updates: the thermostat wars, the stripping boss, and more

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

1. Thermostat wars with a classist twist

I took your advice and stood my ground, allowing the cleaning lady to have a cooler office temperature. I ended-up putting up a sign next to the thermostat asking people not to change the temperature. I also pushed back when people asked to turn up the heat by gently suggesting that they could put on extra layers while the cleaning lady could not shed more clothing.

And it worked… until my boss decided to move me upstairs in a more customer facing role. I had to switch workspaces with a woman (Kelsie) who is constantly cold and promptly turned the thermostat up to 74-plus degrees. The users of the shared workspace rejoiced. It then turned into a contest between Kelsie and the cleaning lady as to who got there first to set the thermostat. I tried to help by closing the vent in the room the cleaning lady uses most, but it was still pretty warm.

I have since left the company, but am still in contact with people who say that downstairs keeps getting warmer and warmer. I feel badly for the cleaning lady!

2. My boss’s boss strips to his underwear in front of me

I actually did follow the advice you suggested, and I spoke to HR. I actually heard through the grapevine that this was not the first time it had happened so he was given a stern talking to and that particular issue was resolved – so thank you for your helpful advice.

Unfortunately where there is smoke there is fire and it quickly became clear that workplace was full of red flags. I persevered because I was determined not to feel like a failure, but after 6 months of emotional abuse from my manager, panic attacks in the office bathroom and just overall feeling miserable I realised that the culture at that company was horrific and I wasn’t in a position to change that by myself nor was I willing to sacrifice my mental health for a job. I quickly started searching and luckily reached out to the right contact at the right time so I was able to get a new job quickly and I’m much, much happier. I did relay these problems to HR during my exit interview but her response made it clear that the company as a whole isn’t interested in changing – if you don’t like it, leave.

Reading your column has been so helpful, I realised the importance of standing up for myself and realising that even when things don’t work out, it doesn’t make me a failure – it was a learning experience and I’m proud of myself for overcoming what was a very difficult situation.

3. My boss is a Scientologist and I think she’ll freak out when I resign (#2 at the link)

I wrote to you about 3 years ago about leaving my toxic workplace and Scientologist boss. I’m happy to report that I’ve moved on and am happy and thriving! When I left, I ended up having to resign via a Zoom call because my boss was out of the country. As expected, she did not react well and the following two weeks were incredibly awkward. But I made it through and happily returned all of the Scientologist doctrine I’d accumulated over the years (it had all been sitting on a shelf collecting dust).

Months after leaving, several of the company’s new hires found me on LinkedIn and messaged me; they wanted to know what my experience at the company was like because they were miserable and weren’t sure if what they were experiencing was normal. This was shocking to me; I’d hoped my departure would inspire some changes but it seems like things got even worse after I left. Shortly after, a former coworker contacted me for a reference and also let me know that my former boss was insulting my character and speaking negatively about me to my old team and clients, which is a shame. But the craziest part of all of this is that about six months after I left, former boss had her new HR person reach out to me via LinkedIn and ask if I wanted to come back. I figure this is because they were having such a hard time finding someone to replicate the work that I did at a rate they could afford. I recently took a look at the company’s Glassdoor reviews and they are scathing.

I’ve since started a new position at an incredible company and I’m making almost twice as much as I ever have, with incredible benefits. I recently got engaged and my fiancé and I are buying a house. So, life is good! Thanks again for your advice.

4. How do I approach my boss about time off for fertility treatments? (#5 at the link, first update here)

Hello! I originally wrote you when I was starting infertility treatments and then sent an update letter in January.

The pregnancy progressed well until when my water broke at 28 weeks early on a Friday morning before Memorial Day weekend. I hurriedly sent my boss an email before going to the hospital letting her know I was going to be able to make it to work that day. When I got to the hospital, they told me I’d have to stay in the hospital until either the baby came out or until 34 weeks – so 5-6 weeks.

I emailed my boss to let her know what was happening, both to ask if it was ok for me to keep working while I was in the hospital, and to let her know that I’d be having the baby earlier (even if I was able to keep the baby in until 34 weeks, the doctors did not want me to keep the baby in longer than that due to risk of infection). My boss was, in a word, AMAZING. She quickly emailed HR to confirm that it was ok for me to keep working from the hospital and made sure I had everything I needed for a secure network. She also made sure if working while I was in the hospital was something I really wanted to do (which I did – with nothing else to do, I would have gone crazy).

I ended up staying in the hospital until 34 weeks but it was kind of crazy throughout. I’d be late for meetings, or miss them entirely sometimes because something would happen and they’d need to monitor the baby. My boss was incredibly understanding throughout. When I had the baby, she was so excited (and even organized a baby shower where she and my coworkers got together to get me a pack and play!). I was not contacted once through maternity about work related things, though my boss did check in just to see how I was doing and healing from the c-section.

I’ve now been back at work for a month, and while working from home due to COVID makes it much easier to go back to work, my boss has continued to be amazing with my return. She has asked how I’ve been doing, asks how the baby is, and I even got to show the team my baby at a video team meeting call. My boss’s kindness throughout this whole process has reiterated to me why I love working at the company I do and I joke that I plan on staying here until I die – but it’s not really a joke at this point since I can definitely see myself staying here until I retire.

{ 99 comments… read them below }

  1. EPLawyer*

    #4 — Congrats on the baby. So glad you came through okay. Also congrats to your company for being so supportive throughout. This is what all companies should aspire to.

      1. Alex*

        The employee already had a family. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and just because a person or couple doesn’t have children doesn’t mean they’re not a valid family, or that their family is somehow ‘lesser’. The employee wanted to expand their family. That aside, I agree with the sentiment.
        Congratulations LW#4!

  2. Bookworm*

    Thanks to all the LWs for their updates. #5 in particular made me happy (was worried something would go wrong but SO happy your boss has been supportive and hope you and baby are well). :)

  3. Anon fellow mom*

    Aw, congrats, OP4#! This brought back vivid memories of my experience of continuing to work through bed rest and multiple short hospitalizations during my pregnancy. I was definitely not at my best, work-wise, but my mental health would have tanked even more than it did if I didn’t have that outlet of normalcy. I was actually in grad school and it was research assistant work, so maybe it was easier for them to give me flexibility, but it still made all the difference.

    So glad everything turned out okay in the end.

  4. Sara without an H*

    …about six months after I left, former boss had her new HR person reach out to me via LinkedIn and ask if I wanted to come back.

    This made me giggle. OP#3, apparently your boss had to break down and hire an HR person (you said in a comment on your original post that there was no official HR at that time) AND she tries to lure you back???

    Congratulations on moving on to better things.

  5. Lucy Skywalker*

    The Scientologist one is appalling! Just as it would be inappropriate for a Christian boss to preach their religion to their subordinates, it’s also inappropriate for a Scientologist to do the same.
    I once had a boss who did something similar, although thank goodness she wasn’t a Scientologist as I understand that they don’t believe in psychiatric medicine. I have ADHD, depression, and anxiety, and trust me, you do NOT want me to come to work without my meds.
    This particular boss had recently converted to a non-mainstream religion, and she was constantly preaching it at us and giving us gifts that were associated with her religion. One of the main tenets of her religion was directly in opposition to the mission of our workplace, and was offensive to many of us. Finally, I talked to HR about her. Someone from HR talked to her and said, “What you are doing is the equivalent of a Catholic constantly preaching their faith to their employees and giving them rosaries or Bibles as gifts.” She said, “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that!” and after that, she laid off the religion stuff at work.”

    1. tjamls*

      I interviewed for a Scientologist-owned company once (also communications like LW #3…hmm…) without knowing it and found out later what a bullet I dodged. Employees were “gifted” lots of Scientology books. They got Friday afternoons off, but only if they stayed in the office to read those Scientology books. Weird things like “touch assists” happened all the time, and they had some special drink that was either served at meetings or in the break room. My source was a new coworker who was one of two non-Scientologists at the company and only lasted a month or two in the job.

  6. Sara without an H*

    OP#1 — Too bad, I was rooting for the cleaning lady. Thermostat control is one topic where I think managers who claim to dislike letting their employees work remotely should count their blessings. At least there are no thermostat wars.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I was so hoping that the petty was crushed and the person with the valid reason came out ahead. Pretty bummed.
      The others were sweet, though.

      1. wordswords*

        Same! It’s too bad, especially given those awful comments about outranking the cleaning lady. Good for OP1 for sticking to her guns and making the effort while she could, though.

      2. Lego Leia*

        It is so much easier to heat colder rooms than it is to cool hot ones. Why did no one in company suggest spending $200 on some oil heaters, and leave the thermostat lower? My home has wildly different temperatures per floor, so we have fans and heaters everywhere. Why does the office need to be a single temperature?

        1. JustaTech*

          Most offices have bans on space heaters because they’re such a fire risk (a lot are very cheaply made). So depending on who owns the building any kind of space heater might be banned.

          Which is too bad, it seems like the easy answer.

    2. Beth*

      Yeah, usually I’d be on team “68 is too cold for an office space, set it at 70” but having someone on site doing manual labor all day makes for a totally different picture than most office spaces! I feel bad for this cleaning lady–not only are her needs being disregarded, but it’s clear a lot of her coworkers don’t have much respect for her.

      1. GrimaceCup*

        No respect until the day comes when she doesn’t show up and no cleaning gets done. Then you really hear the complaints. Good cleaning staff is golden.

        I had the landlord put a lockbox to stop my thermostat wars. There was pouting for a day. They moved on.

        1. mlem*

          I hope the cleaner gets a better job elsewhere and the office is stuck unable to find anyone. (74 is too warm for me just working at a desk!)

      1. Jennifer*

        Having been that person freezing in an office… you really can keep putting on layers! I used to leave my jacket on in the winter and, year-round, I had a blanket, a spare jacket, a sweatshirt, and a pair of fingerless gloves at my desk. I’d rather have to look a little goofy than force someone to overheat all day.

        1. Lemons*

          Our issue is not that we fear looking daft, it’s that we’re either not permitted to dress like that at work, or we layer and layer (and we usually know how to layer, and use thermals/insulating materials etc.) and still end up cold. Right to the core, but superficially sweaty. (For me, layers only really work when outdoors or mobile; I’m often more comfortable walking around outside in winter, appropriately layered, than sitting indoors.)

      1. AnonToo*

        Hitting menopause & having hot flashes hasn’t stopped me from also getting painfully cold very easily.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          The beauty of hot flashes in winter: You can be boiling hot at your core and still be cold on the outside.

    3. lilsheba*

      I feel so bad for the cleaning lady. I get way too hot too easily and would be dying if the thermostat was above 68. It’s not fair to roast her out like that. The others can put on a jacket or something!

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Agreed! And I’ve been like this since childhood. At least I don’t usually get light-headed & faint anymore…

      2. AnonToo*

        I feel bad for the cleaning lady too (I’ve passed menopause, hot flashes & night sweats are a regular occurrence), but for those of us who get painfully cold very easily, “put on a jacket” doesn’t actually work. We just end up freezing cold while constricted by a bunch of bulky layers.

        1. BeenThere*

          This is true I have never found a jacket that works. However I’d like to introduce you to my best friend in the office, the electric lap blanket. It safer than a space heater and very effective for lizard people like myself who can never get warm. (also easier to hide from facilities). 99% sure it was recommended by a commenter on this site at one point.

    4. Cremedelagremlin*

      The building where I live has one thermostat that controls the whole building and the heat is unevenly distributed between units. This has been an issue for years (the former building manager (FBM) lives in the building and used to crank the heat and blame his mother, who also lives in the building…when the new manager started, we discovered FBM was the one who was too cold, not his mother. In fact, he might have the only cold unit in the building? In which case he was setting the heat to his comfort level at the expense of everyone else in the building for years? And blaming his mother?)

      The new manager put a lock box around the thermostat, but this year, someone apparently used a paperclip to get into the box and raise the temperature in September (any guesses as to who?), resulting in 2 of the 3 floors in the building experiencing a post-summer heatwave. There was a physical “message thread” of notes posted on the laundry room door, some sleuthing to figure out who had done it, and the landlord had to come by and zap strap the thermostat lockbox to prevent further tampering.

      It’s still way too hot in my apartment and all my plants are dying, but I am no longer having literal health problems due to excessive heat, so I guess this is the middle ground? (We already keep every possible window open, so not much more to be done to cool things off.)

      Thermostat wars…they’re real!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Thanks for reminding me to ask if I can control the temperature in my unit when I’m looking for an apartment.

        1. All the words*

          Fair warning, apartment thermostat control can be illusory. We have the thermostat set at 68 but have to open windows periodically with the fan pulling in cool air to keep the temperature from rocketing to 75. Even if our unit radiators aren’t running, the building itself is kept very warm to prevent frozen pipes.

        2. lizcase*

          Which floor you are on can matter too. When I lived on the 7th floor of a 10 floor building, we could have our heat off and still be super warm from the folks below us. On the plus side, it’s easier to get a good cross-breeze going in the summer when you are higher up.

      2. JustaTech*

        When we first moved into my office building it was miserably cold, all the time. Part of this was that it had been empty for about a year and we moved in in December, which meant it was taking a lot of time to just heat up the walls and stuff.
        But after two months it was still super cold. Then one day someone on my floor was chatting with someone on the floor above us. The person from upstairs was complaining that their lab was so hot that their experiments were being ruined because they could maintain the very tight temperature control they needed.

        It turned out that somehow that one lab (that was putting out a ton of heat) had both very poor ventilation and was right by the main temperature sensor for the whole floor. So after a *lot* of fiddling with the ducting by facilities they finally managed to cool their lab, which let the HVAC warm the rest of us back up.

      3. HelenB*

        In my old apartment building, we had a thermostat on the wall that did nothing to change the temperature in the apartment. I lived on the top floor (of 4 floors) and every winter the management company would send out a letter telling people to keep their windows closed in order to “balance out the heat” and every year if you stood outside you could see that every 4th floor apartment had their windows open.

        I honestly did wait until I couldn’t take it any more before opening my windows. I know it was -10 F outside, but it was over 80 F in my apartment!

        It was a radiator system so it wasn’t like I could just close air vents and shunt more air back down to the lower levels.

  7. Chauncy Gardener*

    #2 Still more proof that the best thing to do is report, report, report because you never know the history!

  8. Federal Worker Drone*

    Update #3: Please tell us your sole response to HR contacting you to come back was you laughing hysterically as you hung up.

      1. Fancy Owl*

        OMG, I’m going to have to remember that one if a Scientologist ever tries to pressure me to do something.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Lol – I was asked about coming back once after I was pushed out. I just told them I was unavailable and ended the call. There was no point in mud wrestling as only the pig (aka ex-boss) would have had any fun.
      Jokes on them as I now make just as much as I did them while working a third the number of hours. And I actually like 90% of my coworkers too (which I think is a very good percentage).

  9. Funbud*

    #2 reminds me of the job I had that was the most fun of all my jobs. Small, fast growing, pharmaceutical-adjacent start up. A great bunch of people but standards were, initially, quite lax. Lots of inappropriate humor and questionable sexual innuendo. One of the owners was a very charismatic guy, handsome, very athletic. I belonged to a gym near the office and hadn’t realized many of my new coworkers also went there. In those days, I went to the gym before work. On my first day I walked into the locker room at the gym and ran smack into this owner, in all his naked glory. He was certainly worth seeing, but you know, once you see that…hard to unsee. Still, I smile at the memory. The company grew fast, was sold, new owners…not so much fun anymore. Sigh!

    1. JustaTech*

      One of the perks of working for a university lab was that I got super-cheap access to the non-student-athlete gym. Great!
      I could totally deal with the undergrads exploring body positivity and occasional end-of-quarter meltdowns.
      What I hadn’t expected was to run into the head of the next lab over. This would have been fine, but I was on the floor doing crunches when he saw me and walked over to say high, standing basically right over me. In very short running shorts. Did not need to see that!

      I also had a coworker at that lab who was running late to do a lab thing, so he didn’t change out of his cycling clothes (like, didn’t even take off his helmet!). I didn’t care, but someone else finally asked him to put on a lab coat because bike shorts are just a bit much.

  10. Pants*

    Yay OP #4!!! I always like the stories with good bosses! (…maybe we should also do a best boss award?)

  11. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP3: I used to work just up the road from a very large Scientology centre in London and sadly a couple of coworkers got suckered into all that hoohah and my word were they insufferable. I’m very glad you got away from that particular brand of insanity.

  12. DrSalty*

    Frankly I still don’t see why the thermostat couldn’t be turned up to a compromise temperature of 70. The original letter stated it was set at 68 degrees, which is very cold, especially in a basement if you’re just sitting at a desk.

      1. TechWorker*

        Agree being hit isn’t fun but being cold isn’t either. My office used to be so cold I couldn’t feel my fingers to type (and I was already wearing two thick jumpers). I don’t think it’s totally unreasonable to want to be able to not wear gloves at your desk…

      2. Beth*

        And there’s nothing you can do about it when you’re doing heavy manual labor, and the thermostat is being controlled by someone who sits at a desk and is paid far more than you are. I’m definitely on the cleaning lady’s side.

      3. Lemons*

        Not universally true. These discussions would go much better, or at least be less tiresomely repetitive, if that were acknowledged.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      You’d hate my 64° home office. I wear wool sweaters & long johns because my husband is always warme. (He’s oneof those guys who can walk barefoot in the snow.) Thermostat Wars ended at his office when they allowed him to switch off to being remote.

    2. Critical Roll*

      The words of a person who will not be sweating due to performing manual labor in that environment. I run cold, but I can modify my immediate environment if I’m sitting at a desk. Cleaning lady can’t.

    3. Just Another Cog in the Machine*

      I’m working from home, and my house is always set to 68 during the day. Other than first thing in the morning (when the thermostat is still working it’s way up to daytime temperature), it’s fine. I usually wear long sleeves and sometimes have a light blanket over my lap. The second I start doing any type of light cleaning (vacuuming, whatever), I start to sweat and have to remove layers and/or take a break.

      I do the same thing at work. I’ve worked places where the temperature has been both cold enough that I put an extra pair of pants on or my fingers are freezing and hot enough that I am sweaty and get a headache. (Sometimes both of these extremes in the same day.) I would gladly take being chilly over being hot.

      1. Mannequin*

        I’ll take being hot over being chilly in a second. Hot is uncomfortable, but cold is a sensation akin to pain and is literally torturous to me.

        I live in SoCal am I still hate winter here as it is too cold for me.

    4. First Time Commenter*

      I remember when I was in a dorm for 2 years we had shared thermostat for 3 rooms in the suite. Second semester both years we got someone in who likes it hot and just would not listen to reason about putting on sweaters thinking their comfort was all that matters. First time it was an RA so I couldn’t fight it, second time he just seethed and made petty comments to us on the group chat. I guess it’s something you can’t really understand unless if you experience it, I myself prefer it cold but I get overheated easily, but I can understand if your hands are numb it’s a bit difficult to do most work in gloves!

      1. Mannequin*

        I don’t even own a sweater. I’m on the spectrum and having to wear a bunch of bulky clothing like sweaters can set off a meltdown.

        And I find cold painful. My hands & feet go numb very quickly and feel like blocks of pain and ice.

        In a situation like yours, I’d most likely let them set the temperature low & just use a space heater in my own room to keep it warm enough I can walk around in comfortable clothing, but if I wasn’t able to use one, yes, I would also want a temperature that wasn’t torturously cold.

        1. allathian*

          Ouch. I can’t even imagine what that is like, but most people don’t have that extent of sensory dysfunction. I guess you’re lucky in that you live in a warm climate (Southern California you said in another post). My climate is cold enough that a maximum temperature of 25 C/77 F three days in a row counts as a heatwave. If you couldn’t wear sweaters and bulky clothing here, you’d freeze to death in winter.

          AFAIK I’m NT, and I have cold hands and feet due to poor circulation. Sometimes they’re so cold it hurts, so I guess I can empathize a little bit after all.

    5. biobotb*

      68 degrees is not “very cold.” It is quite a moderate and comfortable temperature. 70 is rather warm, particularly if you’re moving around, which the only regular employee is doing.

      1. banoffee pie*

        yeah 68F is 20C, that’s easily warm enough for me even sitting all day. Others might disagree, but to be honest I’ve often heard complaints it’s too cold from people who want to sit in a T-shirt. If you’re still cold when you’re wearing a sweater and jacket, I have more sympathy. Still team cleaning lady though!

        1. Alice*

          I’ve currently set the thermostat at 21C/70F, I’m wearing a sweater, a quilted dressing gown and half gloves, and my fingers are still icy. Thinking about cranking up the heat if a cup of tea doesn’t warm me up. Some of us get cold very easily.

          That said under the circumstances I would just put on more layers. Back in the office I had a heavy shawl (more like a blanket really) or I’d keep my jacket and scarf. Seems common sense since the cleaning lady can’t take off any more layers.

      2. TiredEmployee*

        Due to the energy crisis I turned our heating down to around 68 at home and had to turn it back up a couple of degrees because I was shivering and getting goosebumps underneath my hoodie despite wearing leggings under my trousers. Just because it’s comfortable for you to sit in all day doesn’t mean it’s comfortable for everyone.

      3. Cheesecake2.0*

        I think this really depends what you are used to. 68 is quite cold in my opinion, but I live somewhere it’s very warm most of the year and electricity is too expensive to cool my house to 68 (it’s set at 78 during the day and 75 at night). When I first moved here from a much colder location 10 years ago, I would have agreed that 68 was plenty warm.

      1. allathian*

        I can’t think when I’m cold, but I can’t think when I’m hot, either. If I had to choose, I’d prefer slightly too cold, because you can always bundle up when you’re cold, but there’s a limit to how much you can take off when you’re too hot. One very memorable winter, long before WFH was a thing at my then-employer, the office’s heating system broke down and it took about a week to fix it. I sat at my desk, more or less in my outdoor clothes, and wore a pair of fingerless gloves to type, and drank lots of hot tea. I usually drink coffee, but I put milk in that and it wasn’t hot enough. Every hour or so I’d get up and walk from one end of the office to the other, just to keep my poor circulation going.

        The first summer at my current job, the AC in the whole office building stopped working in the middle of a heatwave. It was hot enough that it was difficult to type, because my hands were so sweaty. My then-boss, who normally didn’t show much empathy for human frailties, bought ice cream for us every day.

  13. La Triviata*

    Years ago, a co-worker got pulled into some … don’t even remember the name, it was kind of a psychological/life style thing. He was really, really enthusiastic and tried to get all the people who worked in the office, especially those lower ranked, to join in. Offered to pay for the charges to attend the initial meetings, he was so sure that people would jump in if they only experienced it. I wanted nothing to do with it and just ignored him as much as possible. He escalated it with some people to the point that more than one person complained to the administration; he assumed I was the person complaining (I wasn’t) and hassled me about THAT, but I pretty much ignored that, since I didn’t work directly for him. (To give you an idea of the extent it had taken over his life, he shaved off his beard and switched from glasses to contact lenses because they obscured his face and somehow cut his ability to contact? commune? with others. Also, many of these sessions he and his wife attended were at night, so they’d put their two kids in the car, attend the event, and leave the kids to sleep in the car.) ick

    1. RagingADHD*

      Paying for meetings
      Kids sleeping in the car
      Aggressive and inappropriate proselytizing
      Utterly convinced everyone would join if they only experienced it once.

      I think the word you’re looking for is “cult.”

        1. RagingADHD*

          They don’t make their marks pay to attend the recruitment sessions. You pay for the product, but the BS is free.

  14. Temp anon*

    Good that the OP got away from the Scientology-pushing boss. I don’t get why it’s a religion when it comes to exemption from taxes yet when it comes time to proselytizing or getting reimbursement it’s “technology” and “courses”.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      From what I know about it, it’s run like a business (an MLM, if you really think about it) and should very much not have that exemption. Probably money greased some wheels.

      1. Fancy Owl*

        Money and threats! They have a long history of sueing opponents into submission, even the federal government.

        1. Your Local Password Resetter*

          Not to mention their spying and infiltration programs. They deliberately try to get their own people in places of power or blackmail people when they can’t.

      2. Mannequin*

        Heck, it should not have that exemption simply because it was made up whole cloth by a failed second rate pulp fiction writer who couldn’t make enough money in his day job. :scowl:

  15. Chicanery*

    Can we please give the woman in #1 a name? It just bothers me that Kelsie gets a name but the manual laborer is just “the cleaning lady.” I know it’s not intentional, I just wish I had something to call her.

  16. Denver Gutierrez*

    I worked somewhere the thermostat wars got out of hand. Posting signs not to touch the thermostat didn’t work because people would just sneak around when manager was out of sight. They finally had to put a plastic case over the thermostat that could only be opened by a key. That stopped the ridiculousness.

    Also anyone that thinks the cleaning staff is “beneath them” is a jerk. Bet you’ll be singing a different tune if you have to clean everything yourself!

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I’ve shared this before here I think. But it’s so perfect for this letter.

      Back in the day I worked in a hotel in an area that saw a lot of staff from professional American football teams scouting college players one time of year. Fro three years running we had the entire scouting and personnel departments from one team, and their general manager also came (for those not as familiar the general manager runs the whole team) all three years. I’ll never forget this GM coming down on his first morning and asking if my manager was in yet. He then asked for a list of the names of every employee of the hotel, so he could give it to his staff to study. This GM insisted his whole staff learn the names of every housekeeper, maintenance, front desk staff, and restaurant staff member. And he led by example – he learned our names too. He even came in a day early to do it!
      If this guy (who is a retired player, in the hall of fame, and probably could go in again as an executive) was willing to respect the staff and learn all our names – then the least those folks could do is let the person doing physical labor set the temperature.

  17. anon for this*

    This is a side tangent, but I used to work at an indoor pool where we kept the temperature “pleasant summer day warm” around 80, because that’s what’s comfortable to people in wet swimsuits.

    Every. Single. Time. we had swim lessons, swim team, or kids’ swim, some parent would march right over to the thermostat and turn the heat down to 68. Sometimes they’d go one step further and prop open the fire door to the outside. And we’d say “please do not touch that, the Board of Health requires we keep the pool comfortable for the swimmers.” And they’d say “But *I’M* hot. This is ridiculous!”

    1. allathian*

      When my son was taking more advanced swimming lessons, the rule was that parents were banned from the audience, they had to sit in the foyer with no line of sight to the pool. For younger kids and older beginners, with one parent in the pool with them, the rules were obviously different. This rule helped the kids focus on the teachers, and also eliminated the problem of idiotic parental comments from the audience. During one lesson, my son was upset enough about something that I was allowed to go and sit at the poolside so he could see me and be comforted. It helped and he got through the rest of the lesson with a smile on his face. And I discovered that I’m allergic enough to chlorine that 10 minutes at the poolside meant I had to dig out my son’s asthma inhaler to breathe. Luckily he isn’t allergic to chlorine…

  18. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    #1 says: “the cleaning lady could not shed more clothing.”
    #2 is about a boss stripping to his underwear.

    Probably unintentional, but it made me smile!

  19. Hacker For Hire*

    Re: #2, when there’s one instance of a bad/unacceptable/dysfunctional thing in the workplace, then suddenly there are a dozen more. They never appear alone. Because these things become normal in a toxic workplace, while in a sane workplace the first one would have been nipped in the bud as it appeared.

  20. dedicated1776*

    I just wanted to say that #4 brought tears to my eyes. So glad it was a happy ending. Also, your boss is fantastic. That’s what I aspire to.

  21. musicinjune*

    That last update had me teary! I’m so excited that everything is going well fo your and your baby! Thank you for sharing!

  22. Anonymous Bosch*

    I don’t understand the idea that you can always add layers if you get too cold. When I get cold, my hands go numb. How likely is it that I would be able to use a keyboard wearing multiple layers of gloves? While I don’t like the notion of “rank has privilege”, there needs to be some way to compromise so that an entire group of people aren’t uncomfortably cold just so that one person isn’t too warm.

  23. Anonymous Bosch*

    While I’m one who gets annoyed when people try to use their kid(s) as an excuse to come in late/leave early/get the best days off, that last update made me happy.

    After going through fertility treatment, the last thing the OP would have needed is to have to choose between carrying her baby long enough for it to be healthy (hospital stay) or keeping her job.

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