a great job working for someone I can’t stand, coworker is on reality TV, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Should I take a great job working for someone I can’t stand?

There’s a job opening up at my company that is a more specialist position compared to what I’m currently doing. While my company pays below industry standard for this position, it’s something that I would be interested in and think good at, and more importantly the industry average is about double what I currently make, up to triple.

Normally I would jump at the opportunity and hope that they hire me, but there’s a catch. I can’t stand the guy who manages this role. He’s a crap boss, and he’s also unbearable — he’s not abusive as far as I can tell, but everything he does puts me into bitch eating crackers mode. I’m not an angry person, and it’s hard to annoy me, but he definitely makes me the worst version of myself and I currently don’t deal with him much.

I would only need to put up with his grandstanding, name-dropping, undermining, oversharing, limelight-stealing ways for two years or so before I could start applying for jobs that page the industry minimum, and it would be a huge step up for me … but the additional pay for that two years wouldn’t be much more than what I’m on. For what it’s worth, I like my current job, but don’t know if there’s much of a future in it. Is there a rule of thumb for this type of dilemma?

Two years is a really long time to be managed by someone you can’t stand! You’re talking about a huge impact on your quality of life for a substantial period of time. (I was going to suggest thinking back to two years ago from today to realize how long a period of time that really is, but that was January 2020 and we entered a time warp right after that, so that probably doesn’t work.) (But what if this guy had been your boss throughout the whole pandemic? Maybe that’s a better way to do it.) (I know those are the same. That’s the time warp.)

I’d also worry that he makes you the worst version of yourself! If other people observe that, taking the job could end up doing you more professional harm than good.

I’d only seriously consider it if you can figure out a way to reframe the way you see him. You don’t need to embrace having him as a boss, but if you’re feeling active dread, I’d be very wary of doing it.

Read an update to this letter.

2. My coworker is on a reality TV show

I recently started a new job and it’s been great so far: cool projects, an exciting work environment, and supportive coworkers. One coworker in particular happens to be on a popular reality TV show for which I’ve seen every single episode.

Is it unprofessional to talk to them about it? Ask about it? Mention it, even? As a reality TV superfan, this is the type of situation straight out of TV, but this is also a real person whose reality is documented for millions of people as entertainment (myself included). How do I navigate our work relationship in a transparent yet professional manner?

The best thing you can do is to relate to them only as a coworker, not as a fan. They — and others around them — will appreciate you treating them just as a normal person. Keep in mind that (a) fans probably approach them a lot, (b) it undoubtedly gets exhausting to deal with that when they’re trying to do a totally unrelated job, and (c) you want them to see you as a colleague they can trust, not as a fan who might see them through the warped lens of the show (and who might do things like report on them to other fans). Playing it cool is the best move.

3. Is it weird to have my video on if everyone else’s is off?

Recently, I started a remote role that works with a global team. In this new position, I manage incident response and ongoing programs, but other employees don’t report to me. I have experience in this type of role and in the past have relied heavily on my ability to develop relationships at all levels of an organization to hit my quarterly goals.

Is it weird to turn my camera on for meetings (if I’m leading them) if company culture means everyone keeps their cameras off? I would never ask others to turn cameras on, but 1) I hope that seeing me will in some way help them get to know me or at least remember me and 2) maybe it would inspire others to turn their cameras on as well?

I feel so disconnected from not seeing people’s faces and body language when I’m talking to them! I’m concerned about how this affects my ability to have working relationships with my coworkers and move forward in my new role.

Remote work at my past organization strongly suggested cameras turned on and I’m used to running meetings where there are many people on, but only a few with cameras live. So this is something I would be comfortable with. I just don’t know if it would seem completely tone-deaf.

If your only interest was in letting people see you when you’re facilitating, I’d say go for it — you could even explain at the outset that that’s what you’re doing and that others don’t need to turn their own cameras on if they prefer not to. But since part of your motivation is a hope that other people will follow suit, I’m leaning more toward no, don’t do it.

The thing is, there are a ton of good reasons people might prefer to have their camera off, from bandwidth issues (especially if they have a spouse working remotely too or a kid doing school virtually; turning video on could mess up the connection for others in their house) to privacy (not everyone wants their coworkers peering into their homes and not everyone who’s remote right now has a dedicated home office space) to other household members’ privacy (kids they don’t want on camera or a spouse or roommate nearby) to general video fatigue (research shows video meetings are more draining than ones without video).

That doesn’t mean there aren’t advantages to video (there can be) or times when it’s especially helpful (there are), but you’re in a culture that doesn’t use it. Given how many good reasons people can have for that, I wouldn’t push back too hard on it.

Read an update to this letter

4. Was I fired over not finishing the rolls?

I volunteered to make rolls for a catering event at work and went in on a day that was I not scheduled to work to make the last 30 rolls, on a Saturday. My boss yelled at me because they were a little smaller than normal. I work six days a week and these were the first two days in a row I was not on the schedule to work. Well, the argument got personal to the point that I had to stand my ground. I asked the cook who was there to please finish the rolls. It was during a slow time, and I went home. Where I live, phone service sucks, but apparently my boss had a coworker call me to leave a message saying that if I didn’t come back to finish the rolls, “don’t come back.” Am I fired or did I quit?

Assuming you didn’t go back to finish the rolls, I’d say you were fired. Your boss threatened to fire you if you didn’t return and you didn’t return … hence, fired. (Although has there been any interaction since then? It’s possible that you could have a conversation with them now that would make them retract the firing, if you wanted that.)

But if you’d prefer that it be seen as quitting, there’s an argument for that too. It’s accurate to say that you chose not to return after being mistreated, and you could certainly frame it that way to anyone who asks.

5. Is my reply to LinkedIn requests too aggressive?

I get a lot of LinkedIn requests (as I’m sure a lot of people do). Two-thirds of the time they are from people I don’t know and there is no note attached. When that happens, I send a standard response that goes like this: “Hi Fergus! Thanks for requesting my connection. I don’t believe we’ve met in person (I’m sorry if I’m mistaken). Could you tell me a bit more about yourself and what you’re looking for on LinkedIn through our connection? Thanks!”

I think it’s pretty friendly and to the point: Who are you and why are you trying to connect? Most of the time I get a good response, but it seems that some people are really taken aback by the response. Some have even apologized for offending me.

Is that really that aggressive of a note? Is there a better way to word my response? Or should I just not overthink it and continue as is?

Your note is fine! The subtext is definitely “I’m not going to connect with you without good reason, so you should tell me those reasons” — but that’s not an unreasonable thing to ask. I suspect that the people who are occasionally taken aback just use LinkedIn differently than you do — some people will connect with any and all people who look interesting or useful while others mostly just connect with people they know, and sometimes each group is mildly confused by the other.

{ 409 comments… read them below }

  1. RagingADHD*

    LW3, if the company culture is to have cameras off, and you hope that turning yours on will influence others (or perhaps pressure them) to turn theirs on, then you might have a culture-fit issue with the company.

    1. Loulou*

      I don’t think OP is trying to pressure anyone! I like seeing people’s faces in meetings and also personally feel more engaged when my camera is on, and if other people with my title turn their cameras on I’m more likely to do the same (ie, do what I wanted to do anyway, but wouldn’t do if nobody else did it). That’s what I’m guessing OP means.

      1. Fran Fine*

        I took it that way as well, but Raging has a point. OP said she works with a global team, which means time zone differences. I work for a global company and have meetings with coworkers who are sometimes 10-12 hours ahead of me, so it’s usually nighttime their time when we get on calls. Because of this, my company’s overall culture is cameras off during meetings as well (though some teams turn them on all the time because they’re all in the same time zone). I’ve also been on calls myself at midnight in my pajamas, propped up on pillows with my laptop in my lap or a phone in my hand – there’s no way in the world I’d have my camera on during a call like that no matter what anyone else was doing with their cameras.

        But there are some people who aren’t as headstrong as I am, or just come from different cultures where they feel they have to be deferential to someone higher in authority than they are, and they do feel pressure to turn on cameras when they see someone else’s on. My manager struggles with this herself because I think she came from a company where cameras were always on (her company was global, but her direct team wasn’t, and she told me she rarely interacted with colleagues from other countries outside of the US) – she has inadvertently pressured a couple of people we work with who usually never turn their cameras on into doing so because hers is on, even when she profusely tells them they don’t have to. (And these people are either at my level or slightly below.)

        Basically, OP may not be intending to pressure anyone into communicating the way she wants to, but she could be unintentionally signaling that she is anyway. Just carefully read the room on this one, OP.

      2. Silver*

        I hate having my camera on, and when other people turn theirs on, I feel pressured to do so as well

        1. Anonym*

          Yes, this is very real. OP may not be intending to pressure people, but it’s going to feel that way to some. Please just go with the flow, OP!

          I’m fairly outspoken and stubborn, but there can really be an undercurrent of team player performance expectations. People can feel pressure to look “engaged”. Give those of us who find camera on to be stressful, distracting or otherwise unpleasant a break.

      3. Snow Globe*

        I don’t think OP is pressuring anyone, but I agree with RagingADHD that this might not be a good cultural fit. If OP is more comfortable when multiple people are on camera, they are likely to be the outlier with this company.

      4. Former Retail Lifer*

        At my company, they only require all cameras on during training classes. For all other meetings, the presenter has their camera on and it’s optional for everyone else. I’d say slightly more than half the participants have their cameras on. I’m more engaged when I see a presenter’s face but I’ve never felt pressure as a result of seeing them.

      5. Observer*

        I don’t think OP is trying to pressure anyone! I like seeing people’s faces in meetings and also personally feel more engaged when my camera is on, and if other people with my title turn their cameras on I’m more likely to do the same (ie, do what I wanted to do anyway, but wouldn’t do if nobody else did it). That’s what I’m guessing OP means.

        That’s not what the OP says, though. And that’s a problem. If they REALLY only mean that they hope it will encourage people who want to do it anyway, then they need to reframe how they think about it. Stop hoping to “inspire” people to turn on their cameras. It comes across as VERY different from “I know that company culture is cameras off, but I suspect that some people actually prefer to have them on, and I’d like to make sure that they feel comfortable doing that.”

      6. RagingADHD*

        The LW’s stated goal is to have more people turn their cameras on, too.

        Whether that is “influence” or “pressure” comes down to the LW’s relative position of authority in relation to the team, and how team members from different cultures perceive hierarchy and social pressure at work.

        There’s absolutely nothing wrong with preferring their own camera on, but they may need to re-examine their goals here.

      7. Zephy*

        Saying “I hope having my camera on will encourage other people to turn their cameras on” IS applying pressure.

      8. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, since OP isn’t the boss I don’t think there’s really anything wrong with them trying to set a tone in their own meeting and hoping others follow since I don’t think there’s really any pressure that people *have* to follow.

    2. GiraffeGirl*

      I agree that OP #3 doesn’t seem to be trying to pressure anyone. It sounds like he/she isn’t planning on suggesting out loud that anyone else turn their cameras on. The letter even said “I would never ask others to turn their cameras on.”
      If he/she is the one leading the meeting, I think it makes sense to have his/her camera on, if he/she would like to. So I kind of disagree with Alison on this one. Alison mentions at the end of her response that OP would be “pushing back” by having her camera on, but I don’t necessarily think that would be the case.

      1. Medusa*

        I completely agree with you. They could even say at the beginning “I prefer to have my camera on. Feel free to turn yours on if you’d like, or keep yours off if you prefer” or something to that effect but in better wording than what I said

      2. londonedit*

        They say ‘I would never ask others to turn their camera on’ but at the same time they’re hoping that if other people see them with their camera on, they’ll start turning theirs on too. So while it wouldn’t be an outright ask, people might still start feeling pressure to have their cameras on.

        I think if the OP genuinely doesn’t mind if people don’t turn their cameras on, they could say ‘I prefer to have my camera on while I’m speaking so that you can all see me; that doesn’t mean anyone else should feel like they have to turn theirs on’, but otherwise this might just be something the OP has to deal with as part of the company culture. Where I work the convention for larger meetings (more than 10 people) is to have cameras off unless you’re leading the meeting or you’re speaking, and that seems to work well, but other companies have different ways of doing things and there are plenty of people who wouldn’t want to be on camera for a whole meeting anyway.

        1. Allonge*

          On the other hand, a new person in a role that sounds like it needs them to connect to everyone but does not seem to belong to at least a smaller department where cameras would be on – their entire new workplace, all their new colleagues are a black screen. That has to be uncomfortable for a lot of people. So I get the motivation.

          1. londonedit*

            I can see that, and I feel like there should have been some sort of opportunity when OP started the job for a ‘Hi everyone! Would you mind all turning your cameras on just for a minute so I can see all the new faces? Thanks! If you don’t mind I’ll keep my camera on while I’m speaking today, just so you all know who I am’ moment. But I don’t think OP can try to change the culture for everyone if they’re all used to keeping their cameras off.

            1. Ashley*

              I would suggest this in advanced so people can be presentable. In the meeting invite it would be good, but honestly it seems against culture.
              I think as the presenter it is fine to have the camera on especially at the beginning to say hi and introduce themselves.

              1. Fran Fine*

                It also isn’t necessarily possible for a global team. As I stated above, depending on time zone differences, OP could be having meetings with people well into their evenings. It’s not remotely feasible or reasonable to expect people getting ready for dinner or even bed to turn on their cameras, even just for a brief hello.

              2. Gingerbread Gnome*

                This is an excellent point. A huge advantage of my WFH job is not having to do the makeup/hair/nice clothing thing on a daily basis. Having to do the “going out” routine for just a few minutes is not going to happen. For all those who say “we don’t care what you look like” you should know I do care how I present myself at work. At work I want to come across as professional and with my warm hoodie, hair scraped back in a ponytail, and makeupless, I look like Frosty the Snowman.

            2. MusicWithRocksIn*

              Personally, if a new person asked me to turn my camera on when I wasn’t expecting it, it would give me a very poor first impression of them. Odds are I would be in PJ’s with two blankets wrapped around me and my hair a birds nest and I would feel annoyed and embarrassed and I would totally remember them as THAT camera guy from then on.

              1. Neptune*

                I think it would be kind of unreasonable to hold a grudge against a new person for asking if they could briefly see the people they’ve just started working with, to be honest with you.

      3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I feel the same and also disagree with that bit of Alison’s advice (very rare for me). My team is overall cameras off, but for one meeting my boss facilitates she turns hers on because we figured out our stakeholders are more engaged if they can see her after some camera on/off challenge/rechallenge experiments. As long the LW makes it clear she is turning her camera on because she likes it, but no one else has to, and she only does it when she leads meetings I think it is OK. She should definitely keep it off as at any meeting she isn’t leading, though. That would be really out of step with the culture

        1. Observer*

          As long the LW makes it clear she is turning her camera on because she likes it, but no one else has to, and she only does it when she leads meetings I think it is OK.

          Well, that’s the thing. They do say explicitly that they are trying to “inspire” people to turn on their cameras too. That’s what a lot of people are reacting to.

          1. EventPlannerGal*

            If literally all they’re doing is turning their own camera on, though, I just don’t see that as a big deal. If they start making comments about it or asking people to turn theirs on or otherwise making a big deal about it then that would be pressure, IMO. But if they’re just turning theirs on and hoping others will do the same then I just struggle to view that as pressure.

          2. SpaceySteph*

            I don’t have a strong motivation to keep my camera off, but I will never do it if I’m the only one in the meeting doing it (and not presenting or otherwise have a good reason) because I feel awkward like everyone is looking at me. So in that sense, OP might “inspire” me in a non-coercive way to put the camera on. Our company culture is very mixed on camera use and I just go with the flow.

            I do think its key that she emphasize that its not required and also do it only in meetings she leads, but I don’t think hoping (internally) that some others might follow is a bad thing.

            1. Observer*

              but I don’t think hoping (internally) that some others might follow is a bad thing.

              Which is the key. But the way they are framing it – that they hope to inspire people to follow suit as a reason to do has a far more outward focus.

      4. Momma Bear*

        This. I have a team meeting where our boss (who leads the meeting) has their camera on, but generally no one else does. I feel no pressure to turn mine on. Also, sometimes cameras are off because you’re in a place where you might accidentally show a product or screen or coworker who shouldn’t be on camera. Lots of reasons other than social that someone might leave it off.

      5. Smithy*

        I work for a global team where we have a number of staff taking calls at 6am and even more staff taking calls from parts of the world where their internet isn’t great. Therefore, the overall office culture is one that is very supportive of staff not having their cameras on.

        That being said, when I’m leading a meeting I like having my camera on largely because I feel it gives me some body language cues that I find helpful when running a meeting. Particularly if I need to interrupt someone.

        One tool I find to give the context of a) no one needs to turn on their camera and b) I can also turn off my camera is to ask if anyone is having difficulty with their internet and if it would be helpful if I turned off my video. For my professional context, this is technically helpful and sometimes necessary, but I also find offering to turn off the camera to be a friendly indication of flexibility to the group.

      6. nobadcats*

        When I meet with my team, I always say, “I will never ask you to turn your cameras on. You can roll on up to our meetings in bunny ears, a Hello Kitty t-shirt, and jimjams for all I care. I’m probably wearing something similar anyway.”

        I do make an effort to have a fun and supportive team.

    3. Lynca*

      I don’t think it’s about pressuring people to turn on the camera though. OP sounds like a person that hasn’t been fully remote from day 1 before and building relationships without interacting in person can be daunting in that situation. I know a lot of people that have struggled with going from fully in-person or hybrid schedules to fully remote ones.

      My role isn’t technically remote but I deal with a lot of things remotely. I can go months to years without seeing individuals in person. But I talk with them via email/phone/virtual meetings regularly. I think the concern about people getting to know you is valid but building a relationship takes time.

      OP says they’re new. I would say if they want to have the camera on, it’s fine. They should also give themselves some time to determine whether they’re actually having an issue developing the relationships they need. If it’s a heavy coordination job, those relationships will build over time just because you’re working closely with someone.

      1. anonymous73*

        I had a colleague that I worked with for years and I had only met him once in person. Then he moved to another state and was fully remote. This was years ago and cameras were not used. Meetings were either held in person or over the phone/computer. We became very close, even went to each others weddings. And outside of seeing each other for special events, our entire relationship was built over the phone. I think that just like any relationship, if you have a connection, it can built in any way, even remotely.

        1. alienor*

          I’ve had colleagues and even a manager like this, not to mention many, many close online friends over the last ~20 years. I don’t understand the obsession with seeing faces, though I do acknowledge that it can be a thing for people.

          1. Smithy*

            From my perspective, I retain information better and focus more when I see faces. Personally, my work improves in digital meetings that way.

            Now, I know it’s not always possible nor desirable. So it’s not a demand. I also know that there are managers and employers that get hung up on screens-on as a means of micromanagement or replacement tool for “butts in seats”. But just wanted to give some context between a company culture overly focused on that dynamic of screens on as opposed to the preference some have for using screens.

      2. Smithy*

        I’ve worked with a lot of remote colleagues for many years, and while it’s certainly possible to build amazing relationships with colleagues without the visual component – I also think it helps for us as individuals to be mindful of what just works best for ourselves.

        No different than the advice to smile when you interview over the phone, that works for some and not others. For me, I perform better on Zoom/Teams meetings with my camera on even if I’m just looking at myself. And when I am able to see my colleagues, it does help me remember them and our conversations more.

        Now if its a one-on-one meeting with someone with no video or a case where video is negatively impacting bandwidth – I don’t need it. But it’s just my preference and I know helps me perform at a higher level when possible. I think there are ways of different people achieving the balancing of video fatigue and video preference without it being a point of pressuring others.

    4. Beeker*

      I also don’t think they are trying to pressure anyone and actually would PREFER that meeting leaders turn their cameras on. Not everyone has the easiest time discerning between voices and I often have issues processing who is speaking and keeping track of a conversation when it’s audio only. I don’t think it should be required, but I don’t think it should be considered “weird” either.

    5. Tamarack with a phone*

      In my experience, camera on/off is much more a team culture issue that can change on rather short time scales rather than a company culture thing. I’d also be careful not to make it a cultural marker – it should be adapted as needs and preferences fluctuate!

      We have a fair number of recurring meetings in numbers between 2 and several dozen. I notice that for meetings of 4 and under people tend to switch cameras on, but it’s fully acceptable not to – one co-worker never does when he works from home after picking up his kid mid-afternoon, another doesn’t have a camera, a third sometimes eats or exercises or has her dog or husband in the background, and then there are occasional bandwidth problems. In medium-sized meetings it can be a total mix, and the larger the meeting, the more “camera-on” is a signal that you’re going to make a contribution (though it’s not a requirement for speaking up).

    6. Paisley*

      It sounds like they are facilitating the meeting. I think the facilitator should always have their camera on, regardless of whether the other participants do or do not.

  2. Rocket*

    LW 1 – I would strongly suggest not taking the job. I could tell immediately just from the initial phone interview that the woman who became my boss at my last job was going to be somebody I found annoying. Not even hated, just knew that our personalities and temperaments would make it so that she would really rub me the wrong way. But I had been unemployed for 8 months and I really needed a job and I really liked the job so I took it. I managed to last fifteen months, during which time she drove me absolutely banana crackers, before I finally rage quit. As much as I enjoyed the actual job itself and all of my co-workers, working for somebody who was such a mismatch for me personality wise made every day excruciating.

      1. hamsterpants*

        You might rephrase your question. It’s not a great job working for someone you can’t stand, because the manager is part of the job. It’s an OK job with a bad manager but good opportunity for career growth.

      2. President Porpoise*

        LW1 – Choose your boss. This is someone who will have control over a huge part of your life including your pay and schedule. Don’t give that to someone you can’t stand – or who can’t stand you.

        There’s a person in my organization who has a position open. The role is a step up in title, probably pays better, and I could most certainly do it. The problem is that this person is a micromanager who doesn’t trust her staff and is very likely to throw you under the bus in a panic if anyone has a criticism of her team’s work. She is an objectively terrible people manager. I have reason to believe she doesn’t particularly like me, but if I wanted the role I know for a fact it’d be given to me because of the company’s internal politics.

        I will stay where I am and enjoy my current boss who is fantastic. I’ll get promoted soon enough and I have a lot on interesting projects and stuff going for me here. I would probably leave the company if I was forcefully transferred to that open position honestly. It’s not work it.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          If I had it to do all over again, I would not have made one internal move I did to work for someone I had had trouble with before. “It’ll be all different! We’ll have fun!”

          It did not work out that way.

      3. ThatGirl*

        In my experience, a job I don’t love for a boss I like is WAY more tolerable than a job I love for a boss I hate. Who you work for and with can make a huge difference.

        1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*


          I joined what is arguably the coolest role at my company and got a solid raise for it but was utterly miserable because of the boss. I didn’t like the person I became to survive that boss and it took more than two years to recover from the burnout.

        2. WantonSeedStitch*

          THIS. How good my boss is has been the single biggest factor in how happy I am in a job. The worst days in a job with a great boss, I’d take a thousand times over the best days in a job with a terrible boss.

        3. Shan*

          This has been my experience as well – a terrible boss can absolutely crush my spirit in a way that a “meh” job can’t. And I’m left doubting own abilities, so even when I move on, I’m not able to really excel at or enjoy the new role for a while.

      4. never mind who I am*

        DON’T DO IT!! I didn’t know what my boss was really like when I took a job many, many years ago. It turned out she was a petty tyrant, obsessed with obedience from her underlings and always threatening them or putting them down. (I yawned in a meeting. Her: “You’re fired. Ha ha, just joking.”) I realized I was turning into someone I didn’t like, and I quit after one of her more spectacular tantrums.

        Now I have the best of both worlds: I have a job I like, working for a manager I like.

    1. tg*

      If you are moving into an area where you don’t have experience, will you learn by working with this person, or will just surviving day by day suck up all your energy? If so I think you won’t learn much in this role…

      1. LW1 - Maybe Bad Boss*

        Part of the irritation is that he’s prone to barking up entirely the wrong tree, and tends to waste a lot of other people’s time because he has a wildly off-base hunch. So yes, probably very true to say that if I learn anything from this potential job it will be from colleagues in this team (who are lovely) and not so much from this manager. But again, this may just be because this is the only side of him that I’m ever exposed to given my current role.

        1. Old-Lady*

          Hi LW1,
          How does he treat the people below him?
          Is there a secondary leader in his group that is actually running the show?
          What do the people that you would be working with think about their department?
          Is there any other way to get what you want (at another job, in another company, going back to school, getting a cert, etc.)?
          You are in a unique position in that you can get the above information.
          Most outside hires really can’t..
          As we have seen here multiple times, sometimes a boss treats their team totally different than they treat people not on their team (good and bad).
          If this is truly the only way through the valley to get to where you want to be in 2 years, then I suggest that you treat it like college. This is your major and in 2 years you will have your degree. The standard payrate for your 2 year degree is 2 to 3 times more than what you make now. Unfortunately, at the only school in your area that offers this major, there is a class you need that is taught by a jerk. The jerk teaches llama pedicure 101, 102, 103,104,105,106,107 and 108 of your llama husbandry degree. You can’t graduate without going through him each semester. So, you talk to someone who is doing well in his classes (who you consider reasonable and sane) and get some tips on survival.
          Also realize that unlike school, once you have the job title, it goes on your resume and can be used immediately. If you already have the title Jr. llama care person at zoo X, why couldn’t you now apply for the job as Jr. llama care person at zoo Y? So your 2 years may morph into 1 year, maybe 6 months.
          I do know that since the “panarama” less people are wiling to work for 2 years under a bad boss or a bad teacher to get where they want to be later. They are finding other ways.
          Good luck!

          1. Twenty Points for the Copier*

            These are good questions to ask. I agree you should talk to the team and dig deeper. There’s a huge difference between someone who’s a terrible person and a terrible boss and someone who is kind of a ridiculous human being but overall fairly neutral to work for.

            It’s hard to tell from the description in your letter, but it sounds like he could fall either way. If he’s just kind of a name-dropping buffoon who treats his employees fairly but isn’t the best boss ever that could be fine if you’re able to reframe BEC mode into laughing at how ridiculous he can be. But if he’s a terrible boss, it probably isn’t worth it. Since you know others on the team, I think you should try to dig more deeply into what working for him is really like.

            1. Sara without an H*

              I agree that lunch or drinks with somebody who already works for this manager is an essential step before LW#1 applies for this position. (NB: I wouldn’t.)

              But even if the team members swear that “Fergus” spends all his time promoting himself elsewhere and is quite benign to actually work for, I think it will be difficult for LW to reframe their response to him. Face it, when you’re already to the BEC point with someone and you admit they bring out your worst self, it’s going to be very, very difficult to dial back to polite, professional civility.

          2. EPLawyer*

            Looking elsewhere for the same job would have been my suggestion too. If you want to move into this field, start applying for jobs in it. If its a stretch even at your company, it will still be a stretch elsewhere but don’t self-select out. Follow Alison’s advice and tailor your resume and write a kick ass cover letter.

            The advantages to this are: You won’t have to work with someone you already don’t like and you don’t have to wait 2 years for more money.

          3. Office Lobster DJ*

            I really like these questions and this framing!

            If the rest of the team is lovely and he’s the only one prone to barking up the wrong tree or running in circles, etc….I wonder how they manage him. Heck, maybe they handle him by diverting his attention to those external trees so he can bark himself out and they can work in peace.

            Or, another question: When he goes off on these tangents, are they ever in the name of protecting his team? In that case, being on the team would be a wildly different experience. “Fergus is a good chap. Those teapots must have gotten broken because your packing SOP didn’t cover what to do in event of an attack of rampaging squirrels. Never mind that Fergus let them out, YOU didn’t have a plan. You need to look into the history of squirrel rampages and what made them so angry that day……”

          4. Smithy*

            This is absolutely amazing advice, especially being mindful around how critical that two year mark actually is.

            One suggestion while talking to that person who’s doing well and you currently consider reasonable/sane – when talking to them, look for signs that maybe they’ve lost track of their own breadcrumbs out of the woods. If you start hearing comments that perhaps all managers in this niche sector are like BEC boss, that this is a field is best for people with chaotic minds or don’t respond well to boundaries – basically statements that rationalize or generalize unprofessional, problematic or chaotic situations on the team or the entire sector.

            This is a key indicator that someone who still may be normal and good to work with has had their own professional norms warped by their time on this team. And while it may be their successful coping strategy, it’s a good sign that people develop fairly significant coping strategies. However, someone who can identify how the team is problematic and then call out suggestions around how best to insulate and care for yourself – that’s helpful.

            I used to work for an incredibly toxic workplace, where those at the Director level were making money they could not make at other places without taking on a huge amount of additional responsibility and management duties. One Director told me that yes, this place was incredibly toxic and junior staff should leave as soon as was reasonable – however she had a goal to stay there until her planned retirement in 5 years and the money would allow her to do XYZ. My boss said he wasn’t leaving because all nonprofits were exactly like where we worked. Let’s just say those two people were not in the same mental health space about staying at that employer.

        2. Shirley Keeldar*

          If you have good rapport with the other members of his team, maybe you can take one or two out to coffee and ask for a confidential, off-the-record conversation about what it’s like to work with Boss day to day, and how they deal with his time-suck tendencies?

        3. NotRealAnonForThis*

          Granted, its my experience with a person who was above me in rank, but had no authority over me, plus our grandboss (we had different managers), both of whom were exactly like this (barking up the wrong darn tree, wasting other people’s time with “what planet are you on here” hunches), but to me those are blaring storm sirens that this is not going to be a great job regardless .

          Mr. Above me in Rank but no Authority still had the ability to make my ability to actually complete my portion of work by hard-deadlines excessively difficult, as I had to spend countless hours debunking his nonsense (“we can save money if we hire a llama trainer instead of a donkey trainer” “that’s going to be a union jurisdiction issue” “but we could save money” “but we won’t be able to get either party to agree to that” round and round for close to an hour because lord knows that as the lead in the department that handles both, I certainly couldn’t know what they will and won’t do by their contracts ::eyeroll::).

          Our shared grandboss was guilty of the same, but also vindictive when things did not go his way.

        4. Starbuck*

          As a counter – I worked for a boss that I personally found really annoying (and everyone else did too). He also had a deserved reputation for being incompetent. He wasn’t a horrible person, just irritating and inept. I stayed in that position for a shorter time than what you’re considering, but I will say it was absolutely worth it and I’d do it again if I was rewinding back to that point in my career. And for me, it was just to get a foot in the door in a mostly low-paid field where I’m still not making a ton.

          If I had the chance to get a pay bump like yours? I’d do it in a heartbeat, it wouldn’t even be a question. Unless I knew then to be an actually malicious person, knowing that I’d get the experience I’d need would easily make it worth it.

    2. Ms_Meercat*

      I think we also all know the whole “people quit managers, not jobs” dictum, and it feels like you’d set yourself up for exactly that. It might be much harder to get to your dream job objective via another route than this one, but if you’d make yourself take a job with a manager you hate, you might not get there either (a lot can happen in 2 years), and just suffer in the process. I would take that into my calculations of “goal dream job in another company in 2 years but bad manager vs really hard to get to the dream job”.

      That being said, I agree with Alison: I think it can only work if you manage to reframe that person (eg focusing on what you can learn from them, etc) and focus on your objectives (I am here because of XYZ). Just to give an example: I am currently in a job that I dislike with subpar compensation, and I find the company culture, leadership, and a lot of my tasks at minimum annoying (on bad days excruciating); but I have a very clear personal objective of why I’m staying here (getting a longer stint on my resume, with a company with an excellent outward reputation and name recognition in the country I live in, plus getting tenure in a senior role) which are all setting me up for better things in my career; and it makes it ok to be here most days.
      Caveat to my example though: there are things I actively like about the company and I’m already working on my exit plan as I’m coming up to 2 years; not sure I’d feel about it the same if I was at the beginning of 2 years.

      1. LW1 - Maybe Bad Boss*

        Thank you for sharing your thoughts I appreciate it!

        And yes – the two years was less about how long I’d need to learn anything from him (I’m fully assuming that I would just rely on my own training & research & lean heavily on the community in this specialisation, and my colleagues in similar roles if they have time) but rather what it would look like on my resume.

        I’ve mentioned in other comments but everything else about this company is great: I like the team, my grandboss, the industry, my colleagues broadly are great (or are at least quite nice); the conditions are good. I would be underpaid for this position but it would still be good money to me.

        It would quite literally just be my manager that is the major catch. I’ve had bad managers before, maybe even ones that are objectively worse than this guy. The more I think about it based on other comments here, I think he might be easy to manage up to, as long as I’m appealing to his ego. That said, I’m crap at kowtowing – and I think my success in the role will depend on me *not* listening to him a lot of the time, which feels like a major catch 22.

        1. SuperAnon*

          LW1 Do.Not.Do.It. Others have given great advice. Here’s my perspective. I was the manager of someone who hated me from the beginning. It was incredibly hard to manage them. They avoided me and hardly ever talked to me, even in 1:1 meetings. I tried to fire them (for more reasons then I can list here) but I could not get it approved. After that, I wanted them to leave on their own but they wouldn’t. One-to-one meetings were tense and painful for both of us. They loved the rest of the team and they enjoyed the work, but they were miserable. We both had to get outside help from therapists/coaches. They will never get a good reference from me. Your relationship with your manager is a very important part of your working experience. tl;dr One possibility is you could get fired if you do this

        2. Ms_Meercat*

          Key difference I forgot to mention in my post: My previous direct manager who I still work with a lot is fantastic and I love him. My current direct manager (the CEO) is someone I do not trust as far as I can throw him, and there are things in the past and what he does in the company I hate. But, he really likes me right now and more importantly, trusts me massively, and there are lots of strategy things I am learning from him; my day to day interactions with him are also a lot of “I think XYZ because of ABC” and he goes “Yup sounds good, consider 123 as well, but if you want to go ahead, let’s do it”. In short, that is also a very different scenario and helps me for sure.

    3. Yvette*

      “I managed to last fifteen months, during which time she drove me absolutely banana crackers, before I finally rage quit.”
      Please share!

    4. Alexander Graham Yell*

      THIS. LW1, I took a job with a manager I knew I didn’t like but didn’t think I hated….the 9? 10? months I worked with him before he quit put me in therapy for years, had me crying every day, and I’m still working out the repercussions several years later. He was a grandstanding, one-upping, make-himself-look-better-at-any-cost, temperamental, jack*** of a manager and I would not have made it two years. I barely was going to make it for a year. I got lectured on everything from how I should sit in my chair to the kinds of conversations I should have with our CEO and what he cared and didn’t care about, threatened to refused to let me work from home because I actually took lunch one day and didn’t respond to an email while I was driving.

      I don’t know that your potential manager will do the same things, but I wouldn’t have thought he would, either. I thought it would be eye-rollingly bad, not “in therapy for 3 years trying to recover” bad.

      Two years is too long. Two days is too long. Don’t do it if you have literally any other option.

    5. the cat's ass*

      Yeah, do NOT do this unless you get some great feedback from the current team who works with him. I worked in a job for almost 5 years with a hosebeast of a boss who traumatized pretty much everyone in the office. She had a reputation and i ignored that because the job was just so good. A bunch of us from that job are still friends and look back on that workplace with utter disbelief. And even worse, one of our fellow workers went into management and because she had only hosebeast as an example, turned into a junior hosebeast. So be careful and really do your research, because this sort of a job could be a disaster.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      “I take jobs; I leave bosses.” (Summary provided by a friend re her new job.)

      Don’t do it, OP.

    7. No Tribble At All*

      Absolutely +1 to this. I had a coworker I absolutely loathed (and we worked entire 8 hour shifts together, and she was supposed to be training me) and after 2 months my mental health was already suffering. I thought she was a busybody, she thought I was slacking, I thought she was condescending, she thought I was disrespectful… at some points I had to conspicuously go outside and breathe to calm down. It was bad.

    8. PolarVortex*

      Speaking as someone who in the past few years have had 3 crappy bosses for about 2 years a piece – on different levels of the crap manager scale – don’t take it. The only way you survive environments like that is if you already have people in the trenches with you that can become your brothers in arms (so to speak). And you haven’t been at that company to know who you can trust to do that with.

      One of my bosses sounds like a shoe in for yours. In some vaguely positive sense (because he wanted to take credit for every good thing that happened) he allowed me to operate way above my grade level, which was beneficial learning for me and slingshot me into a role I didn’t think I would’ve gotten (under an even worse manager). But I have also seen that same boss who let people do that blame his employees when things went wrong and it tanked their career. (I was lucky, it didn’t go wrong for me.)

      I have a good manager now, and have for awhile. But I still haven’t lost the near PTSD level reactions I have to meetings with my manager and chats from my manager and emails from my manager. I am somewhat bored with my job but I haven’t left because I finally have a manager who is a reasonable human being, and who decided it’s better to challenge me with new projects when he finally understood I’m bored.

      And I haven’t even gotten into how stressed/distressed it left me outside of work.

      This isn’t to scare you away from making the decision to take it – like I said I had some benefits too – it’s to help you see the scope of the potential impact to your life. Weigh your options, make a decision. But personally I’d see if you can find a similar job under someone else.

    9. Momma Bear*

      There’s a saying that people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses. I walked from a job where the work was OK but the manager destroyed my soul (to the point where I had a therapist tell me I should find a new job – the manager was so bad I was in therapy). If you already actively dislike him, don’t do it. Your sanity should not have a price sticker on it. I’d keep looking for something that didn’t involve that person.

    10. Hippo-nony-potomus*

      Moreover, if it’s your first run in this type of role or this particular industry, your interactions with your boss are going to haunt you for many years after you leave. Your training will be dismal, your work style dysfunctional, and your views of how to operate and succeed in that industry will be warped.

      If you think this guy steals the limelight when you’re NOT working for him, just think of how awful your life is going to be when you do work for him. You will never get the credit you deserve for your work. Now, even if your boss tries to steal your ideas internally, you can always put your own work on your resume and talk about it in interviews; however, you’re going nowhere in your own company.

    11. Ama*

      Yes, there is a nonprofit in my city that pays really well relative to the rest of the sector and they often have jobs in my area of expertise. The problem is I know from attending a conference at their building that the founder of the nonprofit is not someone I would feel comfortable working for — for one thing he smokes in the office in direct violation of the laws in our city (which is a level of “I’m above the rules” I personally have an issue with). He’s also sent representatives to professional association conferences I’ve attended that are clearly there with instructions to shoot down specific plans the association was working on that he didn’t agree with. His nonprofit actually does amazing work but they are constantly hiring, I suspect because no one can stand working for him for very long. I struck them off my list of potential employers a long time ago.

    12. SuperLibrarian*

      Don’t take that job! I took a job with someone who was obnoxious and I hated every minute of it. When I took the job, I thought “Well, I do good work, so I will just come in, do my job and leave.” Boy was I wrong! This boss wouldn’t give me any direction, was passive-aggressive and didn’t even know how to do most of the work I needed to learn.
      She also brought out the worst in me and, as Alison said, damaged my professional reputation. RUN!

    13. MS*

      I second this. I loved one of my previous jobs in terms of the job itself, but my direct supervisor absolutely ruined it for me to the point that I left the profession and have not returned since then. My situation was a little more extreme as there were only three of us on our team in a small office, so I had to work very closely with him and he turned out to be a sexist and verbally/emotionally abusive narcacist who made my life miserable. I dreaded going to the office each day to the point of getting sick and hardly eating at the thought of having to be around him. I was fine though when I was doing parts of my job that were off site away from him. He totally ruined the job for me. If you can already tell just from the interview that you likely aren’t going to jive with this manager, I recommend not taking the job unless you are desparate for work and this is all you can find for job offers. It’s just likely going to cause too much stress and unlikely you’ll want to stay there long. I think the people you work with often make or break a job. I currently have a kind of boring job, but work with more supportive managers and coworkers and have a work friend I chat with all day via IM’s in our remote environment which is really the only reason I’ve stayed at a somewhat boring, low paying job for two years now which is long than I lasted at my ideal job with the terrible manager. My stress is much lower now even though I enjoy my actual work less and my happiness is higher because I don’t have the stress of having to work closely with someone I don’t get along with.

  3. Viki*

    3. In my department, cameras on are only for your small (ie your manager and your peers) meetings, while the more senior you are, the more times your camera is on.

    For instance I have an 8.5 hour meeting every Wednesday (I know. Unfortunately it does have merit) where the VP and all of the directors are camera on the entire time. Everyone else doesn’t have camera on, unless it’s a senior manager who is presenting/representing their team.

    It actually seems to work for us/our culture. Our leaders are visible and it’s easier to put names to faces.

    1. Fewer Meetings Committee*

      … did I read that right, that you have a single meeting that lasts for more than eight hours every week??? I’m struggling to comprehend that part.

      1. Loulou*

        This is wild to me too…do people not take lunches and breaks? I’m really hoping OP just means a full day of meetings (which still sounds exhausting) and not literally one continuous meeting.

        1. Viki*

          Nope. There are breaks (2 30min) but it starts at 8:30 and goes until 5 pm every Weds.

          It’s the VP and his directors going through giant status reports in detail on a huge, national multi billion project with government grants, and outside vendors, municipal governments and other real estate aspects. Because of all of the risk, and all of the moving parts, it was decided this was the most beneficial way to get all the info at once.

          If you’re working in city X, you’re basically only in the meeting for the city X part/status update but if you’re in a director level, you’re stuck in it all day.

          I do find it useful, even if it’s long.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            I’m thinking as long as there aren’t a ton of meetings (preferably none) on any other day, I might actually like this. Going into meeting mode for 8.5 hrs and then being free the rest of the week to do my job sounds kind of nice. Then again, I might just be weird

          2. Antilles*

            I’ve worked on similarly massive government projects and long “we cover everything” meetings does seem to be pretty commonplace, because there’s just so many status updates that need given.
            It can actually be a pretty reasonable way to handle things, as long as: (1) you have a good agenda to keep the meeting focused and (2) there’s a clear understanding/norm that people show up only for the portions of the agenda that impact them and drop off afterwards.

    2. allathian*

      In our weekly or biweekly team meetings we usually have cameras on, at least at the start of the meeting. When we used Skype, only the presenter would keep their camera on for presentations, because nobody else could be seen anyway and it took a lot of bandwidth. Now that we’re on Teams, people sometimes keep their cameras on even for presentations, but nobody takes offence if you switch yours off, or are visibly looking somewhere other than at the camera (I’m so grateful that our organizational culture specifically bans managers from requesting things that are supposed to show engagement, like continuously looking at the camera).

      Most people seem to prefer to keep cameras on even in 1:1 meetings/calls or small group meetings with people in other departments, and I’m fine with that.

    3. TheLinguistManager*

      LW3: I was also in incident management and know how hard it can be to try to lead an incident response or post-mortem without org-chart authority. Building rapport and trust so that you can run an incident when the time comes is crucial, and I sympathize with the struggle you’re having.

      I would suggest leaving your camera off in large meetings and turning it on for 1:1 meetings, at least for the first six months you’re there (but still don’t ask people to turn their camera on!). People are more likely to turn their camera on in response to you doing so in a small, 1:1 meeting. That gives you the ability to build those connections with individuals, while staying in step with company norms. You should also try to schedule some ongoing (monthly?) check-ins with key people so that you build up that channel of communication and you aren’t popping out of nowhere when incident time comes.

    4. WomEngineer*

      I use mine for 1-on-1’s or when there’s a team meeting (manager + direct reports) Otherwise, folks keep them off, even if it’s a small group.

      In college (specifically for a thesis-like project class), we were told to keep them on for camaraderie. And it certainly helped! So it was a bit of a shift for me to have it off for most of my meetings once I started work. I agree it’s exhausting if you’re on camera all day, and there are more reasons to keep them off than on, but it gets lonely. I guess that’s why employee engagement is important.

    1. My Dear Wormwood*

      Drat, beat me to it!

      Also off topic: Alison, every time you say time warp I immediately think, “It’s just a jump to the left…”

        1. Annika Hansen*

          I finally tried the infamous Hawaiian rolls at my inlaws holiday celebration. I am almost 50, but I have never had them. I thought they were awful. They either needed to be sweeter and eaten like a cinnamon roll or less sweet to eat them a regular savory roll. I guess I would prefer the cheap ass rolls.

      1. Lolas*

        With a bit of a mind flip/ You’re into the time slip/ And nothing can ever be the same

        Good description of the last 1.5-2 years

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Also off topic: Alison, every time you say time warp I immediately think, “It’s just a jump to the left…”

        Thank God I’m not the only one.

      1. Allonge*

        Yeah, me too. You would think it’s the llamas, but no, rolls are the ultimate Issue.

        On the other hand, we only really hear about the bad rolls, nobody writes in about rolls turning out fine or…

    2. Lolas*

      So glad someone made the “cheap ass rolls” connection, and am curious if this is where the original letter writer for that letter ended up? Did they realize their real passion was rolls (Hawaiian of course) and become a boss supervising the making of rolls? Did they feel these particular rolls were “cheap ass” because they were small, and fire this poor LW for that reason? So many questions . . .

      1. MsM*

        I don’t know whether to be delighted by the idea of a Cheap-Ass Rolls Extended Universe, or concerned about all the other places the LW might end up and how many more lives they’ll affect before they finally find peace.

      1. tessa*

        Makes for an interesting “Why did you leave your last job?” interview question.

        LW: I was fired because I didn’t finish the rolls.
        Interviewer: Were they cheap ass rolls, by chance?

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        Between this, the cheap ass rolls, and the sandwich thrower, I’d say you’re onto something.

    3. Princesss Sparklepony*

      I came here specifically for the cheap ass rolls comments. I even resorted to the find function rather than scrolling.

      I so want to know what kind of rolls they were. And how much smaller…

    1. Viette*

      I so agree. Two years, at least. And he’s the direct manager of the role. If he’s unbearable then two years of bearing with him is a bad plan.

    2. TiredMama*

      Time goes by so fast … unless you have to deal with a really terrible person on a regular basis.

      1. bowl of petunias*

        Yeah, if you want to know how loooooong two years can really feel, definitely take the job.

      2. Midge*

        I imagine this is one of those cases where the phrase “the days are long, but the years are short” would apply.

        1. Clisby*

          But I’ve generally heard that applied to raising children, where parents presumably love them no matter how tiring they can be. This situation sounds more like “the days are long, and the years are 365 times longer.”

        2. EPLawyer*

          But not while the evil days come not.

          Except working for this guy, the evil days would be every day.

      3. Perfectly Particular*

        You won’t even put yourself in a good position to get those future jobs you want because you’ll a) be ready to take anything to get out of that job, b) have burnout and negativity that will show through when interviewing. And… if the manager already has you in BEC mode – imagine how you’ll feel about having to be deferential to them when you completely disagree with a decision. You should probably wait for a different opportunity.

      4. Jellyfish*

        Yup. I worked for an awful boss for exactly two years, long before the pandemic. In my memory, that job feels like it lasted about a decade.

    3. LW1 - Maybe Bad Boss*

      Appreciate your comments everyone! I’m worried as it’s something I’m trained in but have no formal experience in, that I may grow to hate the job type regardless through sheer association with this guy.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        I think that worry is warranted! A learning curve under a terrible boss will rarely result in you emerging out the other end with confidence in your skills. And if you dislike him that much, it’s going to be incredibly difficult for you to be open to learning and developing your skills under his instruction.

      2. Alexander Graham Yell*

        So I commented above, but I will say this is the one thing that didn’t happen to me – I’ve actually fallen in love with the field I was hired into (I have a masters in basically the complete opposite field, this is not what I trained for in any way) and because my boss was so bad I ended up finding other mentors who really took me under their wing and taught me a lot.

      3. Sara without an H*

        In that case, I’d really look for similar roles somewhere else. It doesn’t sound as though you’re going to get the kind of position you want at your current organization unless you work for Bad Boss, am I right?

    4. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Yes, I would weigh the potential personal cost pretty heavily on this one. Don’t underestimate the effect that being miserable at work every day for 2 years will have on you and your personal relationships.

      Everyone has a different tolerance threshold for it of course, but I think it’s fair to say that most of us struggle to leave that kind of stress completely at work. When work-dread starts seeping into you, intruding into your thoughts off-hours, you dream work, increasingly need to vent about work, and start hating Sundays because they’re “pre-Mondays”..? That’s the absolute pits. And it sucks for your partner/friend/family member too, because they’re the ones who will cop the brunt of your unhappiness.

    5. tessa*

      It’s likely no amount of money or job satisfaction otherwise will get you through. Don’t take the job. You’ll get another opportunity that’s worth the wait.

      1. Virginia Plain*

        I’m mystified too especially as they both call them rolls. You can start a great fight about the names of smallish round bread items, usually regional/dialectal. Here we have roll, bap, bun, barm, cob, teacake, stottie…then in the US there is sub, hoagie and probably many more!

        1. Former Gifted Kid*

          Sub and hoagie are interchangeable, but rolls are completely different. I think small round breads that are served as a side and are not part of a sandwich are pretty universally called rolls in the US.

          1. pancakes*

            If you walk into a NYC bodega and ask for egg & cheese on a roll, you are going to get a sandwich on a Kaiser roll, not a little side dish roll.

        2. ThatGirl*

          Subs and hoagies are not rolls, though – they’re sandwiches served on rolls. You could say “sub roll”, I suppose.

        3. londonedit*

          Yeah where I live a roll is something you might be offered in a bread basket if you’re out for dinner, but it’s also a thing that’s used for sandwiches, so a ‘cheese roll’ would be a cheese sandwich but with a roll as the bread. Baps are slightly larger and flatter rolls. Buns are usually only used to describe burger buns or hot dog buns, or iced buns (which are little finger rolls with glace icing on them). My specific area of England doesn’t use cob or barm or stottie (those are from other regions) but we do have teacakes (which are like flat rolls with dried fruit and spices, like a bigger hot cross bun with no cross on the top, which you have toasted with butter). We only really know of subs because of Subway, and I’ve never seen anything here described as a hoagie.

          1. ThatGirl*

            “Hoagie” as a term is pretty specific to the Philadelphia and South Jersey (er, southern New Jersey) area. It’s not widely used outside of that region.

  4. Loulou*

    I don’t find #5 “aggressive”, but that note does seem kind of…intense? Over the top? Sending a LinkedIn request is probably the lowest-effort form of “connecting” with someone you don’t know personally and requests are built into the platform! It’s not like random people are emailing you “hi.” Casual users of the platform are probably taken aback at getting grilled for an explanation when they aren’t thinking about it much beyond “this person works in my field, I’d like to see their posts.” Why would you not just ignore the request if you don’t want to connect with people you don’t know?

    1. askalice*

      Yeah I agree. It seems a little defensive for a networking app? I also read through a lot of the comments on that linked post, and I think it might be quite outdated (it is 10 years old.) Although possibly people are much more guarded on there than I can see a reason for! I’d love to hear more about how people are using it today.
      I suspect it is very industry based. I add many people who are roughly in the same industry (the arts), as I think the professional discourse is interesting, and like to think I am slowly moving towards being a thoughtleader in my industry (one can hope!), so I want a wide range of peers to see me and my thoughts/posts/career development.
      About the only people who I would not accept are those I can tell are about to pitch me their marketing/self-development paid programs. Although if I got a note like the one from the OP I would not be taken aback or shocked or anything, I’d just respond in one sentence that we were peers and they can connect if they like.

      1. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

        Two years ago when I was using linked I for my role (I work in finance and we were encouraging expanding networks) I would accept requests from people outside people I knew, and in other geographic areas/etc. I can’t tell you how many time I would get hit on. It was so discouraging and gross for a professional social application. So I stopped accepting requests that were not more closely linked to me – at the same employer, in the same field and connected to colleague etc. I have heard similar from sooooooo many women. But – I don’t respond when I get crazy requests to connect. I just ignore them.

        1. WomEngineer*

          I posted about getting a certification for a certain computer modeling software. Some guy with no mutual connections sent me a request (which I ignored) and THEN commented on my post about sending me a request. I removed the comments and blocked him.

          That was the moment I realized I don’t owe anyone a LinkedIn connection.

        2. Lora*

          A dude once sent me a connection request with a long introduction InMail and explained that he was looking for a wife with my qualities and asked if I would be open to relocating to the Southwest. He outlined his many qualities, including pictures of his house and cars.

          I showed it to all my co-workers before declining his generous offer. For a while this was happening every other week, I suspect there was something promoting the idea on other social media platforms, it seemed to be a trend that disappeared shortly thereafter.

          About two months ago a recruiter from an actual company sent me a LI message saying I looked really good in my profile picture and he’d love to see me around their office, would I be interested in applying for a job which …was actually something I’d be interested in, if I was looking for a job? Which was really the most disappointing part of it, if I had been looking for a job I would have had to rule that one out.

          1. Nanani*

            Some people treat any site with women on it (which is the whole internet, but these guys don’t realize women can read) as a dating site
            Yeesh, the creeps ruining it for everyone.

            1. CoveredinBees*

              Yup. I get randomly hit on or requests for free legal advice. I haven’t been a practicing attorney in years not to mention that what they’re asking for is well outside my experience and easily $10k in legal fees. But, yeah, sure, message a total stranger to do it for you for free via LinkedIn.

      2. anonymous73*

        I rarely use it myself unless I’m searching for a job. I don’t connect with people I don’t know, so I just ignore requests. It’s not about being guarded. I just get so many emails from recruiters for jobs that are not even remotely connected to what I do or for something I haven’t done in 20 years, that I don’t want to have to deal with LinkedIn messages as well. And if I connect with people I don’t know, that’s bound to happen.

        1. Elysian*

          I agree, I only connect with people I know and ignore others. 75% of my LinkedIn connection requests are recruiters or salespeople, and I will just reach out to those people myself if I’m interested. I don’t want to see what they’re posting or have any other interaction with them. But I don’t explain or ask if I’m mistaken – I just hit ignore if I don’t know them.

      3. PhyllisB*

        My last two years of working I got a number of LinkedIn requests. Here’s the thing: I’ve never been a LinkedIn member. I’m not even really sure what LinkedIn is. (From what little I understand, it’s kind of like Facebook for business?) Anyway, I just ignored them. But I still wondered why I even got these requests.

          1. Colette*

            Someone is probably hitting the “connect to all of my contacts” button, so Phyllis is getting a request to set up an account and connect.

      4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I only connect with people I have actually worked with in some capacity and mostly use it so I have an easy way to connect with my references. If I don’t recognize a name I just ignore the request.

      5. Gumby*

        These days if I get a LinkedIn connection request from someone that I do not know there is a 90+% chance that I will shortly get a marketing email trying to sell me on their services (software and temps/recruitment mostly) whether I accept the request or not. I find this annoying and transparent. Particularly when the email makes it clear that all they know about my company is that we exist. “Let me tell you about our CRM software which will help you triple your customer base in a matter of months!” Um, we do R&D and, frankly, the field is so specialized that everyone knows everyone already.

        I tend to not accept requests from people I don’t know though there are exceptions and a note saying why you want to connect can make a difference.

    2. The Sugar Mama*

      I don’t send a note like that myself, but I do understand why someone would want to if they have received a lot of spam in follow-up messages from strangers they connected with.

    3. londonedit*

      I had the same reaction. LinkedIn is not a big thing in my industry and I don’t really tend to use it beyond having a basic profile up there. Because of the sort of books I work on, I get a lot of authors wanting to connect with me, and if it’s someone I’m genuinely working with on a project then I’ll connect with them (not that it’ll do them much good, I don’t exactly have any LinkedIn influence!) but if I’ve no idea who they are then I just ignore the request. I wouldn’t ever think to ask who they are and why they want to connect with me (working in publishing you just assume it’s another ‘I’ve got a book idea’ or ‘Can you put me in contact with an agent’).

    4. ecnaseener*

      If it’s just about wanting to see someone’s posts, you follow them (which doesn’t send them a notification, I believe). Connecting is two-way so inherently means more than “don’t mind me, I just want to see your posts.”

    5. hbc*

      I don’t understand why people will respond so defensively to being asked why they did something. If your answer is easy and simple, state it. Considering this as “getting grilled” is ridiculous.

      Frankly, you’re asking the person to assume your intentions are good (i.e.: you just want to network, you’re not going to try to sell them something or try to wheedle a job) and then assuming bad intentions back.

      1. londonedit*

        I don’t think I’d see it as being ‘grilled’ but I would see it as outside the norms I’ve come to expect from LinkedIn – it’s easy to click on the ‘yes please spam all my email contacts with invitations to connect’ button and if I got an ‘Excuse me, can you explain who you are and why you want to connect with me’ email in response to that, I’d definitely be a bit taken aback. It’s…just LinkedIn? People ask to connect all the time and it doesn’t necessarily mean they know you.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Especially if we’re in the same field/discipline. Why you’d want to connect with somebody in the same field/discipline seems pretty self-explanatory, no?

          1. londonedit*

            Exactly…if I see someone whose strapline says ‘MA Publishing student at X University’ I know they’re probably wanting to connect with people who can help them get a job, if I see ‘Freelance editor and proofreader’ I know they’re probably wanting to connect with me for future freelance work, if I see ‘Writer and founder of the Llama Rescue Charity’ then I know they’re probably wanting to send me a message about their book proposal on llama rescue. Maybe it doesn’t work the same way in other industries, but there are usually only a few reasons why people will want to connect with me. Anything else I’d probably just ignore.

            1. Dahlia*

              I think the problem is you see professional contacts and other people see “people I can send unsolicited dick pics to”.

          2. DAMitsDevon*

            Except sometimes random people who aren’t even in the same industry as me send me requests. I’m fine with accepting requests from people who work in the same field and students/fellow alumni from my undergrad or grad school even if they don’t write a note, but when someone who is not in my field and I have absolutely nothing in common with wants to connect, I have no idea why them being connected to me would help their career.

            1. CoveredinBees*

              Yes. The other day, I got a request from someone in a field far removed from anything I’ve ever done. He was educated and works in an area of the US I’ve never visited and don’t think I know anyone there. No contacts in common and no earthly idea why he wanted to connect and it made me uneasy so I just ignored it.

              The only thing I can think of is I am related to someone who wrote YA novels that people have said really impacted them when they were young. We share a last name but she’s also dead so I can’t help there. People have contacted me before about her before.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Is there any app that connects people that folks don’t try to turn into a dating app? Nextdoor, Uber/Lyft, you name it, someone always tries to use it to date!

      2. BritChickaaa*

        It’s weird because the nature of LinkedIn is to connect with people you don’t know – the algorithm encourages it and the culture of LinkedIn normalises it.

        “Why did you click on me?” – no reason, I randomly clicked on 50 people LinkedIn suggested for me.

        “What do you hope to get out of it” – uh, literally nothing?? I don’t think I’ve ever even spoken to or had any engagement with anyone who’s ever connected with me on LinkedIn. It’s just a way to enlarge your network.

        Now my industry doesn’t use LinkedIn. I check my LinkedIn maybe twice a year and often have hundreds of connection requests. I just accept all of them – connecting on LinkedIn is more akin to following someone on Twitter, it’s not like a FB friend request where accepting gives them access to personal stuff.

        Honestly I find the note super aggressive and weird.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          It’s weird because the nature of LinkedIn is to connect with people you don’t know – the algorithm encourages it and the culture of LinkedIn normalises it.

          I think the takeaway from the comments is that the culture of LinkedIn isn’t as monolithic as you think.
          Some people use it for strangers, some use it for work contacts.

          1. generic_username*

            Yeah, I know people who connect with anyone and everyone; I only connect with people I know or recruiters

        2. Colette*

          I disagree. Connecting on linked in gives the person you’re connecting to access to your network, so if they misuse it, there can be consequences for you. I don’t get a lot of random connections, but if they don’t explain who they are and why they’re connecting, I’ll ignore it. As a woman who has spent my career in a male-dominated field, a lot of people I don’t remember remember me.

          I think the OP will probably be happier if she just ignores the requests, but I understand why she’s asking.

            1. ceiswyn*

              For me, the answer is usually ‘habit’. And it turns out that habit is an astonishingly strong motivation!

          1. londonedit*

            I don’t really get anything out of LinkedIn but working in publishing, authors *really* want to connect with you, so I’m on there in order to let them do that, basically.

        3. Sally Ride*

          This is BIZARRE to me – my network is made up of people who can speak to my work and who I can speak to theirs – classmates, colleagues, recruiters I’ve worked with directly. I will almost always decline requests from people I don’t know and click the “I don’t know this person” button – but clearly we all use the site differently!

          1. ceiswyn*

            I just don’t understand the point of connecting to a bunch of randos. What do you get out of it? What do they?

          2. Loredena*

            I wonder if it’s a function of when people joined? I joined in the early days and this is absolutely how I use it. People open to requests from randoms actually tagged themselves LION in their names! I still think of it as networking around referrals more than anything. And I’ve been recruited for my past three jobs through it

        4. Anon for this one*

          It’s interesting that you say your industry doesn’t use LinkedIn and yet you claim to know all about the “culture” of LinkedIn. Algorithms often are not acting in people’s best interests – they want you to connect more to drive up their metrics, not to improve your career.

          I hardly ever use it, and in my field it’s considered very weird to connect to someone you don’t know unless there’s a plausible one-level connection – they’re at someplace you used to work where you’re still in touch with people, or if you’re in an alumni group or something. Random out-of-the-blue contact requests? They’re probably either recruiters or scammers.

    6. BRR*

      I also find it a bit much. Not unprofessional in any way, just taking LinkedIn more seriously than most people do. Im a big fan of just ignoring the requests.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Yeah. Having to send the message takes more time than just ignoring or deleting the request. Just … don’t respond.

    7. I should really pick a name*

      Why would you not just ignore the request if you don’t want to connect with people you don’t know?

      What if it turns out that it actually IS someone you know and they clarify that in their response?
      I don’t see anything intense about this note.

      I think Alison framed it very well with this:

      some people will connect with any and all people who look interesting or useful while others mostly just connect with people they know, and sometimes each group is mildly confused by the other

    8. metadata minion*

      As someone who’s bad with names, a large part of my intention with sending that kind of message would be to sincerely ask if we actually do know each other and I’ve just forgotten.

    9. Snow Globe*

      I guess the OP is not selecting “ignore” because they are open to connecting with someone they don’t know, if there is a reason that the connection would be beneficial. But if the OP ends up never connecting, even when they get a positive response back on their questions, then, yes, they should just Ignore.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Exactly! They’re not saying “Do I know you? If not, piss off” – they’re saying “Do I know you and/or do you think there could be value in us connecting?”

    10. ADinosaurIGuess*

      I am getting a surprising education in how other people use LinkedIn here. In my industry, a LinkedIn connection implies that I not only know but have directly worked with a person in the past; it’s the equivalent to a personal endorsement. Having a stranger send in a LinkedIn request would feel as weird to me as having a stranger knock on my front door and ask to use my toilet.

      1. BritChickaaa*

        Gosh, I don’t think there’s a single person on my LinkedIn who’s not a total stranger!

        You’re right that it’s industry-specific.

        I work in the entertainment industry and my specific bit (UK theatre) doesn’t use LinkedIn but the entertainment industry in generally is all about networking, and nearly everyone is freelance. It’s the norm to connect with strangers. If I suddenly needed to find crew to work on a short film of mine shooting in France, or people to do a film festival panel I was organising in Mexico, it would be very easy to just go on LinkedIn and see which of my many thousands of connections live in France or live in Mexico and narrow it down from there. I’ve had similar offers though LinkedIn connections.

      2. pancakes*

        An endorsement in the sense that an employer thinking of hiring you would scan your connections and count them as some sort of reference? It’s not clear whether there is a practical use for these connections in your industry or people just tend to think of them as personal approval. Either way seems odd to me.

      3. Roz*

        I use it the same way and think it’s weird when I get a tangential request from someone I’ve never worked with. I actually just deleted a new connection because I thought she requested a connection because we went to school together a decade ago, but she never replied to me “hey, seems we went to school together but I don’t remember you. What are you up to professionally…?” message and she was one of those people so active on the platform that he activity was flooding my feed to annoying levels. I don’t know her and she added me then didn’t want to engage my message? Nah. Not my style.

    11. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      I wouldn’t mind getting a request like this if I sent a generic connection request on LinkedIn. It’s more effort than I’d go to myself (I just ignore if there’s no context and I don’t recognize the name), but as a recipient I’d have no problem with it.

      For context, I attend a technical conferences and sometimes speak at them, and connection requests between audience and speaker are pretty common, as are requests between people who randomly met and struck up an interesting conversation. If I forgot to provide context, I would have no problem providing it when asked. (I also have no problem with being ignored in that scenario.)

    12. WomEngineer*

      I’ve thought about adding a similar line to my bio. Something like “If we haven’t personally met, please send a quick introduction with your connection request.”

      There are so many people (mostly men) in my “received” folder who I don’t know. I’m an entry-level woman in engineering. Idk what they want from me.

      If they’re a Director-level person with several mutual connections, I’ll accept it. If they’re someone whose work seems cool, or they’re connected to cool people I know, I’ll accept. Otherwise it’s a no from me.

    13. Nom*

      Yeah I agree. There’s nothing wrong with it per se but I would be confused by it. People are generally thinking of the request as pretty casual and this response is definitely “intense.” My recommendation to OP is just to not accpet the requests and move on.

    14. LW5*

      These responses have been great and enlightening. I realize people use Linkedin in different ways and many people simply try and ‘connect’ with everyone in their industry with no intention of actually making an actual connection. Someone below explained my intent more eloquently that I did in my original question. “You’re offering requesters the opportunity to legitimately connect with you beyond the typical surface-level connection, which is literally what LinkedIn is for.”

      After some deep self reflection, maybe I’ll cut back on my use of exclamation points so make it seem a bit less aggressive. :)

      1. Filosofickle*

        I have gotten the same advice about sending a note like that because connection is the goal, so either the response creates an actual conversation (great!) or they vanish (no big loss). They usually vanish. Maybe because I’ve never found a way to write it that doesn’t sound a touch aggressive, though. I wish I could find the magic wording! Of course I can accept requests blindly but then all I’ve collected is a bunch of names and that really isn’t very fruitful.

        (Actually, what I really wish isn’t to write a better response, it’s that people would send a note introducing themselves to begin with. But, I can only control what I do.)

    15. PeanutButter*

      I only connect with people I have worked/collaborated with or actually met in person in a professional capacity. However, because a lot of people in my field have multiple names they go by (IE, they have an “English” name and their actual given name, or their culture gives more names than most academic journals have “spots” for in the Author field when publishing, etc) I often have no way of knowing if I actually know them. 99% of the time I can tell by going to their page to see their work history/posts and putting together that the name they have on LinkedIn is “Dr. Hari P.J. Kaur-Devi” but they introduced themselves at a conference mixer as “Harriet Kaur.”

    16. SpaceySteph*

      I just don’t connect with people I don’t know and don’t have any common connections with. I do think sending a note at all is unwarranted/intense, you don’t need to respond.

      But with the caveat that if OP knows themself to be pretty forgetful/bad with names and there’s a good chance that some of these ARE people they want to connect with but can’t figure out how, then yes it could be good to send the note.

    17. Grumpy Old Sailor*

      Another option for LW#5 is simply to not respond unless they feel interested enough to do so.

  5. Chili pepper Attitude*

    I find myself really wanting to know if the cheap, er small, roll maker got fired or quit. OP, if you work it out, I’d love an update!

    1. Heidi*

      I might be confused because it’s late, but I need some clarification about the letter with rolls. How did the OP find out about the firing/quitting if the phone service was bad and they didn’t actually hear the message?

      1. Eliza*

        I assumed that because of the bad service, they got the message significantly after it was too late to go back and finish the rolls.

  6. AcademiaNut*

    For #1 – my rule of thumb is “Don’t do this unless the alternative is financial ruin”. If you have to take the job to eat, do it. Otherwise run.

    You’ll go from a job you like, to dreading going into work every day. That sucks your energy and does weird things to your mind, and it can take a long time to get over it. Dealing with him already turns you into the worst version of yourself – after two years, you can get stuck there, and get a general reputation for being difficult. He might not be abusive, but he does sound like the kind of manager who won’t let you do your best work, or get credit for your accomplishments. Also, this doesn’t sound like a good way to get a decent reference down the line.

  7. Viette*

    #1 – “Money can’t buy you happiness” is a deeply flawed saying… but unless you REALLY need the money, please don’t actively sell your happiness for a paycheck.

    Seriously, working with someone you clearly detest: you will be so unhappy. You see all the comments and posts on AAM talking about how a bad job messes you up and makes it an immense struggle to get out; don’t do that intentionally. That’s like signing up to be roommates with someone you hate. Two years is a long time to suffer. If you want to get paid more then your odds are better job-hunting and finding a new job that isn’t 100% guaranteed to be managed by someone you loathe.

    1. TiredMama*

      Was it even more money, or just the potential opportunity to leave in two years for the next job that does pay more.

      1. Viette*

        It’s not even more money, just the possibility of changing to a job that makes more money in two or more years. So yeah, even worse.

        1. LW1 - Maybe Bad Boss*

          @TiredMama: it’s short term more money yes (I don’t have the exact amount but I know it will be under the normal range for this specialisation – for reference, let’s say another 10-20% of my current salary, which would still make a difference to me), but long term much more money (about double what I’m on now).

          1. cubone*

            I kept thinking reading your letter: but what if you don’t get one of those jobs, or you don’t get it as quickly? What if it takes 3 years? What if by the time you are ready to apply, you’re so burnt out from being in an unhappy situation? It’s just a lot to rely on for something better “one day”.

    2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      The roommate analogy is great. Like, amazing apartment + terrible roommate = apartment you hate.

      There’s a reason that job is vacant!

      1. JustaTech*

        Exactly. It took me way too long to figure out why I was miserable my junior year of college – I was finally doing really well in all my classes, but I just had no chill at all, everything bugged me.
        It wasn’t until the next year when I roomed (lived in a suite) with a friend and a really quiet gal that I realized that one of my horrible roomies (suitemates) the previous year had just been a constant burden.
        (She was a classic bad roommate: left moldy dishes everywhere, took over the bathroom with all her stuff, had really loud sex in the shower, refused to make even basic conversation even when we were in the same very small class.)
        At the time I thought “it’s not *that* bad”, but when I lived with different people the next year I realized how low-key angry I had been *all the time*, and how it had bled into everything else.

    3. LW1 - Maybe Bad Boss*

      Thank you! You’re right, I would never consider this if it was a roommate situation.

      1. LDN Layabout*

        And a roommate situation is one where both people involved should be on the same level, this is someone who’d have power over your career.

        If outside positions in this niche are so much higher in market level, is there a chance that moving to an entry level position in it elsewhere would still be close to your current salary? I know that doesn’t always work, but maybe worth looking into?

        1. Viette*

          That is a very good thought! I think that it’s easy to think that this is kind of an all or nothing decision, because the other options (ie look for an external job that has $ and advancement potential but not a boss you detest) are a lot of effort and uncertainty compared to the internal transfer.

          In fact, that’s maybe something to think about: is some of the appeal the familiarity of this internal transfer position, and therefore the certainty of knowing what you’re getting without having to throw a ton of energy into an unknown, like job hunting is?

          The internal transfer seems pretty bad because of this guy, so if you’re interested in getting a better job than this, your happiness is worth at least looking around outside the company. You might get some rejections and it’ll take effort, but hey, is that worse than working with potential bad boss for two years or more?

          1. LW1 - Maybe Bad Boss*

            “And a roommate situation is one where both people involved should be on the same level, this is someone who’d have power over your career.” Ooh this comment hits hard.

            I think even if I can fluff up this guy’s ego enough that he thinks we’re buddies, I don’t trust him to give me useful feedback which I’d need. This is based on things that he’s said to the person who is currently in the position that I’m considering taking. He’s not a particularly good manager: in breaking the news that the company couldn’t offer a payrise, this manager said it’s because the company doesn’t value them.
            … Yeah.

            1. No Tribble At All*

              If my manager dead-ass told me the company didn’t give me a raise because they didn’t value me, I’d immediately stop putting in any effort whatsoever. Also, I would cry.

              From the bottoms of our hearts, the commentariat is agreed. Don’t do it!

              1. Mostly Managing*

                It’s the fact that the commentariat actually all agrees which is the biggest red flag of all about the job.
                I’ve almost never seen such unity!!

                LW – don’t do it. Just don’t. There’s no way it will be worth it

            2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              If you did do it, would you trust him to give a good reference? I had a boss just like this, and I knew it going in, and in the end I ended up with great experience, PTSD, and no manager reference because I didn’t trust my boss not to say something weird*. I was able to work around it because my niche in my state is small, so everyone knew she was banana crackers, but without that it could have caused problems.

              *She had form for this – once told a potential employer for an intern that she had no idea if he was into criminal activity because she “doesn’t know what he does in his free time. He could touch kids for all she knew”. Intern was applying to be a teacher.

            3. Sara without an H*

              You say he’s not a particularly good manager — does he have a wider reputation in the industry? And if so, what kind?

              If he’s known far and wide as Fergus the Incompetent, getting a reference from him may not actually do you much good professionally.

          2. LW1 - Maybe Bad Boss*

            You’re right that it’s partly familiarity! I’m also in an industry I care about, and this is a specialisation I care about, in a team I really love working with – my grandboss is awesome and so is everyone on my team… except for this one manager (so of course he’d be the one to manage me! Lol).
            I have the sense that my grandboss might be feeling similarly as I do about this manager based on some particularly, *interesting* back and forths between them in Teams. So… if I was to take this job, as long as I can keep my cool, my feeling is that I’d have an ear or two for any particularly egregious behaviour from the Bad Manager. But of course, it would be silly to place any bets based on that.

        2. LW1 - Maybe Bad Boss*

          Thank you for the suggestion!
          To be honest I hadn’t properly considered that as an option until this internal job was posted, I wrote up my cover letter & resume… and realised that I was a fool for not considering this specialisation seriously before, I tick a lot of boxes, other than not having the job title.

          Having a brief look at the job market, there are a small number of ‘junior’ type positions going at about what I currently make or a bit over. This would be a much better option for a few years than dealing with guy! That said, I’m going to take the advice from Bamcheeks below regarding speaking to people in the team on the low down, and seeing if the manager is equally annoying in all contexts.

          Now that I’ve put my resume together… you’re right, I should be getting it out there!

  8. Vgw*

    Given some of the previous letters, I thought for sure it was going to turn out the person worked in accounting but was forced by the boss to make rolls to save money on catering.

    1. pancakes*

      I’m not 100% sure it isn’t something like that. If the letter writer works for a catering company, they should be paid for their time whether they were originally scheduled to work that day or not. Volunteering to put in extra hours for free is very odd. If this isn’t a catering company, it sounds more like a potluck than a catering event?

      1. Dust Bunny*

        We don’t actually know it was for free, though. “Volunteering” could also mean that the LW agreed to come in in addition to their usual schedule exclusively to make rolls while other people did [usual work]–that is, the LW volunteered to be the person to do it, but not necessarily to do it for free.

        We had a rare weekend even for my current workplace and I volunteered to be one of the people who came in *outside of our usual schedules* but it was absolutely paid. It was just that we signed up to be the ones to work outside of normal hours.

        1. pancakes*

          Definitely possible. It’s weird that they left on account of it being slow if they were there to make extra money, though. It isn’t terribly clear whether they left because of the argument and thought that would be fine because things were also slow, or whether they left entirely because of the argument and are adding that it was slow to minimize the impact of leaving, or . . . ?

        2. londonedit*

          That’s how I read it – I’ve worked for a couple of companies where periodically people would be asked to volunteer to work at a weekend event. Think of it like if you worked on books about knitting, and there was a big knitting trade fair on, the company might need extra pairs of hands to go and represent them and sell knitting books at the event. So they’d ask for volunteers for that – but you’d get a day off in lieu, so it was more ‘can we have people volunteer to work this in exchange for a day off’ rather than ‘this is a volunteer thing without pay’.

  9. allathian*

    LW2, please treat your coworker who’s in the reality show like any other coworker, like Alison said. They’ll probably be grateful for it, unless they’re the obnoxious type of celebrity who use their status to ask people for favors just because they can do so.

    You can either have a professional relationship with this person, or a celebrity/fan relationship, but probably not both at the same time. For your own professional standing, it would be prudent to focus on the former.

    That said, I’ve never understood the impulses that drive people to seek celebrity at any cost, including public humiliation in front of millions of viewers, or for that matter, the voyeuristic instincts of reality TV fans…

    1. John Smith*

      Seconded. I’m friends with a couple of famous people and whilst they will always be polite to fans, sign autographs, take selfies etc, I can tell you it’s a bloody drain to them. When they’re at their normal jobs, they just want to be “John the admin guy” or whatever. Imagine if you had something “different” about you – for example people were aware that you’re colour blind and kept getting asked “what colour do you see this as” (this does happen). It’d get annoying pdq.

      Treat your colleague as any other colleague. They will thank you for it. Also be aware that if you do develop a “fan” relationship, other colleagues may see you in a very different and not so good way.

    2. The Sugar Mama*

      It depends on the profession. For example, it would make sense for a creative person who wants to reach a wider audience to appear on a reality TV show, especially if they are being paid for it and have the opportunity to win a large prize (like many baking shows).

      1. MusicWithRocksIn*

        My SIL was on a super niche talent based reality tv show. She is a big extrovert, and honestly loves the attention (not in a bad way, she is awesome) and is just the kind of person who gets excited when she meets a fan or someone recognizes her. Up until the timewarp, she was still doing appearances sometimes at events centered around the niche talent, and I know she enjoyed talking about how crazy deceptive the filming techniques are in reality tv.

        My advice is just to get to know the person, see what they are like (for real, not whatever they seemed like on tv). Maybe they will bring it up on their own and then you can naturally mention you watched. A lot of people are on those shows because they enjoy the attention around it, and they will enjoy talking about it – some people do not and would want to get on with work. Just feel them out and it should be fairly clear which way they go. Maybe they have a ton of stories they like to tell, maybe they want to forget it, just put their feelings about it before your curiosity.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I have a friend who has been on a bunch of episodes of a realty show. Her agency decided it was good publicity, she’s telegenic, and she ended up kind of liking it despite the fakeness (she has been the realtor, buyer, and seller on the show)

      3. CoveredinBees*

        Exactly. There’s a pottery competition show that I love and it is specifically for non-professionals, so most of them have day jobs. It’s the type of show that really is focusing on talent and the creations produced. You get a sense of people’s personalities in a positive way but there’s no interpersonal drama or villains that drives the “hey look at these hot messes” type shows.

    3. LDN Layabout*

      That said, I’ve never understood the impulses that drive people to seek celebrity at any cost, including public humiliation in front of millions of viewers, or for that matter, the voyeuristic instincts of reality TV fans…

      You’re correct, making snide comments about others’ hobbies/ways of making money is a much better use of your time than those described above.

      1. Kal*

        People could indeed say the same things about the voyeuristic instincts of people who spend a bunch of time on advice blogs.

        The impulse that drives us to hang around here is the same one that drives people to most reality TV getting peeks into other people’s lives. The impulse that has us putting an identifiable name on our comments so that people can know us, even in some small way, is the same impulse that drives people to seek celebrity for celebrity’s sake where they can be known by a lot of people.

        Its all just things that people do and want. Just because the scale of being on national TV isn’t the same scale that you want to be known or the focus of the shows isn’t the focus of what you want to know about other people’s lives doesn’t mean you don’t understand those impulses. We all want to know others and be known by others on some scale.

        1. Falling Diphthong*


          Just because I prefer one form of limited connection with strangers to another doesn’t mean I am doing it the right way and all deviations are wrong.

        2. pancakes*

          “The impulse that has us putting an identifiable name on our comments . . .”

          I don’t think this is at all comparable to wanting to be on reality TV. It would be weird if every commenter was assigned a number like User76543, and difficult to tell people apart. Choosing a user name because the format requires one isn’t analogous to wanting to be famous within a particular medium.

          1. Myrin*

            Yeah, I get what the comment is getting at but I don’t think the particular comparison holds much water.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I think it depends what type of reality show.

      If it’s one of the profession ones (Blown Away) then it’s relevant to their shared work. If it’s a hobby one (Bake Off) then it isn’t, but neither does it claim to give insight into a person’s entire self, so it’s similar to having seen them in a local amateur play or recital. In either of those cases I feel it could be weirder *not* to mention it.

      If on the other hand it’s one of the “scripted reality” shows (The Bachelor) then I think it would be helpful for LW to think of it as an acting gig rather than a documentary.

      1. BritChickaaa*

        Most of the Bake Off winners and many of the finalists go on to release cookbooks and get TV, newspaper and magazine deals. Nadia who won a few years ago became a household name celeb as a result and has since starred in a million TV shows, quite a few others are regulars on TV and in the press. Lots of people apply to Bake Off because they want to become professional bakers or food writers. Bake Off can give you a career.

        I agree about acting, a lot of professional actors I know do reality shows for the cash and the audience never realises it’s an actor playing essentially a fictional character.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Local-level performing can also give you a career. This still isn’t specific to reality TV. Heck, apparently posting nonsense on Instagram can give you a career. I don’t have that much personality myself, but I guess some do.

    5. Richard Hershberger*

      I grew up in southern California. It was totally normal to know people in the business, at least in auxiliary roles. I knew a stunt man and a costumer. People don’t go into squee fan mode for costumers, but there was a real possibility of meeting an actual celebrity. The prevailing cultural norm was “Don’t act like a tourist.” Should you feel compelled to say something, the correct formula was “I enjoy your work.” This is in much the same way that the correct formula at a funeral is “I am sorry for your loss.” Originality is not the priority here, and is liable to simply embarrass both sides of the exchange. As for those people working in the industry? My understanding is that squee fan mode was strictly forbidden, as in being an instantly fireable offence. Everyone there has a job to do, after all.

      How does this principle apply to LW2? I think it is more like those people working in the industry. This isn’t to say you don’t acknowledge that you know about this coworker, but that you treat it simply as something you know about that person, not all that different from if your brother went to high school with them or the like.

      And seriously, it is far cooler to actually know a celebrity. Go into squee fan mode and you get a brief interaction with them, and perhaps an autograph.

      1. BethDH*

        Agree. I think OP could say “I saw you on #show, really enjoyed it, #subjectchange.” The coworker can talk about it more if they want, but the ball is in their court.
        Ideally this happens one on one, so that random coworkers who might judge them aren’t there.

      2. Pam Poovey*

        I spent 12 years in NYC. Nothing is more touristy than actually approaching a celebrity on the street/subway.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      I agree with this for the LW: You can either have a professional relationship with this person, or a celebrity/fan relationship, but probably not both at the same time. For your own professional standing, it would be prudent to focus on the former.

      However I’m baffled by some of the responses here. People on reality TV shows are not forced onto them against their will. They audition for them. They do it for the attention or possible fame or they would never audition, fight to get on them, and then remain on them after the shine has worn off and they find it exhausting deal with the fans.

      It’s best for the LW to have relationship with them centered around work and not the reality TV show. LW doesn’t want to be known as the SuperFan instead of a coworker. But it’s weird to think reality show actor doesn’t want to attention or to talk about the reality show.

      1. Elenna*

        Agreed. I think one moment of “Hey, I enjoyed seeing you on [show], anyways [subject change]” is reasonable. But then LW shouldn’t bring it up again unless the coworker does it first.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          I agree. If LW can keep it to a sentence and not go all SuperFan that’s fine, but that also doesn’t give the internal SuperFan to much enjoyment.

      2. Stevie*

        I think it probably depends on how the person feels about their depiction on the reality show. I’ve read some accounts of past reality show participants being incredibly upset at having been portrayed in a negative light unfairly or having their actions taken out of context and spliced together in a way that implies something else.

        I’ve also seen accounts of people participating in home makeover shows, for example, who sink tens of thousands of dollars into their renovations, and end up hating what’s been done to their houses.

        So, they did participate of their own free will, but the results may be something that they don’t wish to be reminded of.

      3. Jennifer*

        I agree. I slightly disagree with Alison’s advice here. Of course, don’t go on and on about it but I don’t see the harm in just mentioning that you enjoyed the show. It’s not really the same as harassing Julia Roberts for a photo while she’s out having dinner with her kids or something. To me it’s not different from noticing your coworker has some cute photos of their pets on their desk and asking questions about them. It’s just making conversation. If you end up hitting it off, they may volunteer some juicy behind the scenes tea.

    7. Hiring Mgr*

      Well, even though they’re called “reality” shows, my hunch is they’re not representative of reality… So it’s really just another type of acting, or art – lowbrow for sure but art nonetheless

    8. StoneColdJaneAusten*

      I met someone in grad school who had been on ANTM. I asked one question about Tyra and the withering response I got taught me all I needed to know about this. Never asking is better.

    9. Pam Poovey*

      I think it’s important, also, to remember that who you see on TV is not the same person as you see in front of you, even in “reality” shows. The participants are set up to act certain ways, fed things to say, edited to seem like they’re doing/saying things, etc.

  10. MK*

    OP1, I wouldn’t do it. You have a remarkable level of animosity for this guy, despite the fact that you apparently don’t interact much and you don’t mention any specific bad behaviour on his part. You will definitely ,be miserable and it will probably end badly.

    1. Workerbee*

      OP has mentioned quite a lot that can be both interpreted and extrapolated from adjectives such as “grandstanding, name-dropping, undermining, oversharing, limelight-stealing ways”. Perhaps you haven’t had a boss with any of those characteristics, but even just a couple—or one!—of those would be a trial to work under. Suffice it to say the level of animosity seems to have been earned.

  11. They Don’t Make Sunday*

    If you can’t stand the guy you’d be working for, it’s not actually a great job.

  12. fluffy*

    LW4: Sounds like a pretty awful place where being fired is more of a blessing than anything. And having been fired means you can presumably collect unemployment.

    LW5: Personally I don’t even bother to reply to such requests, I just decline, tell LinkedIn “I don’t know this person,” and move on. It’s not worth it to me.

    1. katkat*

      #4 agree. In this situation, say whatever gives you most benefit, in any form. Your boss wanted your coworker to fire you – Im glad for you for getting out. Hopefully things work out!

    2. LW5*

      Thanks for the perspective. I’ve debated not responding to any of them as well…is it worth the time? But I have had a couple of good connections created through it that have started as ‘random’ invitations, so I’m hesitant to stop using it. But it’s like looking for a needle in a stack of needles.

  13. John Smith*

    #1. I have your potential manager in a job I absolutely love so, I was going to suggest that you go for it. But when I saw that this person brings out the worst in you, I’d say don’t do it, purely for that reason. Unless you can learn to cope with this manager – and I’d say it seems unlikely given your feelings for them when you’re not even working for them – it will end up in tears.

    1. LW1 - Maybe Bad Boss*

      Thanks for your comment! There was a good point downthread from user Bamcheeks that made me think that the contexts I see him may potentially be as bad as he gets (ie. when he has an audience – as we’re not in the same team presently, so I rarely see him outside that). I don’t think he’s unkind, necessarily.
      I’d be curious to hear about your experience!

      1. John Smith*

        Well, I’ve eventually reached a state of Zen where I just stopped caring. I’ve had 3 terrible managers in a row and it took a toll on my health. I ended up having CBT and it did wonders.

        Current manager is pompous, arrogant and argumentative tool who cannot be wrong, ever. I don’t engage with him when he tries to start an argument or just agree with whatever drivel he comes out with and confirm daft requests by email (“Hi Matt, when you asked me to [insert daft thing here] do you want me to do X as well?”). When the proverbial hits the fan, events are then documented.

        In case anyone is thinking maybe it’s me who is the problem, the entire department (200 people) thought the same way.

        I remember ages ago one director was feared and noone liked working with her. She was a stereotypical fiery Italian who would bark orders and shout at people. When I was assigned to work with her I was dreading it, but we got on really well. She was no nonsense, direct and actually quite friendly. She only got annoyed when someone didn’t do as she asked and didn’t tell her, and boy did I mess up at times, but she was fine because I told her straight away. One of the best bosses I’ve ever had.

        I’d suggest seeing if you can find some way to work more closely with this manager or see if you can get the job on a trial basis so that you can go back to your previous role if it doesn’t work out.

        It could, of course, just be that potential boss is a just a jerk do think carefully and good luck.

        1. Alexander Graham Yell*

          My therapist told me that there is a relationship between power, control, and responsibility. Everything gets messed up when you try to separate them, and my bad boss had all the power and control but made everything my responsibility. I had no ability to influence any situation, but if it didn’t go perfectly (or if I didn’t respond with exactly the right word/tone) the failure was my responsibility and I was told to fix it.

          I had a boss like your fiery Italian, John Smith, with the exact same result! Lots of people didn’t want to work for her, but being honest and making an effort were really all I had to do to work with her well. Some bosses are great but different from the work culture around them, and some are….not.

        2. pancakes*

          “She was a stereotypical fiery Italian who would bark orders and shout at people.”

          She was behaving this way because that’s her personality, not because she has Italian heritage. Noticing that someone conforms to a tedious ethnic stereotype doesn’t require you to say so aloud when describing them. It is not something of value to note.

          1. John Smith*

            I just knew someone would have an issue with that bit – I used the word “stereotype” for a reason. It’s also getting rather tedious hearing from the perpetually offended in nearly Every. Single. Thread.

            1. pancakes*

              I didn’t take issue with your comment because I’m “perpetually offended” but because I think stereotyping people on the basis of ethnicity makes the world an uglier place to live. I’m not going to hold back on saying so just because you’d prefer not to hear that.

  14. John Smith*

    #1, if you’re leading the call / meeting then yes, camera on is fine and I think expected. But if it’s something like a training session and you’re not playing an active role in it, then no camera or microphone.

    I’ve been in several training sessions, meetings etc on line and there’s nothing worse than an attendee who thinks everyone wants to see them, turns on their camera leaving everyone to gawp at them and their pseudo sage nods and making a show of writing notes. It’s also very distracting and comes across as self important.

    My place thankfully has a “camera off” policy and it’s very welcome.

    1. Despachito*

      John, I find your second paragraph a bit too harsh.

      When I am on my training sessions (as an attendee, not work-related, paid by me), the leader always has the camera on (and would come out weird if she didn’t), and most of us attendees do too. If someone does not want to, they absolutely do not have to, and the leader says that at the beginning (something along the lines of “it will be nice to see your faces but if you prefer to turn the camera off please feel free to do so”)

      I have never thought of co-attendees showing their faces as self important, I actually prefer seeing who is talking, but I do not give it a second thought if they turn their camera off.

      I think that if OP says “I am going to turn my camera on, but please feel free to have it on or off as you like”, she cannot do much more, and if after THAT anyone still feels pressured it is definitely not OP’s problem.

      1. TechWorker*

        I also find it harsh. At my company (where there’s not really one culture, it varies between teams, but our site is mostly cameras on), people running large status update type meetings will often explicitly request that a few people keep their cameras on so they’re not presenting to the void. It is *hard* to give an engaging presentation with no feedback whatsoever – I feel like the same would apply to training. If it’s helping both the person on camera and the person presenting them what’s the problem?

        The software I use also offers the ability to pin one person, so I have the choice of not ‘gawping’ at them at all if I want to.

        1. Green great dragon*

          Agreed. Presenting to a void is *hard*, for me at least. Just one person on screen is really helpful – nods and/or blank looks can tell me if I need to explain better, I can tell that IT is still working and I’ve not knocked the mute button or lost connection.

          Maybe they’re actually the one thinking of others’ needs rather than the “self important” one.

        2. SpaceySteph*

          As someone who has led a lot of training over Teams this pandemic, it is SO HARD to teach without visual feedback. The nods (or confused faces) are really really helpful to know if the students are “with you.” Also in classrooms I do pause if people are writing to let them finish their note before moving on. I don’t see people who turn their videos on for training as “self-important” at all. Having a few points of visual feedback are very helpful to me as an instructor.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I agree it’s harsh, and a bizarre take. I don’t see what’s so unusual or attention-seeking about someone in video meeting, visually agreeing with the points made, and taking notes. Maybe I’m missing something?

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Hit Submit too soon. I meant to say that, depending on how many attendees there are, you may not be seeing everyone who has their camera on, especially if the presenter is sharing something on-screen. When I’m in a video meeting and someone is sharing a visual, I only see maybe five people on the screen. Everyone else is hidden unless they speak.

    2. Bamcheeks*

      As someone who runs a lot of training, I really appreciate those people! Being able to see a few people nod and take notes is actually very helpful— it’s something you are always looking for to check whether what you’re saying makes sense, you’re going at the right speed, you’ve introduced any concepts that are new and you might need to go back and and explain them in a bit more detail etc. So much harder to do when you can’t see any faces.

      1. bowl of petunias*

        I agree – that visual feedback on how the presentation is landing is very helpful to me personally. If all cameras are off but mine I end up feeling rather like I’m shouting into the void.

      2. UKDancer*

        Definitely! I chair meetings and do webinars as part of my job and delivering them into a void of people with the cameras off can feel very frustrating. I feel like a bad Bond villain launching a monologue about my plan for world domination and can tend to ramble. It’s always much nicer when someone has the camera on so I can see whether the message is landing and if people are understanding and it feels much more of a two way thing.

        Id never make people switch their cameras on but I’m always really glad when some people choose to do so because it makes the event run much better and I can establish more rapport.

      3. Allonge*

        This. I understand that not everyone can have their camera on, but a training is incredibly difficult to do well if you are talking at a black screen.

    3. Workerbee*

      Is that feedback you’ve received about yourself, I wonder? ‘Cause that’s an odd assumption to make, that attendee cameras are on simply to capture “pseudo sage” nods and note-taking.

      If I’m watching a speaker, I’m not also staring at other attendees. If I do look at them, that’s entirely on me. In any event, Zoom and similar platforms allow you to minimize attendees (and even the speaker, I do believe) so your sensibilities needn’t be assaulted.

    4. Nancy*

      That is an odd reaction. I would find it very weird for the meeting leader to have a camera off, and personally giving a talk to an empty screen is very off-putting. People can change their settings if seeing another person while you are in a meeting with them is so bothersome.

      So OP please put your camera on. As long as you don’t require from others it then it’s fine.

    5. Loulou*

      This comment is honestly ridiculous, and the level of contempt you have for coworkers who are doing something absolutely harmless is pretty worrying. I would be kind of disturbed if I found out a coworker felt this way about either me or another colleague.

    6. pancakes*

      It sounds like you are very easily distracted by the presence of others. It’s fine to know that about yourself and try to minimize distraction when you can, but it doesn’t follow that everyone who makes themselves visible during a meeting is trying to distract you, nor trying to be “gawped at.”

    7. Trawna*

      I’m sort of with John on para#2. It just looks performative to me. I’m very much not a camera person, though.

      1. pancakes*

        Do you also find it performative when people take notes during an in-person meeting? Or do you mean turning one’s camera during an electronic meeting seems performative to you? Either way is quite a rigid and peculiar view of how people ought to behave at work.

    8. Glomarization, Esq.*

      If you find that another person’s actions on a call are distracting to you, I think most videoconferencing packages will allow you to modify your own screen view so that you don’t see them. If you’re not familiar with your software, you can use search terms like “SoftwareName adjust video layout” or “SoftwareName switch view” or something similar.

    9. bowl of petunias*

      You’re really going out of your way here to ascribe negative motives to perfectly ordinary behaviour. If your strong preference is to keep your own camera off then fine, but there are many reasons to switch a camera on that have nothing to with self-importance.

    10. RagingADHD*

      You know, it’s always possible that the other person is just taking notes because they like to take notes, and leaving their camera on because they don’t care if you see them or not.

      It may be hard for you to believe, but maybe they are just minding their own business and not thinking about you at all.

    11. EventPlannerGal*

      I think it’s a bit weird to assume that people doing this must be doing it to perform or somehow seek your attention. Oddly self-centred take. They’re not thinking about you at all. They’re just participating in a meeting, with their camera on.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes. I mean I tend to assume people aren’t particularly looking at me. I do a fair number of exercise classes on Zoom. I don’t assume everyone else is watching me (although I hope the teacher is). I take the same approach at work. It’s a meeting in which we are all participating and I have the camera on because I usually prefer it, but that doesn’t mean I’m putting the camera on at people.

    12. generic_username*

      This is an oddly limited take. I work at an organization that leads educational seminars and we generally ask people to have their cameras on if possible. There are so many non-verbal cues that you don’t get in a virtual environment – nods, laughs, frowns, confused looks, etc… Also, it’s so much less disruptive to conversation to have people wave and give thumbs up instead of “bye” “hi” and “we can hear you.”

      I usually have my camera on, unless I’m in a large meeting that isn’t particularly interactive or important. Mainly, I find that I perform attentiveness with my camera on, which makes me pay attention more than when my camera is off (camera off usually results in me scrolling on my phone or working in the background), so if the information is important, I turn my camera on so I have the visual accountability.

  15. Bamcheeks*

    OP1, does your company offer the possibility of reaching out to the hiring manager and having a conversation about the role? That would give you a bit more of a handle on what he would be like as an actual boss. If you’ve mostly seen him in meetings, or come into contact with him when his department has been working with yours, you might have got a very different impression of him from what you’d get if you were working with him directly. Having a one-on-one conversation with him about the role would give you some insight into whether it’s a situation where you could get over it and get on with him if you were working with him closely or whether all the things that bug you when you only see him occasionally would be extremely magnified.

    I’ve known lots of people where I’ve found them irritating in very small doses or when I’ve only seen them in group meetings, but when we’ve had to work closely together we’ve got over it and found things in common and been able to respect each other. Could he be one of those or are you certain that the irritation would only get bigger?

    1. LW1 - Maybe Bad Boss*

      Oooh love this comment – this is very helpful perspective, thank you so much!
      As I’m aware of my dislike for this guy I’ve mostly avoided him where it’s socially graceful to do so, however, when 1:1 with him my experience with him is slightly towards feeling sorry for him (in the way that you can feel sorry for people who have everything they could ever want but don’t look around all that much).
      Now that you mention it, I realise a lot of his worst behaviour is when he has an audience. It’s definitely worth me reaching out to the people who work more closely with him to see if they can offer more insight (other than from my colleague who worked for him, whose position I’d be taking). Given that my expectations are so low already, perhaps I will be surprised?

      1. Random Name*

        I second this advice. I was recently assigned a supervisor whom I had worked with before and found them standoffish and uncollaborative as a colleague. But they are completely different as a supervisor – incredibly supportive, concerned and willing to go to bat for me. It’s a good idea to talk to the manager, you won’t lose anything and might get a different perspective. All the best with whatever you choose to do!

  16. DyneinWalking*

    #4: I think there’s a subtext of “how do I frame this when looking for a new job; and how will this be perceived in general?”

    I would argue that it’s essentially both. Officially and on the records of the employer, it most likely counts as having been fired – but, as Alison said, from LW’s point of view it might just as reasonably be considered quitting since they had a choice in the outcome.

    As for framing it, calling it a firing but giving the context is probably the best way to go; something like “I was fired – I left after being verbally mistreated and was later informed that I’d be fired if I didn’t come back”. That way, the word use will match that of the former employer and not raise suspicion, while at the same time conveying the active decision on LW’s part.

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      I had a “was I fired or did I quit” incident many years ago. I was a waitress, and my shift manager groped me while I was cleaning up at the end of my shift. (As in, he snuck up behind me, pinned my arms and squeezed my breast.) I broke free, swung around and punched him in the mouth, and then ran out the back door and left. As soon as I got home, the general manager called me to say I was fired and that Jackass was considering assault charges. I gave him the classic “you can’t fire me, I quit!” and said that he was the one who assaulted me, I was just defending myself. Of course, Jackass denied that, and the GM decided that since there were no witnesses and no proof of my claim, but Jackass had a fat lip and a chipped tooth, clearly his story that a 105 lb 18 year old girl attacked a 40 year old man for no reason had to be accurate.
      Since it was a part time job, I just never listed it on any applications. (I was still in high school, so the firing part of the incident never mattered.) I also didn’t care if it made me ineligible for rehire, as it’s been well over 30 years and I still have no intention of going back- I’m not even sure they’re still in business.
      The only thing I regret is that I didn’t hit him harder.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Good for YOU! I hope he still thinks about you when he sees the chipped tooth or pays for a new crown.

    2. Mockingjay*

      This is an excellent suggestion.

      But I’m irked that OP4 was fired for a volunteer duty, even coming in on a day off to complete it.

      1. pancakes*

        You don’t think the argument that “got personal” had something to do with the firing? There seems to be a lot of information missing about exactly what happened here.

        1. Violet*

          I agree! Need more info. What happened at the argument?

          Also, if you don’t receive the message from the boss saying you will get fired, is that a real firing? But OP doesn’t specify if they received the message or not. They say ‘phone service sucks’ but they aren’t specific about what happened.

          And yes, was there any more communication after the application?

      2. Saberise*

        I took that to mean she volunteered to work on her off day but was still paid to do it. Not that it was volunteer work.

    3. Saberise*

      I assume she meant for unemployment purposes. Likely if she tries to collect it they will say she quit by walking off the job.

  17. Audrey Puffins*

    LW1, the people you work with matter more than the work you do. I’ve worked under people I loved and I’ve worked under people I could not stand, and I will never make the mistake of suffering through the latter kind ever again. Two years is a LONG time to be angry every working day.

    1. Popinki*

      Totally. When I started my current job, the administrative assistant hated the office manager, so she’d find a zillion little ways to get on her nerves, so the OM would be all snarly and grouchy and take it out of the rest of us, and the receptionist, who was one of those people who’d be nice to your face and then tear you down behind your back, was buddy-buddy with the AA so they’d meet up on the sly trying to get dirt on everyone that they could make them use to make them look bad. The higher-ups were either too wimpy to get involved, or else the AA and receptionist had them fooled.

      Going to work every day was miserable because I’d have to be constantly on guard, not to let anything slip that the mean girls would try to use against me or someone else, on top of dodging the OM’s moods. It was draining.

      After I was there a year, the AA did something so egregious (don’t know, don’t wanna know) that the higher-ups couldn’t ignore it and was told “either you quit or you’re fired” and immediately the world became a nicer place. The receptionist was still a spiteful gossip, but she left a few years later due to health issues. There was turnover in a couple other positions and we wound up with a bunch of admittedly strange people who nevertheless all got along and going to work became enjoyable instead of a chore.

    2. Goldenrod*

      “I’ve worked under people I loved and I’ve worked under people I could not stand, and I will never make the mistake of suffering through the latter kind ever again.”

      Agreed! OP #1, DON’T DO IT!! If you already know you hate the guy, it’s only going to get worse over time.

      I used to work in a very interesting department with a horrible boss. When I took the job, I saw red flags, but I thought, “Oh, I always get along with everyone – how bad could she be?” The answer: VERY very bad, and in fact, much worse than I imagined.

      Now I work in a department where, frankly, the actual type of work I do is more boring and less dynamic – but the people are golden and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

      In jobs, people are everything. Run away from this and don’t ever look back!

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      Not if we’re going back to 2020! But maybe I wouldn’t mind if we could go back to 2015 or so and give the 2016 US Presidential election a better try….

  18. moss*

    OP3 you can build relationships with a global team without a camera. I am speaking from experience.

    Relying on body language and what people look like to build rapport with them is a dead end, especially in a multicultural environment. You need to focus on what they are saying and doing rather than their appearance.

    1. Allonge*

      I am sure it’s possible to build relationships without a camera but you do understand why it would be harder for some people? And having a preference for cameras on is not necessarily about focusing on appearance either.

      To be clear, all this might just mean that OP and this company are not a good match. But seeing the people you are talking to is not an unreasonable preference all the same.

      1. moss*

        There are plenty of things that are easier for some than others, that’s the nature of humanity.

        I think the OP needs to question whether they are expecting people to physically respond in a way that is culturally comfortable for the OP. That expectation may not be justified when leading a global team.

          1. Loulou*

            People also seem to be assuming that “global” means “obviously cameras off, OP is naive” which makes no sense to me. I’ve attended meetings and events with many colleagues across time zones where some people had their cameras on and others off…just like in meetings with colleagues who are in the same building with me…at least in my experience it seems to be individual preference that drives it more than anything else.

            1. UKDancer*

              Yes I have meetings with various people across different time zones and people have cameras on or off as they prefer. Often it has more to do with bandwidth and WiFi connection and people can start the meeting with them on and switch them off if they lose signal strength or find the image breaking up.

              I had a meeting with someone in Paris last week where the chap switched the camera off because he was in a hotel with flaky WiFi and one with the US where we had the cameras on.

            2. Fran Fine*

              No, people are saying there may be time zone related issues, as well as internet bandwidth issues, with global colleagues that’s behind why the company culture is to have cameras off during meetings. Are there people who will have no problem hopping on a camera at 9pm their time? Sure, and hopefully OP will meet these people. But OP needs to recalibrate her expectations and her intentions around this because some folks will feel like they have to turn it on – even when they don’t want to – so they don’t leave the OP hanging, especially if they consider her position in the company as being one of authority.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Agree. Before the advent of laptop cameras and unlimited bandwidth, we used teleconferences successfully for decades. I’ve done routine cross-country and international calls. Despite never meeting in person most of the people I worked closely with, we got the job done, well.

      I still keep my camera off for most calls. It frees up my screen so I can have the agenda, pertinent docs, or notepad open to quickly type points and actions I need to remember.

    3. Beeker*

      Many people have auditory processing issues, hard of hearing, other issues that make audio-only meetings difficult. Meeting leaders should accommodate the audience in the broadest possible way. Turning on their camera hurts no one and possibly helps people who otherwise would have a hard time following. If an employee feels “guilty” or “awkward” because someone else has their camera on during a video conference for work, that is an issue they need to deal with within themselves. There is nothing wrong about using video during zoom.

  19. Bookworm*

    #3: It can certainly feel weird but if you’re not pressuring anyone to turn them on this might be more of a quirk than a sign of anything bigger. Thank you for respecting that not everyone can or wants to have their cameras on. Maybe a compromise? Like asking people to turn then on every once in a while (if they feel like it) or if they have a question to ask, etc. might help? Again, this may depend on the culture of the organization but so long as no one is being pressured to turn cameras on OR off it could be just something everyone needs to get used to from each other.

    1. Colette*

      I don’t think the OP, who is new, should start requesting people to turn on their cameras at all. If she wants to have hers on, that’s fine, but any suggestion that others should turn them on is not a great idea when you’re new – the culture is to have them off, and a newcomer can’t change that unless they are in a position of power (e.g. CEO).

  20. Dee Dee*

    Is it actually LW4’s job to make rolls? It’s not clear. They say that they volunteered to make rolls for a catering event AT work, but I didn’t take that to mean that they actually worked in catering. I think that makes a difference in terms of how I read their letter.

    1. bamcheeks*

      Yes, I was wondering that. I wasn’t sure whether it was “I’m actually the accountant but we’re all pitching in for the work picnic and this is unpaid time” or “usually I work on salads, but since the roll guy is off sick I said I would cover it”.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Unless it was an analogy for something else OP wanted to obfuscate, I cannot image any office making full on handmade bread. They wouldn’t have the equipment for one, and any random office worker would make terrible bread if suddenly expected to do so. They’d just go buy some hawaiian rolls or something.

        1. bamcheeks*

          I read “making rolls” as “making sandwiches”, rather than “kneading and shaping bread”, but that might be a US/UK difference? The more we talk about this the less clear it is!

          1. Cheap Ass Rolex*

            At least in my US region, this would be kneading and baking bread. I know on the East coast a Lobster Roll is a specific sandwich, but otherwise a roll is exclusively a handheld bread side dish, not a whole sandwich. Of course, OP themselves may be outside US as well.

    2. Delta Delta*

      I wasn’t totally clear if this was “volunteer” in the sense that LW wasn’t getting paid, or that she “volunteered” to work on a day she’d normally have off – but was getting paid for it. It also wasn’t clear if the OP is a caterer/food service worker. Hopefully she’ll provide an update in the comments, because lots of people have questions!

    3. Cj*

      I took it to mean I volunteered to make rolls *at my catering job* for a catering event her employer was contracted to provide food for. If employees of a different type of business were making food for an event at their own job, than that event wasn’t being catered.

      I also assumed that by “they were a little smaller than normal” meant that they were actually baking rolls that were smaller in size than the rolls usually are. But I had know idea that “rolls” can mean what we include in being called “sandwiches” in the US.

  21. Zoe*

    LW3, if leading I have mine on and say at the beginning that others don’t have to turn theirs on. I am hearing impaired and reading lips is key, though we finally have a version of Teams that has CC it’s not consistent. So I prefer it if people turn theirs on for when they’re talking but I don’t ask now that we have the CC. Before that I would ask just when they were talking.

    1. Generic Name*

      This is such an important reminder that there are reasons other than pure unadulterated vanity and self-centeredness to want to have video on during virtual meetings.

      1. Observer*

        But if you have a specific reason or need, then you address that. Zoe actually ASKED people to accommodate her very reasonable need rather that trying to “inspire” (ie nudge) them into doing it. And she also only did so when people are talking, because that’s where the lip reading comes in.

        1. Beeker*

          @Observer why should someone have to disclose a disability in order to just use their video during a VIDEO conference? It is not unreasonable to want to see the person who is speaking when that option is available, particularly in a meeting setting with numerous participants.

          1. NNN222*

            And having my camera on can make me lose focus because I worry more about if I appear to be paying attention than actually paying attention. This may or may not be related to my ADHD, but I don’t want to assume it is. If it is, we have competing accommodation needs. Either way, I do not like having my camera on but I would be much more understanding about it and happy to do it if I knew I was accommodating someone’s disability and not just conforming their preference.

            1. Rocket*

              But that goes both ways. Some people like cameras on in a meeting, but would be much more understanding and happy to keep them off if they knew it was accommodating a disability and not just because, as many people discussing this topic here today have said, some people didn’t want to get dressed in the morning.

          2. Observer*

            @Observer why should someone have to disclose a disability in order to just use their video during a VIDEO conference?

            Except that is not what is being suggested. The issue is that Zoe needs OTHER people to turn on their video. Which means that she needs someone else to change the way they are doing things. I think that if you are dealing with reasonable people you shouldn’t need to get into a ton of detail, but explaining that it’s easier for to hear people when they have their video on is not an unreasonable expectation when you are asking people to change the way they do things.

            And for the most part, these are not really ESSENTIALLY “video meeting” even though there is video capacity.

      2. TiredEmployee*

        This, though my issue is audio processing rather than hearing, being able to lipread at the same time is invaluable in both understanding what people are saying and knowing who is talking. Fortunately the culture at my workplace is camera-on, but when I’m presenting (and thus the participants are hidden on my screen) I do struggle. And that’s with people I’ve worked with for years, meetings with external people I’ve never met are so much more difficult!

        1. Jack Be Nimble*

          Yeah, I was mildly surprised to see only one mention of lipreading in the comments section! I’ve changed jobs since the pandemic started, and in both the positions I’ve had, we were asked for cameras on as a baseline to accommodate deaf/hard-of-hearing colleagues and community members. I was resistant at first, but I realized that it was actually super helpful for me, as well! I’ve got ADHD, so I usually need a little bit of external pressure/structure to maintain focus, and the accountability of being visible to colleagues has helped me stay on track.

          I’m curious about how a workplace could manage conflicting access needs if some people need cameras on and others (like those in this thread) who need camera off. Has anyone encountered that before?

  22. Hiring Mgr*

    I had a situation years ago when my team switched bosses, and our new boss was a guy who I didn’t know that well but had a rep as kind of an arrogant jerk. Turned out that once you knew him better he was an amazing, emotionally intelligent, incredibly supportive boss who helped me tremendously.

    Can you talk to current or former members of his team maybe, or even try to meet with him beforehand to get a better sense if your perception matches the reality?

  23. LondonLady*

    #LW1 – Agree with Alison that it’s only worth working for a potentially toxic boss if you can reframe it in a “sociology project/colleting material for your novel/ what would his therapist say” way AND have really good support mechanisms lined up outside work for download and refresh.

  24. Lab Boss*

    LW1: I started at my current company in a department used as a dumping ground for managers. My first was pleasant but didn’t really manage and my second was kind of obnoxious and self important, but the technical work I was doing was giving me good experience so it was worth subpar management.

    Then came manager number 3, who I could write a book about. He’s over 5 years gone and people from other departments still reminisce about how bad he was One year under him drove me to start a job hunt, and 2 years had me ready to quit with nothing lined up. I was rescued by a different department head who unofficially met with us to tell us everybody knew we were doing our best and that our boss was being pushed out, so just hold on.

    I think you think you’re headed into Boss 2, who you don’t like as a person and isn’t a great manager but you just deal with it; but you’re actually risking a Boss 3 that will actively drive you from your career path and risk indelible damage to your reputation.

  25. LaDonna*

    OP#3 – I work for a company with a heavy sales presence, and every now and then 1 or 2 of them will have their camera on during meetings and no one else.

    I don’t think having your camera on will inspire others to do it, unfortunately. No one aside from sales has theirs on and no one turns it on when 1 or 2 other people do.

  26. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #1

    I once took a job working for someone who was a big mismatch for me. I’d known her in a professional capacity prior to the job. She was an outsourced vendor for my previous company, though, so there wasn’t a ton of interaction. I very soon regretted taking the job once I got to know her management style. I wouldn’t say she was abusive, but she was often condescending, very rigid, nickel-and-dimed me (I was exempt prior to working for her, so I wasn’t used to having to account for every minute as a non-exempt employee), and was just a terrible people manager. I lasted 10 months and that was only because my job search took nine months.

    I really wouldn’t take the job unless you can truly reframe how you see this guy. If you can’t, life is going to be miserable.

  27. anonymous73*

    #1 – I wouldn’t do it. 2 years is a very long time to have a manager who brings out the worst in you. A few jobs ago, I was hired as a Business Analyst. 2 years into that role, I was pushed into a support role that I didn’t want, but wasn’t really given a choice. A few year after that a Business Analyst role opened up for a manager I had a good relationship with and who worked with systems and applications I had worked on previously. I applied, and then the recruiter called and said that 3 managers were hiring and planned to interview all BA candidates and then decide who wanted who. I had zero respect for the other 2 managers and had no desire to work for either of them. So I told her I only wanted to interview for the manager of the position I had applied to. I ended up not getting the job and stuck in support for a few more years, but it led me to Project Management and I have zero regrets.
    #3 – I don’t think it’s weird, but as Alison said if you’re only doing it in hopes that others will, you should probably change that way of thinking. I only turn my camera on if everyone has their on as well. My main customer always has his on, but nobody else does. And that’s not likely to change.
    #5 I just ignore those requests but if you want to respond, there is nothing wrong with your language. I don’t like connecting with people just because they may know someone I know, unless I’ve been introduced by our common connection.

  28. I should really pick a name*

    Well, the argument got personal to the point that I had to stand my ground.

    LW#4, I might be reading too much into this, but it sounds pretty combative. If a work disagreement like that starts getting personal, I’d advise getting out of the argument as quickly as possible, not standing your ground.
    To anyone watching, you clearly have the moral high ground when you’re getting yelled at over the size of rolls. If you start responding in kind, it’s easy for you to start looking like the unreasonable one.

  29. Helvetica*

    Preaching to the choir here but LW#1 – don’t do it. I am in a career where I rotate internally every 2-3 years and even in my limited experience I have realised that your dream position is not worth working under someone you cannot stand. Just now I saw an availability which would interest me – but it would mean working 3 years for someone I do not like as a person at all. Your boss influences so many things in your professional life, and no job is really worth it.

  30. AthenaC*

    LW5 – I actually really love your response. You’re offering requesters the opportunity to legitimately connect with you beyond the typical surface-level connection, which is literally what LinkedIn is for. I wouldn’t worry about the people who are taken aback – there’s a lot of people who are seemingly offended by the basic social skill known as “communication” and there’s not much you can do about it and you wouldn’t want to be connected to them professionally anyway.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I use a very similar formula.

      I do it, in part, because I teach people how to use LinkedIn, so anyone who might have been in one of my workshops definitely gets a little gentle etiquette lesson and reminder to personalize their requests.

      But since the pandemic, I haven’t done these workshops, and so have been more willing to simply hit ignore on anyone who is completely out of the blue. (So, if we have mutuals, I might connect, or might do the questions, and if they’re from another area in some random field of business, I just ignore.)

  31. Missy*

    LW3: Would it help to think of it as a phone call and not a video call with cameras off? I know that sounds odd, but that shift in thinking has helped me very much with dealing with the remote aspects of work. My nervousness about wondering what everyone else is doing and if I’m connecting with them correctly when cameras are off went away completely when I treated it just like a telephone conference call. Just something about the expectation shift freed me up.

  32. PuckDrop*

    As someone in the last five months of dealing with a two-year boss who drives me batty…yes, two years is WAY longer than it seems from a distance. Especially because stress can take a physical and emotional toll. It’s likely to be worse than you anticipate, and what the LW said already sounded terrible.

  33. Bluebelle*

    LW3, There are times when I want people’s cameras on and times when it isn’t necessary. I am on a global team, and like this morning I had a meeting at 5 am. Everyone had their cameras on but I did not, because it is FIVE AM and I am not camera ready.
    This afternoon I am leading a workshop and what I tell people is they are welcome to turn their cameras on at the beginning, but if they don’t want to, that’s ok. I also tell them that when they are moved into the small group breakout rooms they will probably find it beneficial to turn their cameras on for the activity if they are comfortable. I never force the issue, I let people make their own decisions. Sometimes we just don’t feel like it!

    1. LaDonna*

      I am mostly never camera ready, sometimes people will be like “i guess i’m the only one on camera” yea, i’m literally in my frumpwear. no thank u :P

  34. Sunflower*

    #1 I once had a great job. Then my boss left and a new one got hired. She was awful and I had to apply for another job because I dread going to work every day, even though the job itself was easy.

    So I agree with the advice that you shouldn’t apply unless you really need the money.

  35. Sporty Yoda*

    LW3; I have the opposite issue, where my supervisor prefers us to keep our cameras on during meetings. However, I have an older personal laptop, too much memory/CPU/computers usage can crash the meetings software we use randomly… which tends to happen when it’s receiving 12ish video streams and transmitting mine. Other than my supervisor being passive aggressive about how I’m the only one with video off (I explain that it’ll crash my computer EVERY time), it isn’t too weird. If you’re more comfortable with video on, keep video on, with the knowledge that you may just be the only one (ie don’t request others turn video on).

  36. AnonInCanada*

    LW#4 – is baking rolls part of your job description? If not, maybe you can hook up Ms. Cheap-Ass Rolls to your (former) boss and let her handle it. :-D And your boss is out of line if that is the case as well.

  37. mlem*

    | a real person whose reality is documented for millions of people as entertainment

    LW2, how true this is varies on the subtype of reality show you mean, but at *best* it’s probably slightly inaccurate. At worst, it’s completely false. Everyone involved in generating a “reality” show is there to sell a story, and everything from the creating of situations to the editing works to that end. Truth/reality is orthogonal, if it intersects at all.

    That’s less of a worry for certain classes of “reality” show (game shows, crafting contests like fashion/cooking/makeup), but a far larger one for others (Survivor, Big Brother, Real World, Bachelor/ette, The Osbornes, etc.). Calibrate to the level of this person’s specific show, but always remember that you don’t have a secret knowledge of this coworker’s “reality”. You know how this person appears in a very biased context.

    (If the topic came up naturally, that’s probably the way I’d ask anything about the subject — asking the person their opinion of how “real” the show they were on actually is.)

    1. SJ (they/them)*

      Seconding this – I had a close friend on of the more, I don’t know, legit-seeming reality shows? It was a skill contest type anyway, if that makes sense. It was really upsetting in the end, the way they edited the show to tell a “story” that cast my friend as the villain, completely misrepresenting events and making them seem like a huge asshole. It really sucked.

    2. Purple Cat*

      From the wording LW2 made it seem like the person is CURRENTLY on a reality TV show and that just makes no sense to me. How does that jive with holding down a (presumably) full-time job.

      Doesn’t really matter – Alison’s advice holds to ignore the TV stuff and focus on the work.

      1. Jennifer*

        They are usually filmed well in advance of airing usually so it’s possible someone could be done with filming and already back to their regular job. They probably made them sign an agreement promising not to spill any secrets about the show until it’s aired in full.

  38. Bluebelle*

    “his grandstanding, name-dropping, undermining, oversharing, limelight-stealing ways”

    no, it isn’t worth it! Undermining and lime-light stealing and the way he brings out the worst in you will not advance your career in any way.

  39. Kimmy Schmidt*

    If I had a nickel for every time Alison has answered a question about rolls, I’d have two nickels. Which isn’t a lot, but it’s weird that it happened twice.

  40. a tester, not a developer*

    I didn’t see this mentioned elsewhere, but if you are on Teams and you’re sick of looking at the 2 people who have not turned their cameras off, click on the three dots at the top of the screen (Settings and More). Near the bottom of the dropdown there’s a ‘Turn Off Incoming Video’ option. You have to do it for each meeting, but it’s a lifesaver if you have bandwidth issues – or just don’t want to have to stare at Joe while he eats during the meeting. You can still see the presenter’s screen – it just reverts all the other participants to their thumbnail pictures.

  41. awesome3*

    #2 – Make sure you get to know them as a coworker, even if it feels like you already know them from TV. You don’t want preconceived notions of them you have from watching the show impacting your work. If they mention the show, you don’t have to pretend you don’t watch it, but you do have to prioritize your working relationships over the fandom.

  42. Observer*

    I would never ask others to turn cameras on, but 1) I hope that seeing me will in some way help them get to know me or at least remember me and 2) maybe it would inspire others to turn their cameras on as well?

    I want to pick up on something that I didn’t see explicitly mentioned. What you are saying here reads like a classic case of unstated expectations. You would “never” ask people to do something. But you want them to do it – and you are trying to “inspire” them to to do that thing that you can’t ASK them to do. That’s never a good set up – and it’s especially bad what the thing (that you want, want people to do for you, but don’t want to say that you want) is out of line with company culture and standard practice.

    Perhaps you could do on short meeting (or series of smaller short meetings, depending on your team) where everyone is TOLD that you would like them to have their cameras on for “getting to know you”. That should be SHORT, and people should know in advance. And, as others have noted, you need to be extra flexible with scheduling, etc. to accommodate things like time zones and other constraints that people might have. But don’t try to “inspire’ people to do things that you know you can’t ask them to do. It’s a recipe for frustration.

    1. Soup of the Day*

      I feel like there’s a less serious read of this, which is simply that it can feel weird to be the only person with your camera on. I don’t mind having my camera on for work meetings, but I’m definitely not going to turn it on if no one else does. If OP has their camera on, others might feel more comfortable doing so as well. It’s not necessarily a situation where OP is hoping to singlehandedly to change the culture or is holding it against people who keep their cameras off. But I would definitely be more likely to turn my camera on if a few other people in the meeting were doing so, as well.

  43. SJ (they/them)*

    LW #2, if you can at all manage it, try your very hardest to convince your brain that you actually work with a shockingly accurate doppelganger of someone who is on a reality show. Like, haha, can you believe it, what are the odds? Looks the exact same, exact same name, maybe references to identical-seeming families/friends/past events — how very very unlikely. And yet, so it goes! Sometimes very surprising things happen, and you just happen to work with an exact doppelganger of a reality show participant. Of course it would be rude to bring this up with the unfortunate doppelganger, so you’ll never mention it to them.

    This might sound silly but for real, the more you can just make this not be a thing in your head, the better.

    Good luck.

  44. Self-fulfilling Prophecy*

    For #1, why get so boggled? The odds you could interview with someone you have such a low opinion of and actually get the job seem rather slim.

  45. Reality show non-watcher*

    LW #2 – I think there is a good rule of thumb for whether or not to bring up something you know about a coworker that they didn’t tell you themself: if it’s something you have in common, you’re good. If it’s not, forget it. One gives you something shared to talk about. The other makes your interlocutor feel surveilled.

    Example: “Hey I saw you the other night at the pottery studio as I was going to my class! I love it there, they have so many beautiful glazes!” is fine.

    “Hey, I saw you through the window at the pottery studio the other night. When I stopped to observe you through the glass, it seemed like you were having a great time!” is not fine.

    “My brother-in-law told me you and he went to school together! Small world!” is fine.

    “I saw on your Facebook that you know someone called Terence Knightworthy. I went to his profile and he is handsome. Go you for having good-looking friends!” is not fine.

    So if *you* had been on reality TV, I think “Whoa, I just caught your episode of House Hunters International last night! That’s wild, I was on the show in 2016 when I bought my Tuscan island!” is fine. But “I love you on Real Housewives!” is not.

    Obviously I am exaggerating for effect in these examples, but you get it.

    1. Soup of the Day*

      I totally agree – it’s about what you say and how you say it. Honestly, I would lean towards saying something just to get it out there that I know about the show, but I guess it depends on the person’s level of involvement. Like it would be super weird to work with Kim Kardashian and pretend to be oblivious to her fame, and she would probably feel uncomfortable later if she found out you were a die-hard Kardashians fan the whole time, right? I would almost think it would be the opposite of what Alison said – by pretending not to know about the show, the person might confide in you in a way they normally wouldn’t with a fan and could feel betrayed later.

      But if someone was just on an episode of Wheel of Fortune or something (not a reality show, I know) then I don’t think it would be weird to either ignore it altogether or make a small comment like “hey, caught your episode last night – fun!”

  46. Not your typical admin*

    LW 2 – don’t change the way you treat them. I had a friend who decided to do a reality show. My best advice is to not even watch it. Here’s a couple of things I learned.

    1. Reality show are extremely fake, and scripted. I watched one episode of the show my friend was on, and found it really weird to watch the on screen storyline unfold in a way I knew didn’t happen in real life.

    2. After the show aired, he enjoyed having some normalcy and not talking about tv. During filming, and before the season aired there were a lot of things he wasn’t allowed to talk about.

    3. The sudden fame can be hard to deal with and there can be a lot of fallout. For him, the fame was great for awhile, but wound up costing him a lot. Eventually it resulted in a divorce, and his business imploding. He wound up shutting down all his social media, moving across the county and pretty much restarting his life. He’s just restarted the business side of his social media with no mention of the reality show.

  47. Olivia Oil*

    3 – There isn’t anything wrong with having your camera on of course, but don’t be disappointed if other people don’t follow suit.

  48. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

    Ok, look. This is something that I’ve noticed in this comment section, and nowhere else.


    I really give some serious side-eye to anyone who insists that getting a connect request from someone they don’t know is some serious affront. That is precisely what Linkedin is for! It is not for friends. It is not for family. It is for business networking. By default, your coworkers, colleagues and peers are not your friends. So can we jettison this attitude of knee-jerk offense when someone you don’t know sends a connect request? And please, DON’T send a pithy response demanding to know who that person is or why they are reaching out. They are reaching out because they want to find a job, just like everyone else on Linkedin! If you don’t want to connect, then quietly hit that “decline” button and move on with you day.

    There really, really is no need to get offended at every little thing that happens to you in the course of your day, least of all a Linkedin request. Doesn’t feeling that way constantly just make YOUR life harder?

    1. That’s not what networking is.*

      Isn’t it kind of like a cold email, though? If I am trying to network to get a job, I get an introduction from someone who knows (someone who knows someone who knows) the person I’m trying to connect with. Me just cold-emailing someone who works at the company I want to work at is weird and shows that I don’t understand work norms.

      Networking is about leveraging your NETWORKS – the people you know and the people they know. A stranger is not part of your network.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      The LW isn’t getting offended. They’re asking for more information. How is that unreasonable?

    3. bamcheeks*

      But simply adding someone on LinkedIn is not networking! Networking is introducing yourself to people and finding out whether or not you can help each other. Simply clicking “connect” isn’t networking: what OP is asking people to do is.

    4. Tamarack with a phone*

      But no one was offended about that! The people who had offense on their mind are the ones receiving the OPs inquiry!

      And, I’m sorry, but LinkedIn is a piece of software I use, and the configuration of my use of it (eg who I connect to) is 100% my business as long as I’m polite about it – and the OP was perfectly polite.

      Also, not everyone uses LinkedIn, or even networking, primarily to get a job. I mostly do to keep up with the careers of former co-workers, get a feeling what people are getting into (hot topics, what sort of jobs there are, new directions…) and to s out out potential collaborators.

  49. SuspectedDragon*

    LW 1 – I currently work a job that I love for someone that sends me into BEC mode big time, and it’s exhausting. It’s something that developed over time but had I known how this person would make me feel before I wouldn’t have taken the job, even though I love the work that I do. It sucks but ultimately my boss has drained all the enjoyment I get out of my work. All of this to say: I do not recommend taking the job!

  50. Jewel of Toronto*

    Not to disagree with Allison’s sage advice, which I appreciate, but I want to propose an alternative for question #1. I have personally learned more from “bad” bosses than I have from good ones; I have learned how to stand my ground, present my case persuasively, deal with difficult behavior, get things done without an executive sponsor, etc. I am also a believer in taking calculated risks in order to get ahead. Such risks include things like taking a job at a new company where the boss is an unknown entity.
    What I am saying is that my advice, take it or leave it, is to calculate your risks and your potential learnings before just saying no. Of course you don’t want to wake up every morning with a sense of dread, but perhaps this role can teach you more about your own resiliency and have net positive impact over the long term. Plus, this guy is a “known known” and a new boss at a new company is and “unknown unknown”.

    1. Goldenrod*

      “I have personally learned more from “bad” bosses than I have from good ones; I have learned how to stand my ground, present my case persuasively, deal with difficult behavior, get things done without an executive sponsor, etc. ”

      Jewel of Toronto, I want to disagree with this….but I have to admit, you do have a point. I did learn these kinds of things from bad bosses.

      But what a painful learning curve!!

      I would add that there is a big difference between taking a job where the boss is an unknown entity (which I could see myself doing), and taking a job where you already know you loathe the boss (which, after my bad experiences with bad bosses, I would never do).

    2. Purple Cat*

      I think there’s a key difference between “making the most of a bad situation” and learning and growing from it vs. deliberately putting yourself in a bad situation.

  51. SJJ*

    OP #4: If the boss wasn’t the one who made the call and communicated the threat – did OP lose the job at all?

    Anyone can call and say the boss said something… that doesn’t make it true.

    1. TiredEmployee*

      Correction: it visually marks whose microphone is picking up noise. Between people typing, moving in their chairs, animals making noise etc. people are frequently highlighted when they’re not talking.

  52. KK*

    LW1…..I had a great job working for someone I hated. I would not recommend this for anyone. It would have been ideal if I could have been left alone to do my job. But I had a manager who was mean, cruel, heartless and a micromanager. My stomach hurt every morning & I cried on my daily commute, knowing I’d have to face her & her moods and rants against me. It wore me to a nub. I had to go the route of anti-depressants. To my own horror, I was relieved to see her take a shortened work schedule for cancer treatments. She called and texted me on my vacation days, sick days & weekends. 10/10 do NOT recommend.

    1. Goldenrod*

      “To my own horror, I was relieved to see her take a shortened work schedule for cancer treatments.”

      You reap what you sow. My mom asked her boss to let her leave early the day she found out her sister had breast cancer (she wanted to call her – this was before smartphones) but there was a big time difference which made calling after work hard.

      The boss said no. My mom was devastated and had to somehow make it through that work day.

      Years later, the boss got cancer.

      My mom was….not that sad.

  53. The Rafters*

    OP 3, please be extra careful that you don’t pressure people to turn their cameras on. We were all working remote due to you know what. I also experienced several health crises over the last year and a half not due to you know what. To say I didn’t look my best would be an understatement. Further complicating it was that part of it was an oral infection. I couldn’t speak clearly, so I submitted comments when I had to say something. Grand boss repeatedly had fits if any of us wouldn’t or couldn’t be on camera and actively ignored those who didn’t have their camera on. A few colleagues repeatedly “hinted” to me that Grand boss wanted us to turn our cameras on. I simply continued to ignore them. I don’t know if someone finally verbally kicked Grand boss’s a$$ over it, but he finally stopped his nonsense.

  54. fhqwhgads*

    #1, unless you know that boss has, say, announced retirement coming in the next 3-4 months, do not bother. It will not be worth it. There will be other opportunities that don’t involve someone who irritates the crap out of you.

  55. yala*

    LW…so what you’re saying is that you’d be under-paid AND working for someone you can’t stand for two years.

    Honestly, in that case, it being something you actually WANT to do might even be worse. Because that sounds like an excellent way to burn yourself out hard on something you might otherwise excel at/enjoy.

    I think there really will be other opportunities–possibly even in companies that pay you the industry average!–that won’t involve working for a boss who sounds like he will simultaneously bring out your worse self *and* not actually do much for your career/standing in the industry.

    I wouldn’t suggest it.

  56. Snaffanie*

    #1- Nooooooooo! Crap bosses are crap mentors and you may walk away less prepared for that role than before you took the job because they’ve actually steered you wrong. I know of what I speak – heed my warning!

  57. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

    LW1, I’m honestly stunned you would even consider working for 2 years with your BEC coworker as a boss. I have a BEC colleague at the moment; he leads a team whose work often intersects/overlaps with the team I lead, but his is a comms team while mine is more technical & not public-facing. We work for the covid response for state government, so obviously things change constantly and we’re constantly trying to improve processes. He constantly tries to tell other teams how to perform processes he knows nothing about, tries to assign my team work- he absolutely does NOT have this authority! – when there are meetings to internally announce (not debate) and work on logistics for a policy or process shift, he monopolizes the conversation about a problem he does not understand like those who own the process, uh… sorry, I’m ranting, where was I? Anyway, the only good thing about having him as a coworker is that, after decades in the working world, it seems nobody has ever suggested to this man that his opinion does not always matter, and that he is not in fact the boss of everyone; I have no qualms about shutting him down with witnesses so I consider it a service to everyone who ever works with this guy.

    I did have a point somewhere! Which was that telling this guy to shut up is the only good thing about working with him. If he were my boss?? I would drop dead from suppressed irritation the first month.

  58. MissDisplaced*

    My personal compromise for #3 is to come into a meeting with camera on, greet everyone, but then switch to camera off for the remainder of the meeting. If I present, I must have my camera off because I can’t concentrate on the presentation.

    Why? I have cats, allergies, an ugly office, and a setup where I need to shove monitors around to be directly in front of the camera. It’s just a pain!

  59. LifeBeforeCorona*

    Do not take a job with your BEC. I have one at my current workplace and even though I only interact with them briefly during the day, I want to scream at them. The feeling will not go away even if you feel you can control your urge to stink eye them all day.

  60. Anne Wentworth*

    LW1, I came here to scream “RUN AWAY” but I’m seeing a lot of great advice here (and your responses) digging more critically into how to get enough info to decide whether you can manage this particular manager. So here’s all I’m going to say:
    1) Two years is longer than you probably realize, especially in These Times. Tread carefully.
    2) When you estimate how much toxicity you think you can mentally handle, take your estimate and halve it. You may not realize in the moment how the traumatic effects are accumulating or your perspective on workplace norms is getting warped while you have a career goal to focus on.
    3) If you take the job, make sure you have a clear out strategy, so if things go worse than expected you can get out before your mental health is permanently damaged and/or a toxic boss tries to torpedo your professional reputation.

    I worked two years in a job I loved with a toxic boss who raised only one tiny red flag during the interview, and five years later I’m still dealing with fallout from the trauma. Luckily I’d already decided to switch professions and industries, because I got clues that this boss might be trying to interfere with my job hunt after I left.

    Hopefully all our stories of worst case scenarios help you make a careful and informed choice. Good luck!

  61. We’re all together here*

    They should just reject all people they don’t know irl, not bother to give them a chance to explain why they want to add them on linkedin.

  62. In this place*

    They didn’t hear about the call until it was too late, so they retroactively made the decision to be fired, which was an accident. So it doesn’t really make sense

  63. In this place*

    They didn’t hear about the call until it was too late, so they retroactively made the decision to be fired, which was an accident. So it doesn’t really make sense.

  64. Pam Poovey*

    Before I started reading this site I had no idea how much workplace drama involved bread products.

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