. were they removed from their medical team’s care in order to participate? I have so many questions!

        1. A nice fish*

          Possibly the LW works for a specialist and they’re discharging no-shows back to the GP who referred them?

        2. Debbie*

          Not the OP. I am a nurse. Prior to Covid, I arranged for someone to come in and teach CPR every other year. Seats cost $50 each. I covered the cost as a gift to the church. The more people who know CPR, the better. A woman signed herself , her husband and their adult daughter up. They no showed. $150 wasted. They were not the only no-shows but they are the reason I’m not resuming the classes.

  16. Bee*


    I’m so curious a0bout what kind of course this was. The line about sending a copy of the letter to their doctor and the wording of “patient” makes me wonder if this is some kind of church based counselling or therapy session.

    If so, it’s even more likely there will be no-shows if you are dealing with students with mental health issues. I had debilitating depressive episodes throughout my time at university that culminated in my final year in not being able to get out of bed for my classes. A free church event would have been the least of my concerns.

    I also wonder (and apologies because I know this is getting to the point of mad spitballing ) if students are being directed to this course to take some pressure off their university mental health services and/or are being told it’s a prerequisite for accessing further care.

    1. londonedit*

      I think the two things are separate – in their ‘day job’ the OP works in a setting where if someone doesn’t turn up to an appointment, they have the authority to send them a letter and/or strike them off the register, and they’re wondering whether they can parlay that into doing something similar in their ‘church job’ for these students who aren’t showing up to the course.

      Firstly I wonder who they’re inviting – if I got an invitation from a church to do a course, I 100% would not be attending or responding. Secondly, yes it’s annoying when people respond and then don’t turn up. But it’s a free course. People have no investment in it – they’re probably signing up thinking oh yeah, might go along to that, but it’s not important enough to them to actually invest time and effort in it. So they forget about it, or they think oh, I can’t go to that after all, but it doesn’t seem formal enough for them to actually think about getting in touch and cancelling. It might actually help if you instigated some sort of nominal charge when people sign up – firstly it’d help cover costs, and secondly people might be more inclined to either turn up or send their apologies if they’ve actually ‘bought a ticket’ for the event. And I also think some sort of messaging around ‘if you have already signed up and can no longer attend, please let us know so that we can offer your place to someone else’ might help. I recently joined a new gym and signed up for a free personal training session, and they sent me reminders with a line saying something similar. I definitely would have made the effort to get in touch if it had turned out I couldn’t go, because I knew that places were limited.

      1. doreen*

        I remember some store ( Ikea ,maybe) that had a problem with people signing up for free events and not showing up. It was a problem because capacity was limited and they had to turn people away. Once they started charging a nominal fee ($5 or so) , the no-show rate dropped drastically.

        1. londonedit*

          About six million years ago a friend and I used to run a club night, and the advice was to charge £2 on the door. Because if you were charging *something*, even a tiny amount, people were more likely to think it was worth coming along to than if it was free.

        2. Drago Cucina*

          The public library I worked at had this problem for the summer craft day. People would sign-up but not show-up. Materials were purchased on a very slim budget and staff time spent preparing materials. The no-show rate was about 75%.

          When I took over children’s services I solved the problem by having a $2, refundable, registration. There were only 2 no-shows. The only extra work was making sure we had lots of $1s. Because we weren’t wasting money we were able to improve the crafts next year and most people didn’t even ask for a refund.

          We did something similar for a church event. It was an outing where we rented a bus. Tickets were $5. Again, everyone showed. It’s amazing the difference a few dollars makes.

    2. After 33 years ...*

      Bee: I feel for you, and hope you’re in a better space now. Having suffered depression myself, I know the challenges it poses.
      Low attendance in university-credit courses (including participation in virtual remote classes) is increasingly common at our place. I have delivered several in-person classes this semester to audiences of zero (sessions are recorded for subsequent viewing). Student mental health, always a concern, has become the dominant issue during COVID. As undergraduate advisor for our department, my estimate is that at least 10% our students are suffering significant mental health challenges that are adversely impacting them academically – as well as throughout all aspects of their lives.
      Our Student Wellness people, stressed and overworked as they are, wouldn’t divert students to outside group meetings. However, they would encourage students to avail of all opportunities, including church events, given the need.
      Students who are required to withdraw for either mental or physical health issues are asked to produce a “fitness to resume study” letter from a professional if they apply to be re-admitted. IMO, this is primarily to ensure that the university does not take tuition money from a student who isn’t able to complete courses for any health reason.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This is the “2021” addition I would make: If a faith-based counseling course is mandated by a judge, or prescribed by a doctor, the course’s administrator should ask the court/medical prescriber *in advance* what they *need* reported in case of occasional or habitual no shows. And procedures, and who is going to make it clear to the participant that attendance is mandatory, and what consequences are for not attending.

      1. Ariaflame*

        I find the idea of mandating faith-based counselling extremely icky. Especially by an authority figure meant to be secular.

        1. Sporty Yoda*

          I think it’s less “judge mandated faith based counseling” and more “judge mandated counseling that the defendant (less than 100 on my legal terms; sorry!) chose to be faith based.” So they would have to provide evidence of court-mandated counseling, it would just happen to be led by a faith-based institution.
          Just how I interpreted the comment.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t think OP meant to blend the two stories together.

      I think OP was just trying to say that at work, she had some recourse/action she could take when people did not do something they needed to do.

      I know that churches do have stuff that people have to take if they are working with kids. If you don’t take the course, then you cannot work with kids, period.

      We see it again in work places if a person does not go through a harassment prevention training, that is a problem that can have repercussions.

      At my own work, I see where I can schedule x number of people and with great reliability only half show up.
      One day I scheduled 60 people, I told my boss only half will show. When 25 showed she teased me, “you told me half would show”. I asked her if she wanted her money back…. ;)

      My way of handling this is to 1) understand that this is normal and 2) line up attendance accordingly. Yep, overbook. OP, you can overbook OR you can say there are limited slots and please be sure you will be in attendance as it’s not fair to the people on the waiting list. The waiting list can be real or imagined, but maybe that would motivate some to do better.

      1. EPLawyer*

        OP was trying to do in her volunteer job what she does in her day job. But they are really two different situations and what works in one will not work in the other.

        These are teenagers. Unless the course is required for something, like confirmation let it go. Sending a letter will just get fewer participants next time. No one wants to deal with someone who gets cranky over no shows for something that is not required. It will leave a bad impression that WILL get around and might even affect overall church attendance. Who wants to attend a church that treats people like that?

        They are teenagers. They might not know they need to cancel, or let someone know they aren’t showing up. You can put that in the next invitation. But be prepared to STILL not get notification they aren’t coming. It’s just the expectation when doing these things.

        About all you can do is keep track of people who habitually no show and stop sending them invitations.

        1. Colette*

          Agreed. The best way to get people to show up is to charge a registration fee; otherwise, you will get no-shows. And teenagers are often not in charge of their own schedule – they might think “sure, I’m free on Tuesdays” but if their parent decides they’re going to visit Grandma/need to study/have to babysit their younger siblings, they’re not going to show up.

        2. Malarkey01*

          I work with a volunteer organization that sends a reminder email about volunteer shifts 2 days early AND has a line that if you can no longer attend, no problem, please just let us know and here’s the handy link that you click to Cancel with two clicks (cancel and then confirm). While we would very much prefer everyone show, having a relaxed attitude about it and an immediate and easy way to notify us means that we went from 30% no shows to 5% AND people continue to volunteer in the future (a lot of people sign up with the best of intentions and when life “happens” feel guilty about canceling. Increasing that guilt makes them leery of volunteering again, making it easier and more relaxed leads to more sticking with it- I’ve experienced that personally too).

        3. The OTHER other*

          I think the letter they talk about sending to no-shows in their day job seems pretty snippy, but it’s odd that they want to treat this course attendance the same way.

    5. Dwight Schrute*

      I had the same thought and didn’t realize they were separate until seeing people reply to your comment. I was flabbergasted as to why they would be sending notes to someone’s doctor

      1. Koala dreams*

        Me tool, it’s super confusing. I’m glad Bee asked so we all could get an explanation.

        I think the best way with a free course would be to send a reminder email with a link to cancel for those who can’t come. Some places I know do that. It still isn’t perfect, some people won’t see the email before it’s too late, some will show up even though they cancelled, but at least you’ve made it easy for people to do the right thing.

    6. English Teacher*

      Even knowing that the church and medical positions are separate, it’s a little puzzling why they choose to include that information about the latter, especially when they’re not going to explain what their medical related job actually IS. How are they expecting to overlap these two strategies? Who were they planning to CC about a teenager’s failure to show up for a church meeting? Jesus?

      1. Debbie*

        I work in a specialty clinic. If you no show three times in a year, we won’t reschedule you. We will refer you back to your family doctor. Some of the doctors in the practice will overlook the three no shows, but most won’t. . . .They are expected to bring in $X a year and no shows affect their numbers in a bad way.

  17. FloralWraith*

    Re: #2, the old director of our faculty used to insist that everyone had to have a profile photo. As the web coordinator and very, very aware of GDPR regulations, I used to agree politely and then ignore it. When I ask new academics and new administrative staff to fill in their form, I ask whether a) they want a photo on the website and b) if so, do they want to join the waitlist for a professional photoshoot.

    This gives people the option of being “faceless” on our website with limited identifying details; everyone has a basic profile, even if it’s just name, work email (which is easy to guess because everyone has the same format) and a description of “X is Y position at Z university.” We just slap our social media logo for the photo for anyone who doesn’t want it. Also knowing means I don’t relentlessly hound people when we do photo scheduling.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Yes, we have a silhouette which we use as a placeholder until we have a photo, and have used long term for a couple of people who prefer not to have their photos on the website.
      We haven’t yet had anyone who didn’t want their name on the site at all – if we did then we’d need to have a conversation with them to work out how to deal with it, to meet our regulatory requirements and to ensure that they were not put at risk

  18. Richard Hershberger*

    LW1: It took me a while to put my finger on what, beyond the obvious, is wrong with this, but I think I have got it. The LW wants to meet these celebrities to become a “member of their writing staff.” This letter is, at its heart, about how to break in, asking if the LW can use Tess as a connection. The answer likely is yes. Who you know matters. The critiques, both Alison’s and in the comments, is that the LW is proposing a ham-fisted and likely counterproductive approach to this. But move back a step, beyond the Tess issue. This is asking how to break into the business as a writer. What strikes me is that the LW says nothing about writing. They never even explicitly say they want to be a “writer.” They want to be a “member” of a “writing staff.”

    I don’t know how you break into the entertainment industry as a writer. The LW, however, is in a good position to research this, using Tess as a resource. One thing I am sure is true, however, is that an integral part of breaking in as a writer is to write. This is the part that is notably absent in this question. If the LW were writing, and if the writing were good, then Tess would a great connection, since an introduction would reflect well on her. But everything about the letter looks like asking about using a connection to short circuit the dreary necessity of actually writing.

    1. anonymous73*

      I had similar thoughts. Jobs are generally easier to obtain based on who you know, not just what you know. So I can see the OP wanting to try and use Tess as that connection….once she’s established a relationship with her. The problem here is that she’s brand new to the job, and her letter reeks of a “using someone to meet famous people” vibe, with a small side of “wanting to become a writer”.

    2. ThisIsNotADuplicateComment*

      The problem is right before that the letter writer says “I am very envious of her famous friends and for a couple specific people she hangs out with, I really believe I have a lot in common with these people”. That doesn’t sound anything like someone trying to get a job through their network, it sounds like someone who wants to meet famous people because they’re famous. And the letter writer put this desire before the part about wanting to be on the celebrity’s writing staff. To me, that reads like the writing part is an afterthought to the ‘meet cool famous people and have them see I am cool (and should be famous?)’ part.

      1. Batgirl*

        I blame numerous television shows for giving the impression that your work folks and your social gang are one and the same. It’s very unclear in the letter if the OP wants a cool hang out group, or simply some work connections.

      2. Liz T*

        Yeah it sounds like she wants to be friends with them more than actually write for them. (Do we think these are all late night TV hosts? Hyphenate showrunner-stars like Issa Rae and Donald Glover? What other individuals have writing staffs?)

  19. Rebecca*

    LW 2, a lot of people have mentioned stalking and safety, and that’s a valid concern, but even when the stakes aren’t that high you don’t get to use people’s faces and personalities on the internet for your free marketing.

    I work at international schools and the turnover is really high as people do 2 or 3 year stints and travel – and I don’t know how many times the marketing department has sent someone into my classroom to take photos of me doing my job for their websites, brochures, and calendars. I have always declined and they always think I’m being unhelpful, overreacting, being too uptight, etc. But it is not my job to market your school, I’m not getting paid NEARLY what the marketing guys are getting paid (there are always only two rungs below teachers on the ladder: assistants and janitors), and you’re definitely not paying for my face. If I had agreed, my face would be plastered all over the websites of more than half a dozen schools right now, sometimes with my name.

    Principle aside (though that’s enough to be honest), I DO actually have a social media presence and I keep a tight reign on it. I want to control the message and what’s attached to my name. Now I’ve started my own business/online school and I am marketing that, using my face and personality, and when people google me or see my face, I want them to find ME, not somebody else’s school.

    I’ll say it again: paying for someone to do a job does not mean that you get to use them for free marketing. It’s really egregious here, because you’re also pulling that ‘not on the team’ crap – but who’s on HER team? When people did that to me, I definitely didn’t feel that they had my back or that I was part of a team – just that I was being used for fodder because they didn’t want to pay for something that costs money.

    1. After 33 years ...*

      Agree, except for “there are always only two rungs below teachers on the ladder: assistants and janitors”. At my university, custodians are paid substantially more per working hour than are per-course instructors or teaching assistants. Our custodians have to cope with us faculty members…

    2. Bilbo Buggins*

      In defense of marketers, speaking as someone who’s done marketing for schools …

      1. We’re not always super highly-paid people.

      2. The best way to tell a story is by showing real people in a real environment. Stock art these days is almost universally recognizable as fake and staged.

      3. Staff photos and information on the website, in newsletters, brochures, and on social are a *fantastic* way to showcase your team and help parents feel like they know who their kids’ teachers and counselors are.

      4. If people don’t want to participate, I never pushed them. There are a lot of good reasons, many articulated in this thread, why someone wouldn’t want to be included.

      5. … but keep in mind that if you want some publicity for your work, accomplishments, project, or cause, you need to cooperate – and a photo or video helps tremendously with getting an editor’s attention. I was always frustrated by the number of teachers who wanted a press release to go out about their [insert topic here] and then didn’t cooperate with photos or basic information.

      6. Please don’t get upset at us marketers for doing our jobs. We didn’t set the salaries and we don’t control the reasons for turnover.

      1. La Triviata*

        Many years ago, I worked for a marketing/PR firm. We were doing the annual report for a client and one of their properties was a high-end spa. My boss got very frustrated because all the photos were of the facility, but there were no people (assumingly, they didn’t want their clients’ photos used, since they tended to be rich or prominent or some such). We did get the report done, it won an award, but there were no people in the spa’s section.

        1. Candi*

          Well, if the client doesn’t want to pay for actors/models, and the boss doesn’t want to pay, what’s to be done?

          If it helps, I dislike seeing people in such pictures. It breaks my immersion of thinking of myself there. It’s a little thing, and I don’t know why I react that way to a spa and not, say, a clothing store or hotel lobby, but there you have it. And one thing I’ve learned is you’re rarely alone in a specific opinion or feeling.

          1. Rebecca*

            Candi: I mean, if the client doesn’t want to pay for models and the boss doesn’t want to pay for models, then….they get no models. You get what you pay for, and why should it be my job to step up and do it for free to rescue them from that?

            I can think of pretty large number of things I want but that I don’t want to pay for – whose job is it to give me those things for free? Marketing costs money.

      2. Rebecca*

        Bilbo: I was never upset at the marketing department. I was upset at my boss, who told the marketing department what to do, paid me 20K a year, and bought a vacation home with the profits.

      3. Rebecca*

        I clicked enter too fast. Also, the best way for parents to know who their teachers are is for me to do the job I’m actually paid for, which is to build relationships with parents. In fact, my doing my job did get more families in, I had a significant number of families who stayed at a school because of my teaching or came because their friend’s kid was in my class.

        All of the things you mentioned are true, but they are not my job. If they became my job, and I was paid for it, that would be fine, but it didn’t and I wasn’t. These weren’t my projects or my accomplishments that I needed to promote, this was the school owner boosting his profits by not having to take too much of a marketing budget out of them.

    3. EPLawyer*

      ” because you’re also pulling that ‘not on the team’ crap – but who’s on HER team? ”

      WOW. That sums it up perfectly.

  20. Richard Hershberger*

    LW2: I am exhausted just reading this letter. Other comments have pointed out the reasons why this person may not want to be included, and that there really doesn’t need to be a reason. All true. What gets me about the letter is the cheerleader’s article of faith that their idea of fun really is everyone’s idea of fun, and if someone is hanging back they just need to be wheedled into joining, at which point everyone will be having fun! No, the problem is that that this employee doesn’t think they are part of the team. This employee thinks the point of the team is to get the actual work done.

    1. anonymous73*

      This 100%. It’s your job. Hopefully you enjoy it (or at least don’t despise it) and you get along with your teammates. You may even develop friendships with some people. But not everyone wants to hang out or be a part of something outside of the duties of their job. “I don’t want to” is a perfectly acceptable reason to not participate in company things (this includes marketing campaigns, potlucks, happy hours, team building events, mental health exercises, physical health exercises, contests, etc.) It doesn’t mean you’re not a team player or that you don’t like to have fun. Not everyone shares the same idea of what constitutes fun.

    2. Batgirl*

      I get exhausted with enforced fun types too. Why does it matter so much to them? Are they offended? Don’t they have their own stuff to do?

    3. The OTHER other*

      The letter brings to mind the cliche about how the beatings will continue until morale improves.

  21. agnes*

    LW #1 what you want is some guidance on how to get a writing job in the entertainment industry. You don’t have to “hang out” with Tess or get introduced to her celebrity friends to do that. Focus on the career part, not the hanging around famous people part, and do what professional people everywhere do–talk to people who are doing the work you’d like to do and get some advice.

  22. Roscoe*

    #1 As Alison said, the problem is you seem to ONLY want to hang out socially to gain access, not really to just hang out with her socially. So, no, you shouldn’t ask that. You would just come off as a user. And your ” I really believe I have a lot in common with these people and could be a valued member of their writing staff” is super hollow as well. Its not your call to make whether you’d be valued. Stop trying to be a user. This isn’t like networking, its far more dirty.

    #4 This is par for the course for free things. I often do professional development for my job. Sometimes we have free open sessions. We can count on usually 30-40% of people who sign up actually attending. If we get 40, that is good. So no, you can’t chastise them about it later. That said, you can always take a deposit of some sort if getting an accurate count is important. Nothing big. Maybe 5-$10, to hold their spot, which you return to them at the end of the session. That wouldn’t stop everyone from no showing. But it would probably cut down the number. Or you could call it something like a “materials fee”. But doing that will also limit the amount of people signing up. You need to decide if you’d rather have more sign ups with more no shows, or fewer sign ups with a smaller chance of no shows.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Yes. The LW doesn’t even seem to particularly want to friends with Tess or hang out with Tess outside of work. It seems LW has stalked Tess on her socials, not even talked to Tess about her celebrity friends. The question is all about how Tess can introduce her to celebrities. 100% how can I use a work relationship to meet famous people to further my career. There’s a reason using people has a negative connotation.

      1. londonedit*

        Absolutely, if it was ‘I’m great friends with my co-worker, and I recently discovered that she knows a few famous writers. I’d love to get into writing one day, but I don’t want to ruin our friendship or make her think I only like her for her connections. Would it be really awful to ask if she might be able to set up an informational interview for me with one of the writers she knows?’ it would be a completely different question. But you’re right, the whole tone is ‘How can I use the fact that I know Tess to meet some famous people who I just know I’m going to have an amazing connection with and who I just know I could convince to hire me as a writer?’ And in that case, no.

  23. NewYork*

    LW2. Agree with everyone to not being so pushy. I think office manager also needs a better understanding of her job. Every place I have ever worked, being office manager does NOT give you the right to order people around (other than maybe receptionists). It is a support job. Yes, you can tell people do not take more than one snack, etc., but that is about allocation of resources. Somehow I think LW2 thinks she is the manager of the office staff, not the manager of the actual office

    1. Threeve*

      It varies–I worked somewhere pretty much everyone answered to the office manager in one way or another when it came to office policies and activities. (Which was good, because she was basically the only sane person in our leadership). C-suite might grumble about losing their space heaters or giving new employees a full week for orientation, but they didn’t challenge her.

      1. NewYork*

        LW2 says she is new. Granted, limiting office space heaters is likely a safety issue, and yes, I would expect an office manager to deal with that. But I really think in most offices, a new office manager would NOT be deciding most orientation issues, and certainly not if a Csuite person disagreed.

        1. Anon for Mental Toughness*

          I was wondering if anyone else had that same thought… that the office manager was wildly out of bounds here. Yes, I have seen office managers try to do this occasionally, and it can be a brutal reminder that the office manager’s job is to manage the space and resources of the office, not the people in it, unless they have admin staff reporting to them. I have no idea what kind of work they do in this office, but if she continues to push, she may also find herself reminded (as I have also seen happen) that office managers are a dime a dozen, while this employee may have a much harder to find skill-set, and in any perceived conflict between the two of them, the OM will lose and might even find herself out of a job.

  24. I should really pick a name*

    How would adding her to the blog against her wishes make her feel like a valued member of the team?

    I can’t help noticing that you characterize it as a “fun” questionnaire. You might find it fun, but some other people may not.

  25. AthenaC*

    #3 – I interview new hires and I ALWAYS tell them to feel free to skip a question and come back to it. And even if they didn’t skip it, they are still free to come back if they think of a better answer. Not many of them take me up on it (some do!) but it does seem to make all of them feel a bit more relaxed.

  26. Annoying Jedi Intern*

    #4: If this course doesn’t provide “certificates of completion” or something similar, consider providing them. Even a “meaningless piece of paper” can provide incentive to attend.

  27. Percysowner*

    LW#4 You are going to contact her DOCTOR because they missed a free meeting with you? What are you going to say “This person has been rude 3 times. Fix this”? If their doctor doesn’t blow off the entire contact, there is a fair chance that they would think “Person has always been under my care. What the heck?”. Doctors have scheduled appointments and often charge a fee if someone doesn’t make the appointment without notice. Your letter to the doctor is odd, to say the least.

    Some people have wondered if this is a mandated thing, but other than addiction groups, I can’t think of a meeting that requires group attendance with people you may or may not have met before. This is just weird to me.

    1. londonedit*

      No, it’s confusing but they’re two separate things. In their day job the OP works in a setting where if a patient/individual misses an appointment, they have the authority to contact them by letter and/or send them back to their doctor. OP is asking whether they have any scope to implement a similar system in their church job, because they’re having trouble with people not turning up to courses they’ve signed up for.

    2. Cat Tree*

      I think the doctor note is an extremely passive aggressive way of implying that if they missed the course it should only have been due to a medical emergency, which the doctor would then confirm.

      1. londonedit*

        I think what they’re trying to say is ‘If you miss an appointment with your doctor, they’ll send you a letter and might even refuse to treat you. Can’t I do the same with people who don’t show up for our church courses?’

      2. anonymous73*

        OP isn’t saying she wants to require a doctor’s note to get out of a free meeting at church. She’s making a comparison because at her day job she will send letters to someone’s doctor letting them know they are dropping them as a patient/client (I’m not entirely sure what type of business the OP works in because it’s vague) if they are a repeat offender of not showing up when making an appointment.

  28. Darsynia*

    I am so extremely put off by an organization that sends out invitations unsolicited and then presumes to be ‘releasing’ chronic non-attendees ‘back into the doctor’s care?!’ Yes, they should have warned you but what in the hecking heck? I think it’s extremely telling that the ‘course’ being spoken about hasn’t been described but I suspect it must be health related. I’m honestly picturing them sending out unsolicited ‘attend our diet course!!’ to some, maybe not even all (maybe just the churchgoers they think ‘need’ the course) of their church members, and some of these people are RSVPing intending not to go as a bit of getting their own back.

    Sure, it’s rude, but so is unsolicited invitations to something you’ll try to contact someone’s doctor over to tattle on their non-attendance, IMO. Everything about this letter had me repeating ‘yikes’ under my breath.

    1. londonedit*

      No, it’s confusing but they’re two separate things. In their day job the OP works in a setting where if a patient/individual misses an appointment, they have the authority to contact them by letter and/or send them back to their doctor. OP is asking whether they have any scope to implement a similar system in their church job, because they’re having trouble with people not turning up to courses they’ve signed up for.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        I think that the OP should consider the differences between their day job and their church (probably) volunteer position.

        Even though I am active at my church, I would be turned off by the enforcement behavior at church. Guessing that the course is in the evening, things can come up etc.

        I can see having a small fee, like for materials.

        1. londonedit*

          Exactly – it’s perfectly fine in a medical setting for patients to face sanctions if they fail to turn up for appointments. I recently had a hospital appointment and there was a LOT of ‘If you cannot attend or you no longer need this appointment, please cancel or rebook immediately. If you fail to attend your appointment we may release you back into the care of your GP and you will need to be referred again’ in the messaging I got about the appointment. Basically, if you don’t turn up then we’ll notify your GP and you’ll have to get to the back of the queue. The NHS is incredibly busy and can do without people not turning up for valuable appointments, when there are other people waiting. But a free course? I’d be really annoyed if I got the same sort of messaging for something like that. I think it’s fine to say ‘Places on this course are limited; if you can no longer attend please let us know as soon as possible so we can offer your place to someone else’ but beyond that, you’ve just got to accept that if it’s free, people will sign up and then flake out later.

          1. Observer*

            What makes this more likely is that the OP (their org) actually reached out to the students. So it’s highly likely that some students opened the letter, sent back the rsvp and then promptly forgot about it, or put it on low priority. Because they did not really commit – sending back a card that came in the mail is not a something that’s really enough effort to somewhat cement it in someone’s mind.

            1. Willis*

              Right. Also, it’s sort of a weird attitude to be actively soliciting people for this course with your written invites and then wanting to chastise people when they don’t follow through on showing up. Maybe be glad for the people you did get and just build in some % no-shows as you plan in the future.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        It reminds me of the letter from someone who wanted to punish a job applicant for no-showing the interview. She would write a letter to go in his permanent file, even though he didn’t work there and there wasn’t one.

      3. Darsynia*

        Oh that’s really reassuring, thank you. I will lift 60% of my ‘outrage’ about that part (leaving the idea that comparing the two is at all a good idea, because, yikes), that case!

  29. bopper*

    RE: Course at church

    One thing to try is to charge a nominal fee, like $5. Sometimes people think “free things” have no value so they have not issue not going/using them. For example, there was a study of use of Mosquito Nets in Africa and free ones were not used as much as ones that the person had to purchase.

    1. Esmae*

      Another thing that helps a lot is to send out reminders about the event the day before. I work in a library and do a lot of kids’ programming, and it’s amazing how much of a difference it makes when I make reminder calls the day before an event. Most of the people who ghost my programs aren’t even doing it on purpose, they just forgot about it between sign-up and the day of.

      1. quill*

        Especially with a free recreational activity – circumstances change, signups are a long time before the event, and organizers need to know that they’ll be a lower priority the day of than “finish the chores so tomorrow doesn’t suck” or “kids are overtired and don’t want to go out” or “Heck this is a LOT of homework.”

  30. Dwight Schrute*

    So much cringe in these letters. 1,2, and 4 have the theme of being really bold and not in a good way. 1. Noooo you can’t use Tess for their connections. It’s crappy and rude. 2. Making someone do something they don’t want to do that is totally inconsequential is a great way to make them NOT feel like they’re part of a team. 4. People no show free events, that’s just part of the gig. I don’t think you need to reach out to people and follow up about it

  31. YL*

    Letter #2 is why I don’t apply to companies that put names and pictures of all employees on their website and social media. Sure, I could ask if I can opt out. But once it’s engrained in the company culture like that, it would look bad on me to refuse (like this letter writer is demonstrating).

    I am someone who has encountered multiple stalkers. For at least one of them, I only found out about their stalking activity and they were only able to track me down when I started to have an online presence. It was scary. Even for my private social media, I’m thinking about deleting it because there are always workarounds–like Facebook’s friend of a friend thing.

  32. La Triviata*

    OP#4 – Relatedly, the organization I work for went through a period of people signing up for – or being assigned to attend – things that the organization had to pay for. This included courses in software we use, fancy industry events and so on. I found it irritating, but management decided it was all right, even though for the fancy evening events, people would sign up to attend and then, afterwards when questioned, that they had a course or something that they knew about, but took up one of the organization’s seats. One software course, we had seven people signed up, two of us showed and the others … just didn’t show up at all.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      La Triviata,

      I saw the same thing, the last time I took a course to be an election official. And the classes are about the same size. I don’t know if they went to another class or not.

      FYI, we go through training for every election, even if we have been working the same position for several years. At the in-person training is also where we get the official handbook (Updated every election) and our name tags which indicate both party and position. I appreciate whoever came up with the way they designate the party. One is a clear connector between the clip and the holder and the other is a colored one.

  33. Ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    People not showing up for a workshop after registering? It’s par for the course unless it’s critical for certification or they paid money.

    We run workshops in my department. We write them, pilot them and train the trainers. Workshops are 90% of the time free. When the pandemic hit, we pivoted to an online model from exclusively face to face, something long wanted but no time was spent on it until we finally had no choice.

    We quickly noticed that people would sign up…and not show.
    People would sign up…and share the link to people not signed up.
    People would sign up…and appear for the first 10 minutes for the attendance marking and then quietly leave and enjoy their afternoon off.
    We increased our maximum class size due to wait lists double the size of people registered. Our 40-max classes have on average 25 people show up.

    Man, the learning curve was steep when we moved to an online delivery. And we’re still learning. It’s been quite the two-year adventure.

  34. Excel-sior*

    “I think this is an important step to show her that she is a valued member of a TEAM ”

    Not forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do is a good way to start showing that. Other ideas include (but are not limited to) simply telling them that they are valued or giving them a payrise. Maybe both. Both would be good.

  35. LizM*

    #2, my agency has a big push right now to “tell our story” on social media. We have a fairly photogenic mission (think cute animals and cool landscapes), but the public doesn’t really understand what we do. So we do occasionally do employee profiles as part of our recruitment efforts.

    I’ve asked my team to make sure they get pictures when they’re doing something, but always check with people before we use a picture with their face in it, or credit a picture using their name. Not everyone wants their face or name associated with their work for a variety of reasons, and it’s important to respect that. Even though I’m in a public facing role, I use a different name professionally than I do on my personal social media (think married name vs. maiden name) to reduce the chance that people track me down and learn about my personal life. I also keep my personal social media privacy controls pretty tight for the same reason.

    I know too many people who’ve had personal social media posts sent to their employers (even things that I think are fairly innocent), I can totally understand not wanting to make it a straight line through google between a private online presence and a professional one, even if safety issues, like a stalker or no-contact family member, are not at play.

  36. First time listener, long time caller*

    I agree so hard with op3’s interviewer. I’ve always thought “Can I come back to this question after I’ve thought about it” is insane if “after I’ve thought about it” is during the interview.
    Like: WHEN WERE YOU THINKING ABOUT THIS? While we were talking. I’m fine that you didn’t have an answer right away. I’m not fine that you’re not 100% forced on our conversation IN THE INTERVIEW. If I can’t have your undivided attention while I’m deciding whether to hire you and you’re deciding if you want to work for me, why would I trust that I can have it when you’re working for me? No thank. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s a Big Red Flag.
    Now, if there’s a really detailed, difficult question and you want to get back to them after the interview — especially if it has a factual element you wouldn’t necessarily be expected to know and can look up later — then by all means do that. But I prefer candidates who are paying full attention to the part of the interview that is going on now.

    1. Filosofickle*

      That seems harsh. I can absolutely be listening and have an answer to something earlier pop into my head as we talk. Sometimes talking about one thing organically surfaces a related story or detail.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I find this comment confusing. Can you not tell when people are paying attention? Or maybe it’s the wording you’re objecting to? If you ask me an unexpected question that requires an example, I may not be able to think of one right away. Depending on my work and what the question is, that exact situation may not have come up for me.

      As we talk, however, a point I’m making for something else could indeed link back to your question and I can circle back and tell you, “And handling that raccoon incident also relates to your question about llama shearing in this way.” This doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention, just that I’ve moved it to the side while I address your next question.

    3. Willis*

      What!? This comment is weird. I don’t think people are doing deep ruminations on the skipped question during the interview such that they’re not focused on the conversation. It’s usually more of a “I don’t have an example to the scenario you’re asking about readily available, but as we keep talking something will likely come to me” type of thing.

  37. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    LW2: If the employee is trying to evade a stalker then she may also fear that the company will react to that news by firing her – not for anything she herself did but because they fear that the stalker will track her down, come to her job and shoot the place up. Please, LW – leave this woman alone and stop trying to hassle her into having an online presence in your company.

    Oh, and stop capitalizing “TEAM” like that; it makes you look like the coach of a middle-school sports club.

  38. La Triviata*

    My point was that these were things that the organization had paid for – and they weren’t cheap. One was the workshop, where we had seven people signed up and only two of us showed; the instructor had to have extra workbooks printed, since we made the class larger than usual (and the workbooks were, I hope, used for another class). The fancy industry event was an expensive, formal dinner where the organization paid for a table that seated 10. People were clamoring to go – usually, the table is filled with VIPs, important contacts and the organization’s leaders. There were only two people from outside the office offered seats at our table, four from the staff turned up … the other staff who’d signed up to attend didn’t show … one had said they had a class that night. So, rather than being able to offer six industry contacts seats at our table, we had four empty seats … which looked kind of sad, since all the other tables were full.

  39. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    #4: even if the event costs you, if it’s free for attendees, you cannot expect full attendance. I work with college students, and give a lot of presentations that require registration. From experience, if I have a 40% attendance rate, that’s a win.

Comments are closed.